Speech Buddies Parents’ Corner – Morning Routines Get Kids to School on Time
The school bus is waiting, but your child still can’t find her missing pink sock and her teeth still need brushing. If morning chaos is the routine that exists in your home, try these tips and tricks for better morning routines to get your kids to school on time.
Morning Routines Start with Bedtime Routines
The best morning routines are those that start with effective bedtime routines. Even though it can be tempting to skip a few steps the night before because the kids are tired (and so are you), creating a plan before the kids ever go to sleep will help everyone get out the door on time the next morning.
- Get the backpacks by the door – Make sure that backpacks are ready to go, with all homework and parent permission slips completed and tucked into the bag. If your child has a rotating schedule for things like gym class, keep a checklist near the backpack to make sure those sneakers are packed.
- Hold a family meeting – Spend just 5 minutes before bedtime each night in a family meeting. Go over the plans for the next day using a family calendar. It helps to reconnect with the kids and finalize any last minute changes to routines.
- Make breakfast and lunch the night before – If your child takes his or her own lunch to school, get it packed the night before. Keep it in the fridge if you need to and then just add ice packs in the morning, and try some of these easy and healthy lunchbox recipes. You can put a packet of oatmeal into a bowl and leave it waiting on the counter, make your own breakfast bars like these on a Sunday evening and have them ready to go, or try some of these kid-friendly recipes.
- Set out the clothes – If frantically rummaging through the laundry piles for a matching sock or favorite pair of jeans is part of your morning routine, turn that around and when the kids get their pajamas on for the night, have them set out their school clothes for the next day.
- Get a good night’s sleep – Research shows that healthy sleep amounts really can help kids and adults alike awake on time and refreshed in the morning.
Better Morning Routines Begin with Less Begging
If your typical morning begins with you begging and pleading with your child to get out of bed so both of you aren’t late for the day, STOP. As long as parents are willing to be the human snooze buttons, kids are often willing to let them be just that.
- Make sure your child has his or her own alarm clock – and uses it. There are some absolutely wild and effective clocks – even one with a flying attachment that forces kids to get out of bed to return it to its home base.
- Give your child one wake-up call if needed. Don’t become the human snooze alarm.
- Limit distractions in the morning (television, cell phones, iPods, etc.).
If your child, especially an older and fairly capable child, is routinely running late in the morning, let there be natural consequences such as tardiness that results in detention. If your child’s lateness affects you and your work schedule, create a natural consequence for that such as extra chores in the evening after school to help balance the work you have to now complete later in the day.
For younger children, consider behavior motivation charts. You won’t have to nag as much and they will have gentle reminders of all the steps they need to complete every morning. Even non-readers can use these charts if you create them with simple symbols of the things they need to do:
- Eat breakfast
- Brush teeth
- Make bed
- Feed pets
A lot has to happen each morning in order to get the kids to school on time, you to work and other activities, and to do it all without pulling out large quantities of your hair. Create better morning routines by starting the night before and giving your kids the tools they need to be responsible for their own mornings. Ready or not – the school bus is coming!