By: Mark Drury


As a dad and as someone who has always loved efficiency, I am constantly looking for ways to cut down on the chaos and clutter of our life with three kids.

It’s definitely not easy to go from man-to-man coverage to a zone defense, but my wife and I are doing the best we can with an eight- , five- , and two-year-old. From bedtime routines to “simply” (big emphasis on the “ ”) getting in the car to go to the grocery store, life can feel a bit like a circus at times.

But things seem to hit a new level last year as we were getting my oldest ready for first grade. Between book reading, homework checks, filling cereal bowls, filling cups of milk, checking clothing for matching (or holes), making sure teeth were brushed, and hair was combed—most mornings were fairly chaotic.

Yet as I listened and interacted with my oldest, I kept noticing that he and I would always go through the same song and dance in the mornings about if he was ready for school. Each time I’d ask him the same questions to see if everything was done.

Then one day it dawned on me. This kid can read now! (Game-changer, am I right?!) So why go through the chaos and frustration of repeating myself every morning? So let’s turn this into a teachable moment for him and empower my son to do his own checklist in the morning (and we’re all working smarter, not harder).

So I sat down with him and we created his “Morning Checklist.”

It’s a simple list, really, that just asks him a few questions to make sure he is all squared away with what he needs to have done and be ready for a great day at school. Ours goes like this:

  • Breakfast
  • Get dressed
  • Put shoes on
  • Brush teeth
  • Get mask
  • Is backpack ready?
  • Time to go!

That’s it! Just seven little checks to help him make sure he is ready to go. And let me tell you, that little paper has made a world of difference in our mornings (and our oldest son).

If you’re struggling with the pace and chaos of the morning, creating this little list can make a big impact on you and your child’s morning. 

So let me encourage you to take a few moments, sit down with your kids, and write out a checklist for their morning routine.

Now, not only do my wife and I have a few less things to manage in the morning, but our son has really enjoyed a new ownership and pride from knowing he is able to get himself ready.

Looking back, he was probably ready to do this before my wife and I were. All we had to do was to stop “overdoing” for him and give him space to rise to the challenge.

With our middle child about to start kindergarten, my wife and I are looking forward to the calm that this simple checklist will provide our family in our morning routines. But I think our favorite part will always be the sense of confidence our kids are learning knowing they are capable.