It’s 7:00 am and your 10 year-old was supposed to be up 15 minutes ago but is still lying in bed. The bus leaves in 10 minutes and you are the only one concerned and stressed out that she won’t be ready on time. You drag her out of bed and throw some clothes on her while you attempt to shove a cereal bar and banana into her backpack because it’s now too late to eat breakfast at home. On top of that you find yourself constantly repeating to your 8-year-old to brush his teeth, but instead he continues to play legos in his room and ignore you.
Does any of this sound familiar? Getting kids up and ready for school can be the most stressful part of your day, but it doesn’t have to be. Below are seven tips to get your kids up and ready for school on time.
- Get as much done the night before as possible. Have your kids pick out their clothes before they go to bed. I’ve even known kids who wear their school clothes to bed. Pack lunches and water-bottles and snacks the night before too. Make sure homework is in backpacks and other items needed for school are lined up at the door ready to go like shoes and coats.
- Have kids set their own alarm clocks. This helps your child to learn to take more responsibility for getting up in the morning and relying less on you to wake them up. Before deciding on what time to get up, have a discussion with your child about how long they need to lie in bed before getting up, how long they need to get dressed, eat breakfast and so on. This exercise teaches kids about time and how much time they really need to get ready in the morning. Help your child to set their own alarm clock every night so that they can develop a good habit.
- Create a checklist of things to do. Some kids need a visual reminder of things they need to get done in the morning. Creating a checklist (use photos/drawings for pre-readers) can be helpful. Kids can self-monitor by looking at their checklist to see that they have done everything before heading out such as; getting dressed, brushing teeth, eating breakfast, brushing hair, etc. Keep the checklist on the mirror in the bathroom or on the front door so that kids won’t leave the house without looking at their list. Hopefully, the checklist will keep you from being a broken record repeatedly telling Johnny to brush his teeth!
- Give incentives for getting ready on time. A simple check-mark or star next to the items on a checklist is rewarding in itself but some kids need more incentive to roll out of bed in the morning. Maybe earning extra TV or video game time is what helps motivate your child. Maybe they prefer getting mom’s phone on the drive to school. Have your child help to choose the incentive that will help them get up and going in the morning.
- Make sure kids get to bed on time. Getting enough sleep helps kids to actually wake up in the morning. Have a “lights-out” time that works for your child’s age. Most kids need at least 8-10 hours of sleep so making sure your child goes to bed at a reasonable hour will help them to get up in the morning. Good sleep hygiene is essential in helping kids unwind and get ready for bed. This means unplugging from TV and all electronics at least one hour before bed, and doing calming activities like taking a warm bath or reading a bedtime story to help your child unwind and get in ready for sleep.
- Use a timer for kids to help understand the concept of time. Younger kids and some older ones have no concept of what 15 minutes or 30 minutes means. Using a timer gives kids a visual for time and helps them to self-monitor their time in the morning. Having kids see and “feel” time will help them develop an inner clock to gage how long they have to get ready on time.
- Let natural consequences happen. If your child misses the bus because he was slow getting ready in the morning let the natural consequences play out. If you live close to school, maybe that means he now has to walk or ride his bike. Maybe getting a tardy slip is enough to motivate your daughter to get up earlier for school. As a parent, we naturally want to help our children but we don’t help them if we protect them from natural consequences. This means do not rescue your child by offering them a ride or excusing the tardy. Let your child learn the hard way and let natural consequences be the motivator to do something different next time.
Mornings can be stressful for families because there is a lot to do in a short amount of time. Getting kids up and at ’em is no easy task. Get your kids involved as much as possible so that they learn to take responsibility for getting to school on time and become less reliant on you to get them ready. Also, let natural consequences motivate your child to get up and ready in the morning. I hope these tips help you and your family have stress-free mornings.