I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

A Quick-fix for a Messy Morning Routine

A Quick-fix for a Messy Morning Routine #homeschool #freeprintable

Written by Krista Smith.

“Babe, get your laundry picked up, please.

Sweetheart, your laundry.

Darlin’…this is getting silly. Pick up your laundry. Like, NOW!”

How many of our mornings as homeschool moms start off this way? Then hit repeat for the next task in line.

Maybe not all of your kiddos struggle to stay on target, but I’d be willing to bet at least one of them, at least once a week needs a good, determined, poke in the right direction. It is certainly true at my house and with my kids, anyway.

So what is a mama to do?

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

So much of the homeschool day depends on the morning, amen? Like breakfast, the morning is the most important part of the day in the life of a homeschool family—because attitude is everything. Or a big part, anyhow.

Let’s say, for instance, someone missed breakfast because they “just couldn’t” get out of bed before “Mama’s Diner” closed. You can bet you're gonna hear, “……But I’m huuunnnnnngrrryyyyyyyyyyyyyyy…….” for the next FOUR HOURS until lunch.

Or maybe someone “forgot” to get their chores done by 8:30 and thus cannot take part in their daily 15 minutes of computer review games—you’ll probably get some tears and sulking.

And let’s just suppose Mama got up on the wrong side of the bed…Weeeell, you might be facing an emotional Armageddon. Yours and theirs.

All before 9am.

Try pulling off a serene and Christ-exalting Good Morning Basket after that mess. I dare you!

A Quick-fix for a Messy Morning Routine #homeschool #freeprintable

When our oldest daughter was going through some dietary-related health struggles (which we didn’t realize affected her internal drive to do things, ability to follow instructions, and overall mood) we knew we needed to do something more than nag her endlessly to get her morning “stuff” accomplished. After all, these were not new things to her. These were things that she’d been doing, or being nagged to do, since she was 4 years old. These were things that never changed. These were things she knew by heart. But for the life of her, she just couldn’t get her ducks all lined up by 8:30 AM. Her much younger brother could. But she. Just. Couldn’t.

She wasn’t being defiant. She wasn’t being surly. It was like she was in a fog and literally couldn’t see what was right ahead of her (figuratively and literally, some days). I knew she needed some help and I was willing to do whatever it took to help her succeed in the mornings.

We all know what it feels like to try and try and try…..and fail and fail and fail.

And what’s worse, we all know how it feels to try and try and try while someone else seems to barely need to lift a finger to get done what took us a herculean effort to accomplish.

It’s maddening. And soul deflating. I could see her crumpling under the weight of it, and our homeschool days were suffering.

So we made two simple changes.

First, we ended up changing the way our whole family eats. (Did I say two simple changes? I lied. This one was like carrying an elephant on my back while dancing a Scottish reel.)

And secondly, we made up a small chart to help, not only our struggling child, but all of our kiddos gain personal accountability for all of their daily “stuff.” Because that’s the ultimate goal, isn't’ it?--to help our kids to be brave, courageous, self-motivated, learning-loving whole human beings who glorify Christ in everything they do. At least it is for my husband and me.

The Morning Routine Chart is a big stride in that direction because gone are the days when mom and dad manage the tasks and the results. Now, my kiddos know what’s expected of them.

The Morning Routine Chart

Wanna make one and use it with your kids? (You can download our chart here, or you can whip up one of your own with your family’s daily routine.)

What you'll need:

How to make it:

Print out and laminate this sheet, and affix one side of a self-adhesive Velcro dot to each of the button pictures on the page. (I’ve got three kiddos so I’ve got three rows of buttons.) Then, ask your kids to each pick out some matching colored buttons to use on his/her row. Once they have their buttons picked out, you’ll place the other side of the Velcro dot to the back of each button.

Now your kiddos are ready to wow you with their ability to accomplish “the stuff” without any nagging from you. Hallelujah!

How to use it:

Establish a "cut off" time for when all the chart items need to be accomplished. (I set ours for 8:30 AM because that's when I like to get the wheels moving on the rest of our day.) Every time your kids complete a task, they can add one button to their chart (or remove a button, if subtraction is more motivating for them than addition). Whoever gets all of their buttons up on the chart by the "cut off" gets a small plastic coin. (We use the same ones that we use in our Clip Climb.) These coins can be used to "buy" screen time, extra reading time with mom and dad at night, a later bedtime, etc. Be creative in coming up with commodities that will appeal to your kiddos. Or, don’t give any reward at all, if you'd rather! Just use the chart as a visual reminder of what comes next in the morning routine.

The Morning Routine Chart in Action

So, how did it go for our daughter?


I think the largest change came when her body began to heal with good food. But this Morning Routine Chart helped too. It gave her a practical tool to help her stay on task and to remember all of her responsibilities.

I no longer have to nag and threaten. These two simple tweaks do the heavy lifting for me.

Before, she used to miss 4 out of 5 of my 8:30 cut off times (YES! THAT MANY!). I'm happy to say that she has only missed three since November of 2017, the month we all rallied for change.

I love seeing her confidence in her own abilities now.

And I love not being the keeper of the clock. 


Krista Smith is blessed to be the mother of three beautiful children and is privileged to homeschool them using an eclectic variety of methods. She has a deep and abiding love for tan-colored coffee, spending time with her family, and seeing children find their forever homes through adoption. But above all of these things, Krista is, first and foremost, a lover and follower of Jesus Christ. So, may the Lord and His Gospel get every ounce of honor, glory, and credit for anything she writes, says, or does.


  1. I know God is on my side when something I have been thinking about doing is dropped into my email in a helpful post. Setting this up now for my two youngest, 6 yrs (gets crazily distracted in the am) and 4 yrs (has Down syndrome - needs clear expectations). God's love and help have been heard through your words. Thank you. Jodie.

    1. Hi, Jodie! I am so grateful the Lord had something special for you and your family in the post. He's amazing that way. Praying this bit of tactile and visual stimulation is just the motivation your kiddos need 😄

  2. I’m really interested to know the dietary issues. I feel like this is my daughter. What did you cut out?

    1. Kami, If you'd like, you can email me and I can pass your address onto Krista. She said she'd love to chat with you further about this.

      My email is theunlikelyhomeschool@yahoo.com

    2. Hi, Kami! I would love to fill you in on the dietary changes that (truthfully) gave us our daughter back. She's like a whole new little being now. Reach out to me via Jamie and we can talk!

  3. What are your consequences when they don’t make the cut off?

  4. Hey there... So for our family, if the kids don't get done by 8:30 they loose their ability to play 15 min. of computer review games before school starts (typically something like abcya.com). But your family might find something else more motivational. Whatever works best to nudge your kids in the right direction!

  5. Thank you for taking the time to share this