Here’s the final installment in my organizing kids series. This one is about taking back your mornings. With school-aged kids, it can be a real headache to get them out of bed, pulled together and fed, and somehow off to school on time every morning of the week.
As the mom of two ADHD boys, I’ve had to learn to think on my feet when it comes to get set-up in the morning. When Matt was growing up, mornings used to be my daily nightmare. It was mostly about herding him around, yelling at him, and raising my blood pressure thinking he was going to be late for school every single day. Needless to say, it caused both of us to start our day off on totally the wrong foot. Blake is a little easier because he HATES to be late to anywhere, but it’s still been a headache.
After some trial and error and reading a number of good books, I decided to revamp our whole morning routine. Now our mornings are usually pretty great – well, probably 90% of the time and that ain’t too bad!
Here are some of the strategies I put in place.
- Minimize distractions. No cartoons, video games, or even radio, EVER. ADHD kids just cannot split their focus between two different activities and really neither can I. Whenever the TV is on, it’s like a magnet and it draws everyone in the house right to it, even if there’s nothing interesting on. Just skip it altogether!
- Set a schedule. Many kids do better with a set schedule, particularly ADHD kids. Set a wake-up time and have them stick to it like GLUE. This also makes it easy to set up benchmark times, so you know when they are dawdling too much. They should be dressed within 15 minutes, lunch made by 10 minutes later, breakfast eaten, and out the door by a set time. I sometimes will set a timer to go off a few minutes before go-time. It helps me too. You also want to have them do everything in the same order every day. It does help.
- Alarm clocks are a must. It helps for kids to get themselves up in the morning. Otherwise, you get into the “sneaking back into bed” game (yes, it is a game and not a FUN one for Mom!). It just turns into a power struggle and a frustration. Even a six-year-old can work an alarm clock and they like the feeling of responsibility it gives them.
Tip: If you have a kid who is hard to wake up, get an alarm clock with a very loud alarm and put it across the room from him. If nothing else, “the call of nature” should get to him once he is up and moving around. That’s why you put the alarm clear across the room – it gets their butt out of bed.
If you want the ultimate alarm, go to Amazon and search on “Clocky”. It’s an alarm clock on wheels. It hops off the dresser and starts rolling around the room and then they have to catch it. That’ll wake ’em up! Until they use it on you as an April Fools Joke at 3 in the morning…
- Bribes: If you don’t want to use the tough love approach, offer hot chocolate or some other treat on the mornings only for the children who are able to get ready on time. It may take a while, but it helps when they learn to take responsibility for themselves.
- Breakfast is LAST. One important thing in building this routine is that breakfast is LAST. Yes, he will be brushing his teeth before breakfast and that’s a little weird, but it very important for breakfast to be the last thing to be done.Here’s why – if they are having a rough morning, you can always toss them a piece of toast or a granola bar and shoo them out the door. Obviously, you aren’t trying to send them off totally hungry, but if they’re a little bit hungrier than usual by lunchtime, it’s a good natural consequence, and they will make a bit more time the next day. Hopefully. And it moves the problem from your shoulders to theirs and hopefully lowers your stress level in the mornings.
These tips will make things go much more smoothly in your home and keep your kiddos organized. Check out these other articles in the series.
#1 Post – Organizing your Kids Homework
#2 Post – Organizing Your Kids Chores
#3 Post – Organizing Your Kids Morning Routines – Today. Last in the series