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How to Minimize Morning Madness

Let your child handle the small stuff—alone (preferably) or with a little bit of help.

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How to Minimize Morning Madness

The transition from summer to fall can be a challenge for kids and families.

There are activities to sign up for, teachers to adjust to, new rules to follow, homework to address, and routines to lock in place.

And then there’s the issue of waking kids up in the morning and arriving at school on time.

While there’s no magic potion to get your school-age kids moving, mornings can be easier when kids are encouraged to take responsibility for age-appropriate tasks themselves.

Of course, this is not about you off-loading some of the more tedious tasks to make a point or keep your child busy.

This is about helping your kid buy into—actually take ownership of—many of the new things she will be expected do this year, at home and in school. It’s also about teaching your child how take responsibility for tasks other than brushing his teeth or combing his hair.

Four Ways to a Calm Morning

As school gets underway, you, as a parent, can help your student learn to plan ahead, set a pace, and take pride in small accomplishments. In other words, it’s about teaching him how to succeed. Here’s how to start:

1. Clear your calendar.

At least for the short term, demonstrate smart planning by minimizing or postponing non-essential commitments. Running from pillar to post—for instance, dashing from your role as class mom to carpool driver to library aide to afternoon chauffeur—sends the wrong message. Scale back your plans and eliminate conflicts that divide your attention. That will help alleviate stress and leave you more time to get your child off to a great start.

2. Let your child make lunch daily.

Invite your son or daughter to help you plan, shop for, prepare, and pack favorite snacks and lunches every night before bedtime. Make this a regular activity. Not only does this teach your child responsibility, it sends the very important message that even small stuff takes time and planning.

3. Make mornings less alarming.

Allow your child to select a themed or otherwise adorable alarm clock and set it together at bedtime. If your elementary school child prefers tunes or stories, help him choose a music program or a story to wake up to. Your child may be more willing to rise early and move swiftly if he participates in the decisions and gets to wake up to tunes he likes.

4. Buy a timer.

Find a good old-fashioned timer—the kind you have to turn over for the sand to clear the glass, and show your child how to use it. Explain how it can help her stay on schedule and arrive at school on time. Decide together if it’s better to spend ten minutes eating breakfast and five minutes getting dressed or vice versa. If your child can’t tell time or has difficulty understanding when five minutes have passed, this device may help her visualize the concept and give her more control.

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