How to actually get kids ready in the morning

If you’re raising a tiny human you’re probably pretty familiar with how hard it can be to get children ready to go in the morning.

Whether you’re trying to get them out the door for daycare drop off or just to get the day started for your at home routine, it can be tough. Some kids have a harder time getting moving in the morning and staying on focus.

As gentle parents, we want to tackle the morning routine in a positive way that doesn’t end in us screaming, “LET’S JUST GO ALREADY!” while pulling our hair out. So before I share some strategies with you to help get kids moving in the morning, I want us to make sure we have our perspective set right.

2 children waking up

Respecting our morning child

The first pillar of my 6 pillars of Gentle Parenting is respect, and we’re going to do that right now by putting ourselves in our child’s shoes.

Our child likely does not have the same urgency to get out the door in the morning. They’re not worried about being late or about making you late.

Your child could be very tired in the morning, or easily distracted, or just feels like they can’t start the day without telling you every thought that pops into their head.

You know your child best, so spend some time reflecting on what they are like and why. This will help you a lot with knowing which strategies to try and how to approach your child in the morning.

Respecting your child in the morning can also mean knowing what strategies don’t work. It can be stressful for children to be rushed especially if we are projecting our stress onto them too. Instead of putting more and more pressure on them to get ready faster, we’re going to find even better ways to support them getting ready in the morning.

Helping children get ready in the morning

So, instead of trying to convince our child to value being on time (that might take much longer anyways) we’re going to find ways to help them get ready. Not every strategy I share is going to be good for your child, because every child is unique and different. It depends on what they’re obstacles are and why getting ready is difficult. The child who is nearly impossible to wake up is going to have different needs than the child who is a fireball when they wake up, so keep that in mind are you choose the approach you will take.

More sleep

If your child is very slow moving in the morning, the first thing you might want to ask yourself is if they are getting enough sleep.

One way to troubleshoot this is by noting what time they wake up naturally on the weekends (assuming they go to bed at the same time). If they’re sleeping way longer past the time you wake them up then it might mean they need an earlier bedtime.

Change the routine

Sometimes the routine just doesn’t work. Having a set routine is really helpful for children, so having a particular order for them to do things can help them stay on track, but you might have to adjust according to their needs.

Maybe your child doesn’t like to eat first thing in the morning and needs to do some other stuff before breakfast. Or perhaps your child needs some lazing around on the couch while they slowly wake up before they do anything at all.

Once again, think about your child and also talk to them to find out what will work best for them. It might make the most sense for you if they get dressed first thing when they wake up, but maybe they don’t like taking off their warm pajamas to put on cold clothes.

Work together with your child to create a routine that works best for them.

Picture routine chart

If your child is often getting off track it can be really helpful to have a visual chart of their routine. Take some pictures of them doing their morning routine tasks and tape them in the wall in the order they are to do it.

This will help them remember what else they need to do and help them stay on track. When you’re busy in the morning you can instruct them to go check what else they need to do.

Prep the night before

What can you do the night before to save time in the morning? Maybe you and your child could lay out their outfit for the next day, prepare their back pack, or talk about what breakfast will be.

Perhaps in the morning it just feels like too much work for them to handle first thing, so prepping the night before might make it a lot easier for both of you.

Let Alexa nag them

This might sound silly, but sometimes it’s easier for kids to listen to Alexa than to their parents.

I have used reminders on Alexa to keep my child on task in the morning and to prepare her for the transition of leaving the house. This works if you leave the house at the same time each day (ideally). If you have an Alexa device, the reminder can say something like, “Good morning, don’t forget to brush your teeth. It’s time to leave in 10 minutes.” Children can find this reminder very tangible compared to us saying the same thing. Maybe it’s because they can’t try to argue or negotiate with Alexa.

Give them a goal

The above tips alone should make a big difference, but another thing I would add in is building time into the routine for them to do something enjoyable at the end. So if they have completed everything in their routine before it’s time to leave they will have some free time to do what they like, or maybe it would even be an opportunity for free time.

If they take a long time on their routine then the natural consequence is that it takes away from their free time.

The only catch with this though is that you don’t want their free time activity to be so exciting that it’s impossible to drag them away from it.

Hold the boundary

Finally though, what do you do if they’re just not listening and getting ready? Well I do have some Gentle Parenting posts about listening (4 Year Old Doesn’t Listen? The Easiest Approach, 5 Easy Tips When 3 Year Old Doesn’t Listen, 5 Respectful Tips When Kids Don’t Listen) but in this specific situation I believe what is most important is to firmly hold the boundary.

This can mean saying something like, “We are leaving the house in 10 minutes. If you aren’t dressed in 5 minutes I am going to have to help you.”

You can also add some elements of fun to this – pretend the clothes are eating them, make jokes about how not everyday can be pajama day, etc.

Gentle Parenting absolutely means yes being gentle and considerate, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have boundaries and expectations for our children. You can read more about that here.


I hope these tips can help you get out the door in the morning with less fuss. The two most important things I want you to take away from this is to consider your specific child in your approach, and to do it with respect.

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