How to get your toddler out the door in the morning

A while back, I complained about the toddler tantrums at my house. I got a lot of great ideas and suggestions from friends. I also got sympathy, which was just as meaningful. 🙂 Sometimes it’s nice to know you aren’t on an island by yourself. Especially when it comes to finding a solution to something that is bringing you down.

I’m not a consistent Pinterest user, but I pop in from time-to-time to see what is new. I’ve seen many children check list posts. For some it’s bedtime, or potty-training, or mornings. Mornings. Ugh. They were horrible. Absolutely horrible if Maximus felt like it. Or, great if he felt like listening and was in a good mood. One evening after he went to bed (after a lot of stalling), I sat down and worked up a morning routine chart. I worked up two options – one for putting stickers or magnets on when he completed a task and the other just as a reminder of what he should do each morning. I used pictures and action words so he could easily understand. His responsibilities are to: wake up, go potty, get dressed, bush teeth, put on shoes, and go to daycare. It seems simple, right? Any one of those items can backfire at any time. ANY TIME. When that happens, the morning is ruined. We don’t have time for tantrums, usually because we’ve all slept until the last possible minute. A tantrum in the morning is trying on me. It ruins me emotionally and physically. That’s not how I want to start our day.


After I printed off the check lists, we had to decide if we were going to have rewards. In all honesty, laziness won out. It seemed like too much work and too complicated. I wasn’t sure if he’d understand the concept of time. If you do these things every day this week, then on Friday we’ll do this special thing. I figured we would just see how it went and bring in rewards if absolutely necessary. One morning I grabbed the pieces of paper off the counter and showed them to Maximus. “Look at this! It’s all the things Maximus has to do in the morning. He has to wake up and go potty and get dressed and go to daycare!” He looked at the pictures and started talking about them. Bryan said, “Maximus, do you have a job to do?” Off he went with his papers!


We were both a little surprised at how well it worked, but he likes to be busy and have things to do. Simply showing him the things we expected him to do every morning seemed to help our routine immensely! He used or talked about the papers for a few weeks, but now they are just hanging in our kitchen. Not every morning is perfect, some days he needs more help than others, but overall they have gotten much better. The sheets have made it much easier for us to say, “teeth” or “shoes.” He knows what we mean and we don’t get on his bad side by constantly telling him what to do. He feels like he has a little more control when we give him a “subtile” reminder. 

Bedtime is still an issue. He has become very good at stalling! Recently he tried the sad approach as he nuzzled into my neck, “mommy, I still sad. I not ready for bed. I saaaadddd.” I may need to implement a check list for our nighttime routine that involves no crying or whining. And no more use of “I’m soooo saaaddd.”

If you have a child who likes routines and you’re struggling with a reoccurring task, try this approach! If you need some help with a chart, shoot me an email with your task. kyley (dot) leger (at) gmail (dot) com. $10 for the electronic file or $15 for a printed copy. 

Good luck, friends! Remember, every phase eventually ends. It’s just getting to the end that’s difficult. 🙂 

Leave a Reply