If you struggle with getting your children up in the mornings and out the door, this post is for you. It’s full of helpful tips for getting easily getting out the door and is brought to you by the great folks at 1-2-3 Magic.
A new school year is upon us, which means that we all have to try and remember exactly how to get ourselves up and moving when we’d really rather be sleeping! Some kids take to their new schedules like ducks to water. Others, such as one of my own who shall remain nameless, are none too happy with the return of early bedtimes and early rising.
The good news is that there are ways to make all of this unpleasantness a bit more palatable! 1-2-3 Magic has several helpful suggestions to help kids of all ages get back to school smiling and on time.
Tips for getting the kids up and out in the mornings
Very little children are going to need lots of guidance and supervision. The first and most important thing for all kids is to make sure they’re getting enough sleep, but this is especially important for very small children. Once you’ve made sure that they are well rested, small children tend to respond very well to both kitchen timers and basic behavior charts.
First, let’s talk about timers
Kids love games. Make the morning routine into one! Set the timer for two minutes and say, with a big smile, “Let’s see if you can get your shirt on by the time the timer goes off!” Help him to put the shirt on, if necessary. The idea here is to turn the chore into something that’s fun. Your little guy gets ready, has fun along the way, and leaves the house having started his day in a very positive way.
Charting is another option
Charting can be used for younger kids, as well as kids who are a bit older. On the top of the chart, list the days of the week (Monday through Friday). On the side of the chart, list tasks that need to be taken care of every morning (out of bed, get dressed, brush teeth, etc.). For each task that gets completed on time and without screaming, crying and gnashing of teeth, your child gets a sticker. With little kids, the stickers are often enough of a prize. With older kids, you may want to attach a small prize to the end of each week, based upon chart performance. For example, if a child receives 20 out of a possible 25 stickers in a week, she gets to stay up later on Friday night. Why don’t we demand a perfect “25 out of 25” chart? She’s in the process of learning a skill, that’s why! If she could complete her chart perfectly, she wouldn’t need a chart.
For kids who are older than 9 years old
There is another method that we recommend for older children—but only if you have the guts to try it! Now that we have your attention…
This method is called “Natural Consequences” and it’s exactly that. You get out of the way and place all responsibility for getting up and out onto your child’s shoulders. First, you buy him an alarm clock and show him how to use it. Next, you tell him exactly what time he has to be ready to walk out the door. Now, your work is over.
He is old enough to wake up by the alarm and know what he has to do in order to get ready on time. If he’s not ready on time, let him face the consequences. Those consequences might be annoying his fellow carpoolers by not being ready on time. It might mean showing up late to school without an excuse from you. It might mean walking to the attendance office without a written excuse and having to say that mom and dad wouldn’t give him one—and then having to explain why.
A few days of this routine is enough to break most kids of their “lateness habits”. Most kids really are embarrassed by having such negative attention called to them at school and/or in front of their peers. The only reason they usually dawdle is because they know that mom and dad won’t allow them to actually miss any real, hard deadline for getting out of the house. Once you place the responsibility squarely on their shoulders, most will straighten up.
A couple of notes about “Natural Consequences”
First, you MUST stay quiet and out of the way while they’re getting ready. If you’re interfering and saying things like, “Are you looking at the clock??” then the consequences are no longer natural. You’re inserting yourself into the situation which negates the entire method. If you don’t think you can stomach watching your child fail a few times, then this method isn’t for you.
Second, if your child continues with his lateness after about a week of trying this method, it’s time to switch tactics. Sometimes, parenting means trial and error. Find a method, give it some time, then move on to something else if it doesn’t work with your child.
Finally, if being late isn’t an option for your child (for example, you have to get to work and can’t drive her), this might not work for your family. If you can swing it, though, it can be very effective.
Even for adults, getting ourselves up and out in the morning is sometimes really hard. Getting a gaggle of little people up and out, too, can be a herculean task! With a little preplanning, patience, and a sense of humor, it can be done. Here’s to a great 2013-2014 school year!
How are mornings for you? Which one of these tips do you think will make your life easier in the mornings?