Kids thrive on routine. I thrive on routine. If you know anything about me, you know I’m obsessed with lists, charts, and structure. Life with five kids is pretty chaotic, and routines keep us (and especially me!) sane. Before every change in schedule (like the beginning of school or start of summer), I reevaluate what’s working, what isn’t working, and what kind of morning routine we need. It changes every time I do this, because kids have different needs and expectations as they grow.
Enter my now MASSIVE collection of morning charts.
Years of changing routines and the boredom of doing the same thing over and over has led me to create a plethora of these charts. Various charts and methods of motivation helps keep things fresh and better motivates my kids to get their stuff done.
In my experience, morning charts work best for 3-9 year olds. While I have tried using them for my older children, once they hit 5th grade and head toward middle school, they’re basically over it. And let’s be honest—by that point, I expect them to be responsible and get their stuff done without needing extra motivation (I can dream, right?).
For my younger kids, our morning routine has always included:
Other things have been added or taken away over time, such as brush hair, make your bed, clean your room, etc. Their daily chore depends on their age, and actually makes a big difference in helping keep our house clean and organized. These chores usually include emptying the dishwasher, watering plants, putting shoes on a shoe rack, and wiping bathroom counters. They have also included cleaning toilets, taking out the bathroom garbage, washing the kitchen floor, or dusting. The chores take 5 min max, but the routine of it teaches kids to pitch in and helps teach them responsibility.
I’ve also offered various incentives throughout the years—the most popular and long-standing being a prize box. If they complete all their tasks for the week, on Friday they can pick a prize from the prize box. I usually fill it with items from the dollar store, toys I get on clearance, or sugar-free gum. It’s hard for really young ones to understand the concept of not having an immediate reward, but over time, I still think it helps them understand that not all rewards are immediate.
Other incentives we’ve earned are screen time, playdates with friends, fun family outings, or points towards purchasing a larger toy they want (such as a Lego set).
Here are some of the charts we’ve used. Some function like games, where the kids move forward each day, while others function more simply, by coloring in circles or using stickers. I’ve found it helpful to switch up the chart/incentive every month or two to make it more fun.
With a child in high school and two middle-schoolers, I only have two kids left to use these charts! It’s a strange, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel good. You’ll get there, too!