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ADHD Morning Routine Checklist | Free Printable

It’s 6:30 AM. Your alarm just went off, and the day instantly feels chaotic. Clothes fly in every direction like a confetti cannon was just shot, and you can hear little feet pounding down the hallway toward your bedroom. When your child finally bursts through the door, all hope for a peaceful morning is gone. They didn’t get a good night’s sleep, they’re not hungry enough to eat breakfast, and as you’re trying to brush their hair, it’s one meltdown after another. This is an unfortunate reality for many of us who live with kids who have ADHD, but mornings don’t have to be this way. With the proper routine, we can make our ADHD kids thrive by minimizing some of that morning chaos. In this blog post, we’ll walk through specific techniques you can try, along with printable checklists and visuals, to create a successful ADHD morning routine that works for your child.

Why You Need an ADHD Morning Routine

Mornings set the tone for the entire day. For kids with ADHD, a consistent routine can set them up for success by eliminating those chaotic situations many of us parents battle with daily. It can help a child with ADHD feel more in control, which often leads to better behavior, attention, and overall well-being. Having a routine that works can minimize those meltdowns because the expectations are clear and there aren’t many surprises.

Here are some more reasons why establishing an ADHD morning routine is crucial:

  • Develops independence and self-reliance: A visual routine chart can help kids learn to take responsibility for their mornings, reducing the need for constant reminders.
  • Reduces anxiety and overwhelm: A predictable schedule can offer a sense of security and control for kids with ADHD.
  • Improves focus and time management: By breaking down tasks into smaller steps, kids with ADHD can manage their mornings and get to school on time.
  • Boost self-esteem: Successfully completing morning tasks can give your child a sense of accomplishment and build confidence.

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Tips for Creating an ADHD Morning Routine

Creating a successful ADHD morning routine takes patience and understanding. Here are some tips to get you started:

Start small

Don’t try to overhaul the entire morning routine at once. Start with one or two tasks and gradually add more as your child adapts.

Involve your child

Kids with ADHD are much more likely to feel a sense of ownership when their voices are included during the process. Let them choose some elements of the routine, like clothes to wear or breakfast options.

Be flexible

Don’t expect perfection every day, and be open to adjusting routines as needed. This often needs to be adjusted seasonally.

Use visual aids

Checklists, charts, and timers can help kids with ADHD stay on track and visualize their progress. I’ve even seen parents put velcro strips on a wall, then cut construction paper to size, writing out each step of the morning routine and affixing them on the velcro, allowing the child to pull them down with each completed task.

Make it fun!

Incorporate games or songs into the routine to make it more engaging for your child. For example, use a song to time how fast they can put their socks and shoes on.

adhd morning routine checklist. a girl is setting the table for breakfast as part of her adhd morning routine.
Read More: ADHD Child Waking Up Early? Here’s What to Do

Start the night before

Prepare backpacks, lay out clothes, and pack lunches the night before to make mornings less hectic. A study in Pediatrics concluded that kids with ADHD who had a healthy bedtime routine had improvements in sleep quality and better overall well-being.

Sample ADHD Morning Routine Chart

Here’s a sample morning routine chart you can customize for your child. To keep older kids interested, you might let them choose some of these options themselves.

  • Wake up
  • Use the bathroom
  • Get dressed
  • Brush teeth
  • Brush hair
  • Eat breakfast
  • Take medicine (if applicable)
  • Take vitamins (if applicable)
  • Pack backpack
  • Grab lunchbox
  • Put on shoes
  • Grab coat or jacket
  • Leave for school

Handling Setbacks

Even the best-laid plans can sometimes go awry! Let’s be honest, sometimes kids have a bad day and there will be setbacks. Remain calm and consistent, especially when dealing with meltdowns or power struggles. Use rewards and positive reinforcement to encourage and celebrate progress.

Goally | Apps To Structure Your Kiddo’s Routine

Does your child struggle with transitions or staying on task? Goally’s visual schedule app breaks down large tasks into small, achievable steps. It helps kids complete their tasks independently! 

Goally kids tablet makes bedtime easy with bedtime routines completely controlled by the parent.

Create custom routines with your own videos & pictures for every step. The steps come in small, bite-sized pieces to help your child learn the little fundamentals (like putting the toothpaste on their toothbrush!) to achieve bigger goals. And that’s just the beginning.

It takes some trial and error to find the right routine that works, but with a little planning, patience, and flexibility, you can turn those early morning battles into a smooth and successful start to the day. An ADHD morning routine doesn’t mean that some days will still be wild, but it does give you a better chance at having the days that run smoothly.

Sources for Further Reading

  • ADDitude Magazine: This website offers a wealth of information on ADHD for parents.
  • CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder): This organization provides resources, support groups, and advocacy for people with ADHD.
  • Understood: A comprehensive parent resource on learning and thinking differences.

FAQ’s About ADHD Morning Routine

Why is a morning routine important for kids with ADHD?
A morning routine provides structure and predictability for kids with ADHD, helping them feel more in control and reducing anxiety or overwhelm. This can lead to calmer mornings and improved behavior throughout the day.

How do I create an ADHD morning routine?
Start by involving your child in the process and keeping it simple at first. Use visual aids like checklists or charts, and make sure to build in time for rewards and flexibility.

What tasks should be included in an ADHD morning routine?
A basic ADHD morning routine might include tasks such as waking up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, taking medication (if applicable), and preparing for school.

What are some challenges with ADHD morning routines?
Kids with ADHD may struggle with staying on task, managing time, or handling transitions. Be patient, consistent, and offer positive reinforcement to help overcome these challenges.

How can I make my ADHD morning routine more fun?
Try incorporating games, songs, or playful competitions into the routine to keep your child engaged and motivated. Let your child choose certain elements of the routine for added interest.

This post was originally published on 09/01/2022. It was updated on 02/22/2024. 

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