A mother holds her daughter on her lap at the breakfast table.

Mindful mornings: Creating a positive morning routine for children

Mornings can be tough. Getting kids dressed, fed, and out the door before school isn’t easy. But the way the day begins can really influence how our children approach the rest of it. By incorporating structured, positive, and healthy activities in the morning, you can help your child (and yourself) start the day off on the right foot.

And we’ve got some helpful tips for parents on how to create a mindful morning routine that promotes emotional well-being in your child without taking up too much of your precious time.

The key is simply to start integrating these habits into your daily life to really reap the benefits.

Mindfulness is key

Being mindful simply means focusing one’s awareness on the present moment. For children, this can mean practicing activities that engage their senses and emotions. Try devoting a few moments each morning to these practices:

Deep breathing: Sit down with your child and practice three to five cycles of deep breathing together. Show them how to inhale slowly through the nose, hold their breath for four seconds, then exhale gently through the mouth. Perhaps you only have time for three intentional deep breaths—and that’s totally okay. Just having one minute of your time dedicated to breathing exercises can contribute to hours of positive benefits.

When can you do it?

  • As soon as you see each other upon waking up, stop what you’re doing and breathe with your child, whether in your child’s bed, in his or her room, during breakfast in the kitchen, etc.
  • As soon as you get into the car and before you turn it on. Take the time to stop and take a long breath together.

Morning gratitude: Create a little morning ritual where each family member shares something they’re grateful for. This can be a fun part of breakfast. By drawing attention to the positive aspects of our lives, we can transform our state of mind into one of appreciation and create happy emotions.

Yoga for kids: Make yoga for your kids fun by encouraging them to imitate animals with simple postures. This can be a fun way to stimulate physical and mental agility. If time is tight in the mornings, incorporate just one or two quick yoga poses:

1. Downward-facing dog: On the inhale, anchor your toes to the ground and lift your hips skyward. Hold for four breaths.

A young girl does the downward-facing dog yoga pose.

2. Cobra pose: Rest your chin on the floor, with your hands under your shoulders. As you inhale, push into the floor to raise the upper body. Exhale and lower the body. Repeat five times.

A mother and her young daughter do cobra pose side by side on yoga mats at home.

3. Cat & cow pose: Place knees on the floor in an all-fours position. As you inhale, raise your eyes to the sky. As you exhale, tuck your head between your arms, rounding your back. Repeat five times.

A mother and her daughter do cow pose side by side on yoga mats.

How to create a positive morning routine

The key is consistency and adding playful touches to keep your child’s interest.

Set a consistent schedule: Establish regular times for getting up, activities, and breakfast. For example, at 7 a.m., it’s time to get up and do some deep breathing. At 7:15 a.m., start the simple yoga stretches and invite your kids to join, followed by some gratitude-sharing at 7:30 a.m. during breakfast. It’s important that the schedule is a guide and not a cause of stress.

That way, once you get into the habit of doing it, your children will know what to expect and look forward to it every day.

Add some fun activities: Got a little extra time on your hands? Keep your kids occupied while you get organized for the day (or finish preparing meals) with these fun and quick activities. These ideas for playful, energetic games can be quickly integrated into a morning routine:

1. Colour hunt: Give each child a specific colour. During the hunt, they must find and touch five to 10 objects of their assigned colour around the house.

2. Movement challenge of the day: Set a quick exercise challenge for the day, such as 10 jumps, five squats, and/or three spins. Your child can choose the challenge of the day for a quick dose of physical activity.

3. Flash dance: Play a lively song and get your child to bust a move, dancing to it for two minutes. This is a great way to release energy and boost mood.

4. Frog jumping: Start a frog-jumping race in the living room. Your children can jump from one end to the other, avoiding “lily pads” (strategically placed cushions).

5. Balance challenge: Draw an imaginary line on the floor. Get your children to balance on this line and walk along it as quickly as possible without falling.

Make it family time: Treat breakfast as quality time with the family. Turn off the screens and invite conversation with questions about your child’s dreams from last night or thoughts about the day ahead. Here are some questions you can ask:

  • What’s made you smile this morning?
  • If you were an animal, what would you be today?
  • What are you excited about today?
  • If you could have one superpower for the day, what would it be?
  • What was the best part of your dream last night?
  • If you could make today extra magical, what would you do first?

By introducing mindfulness practices and engaging activities into the morning routine, parents can create beginnings to the day that establish a solid foundation for children’s emotional well-being for the rest of the day—and for life.

Remember, the most important thing is to help kids develop a love of movement. Make sure morning routines are fun and age-appropriate, and treat them as a special treat and not a chore. The more pleasant they are for your child, the more benefits you will all reap from them as a family.

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