Toddler Morning Routine Facts
Why Are Routines Important?
The Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center describes the importance of routines as follows “Just like adults, children feel more confident and secure when their daily activities are predictable and familiar. A consistent daily schedule and step-by-step routines give children a predictable day. Schedules and routines in the group care setting and at home help children:
- Feel in control of their environment
- Feel safe, secure, and comfortable
- Know what is happening now and what comes next
- Know how to do an activity or task
- Engage in learning”
Sometimes, I think we undervalue the importance of routine for our children thinking they should just “deal” with the unexpected things that come up. Think about your own life, however. How well do you, an adult, deal with unexpected and unknown situations? Remember that you have a fully formed brain and are able to deal with the unexpected far better than a child with an unformed brain.
Devaluing the importance of routine in the daily lives of our children is a mistake. Offering a routine isn’t a punishment, it’s a form of love. Love by giving your children the freedom to feel safe and in control while learning all the valuable life skills they need to become fully functioning adults.
How much time should a toddler morning routine take?
This question is going to depend on what all you want to include in your morning routine. For us, we have two older children who go to two different schools and a toddler. I am a stay at home mom and my husband currently works from home.
Your routine will vary depending on what your personal convictions are.
Do you want to incorporate exercise or bible study in your day? If so, those things add on time. If you want to only include the bare minimum then that’s fine too!
Our official morning routine for our toddler only takes about 45 min, which is the same amount of time we spend on our morning routines for our 7-year-old and our 5-year-old.
The best way to start a new morning routine for your toddler
Whether you are trying to get yourself more organized or you are adjusting to a life change the most important part of starting something new is communication. If something different is going to be happening in your child’s life it is so important to let them know. Even as toddlers our children understand and can be overwhelmed with any kind of change, even if it’s a good kind of change.
So talk to them, answer their questions and give them a little grace during the transition.
A Good Morning Routine Starts by Preparing the Night Before
Sleep is Essential
Toddlers Need a Good Night Sleep
To make sure your toddlers morning starts off on the right foot, sleep, and good sleep is essential. Yet again a bedtime routine is essential for making this happen. Be consistent each evening.
All these these things are essential for a restful night of sleep.
- Consistent bedtime
- Safe and comfortable sleep space
- Water restriction after dinner to allow for less peeing during the night – less getting up to pee, bedwetting, or waking up to have a diaper or pull up changed.
- Screen-free wind-down period after dinner and before bed
- Screen-free bedroom! This one is essential for adults too!
Myths about Sleep
Please don’t be put off by what I am about to say. These so-called “sleep experts” we listen to these days are full of crap! We live in a culture of moneymakers who push propaganda in order to push hundreds of conflicting agendas.
The things you think you know about sleep, from infant on up to adult are probably a load of poo.
Infants sleeping through the night is not “normal” but here in American culture, we are taught to ask new parents that very question as a judgment of how “good” of a baby they have and how “good” their parenting is.
I am not going to claim to be an expert, a doctor, or a scientist here but this notion that small children need to be completely individual little self soothers and independent creatures are so completely harmful psychologically! And for what? To create a market of products to help us force our children into sleeping more, longer, better, safer?
Think of all the gadgets you can buy to help a toddler sleep safely, through the night, in their own room. PS most eastern countries do not use these and their kids are FINE! Babies in Finland sleep in cardboard boxes and their SIDS rate is almost non-existent, so again the agenda is about making money, and you can’t make money on cardboard boxes now, can you?!?
- Special mattresses
- Night lights
- Specialized blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals
- Sleepsacks and specialized pajamas
- Books and courses and in-home sleep trainers
The Happiest Baby has a great list on the Myths of Toddler Sleep.
It’s Normal for Little Kids to Sleep Alone AND Toddlers Sleep all Night
Toddlers Should Give Up Their Pacifiers, Especially at Night
Kids Naturally Fall Asleep When They’re Tired
Toddlers Need Less Sleep than Infants at Night
A Toddler’s Sleep Has Nothing to Do with His Ability to Learn or His Health
Putting a TV in Your Tot’s Room Can Make Bedtime Better
Preparation is Key
Prepare for the next day the night before
In addition to a good bedtime routine, do anything you can to prepare for the morning ahead of time.
- Layout clothes including shoes and coats
- Set up morning activities see below for ideas
- Gather any supplies for daycare/preschool/school and have them set up and ready to go in a specified place
The Morning Wake Up Time FAQs
Should you wake your toddler if they are still asleep?
My answer is yes. We are talking about routine here right? Consistency, remember?
As long as there was nothing that happened with their sleep from the night before, like nightmares for instance, or getting to bed too late, wake them up at the same time every day.
If you wake them up later then your routine dictates you can throw the whole routine off. The routine is there to make yours and your children’s day easier, calmer and more controlled. Having to rush around because you allowed extra sleep kind of defeats the purpose.
What do your kids do if they wake up before you?
I must admit we have tried the Okay to Wake Up clocks and they didnt work at all as far as keeping our kids from getting out of bed or leaving their rooms. I also didn’t like the idea of telling my kids that there were only certain times of the day when it was okay to be with me or my husband.
For most of the year we follow the sun. If it’s still dark outside we should stay in bed, or work on a quiet activity and let everyone else continue sleeping.
My children all have quiet, non-electronic toys in their own rooms they are allowed to play with before the sun comes up.
