Category: Making Mornings Easier

music – to get out the door

Screen shot 2014-05-13 at 1.23.45 PMThe end of a school year can be a time of mixed emotions and overburdened schedules. In our house, mornings have become a bit more chaotic.  To inspire some group buy-in and effort towards getting out the door in the morning, the kids collaborated to create a “get out the door playlist”.  It’s about 20 minutes long, starting mellow with an increasing beat as the playlist progresses.  We are a week in, and the kids now know that when a certain song  comes on, it means it’s time to head downstairs. Definitely more positive and playful than mom yelling! If this continues to work, I’m thinking we’ll create one of these per semester.  I love the memory power of music that harkens you back to a time period so definitively. Maybe for my kids, someday they’ll recall heading out for a school day with their sibs, right on time, in May of ‘14. –n

the morning rush

imagesA lot of what we’re about here at ideas for thoughtful parents is sharing subtle frame shifts in perspective and behavior that lead to more desirable results, whether in a child’s response or in a parent’s mood. Last week’s post was about stating requests in a positive light. This week I’m sharing a counter-intuitive tweak in our morning routine, because HOLY MOLY, we are dragging in the morning!  OK, I get it – it’s cold and dark, and the warm bed in January as the house is just starting to heat up is pretty hard to leave. So what to do when my son has 15 minutes to get out the door and he’s still horizontal?

Instead of going with the “hurry up!” option when the panicked, wild-haired, flush-cheeked child realizes the time, I go for the “no worries, we’ve got plenty of time.” Rather than “we’re going to be late!”, I opt for the casual and measured “Take your time. I’ll put your lunch in your backpack.” If you go this route, the way in which you say it really matters – draw it out, put the calm in your voice. It’s contagious.

And while “hurry up!” leaves everyone feeling bad, “we’ve got time” gets you is a less stressed kid (one better able to focus on actually getting ready), a nicer start to the day for you, and the chance to be helpful, supportive, and connected in the moment you launch your child into his or her day.

Full disclosure: this approach does require a certain desire on a child’s part to actually be at school on time, as well as a child capable of completing necessary tasks in the time available. So whether it’s 15 minutes or 30, as long as you’ve got someone invested in a timely arrival, this can be just the thing to smooth the morning rush. -t

a tag a day

tags to get kids organizedAnother tool for school days! In our house we use this to help each child learn to be responsible for what they need to take to school on a given day: books on library days, sneakers on gym days, piano books for a music lesson, etc.

Materials needed:

  • hook to hang the tags on (magnetic if you have a fridge that will accommodate)
  • a piece of heavy cardstock (that will still go through your printer)
  • the attached templates Day Tags Template
  • a hole punch
  • & oh yeah, your kids’ schedules!

These tags are done by day of the week, but can be adapted for schools that use a 6 or 7 day schedule.  In fact, they may even be more helpful when day of the week does not correspond to a specific schedule. –n

let’s get out the door!

clock-bSchool’s back in session. For most households, that means a morning of keeping kids on task and on time. Spending the better part of an hour shepherding and badgering is not only supremely unappealing, it doesn’t do a whole lot to help the child at the other end of that nag learn to budget time, stay on task, or become more independent.

While I haven’t read any scientific studies on the matter, I’m convinced that the popularity of digital watches and clocks has made it harder for time-tellers to grasp the sweep of time. When I was teaching in a classroom way-back-when, I had a sense of what a 15 minute wedge of the analog clock actually felt like…could a discussion go on, was it time to wrap up … ? Similarly, it’s clearly useful to have a sense of how long it might and should take to eat breakfast or get through a morning bathroom routine.

Inspired by a conversation I had one morning with my friend, Pat, I created a tool to help us get out the door on time as well as keep my mornings mellow: a clock divided by time and task! For the cost and time, totally worth it. -t

Step-by-step for this m-i-y project:

This clock has someone getting out of bed by 7:15, and out the door by 8:00.

1. Purchase an inexpensive clock with numbers from somewhere like Target.

2. Gently pry off the plastic cover — easy on this one by using a letter opener inserted at the front edge.

3. Create your “wedges of time” with colored paper, cellophane, or simply by coloring directly on the clock face with e.g. colored pencils.

 4. Add symbols (for younger kids) or a list of the “tasks” that should be happening during that time (e.g. brush teeth, get dressed, eat breakfast).

5. Mark the minute hand — I used red nail polish — it’s the hand that identifies the sections, tasks, and sweep.


6. Replace the cover.

7. Point out the clock when necessary and let the clock do the morning reminding! 🙂