Exploring How Parents Get Their Children to School on Time

Last Updated On October 11th, 2023
Exploring How Parents Get Their Children to School on Time

Key Takeaways

  • Early Wake-Ups and Morning Fatigue: Parents typically wake up early, around 6 a.m. on school days, but morning routines can be tiring. Many parents experience morning fatigue, with a significant portion expressing a desire for a break from the school morning grind.
  • Challenges in Getting Children Ready: Parents have varying experiences when it comes to getting their children ready for school. While a nearly equal split of parents finds it either easy or difficult, challenges such as delays in the morning routine can be a common issue. These challenges can be more pronounced for parents with younger children.
  • Importance of Preparation: Planning ahead plays a crucial role in making mornings smoother. The majority of parents prepare for the morning routine the night before, including laying out clothes, getting children showered, and reviewing the school agenda. Planning ahead is associated with increased productivity and a more relaxing morning.

There are all sorts of books about the joys of parenting: everything from watching your child take his or her first step to witnessing them do a kind act during adolescence. But it’s probably unlikely that mom and dad are writing about the joys of waking their child up for school in the morning.

What are mornings like for parents with school-aged children? We surveyed 792 parents with children enrolled in preschool through high school to find out. They shared their morning habits with us, including which routines make for a smoother transition in starting their day, and revealed just how difficult it is to get children up, ready, and out the door. Read on to see if you can relate to other parents’ experiences.

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Waking Up With Children

Morning routines elicit various feelings, and there are many ideas about what makes the perfect one. Reading a book, logging your thoughts, and working on a crossword puzzle are some of the most popular. However, those recommendations sound like a single person’s kind of morning.


The parents in our study woke up, on average, at 6 a.m. during the school week, and only a small number focused on getting into a positive mindset before waking their children up, which might mean logging their thoughts. However, 62 percent of moms and 63.6 percent of dads got dressed first.

Men were then likely to take a shower: 63.3 percent reported having that as part of their morning routine before waking up the kids. After getting dressed, women went on to prepare their children’s breakfast (56.7 percent) – choosing to do something for their young ones before continuing to care for their personal needs. But no matter which items parents crossed off their checklist first, they spent an average of 47 minutes getting their children ready for school.

Although the majority did not find the five-day routine tiring, 47.9 percent of women and 35.4 percent of men reported experiencing morning fatigue. And some parents needed a reset. Nearly 37 percent of women and 29.7 percent of men said they could use a break from the school morning grind.

How Hard Could It Be?

Experts say children need predictability because it helps to build their sense of safety and trust, but kids, themselves, are often everything but predictable – especially as toddlers. Perhaps that’s why 42.9 percent of parents said it was difficult to get their children ready for school, compared to 43.7 percent who said it was easy. Given the nearly even split, it could be that those who have demanding mornings are parents of younger children.


Of the parents who found school morning routines difficult, 76 percent reported experiencing delays. Whether a parent was satisfied with their sleep, having to get their children ready in the morning was the No. 1 reason for a delayed start. But, sometimes, parents had trouble dragging themselves out of bed, too. Nearly 50 percent of those who were dissatisfied with sleep experienced difficulty waking themselves up, compared to 43 percent who reported being satisfied with their sleep.

Prepare Ahead of Time

Doing anything at the last minute can be stressful, especially if it involves other people – or children – which might be why some parents recommend planning ahead. Rather than waiting until the early morning to set out clothes or pack a healthy lunch, more than 3 in 4 parents said they plan their morning routine the night before.


To increase their chances of having a more relaxing morning, the majority of parents laid out clothes (65 percent), got children showered (60.9 percent), and reviewed the school agenda (53 percent) ahead of time. According to our study, planning is not merely a good theory: 63.4 percent who planned ahead said it had an extremely positive effect on their productivity.

Makings of a Relaxing Morning

Children need healthy sleep to develop properly, and parents need sufficient rest if they expect to have a calm morning. For nearly 75 percent of men and 77.6 percent of women, getting themselves to bed early was key to having a less stressful school morning. If mom and dad wake up refreshed and with a positive mindset, they will be better equipped to take on any challenge that comes their way.


Following a long, restful night’s sleep for mom and dad, getting the children to bed early and enforcing a bedtime routine were key. Dr. Jerry Bubrick recommends maintaining a consistent bedtime routine, even on weekends, because sleep should be a rhythmic process. “If a child is sleep-deprived, everything is harder,” including school morning routines.

See our guide on how much sleep children need for more information.

Storybook School Mornings

As children develop from toddlers to teenagers, their sleep demands Verified Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The United States’ health protection agency that defends against dangers to health and safety. View source will change with them, but parents must maintain expectations. Otherwise, the chances of experiencing a relaxing morning may dwindle along with your child’s health, development, and mood. Our findings show that when the whole family gets to bed at a reasonable hour, morning routines run smoother, and parents experience more productive days.

In response to our study, Amerisleep‘s staff writer April Mayer said, “The difference between a terrible school morning routine and a wonderful, family-centered one has a lot more to do with sleep than we think.”

If a terrible bed is what keeps you up at night, visit Amerisleep.com to check out our line of environmentally-friendly and sleep-enhancing mattresses and accessories. That way, you and your loved ones can get an even more restorative night’s sleep.


For this project, we surveyed 792 parents of children enrolled in preschool, elementary school, middle school, and high school. Respondents without children were disqualified. Respondents had to answer questions about their morning habits, how they get their children ready for school every day, and how it impacts their sleep and productivity throughout the day.

Respondents ranged in age from 25 to 51 with an average age of 37 and a standard deviation of 7. Forty-seven percent of respondents identified as men, and 53 percent identified as women.

For short, open-ended questions, outliers were removed. To help ensure that all respondents took our survey seriously, they were required to identify and correctly answer an attention-check question.


These data rely on self-reporting by the respondents and are only exploratory. Issues with self-reported responses include but aren’t limited to exaggeration, selective memory, telescoping, attribution, and bias. All values are based on estimation.

Fair Use Statement

Want to help other parents find calm on school mornings? Freely share our findings with other parents for noncommercial reuse. All we ask is that you link back to this page so they can read the complete study and review our methodology.

About the author

April Mayer is a sleep expert and writer with a degree in exercise physiology. She has dedicated her career to exploring the relationship between sleep and productivity. Her insightful articles, such as "The Surprising Way Your Mood Might Be Messing With Your Productivity" and "Wake Up to More Productive Mornings," have been featured in reputable publications like Forbes, Greatist, Real Homes, Thrillist, Tom's Guide, and Eat This, Not That. With a passion for helping others lead more productive lives through restful sleep, April offers valuable expertise on foods and vitamins for better sleep. As a trusted member of the Early Bird team since March 2020, she continues to provide informative and well-researched content.

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