Back to School
Simple DIY Routine Cards for Kids (That Work!)
These simple daily routine cards have completely changed the way I interact with my kids before school, after school, and even on the weekends. While we’ve tried charts in the past, these cards are much easier to make and modify, and my kids love that they’re portable.
You don’t need a printable, and they work with boys, girls and especially for kids with ADHD. While you could make something similar for toddlers, I find that these work best for kids from kindergarten to tweens and even teens.
I made our first set of routine cards on a whim one morning after the kids got on the bus. I walked upstairs and had to turn off the light in all of my kids’ rooms. I also had to flush the toilet in the kids’ bathroom.
I thought back to our morning and felt frustrated at how many times I had to remind kids to keep moving, to remember their lunch, to unload the dishwasher or walk the dog instead of watching television.
It was not how I wanted to start our days.
So I quickly took some notecards and wrote out what each of my kids needed to do in the morning before school. It was different for each child.
Satisfied, I continued to create their routines for after school, before bed and then figured why stop there?
So I added in Saturday and Sunday routines too.
These routine cards have made a HUGE difference in our lives!
Now when my kids get home from school, I can greet them and hand them their routine cards (instead of saying hello and then reminding them to put away their shoes, unpack their backpacks, wash their hands, have a snack, etc.)
They have said that they love that I’m not nagging them anymore.
How to Make These Simple Routine Cards
Ya’ll – they’re so easy to make that I didn’t even take step-by-step pictures of the process.
That’s actually not true. I DID take pictures of the process, but then I felt really silly doing it because it’s SO simple. And then my camera didn’t work anyway, so I took it as a sign from the WORLD that no one needed step-by-step pictures of how to make these.
Supplies You Will Need
- Notecards (I bought these from Amazon. You could also get fancy and buy these instead.)
- Rings (I bought these from Amazon)
- Something to write with
- Hole punch
First, you will want to write down everything your child should be doing. Use a different card for each time of day (AM, PM, after school), and feel free to create separate cards for the weekends like I did.
Note: If you’re feeling stumped on what to write, keep reading. I’m sharing some ideas below.
After you have everything written out, punch a hole in the corner and put them on the ring.
And you’re finished!!
For Kids with ADHD
If your child has ADHD, it might be helpful to laminate your routine cards. (I laminated the first round of our routine cards using packing tape.)
This way your child can use a dry-erase marker to cross things off as they’re accomplished. Sometimes kids with ADHD can really benefit from the visual cues of what they’ve finished and what comes next.
What to Write On Your Routine Cards
One of the things I love the most about the simplicity of these cards is how easy it is to add a new card, replace a card or edit a card when you think of something new.
Like last year when I had to add “MAKE SURE YOU’RE WEARING UNDERWEAR” to Simon’s AM card.
Every child is different and every household is different. Here are a few things you may want to include on your child’s routine cards depending on their age and what their responsibilities are.
AM ROUTINE CARD IDEAS
- Take a shower
- Get dressed
- Make your bed
- Eat breakfast
- Brush your teeth
- Wash your face
- Pack your lunch
- Check your homework
- Pack backpack
- Empty dishwasher
- Take out trash
- Pick up bedroom
- Turn off bedroom light
- Flush bathroom toilet
- Walk the dog
- Double check calendar for after-school activities
- Pack lunch money
- Take vitamins and/or medication
AFTER SCHOOL ROUTINE CARD IDEAS
- Put away shoes
- Wash hands
- Eat snack
- Empty backpack
- Give papers to be signed to mom or dad
- Change clothes
- Do homework
- Empty lunchbox and put away
- Start dinner
- Prep for sport or activity practice
- Walk dog
BEDTIME ROUTINE CARD IDEAS
- Pack lunch
- Pack backpack
- Remind parents of papers to be signed
- Final chores
- Check schedule for next day
- Hang up towel
- Brush teeth
- Wash face
- Clean up bathroom
- Flush toilet
- Dirty clothes in hamper
- Tidy room
WEEKEND ROUTINE CARD IDEAS
While we tend to be spontaneous on the weekends, there are certain things that we do on the wekeends to make our lives easier througout the week.
You can read more about our Sunday routine here.
Specifically, all laundry has to be finished and put away by Sunday morning. This usually means that our kids are doing their laundry on Saturday, although we encourage them to do it earlier in the week.
Yes, our kids do their own laundry. Even our 7-year-old.
So, our Saturday routine cards simply say, LAUNDRY.
On Sundays, we pack lunches for the week (you can read about how our kids pack their own lunches here), and we pick out clothes for week (see that routine and download printables here).
So, our Sunday routine cards simply say, PACK LUNCHES, PICK OUT CLOTHES.
Think through your typical weekends, and see if there are specific things that would be helpful for your kids to accomplish (in addition to their normal AM and PM routines). A few ideas include:
- Wash the dog
- Practice piano (or extracurricular activity)
- Call grandma
- Write a letter to a friend
- Extra reading time
- Clean out sports bag and repack for upcoming week
- Make sure sports uniform is washed
- Let parents know if you need haircut
- Do you have homework or a book report this week at school?
Where to Keep Your Routine Cards
The wonderful thing about these simple routine cards is that they can live just about anywhere. They’re portable, so kids can carry them with them as they go. And they can be stored in a variety of places.
For my kids, they use them every morning and every night, so they are kept on their bedside tables overnight. They use them each morning and then hang them on a hook by the front door as they walk out the door to get on the bus. Then, they grab them off the hook when they walk in the door after school.
Decide what works best for your family, and you’ll probably find a super simple solution on where to store your routine cards.
And the best part?
If your child loses his routine cards, it’s SO easy to make another set!
Looking for more ideas to get you organized throughout the school year?
You’re in the right place! Check out the video below to see how I created a Command Center using supplies from the Dollar Store!
Here are a few other posts that you might want to read:
Mastering Back to School Together
Back to school can be hectic, but it doesn’t have to be hard!
With three kids in school, I’ve learned a few things along the way that help to simplify the entire back-to-school process, while also keeping me sane.
And I’m sharing them all with you!
- The organizational systems we have in place
- The routines we use (and how we remember them)
- Why my kids haven’t missed the bus in three years
- How to have the best first day of school EVER
- How to put an end to homework battles
- How I get my kids talking (and talking and talking and talking) every day after school
- How we manage busy sports seasons without going insane
- The simple tech hack that EVERY parents needs to know
- And so much more!