I’ve never been much of a morning person. I’m the ‘lounge in bed for 30 minutes before getting up’ kind of person.
I despise alarms.
And I feel like many of you agree with me. The irony that my kids are all super early morning people is not lost on me.
For years we were wasting so much of our mornings because I was putting around. 30 minutes to get out of bed. 20 minutes to get done in the bathroom. 45 minutes of sitting on the couch before my stomach said ‘enough!’.
I thought we were going to be doomed to late starts until my kids were learning independently.
But I am not a quitter (usually) so I decided to set out and find a system for me.
Not everything worked. Some things only worked for a short while. But I’m going to share everything we tried because one might resonate with you.
The one thing I have to admit is that I’m still not a morning person. I still want to stay up late and wake up late.
How to Start a Better Homeschool Morning Routine
I have to start with a preface – I don’t have easy tips. There are no simple and easy tips that will magically make your morning easier. Unfortunately, this is a consistency, hard work, and persistence type thing.
But I think once you see how much better your morning and days work when you have a great morning routine, you’ll be more motivated to keep going.
Tip 1 – Set a bedtime
This is my only tip that involves setting alarms. As I mentioned, I despise alarms.
First, decide what time you want to wake up in the morning. Then count back 8 hours (or 7 or 9 if those are more your style). That is your new bedtime.
Set an evening alarm for about 30 minutes to an hour before your bedtime. When that alarm goes off wrap up whatever you’re doing and get ready for bed.
Make sure your alarm is set for the morning.
Does this work? Yes, it did but I really didn’t like it. I woke up in the mornings feeling refreshed and ready to go. I was much less tired ad much more productive. However, I found many nights I was interrupted. Being forced to stop working on a project or stop watching a TV show because the clock said it was bedtime was not fun.
I still stuck with it for a while…until I hit a rebellious streak and it was a wash.
Should you do this one? Well, evaluate your feeling on alarms and decide if going to bed at a certain time every night is feasible for you.
Tip 2 – Set Yourself Up for Success
The more you can get ready for yourself the night before, the smoother your morning will go. Pick out clothes (for you and the kids, if they need help), set up your to-do list, figure out breakfast plans, write down any events on your calendar, get all of the homeschool materials ready, etc.
Does this work? I have no idea. I didn’t last more than one night with this. At a certain point every night (lazy-o-clock) I just cannot motivate myself to do anything that involves standing up or moving around. I can work for hours and hours at my computer. But anything else? Nope.
Should you do this one? Starting the day off one step ahead sure sounds like a plan for success. Ask yourself how you feel about an extra chore in the evening and give it a try.
Tip 3 – Caffeine or another warm treat
It doesn’t have to be coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or anything similar. The idea is to have a ritual that helps you wake up and gets you excited to get out of bed.
I used to wake up and get ready for my 30 minutes of puttering in bed. But then the little coffee voice would ring in my ear ‘if you get up now, you can have a cup of coffee.‘
That little voice was very convincing.
Truth is, I don’t even like coffee that much. But it was a great treat to wake up to.
If you aren’t a coffee drinker, try smoothies, lemon water, or some other simple treat you can have every single morning.
Does this work? This worked fantastically until I had to give up coffee. I have yet to find an alternative that leaves me feeling warm and happy inside. This tip got me up and out of bed for years.
Should you do this one? If you can find a treat that motivates you but doesn’t blow your daily nutritional habits, absolutely go for it. Just make sure to keep it simple enough that you can be mostly asleep while preparing it.
Tip 4 – Independent School Work in the Morning
I wanted to give my kids some extra responsibility, have them distracted for my morning blah hour(s), and still be at least a bit productive.
I thought about asking them to do chores, but they tend to be loud when doing chores.
So I found some school work they could do independently. Some of it is on the computer (Prodigy math game) and other times I’ll leave something out the night before.
For instance, my kids have a sentence of copy work each day. If I put it out the night before, they tend to get it done before I get up. I think they enjoy thwarting my plans. (Please no one tell them that was actually my plan.)
This doesn’t actually help me in the morning. But if they’ve gotten some school work done before I’m fully functional, the day is off to a great start.
Does this work? We’ve been using this for years now and it almost always helps me get going a bit faster. Knowing that they are already in the school mindset and ready to go helps to put a fire under my butt.
Should you do this one? If your kids are old enough to handle some of their own lessons or mature enough to watch over themselves for a little while in the morning, absolutely try this one.
Tip 5 – Write down your routine
There’s nothing quite as enjoyable as an excuse to craft and laminate.
Sometimes I am a creature of habit and other times I was to fly with the wind.
For my habit driven days, I put together a loose morning time routine to keep my momentum away from the couch.
It was very simple. Wake up, brush teeth, make coffee, stretch, write to do list.
As time has gone on, it’s evolved. There is no more coffee and I’ve reframed how I do my to-do list.
It’s really nice having a checklist to start your day. Even when you’re exhausted, you just go down the line and do the steps. Having a short to-do list keeps me from just sitting on the couch until I feel like getting up. And once I’ve finished the short to-do list, I’m usually more motivated and ready to get the day going.
Does it work? Yes and no. Some days are better than others. Some days I just cannot be bothered to work with the routine. But some days it keeps me really grounded and moving forward.
Should you do this one? Are you ready for a crafty project and can you stick to a routine? If so, this is a great option. Try to keep it short so you don’t feel rushed trying to finish. But keep it long enough to wake up.
Tip 6 – Turn off electronics and social media
I’ve heard that we shouldn’t let our e-mail or social media get the first attention of the day. It places their importance too high in our heads. Instead, carve out time for them.
I decided to not check my e-mail while still in bed and save social media for after bedtime (bedtime for the kids, not my own bedtime).
My head felt so much clearer without bombarding it with all of that noise.
Not to mention, I was much more mindful during the day without being distracted by social media.
Does it work? Yes, this was a huge success. And keeping off social media actually improved my entire day. I was still checking in every night so I wasn’t missing any big information. But it wasn’t monopolizing my daytime.
Should you do this one? Absolutely. I don’t think social media is evil and I see some of the benefits. However, I think we can all use a little less time on social media. You won’t feel as distracted by everyone else as you get your day going.
Tip 7 – Entertainment
I hesitate to add this one because it was an utter failure for us.
First, I want to say, if letting your kids watch TV in the mornings helps you, please do it. Don’t feel like society is judging you because TV is evil. This didn’t work for our family mainly because I’m a bit complacent and lazy.
TV is awesome and so is the quiet from kids watching TV.
And the younger your kids are, the better it can be.
If you start the day off with 30 minutes or an hour of educational learning, that’s 30 minutes or an hour of time for you to get the ball rolling.
Does it work? It did not work at all for us. I found that once they were watching TV, I was ready to let them watch TV for a few hours. It was so easy to let them soak up information from Ms. Frizzle or NDT.
We ended up getting to our school work even later than normal.
Should you do this one? Can you get yourself ready while the kids watch TV? And not get sucked into the joy of having a relatively quiet house? If so, go for it. If not, consider how much time you’re actually saving by turning the TV on.
Bonus tip – Start your day with motivation
I’ve started writing down motivational quotes for our copywork. It quickly dawned on me that just reading those quotes made me feel more ready for the day.
So I started writing the quote down for myself and including a little response (sometimes in my head). It was such a great motivator and a really bright way to get my morning going.
I decided to share all of my quotes, one day at a time, with everyone who thinks motivational mornings are the way to go. I call them Homeschool Motivationals.
One short e-mail every morning, unsubscribe whenever you want. I’d love to see you there!