Kathy Masarie, MD, author of Raising Our Sons and Raising Our Daughters, had advice for tilting your morning routine on school days to POSITIVE!
For some families, mornings are more like seized-up, off-kilter, full-tilt-craziness to frantically get every being out the door in time. Typical scenario starts with
• He sleeps right through his alarm clock. I have to go in several times and only with loud parental yelling and anxiety, does anything happen.
• She moves like molasses in the morning, watching cartoons while she slowly eats. Despite multiple reminders (ie nagging), she waits until the last 5 minutes to get dressed and often missed the bus. Then I HAVE to drive her to school.
Finding a morning routine that works can be one of the most important gifts you can bring into your family life. If this has been a struggle in your family, commit now to exploring new approaches..
• Get enough sleep: Separate “going to bed” from “going to sleep” to avoid power struggles you can’t win. No one can make anyone go to sleep when they are not tired. Find out how much sleep they need, how much transition time they need to fall asleep, and that establishes what time they go to bed.
• Allow enough time: find out how much time they need to get out of bed (takes me 20 minutes to move), get dressed, eat, pack lunch, and get out the door smoothly- then add five minutes. That will determine what time to get up.
• Set an alarm: get out of the nag business now on this one. Even first graders can use it and for sure by 12. If the loudest alarm still does not wake your kid up, buy Sonic Boom alarm clock for people hard of hearing and even shakes the bed.
• For sure, absolutely NO TV in the AM: No exceptions. Listen to the radio for news.
• Over 12 years: anyone 12 and over is perfectly capable of ALL morning tasks needed: alarm, shower, dressing, breakfast, walk to bus. Get out of the way and you will foster responsibility in your kid.
• Under 12 years: Anyone under 12 can gradually work up to doing everything themselves. I know some 4 year olds that can. Prepping the night before can help.
• Set up consequences that affect the kids: the outcome of being late and missing the bus has to be more painful for the kid than the parent or nothing will change. A basic premise of all of this is that the kids have to feel the pain of their choices not you. If they miss the bus, then you drive- you are the only one feeling pain. This is a time when “short-term” pain for long-term gain might apply. One time can be a charm. The last time my kids missed the bus was in middle school, they had to walk 3 miles to get to school at age 12 and 14. I was unavailable for the morning (bcp- before cell phones). Maybe your kids are late for school, because you are out. Maybe they pay for a taxi or at least pay you back in chores for your time spent driving
• Sit back with a cup of JAVA, be available for connection and love, be unavailable for “rescuing,” and watch it all happen like magic.
Outcome: everyone gets to start the day grounded and you get to show up as the peaceful, calm, kind parent you want to be.
Dr. Kathy Masarie is a Portland, Oregon-based pediatrician, life coach, parent and founder of Family Empowerment Network. Check out more of Dr. Kathy’s blogs and support for your family at her website.