If the sun is up they are welcome to play with the toys in the rest of the house, which includes the living room and the playroom.
Should you get up before your kids?
I know lots of moms that do, just to get their own things done in the morning before they have to be responsible for other little humans but I do not.
I think it’s important for my kids to be involved in learning about how life in a home and within a family actually works.
I don’t agree with this “behind the scenes” idea of kids having no idea how laundry gets done, or breakfast gets cooked or how mom magically gets ready every day.
I also don’t think mom should have to give up any valuable sleep time in order to get things done. Mom deserves sleep too.
What do your kids do while you get ready?
I take very little time to get ready but I do not have any special activities prepared for while I get ready.
When my kids are under 2 they usually sit in the bathroom with me and play at my feet while I brush my teeth, do my hair, put makeup on and get dressed.
My older children, who can get themselves ready are able to do so without assistance while I get ready.
Here is what MY morning routine with MY toddler and her two sisters looks like.
Please remember when you are creating your own morning schedule you only need to incorporate the things that you important to YOU. No one’s schedule should look the exact same! If you need extra help creating your make sure you check out the info on the Makeover Your Mornings Course at the end of the post.
Wake up at the same time every day.
Depending on what your schedule looks like this time will be different for everyone.
Working moms might need or want more time in the mornings before heading off to daycare and work.
Stay at home moms might need much less time to get their house “prepared” for the day.
Moms with school-age kids will have their wakeup times adjusted to school start times.
Potty or change diaper or pull-up
Kids need to be reminded of their bladder, especially toddlers or they are prone to accidents. Even my 5 & 7-year-olds need to be reminded, I don’t understand it but we do make sure bodily fluids are taken care of first thing upon waking up
We like to start the morning with quiet and individual play for those children that wake up before the official wake-up time.
In my home, the official wake-up time is 7 am in order to get both of my older children to school on time. However, my kids wake themselves up as early as 5:30 some mornings!
I do like to create a morning hands-on activity that my kids can rotate through while we are working on getting ready. Sometimes they just need a break between getting dressed and bruising their teeth and that’s okay.
I usually have a less messy sensory activity like a rice bin, water beads, or play dough set up. Because I am a SAHM I like to do my exercise after the two oldest girls are in school. However, during the summer or on the weekends I will throw on cosmic yoga or let the kids join in with my own workout. Seeing mom take care of her body is such an important thing for young kids to see and something I think should be included in a daily routine.
Because I am a SAHM I like to do my exercise after the two oldest girls are in school. However, during the summer or on the weekends I will throw on cosmic yoga or let the kids join in with my own workout.
Seeing mom take care of her body is such an important thing for young kids to see and something I think should be included in a daily routine.
We have a few different bible books we include in our daily routine but I love the children’s version of Jesus Calling. Normally we read a few pages before we load up in the car.
Chores are a part of life! I include my kids in the chores that I can because A) learning happens all day long and B) they just want to spend time with me no matter what I’m doing so why not?
My daily chores can be found here and take me less than an hour a day. Most of them can be accomplished during the Morning Routine period of the day. My toddler likes to help with changing out the laundry and for some reason really loves to watch me clean the litter boxes!
At two years old my toddler is proficient in helping pick up her toys, throwing her own diaper in the trash, and making sure her clothes make it into the laundry basket. It is never too early to start teaching your kids these skills that they will use for their entire life.
Breakfast is weird in our home! My kids aren’t super in love with breakfast food and sometimes make themselves a peanut butter and jelly sandwich if they have been awake for a while before breakfast.
However, my idea for weekday breakfast is to keep it as EASY as possible, while also making good nutritious choices. Sugary cereals, donuts, and pop tarts do not make for a good morning routine. Kids eat these foods, get all excited from the sugar and then crash way sooner than they should. Give them something nutritious to get them going without causing a sugar spike that will last at least a few hours.
Mom gets ready / Kids get ready
We do getting dressed AFTER breakfast because ya’ know, kids are messy and I refuse to get dressed more than once!
We do bathtime the night before so hair and teeth are the only real items we have to take care of in the mornings
Make lunches and snacks
Super important here! When you are preparing breakfast go ahead and make your lunches and snacks for the whole day! Such a time-saver to have almost all your meals made at once. We’ve started using a yumbox lunchbox and making snacks for all day long. The kids can grab their snack boxes whenever they want and have control over when they eat them but they know once the snacks are gone they are gone!
I also really love to throw together a muffin pan lunch which is just a bunch of finger foods in a muffin tin and the kids eat it together family-style.
What we don’t do in the mornings
- Pack Backpacks
We always do this the night before and everyone is in charge of getting their own bag and or lunch box to the car each morning.
- TV Time
We do allow tv time in the morning on the weekends but it really proves too big of a distraction in the morning when we are trying to get ready and out the door. Once it comes on it’s a fight to get it turned back off and no one wants to have any part of brushing teeth and hair when they could be mesmerized in front of the tv.
- Screen Time
Not just tv but we also do not allow tablets or phones at any point during the morning (we are actually mostly screen-free at all times).
Need some Visuals?
Printable Toddler Routine Charts
- Morning, Bedtime and Afternoon Scheduled – by Learn2Gether.org (FREE)
- Morning and Bedtime Visual Routines – by LittleMagerHouse.com (FREE)
- Morning Routine with Rewards – by HappyKidsTimer.com (FREE)
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