Mornings | 3 Tips To Getting Any Child To School On Time
It can be tricky to discuss morning routines in a general way because each unique parent brings with them unique challenges, such as: How old and how demanding is your child? Is there a new sibling on the way? How stressed are Mom and Dad this week? Etc.
Happily though, there are three tips that can help virtually all parents who are struggling to get out the door on time.
1) Stop doing in the morning what can get done the night before.
This is as simple as it gets, in theory.
Are you taking a shower in the morning? Stop. It can be done the night before.
Are you packing your child’s lunch in the morning? Stop. It can be done the night before.
Are you picking out your outfit and/or helping your child to pick out theirs in the morning? Stop. It can be done the night before.
As all parents know (and really as all sane human beings know), every single minute of the morning is precious, so only use them doing the things that are absolutely necessary during that time: getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth. Otherwise, do it the night before. This is a no-brainer for organized, stress-free parents, but many still struggle to make it happen — and for good reason: it’s hard to get the routine going in practice. But when you do, boy does it make a difference for everyone’s day.
2) Involve your child in the planning and execution of mornings.
If you have a school-aged child then ensure way before breakfast occurs, so possibly over the weekend, that you include him in the selection of food for the week. This doesn’t mean you just let your son loose in Walmart or Whole Foods or wherever you get your groceries. That would be a mess. But it does mean you can pick out a handful of breakfast items and ask him if he’d like to choose his two favorites. You’d be amazed at how far this can go in getting a child to actually eat come morning time.
Also, to the extent they're capable, have children help prepare breakfast, like making the toast, setting the table, even just pouring the milk in Mom and Dad's coffee. (Save anything remotely time consuming for nighttime prep; see Tip #1.)
And this kind of inclusion goes for children of all ages. If you have a toddler who’s difficult to get out the door, ensure you have a relaxed conversation with her the night before, discussing just how you guys will manage the morning together and why it will help both of you. It’s OK that she won’t understand half the things you’re saying, because what she will get is what matters most: the feeling that you respect her enough to involve her in the process.
3) Take responsibility for being late.
There are all sorts of “reasons” we're late. The kids won’t listen, husband won’t get up, preschool starts way too early, parents-in-law are still in town after a month(?!)…. And the list goes on and on.
But really there’s only one reason you’re late and it can be tough to accept — because it's you.
At the end of the day it’s your life, no one else’s, and if you want to get your kid to school on time in the morning then you have to take control and figure out the best way to make it happen. Work out a weekly plan with your spouse, ask your child's teacher for her sincere guidance, go get a massage RIGHT NOW. Do whatever it takes to ensure you have both the skills and the serenity to implement an effective routine.
As corny as it sounds: You can do this!
But it can be relieving to just complain instead, with anyone and everyone who will listen. Of course this won't get you and your family out the door on time though.
Ultimately it really is up to you, for the best parenting tip in the world won't do a thing unless you personally take responsibility for putting it into practice.
Having said that, it's important to note that even if you start today transformation won't magically happen in your house tomorrow. There will be ups and downs. There will be trials and errors. There will be a little hell along the way. So ensure you give yourself the non-judgmental space to mess up a few times. And then a few more times. As Thomas Edison once said, ~"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”* (And Edison eventually succeeded in creating the first successful lightbulb!)
So by starting right now — by 1) not doing in the morning what can get done the night before, by 2) involving your child in the planning and execution of things like breakfast, and by 3) taking some non-judgmental responsibility for being late — your dream will come true in the end. That is, everyone will be out the house on time, the kids will be to school when they're supposed to, and you will sit back with that cool-as-ice-cream look on your face and be like, "Yeah, I did that."
Jesse McCarthy leads an organization that helps parents and teachers achieve inevitable success children.
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