Are Mornings With Your Kids Hell?

Mine use to be. Not anymore. Let me back-up a bit and give you some background. Max was adopted from Russia at 7 months. He was developmentally behind by 4 months and was not meeting milestones.  Lots of therapies later, Max still struggles with a few things. Don't we all you say? He struggles a little harder than most.  Max has pretty severe ADHD and Sensory Issues. I should really say HAD because we have worked through most of his obstacles and are managing very well these days. This leads me to what our morning use to be like. Lots of screaming, lots of not focusing, lots of doing everything but what needed to get done, running late, lots of hurt feelings. Something had to change and it did.

This is mainly for the weekdays. Weekends are much more relaxed:
1. Set expectations
2. Keep it simple
3. Be consistent

Buy one of these. Walmart. $5.

We actually went through 3 alarm clocks before we could find the right one. Some made too loud of a tick-tock, some were too hard to set, turn-off etc. Also, it took awhile for Max to get use to an alarm. He would literally lie awake stressing about the alarm going off. This took time for us but he finally warmed up to the idea (see #3).

Make one of these. Fiber board. Clip art. Laminating sheets. Velcro.

This is Max's morning "To Do" list. He wakes up every morning at 6:30 am. He gets dressed, brushes his teeth and makes his bed. This takes Max approximately 20-25 minutes to complete. I made lots of different clip art situations because there was a time in Max's life that transitioning was a struggle. I would use this board to help him understand his day. I don't have to do this anymore and in reality, don't even need a picture schedule anymore. (see #2)

Lay clothes out the night before.

Laying the clothes out the night before does a couple of things: (1) It is it's own picture schedule of what is needed to be done (2) sets them up for success (3) keeps expectations in check. You can't expect your child to do everything. (see #1 & #2)

It doesn't have to be perfect.

This is what Max's bed looks like when he makes it every morning. Perfect? No. Perfect enough? Yes.

So, after Max's alarm wakes him up around 6:30, he completes the items on his list and meets me downstairs around 7am (Yes, folks, I don't even get out of bed until 7am). I help Max with his hair and fix him breakfast.  The bus comes at 7:30. No more screaming, no more running late.

The picture chart will work with anything. Chores, after school routine, whatever you are having trouble with.  I really should go to a word chart and ditch the pictures now that he is starting to read.  So really anything works.

Here is what we do for weekends:

1. The night before (Friday Night), I set out his breakfast on the kitchen table. Usually dried cereal in a baggie, banana and apple juice. I make it something simple that he can take to his room and eat.

2. He is allowed to watch TV, play video games, toys etc in his room or playroom.

3. He is not allowed to wake us up (unless it's an emergency).  Yes, it can be hard to teach a 6 year old (actually 5 at the time we started this) what an emergency is, but this is part of his learning process.  He learned real quick that not getting his Xbox controller to work is NOT an emergency but a bloody nose is...all part of growing up :)

Having these expectations on weekends gives us time as parents to sleep in. You could even set the alarm to work opposite on weekend. When the alarm goes off, you can wake mommy and daddy up etc.

Anyway, you get the point.

I don't normally post about parenting on this blog and I try to be very sensitive to Max's issues. However, I was on a Facebook thread with some friends and realized that a lot of parents are struggling like I did BEFORE the schedule. I hope this post can help someone. Please leave me a comment or email me privately if you have any questions. If you don't like my parenting, please keep it to yourself and move on.

Resources for a Picture Schedule:
Living Locurto
Downloadable Schedule Boards
Downloadable Picture Dictionary



Save the Date for Cupcakes said...

How funny~ the part about moving on! I think it's a great set-up you have! I have 5 kids, and I know all to well how it can be! Love the pic of the bed, that's what my 6yr old's bed looks like in the morning too!


Kendall@ Finesse Your Nest said...

Great job with structure & routine! We used to have the "morning battle" as well and with a little structure in place....NO MORE! We use a similar system -- as much done the night before as possible, Pierce is using an alarm clock now (and he loves how "grown up" it makes him feel!) Everything goes like clockwork now! Beautiful!

Unknown said...

6 is such a great age. Mine is 18 now and in his 2nd semester at college and this post makes me miss him!! (sniffle) Your tactics are great and make perfect sense. I think a lot of parents don't understand that they're tone and energy helps create the chaos. Crazy is, is crazy does. You run around all disorganized and a mess yourself? Your kids will be too! Helllo? Good job Mom! It's nice when it works huh?

Destination Seaborn said...

Oh Christy, you make me laugh! I LOVE this post. Our Max has his struggles and we were told to make flash cards to help him learn tasks and routines. One problem...I didn't know where to get pictures! Thank you for the links...they're perfect! You know what I'll be doing this weekend:)


Jen said...

I made a picture chart for my son as well. He was about five when we started it and now he'll come in to my room in the mornings having finished everything on his morning to do list...without actually using the list. He's 8 now. On to the chore chart!

laurensmommy said...

I think it's awesome that you posted about his picture schedule...when I taught Prek (4 yr olds) we used them a LOT for our kids with autism, etc.

The GREAT thing about these is- they work with all children- and empowers them to do things for themselves!! So important!

sharon dowdy said...

My little girl has aspergers and we started doing visual reminders when she started pre-school. It really helped her know what to expect. In the beginning I took multi-colored door knob hangers and glued a photo of her doing the expected chore on each. In the morning she would pull off a door knob hanger after completing each task. We also did as much as possible the night before so mornings went much smoother.

Awesome post. Thanks

v said...

Oh, those days! My children are all grownups now. Phew .. what a relief! You have some nice advice and tips here. Thanks for that!
I'm inviting you to enter my first worldwide giveaway. Pls do enter. Thank you.

elizabeth said...

super advice - too bad mine are all grown up -
but you really made me laugh about "keeping it to yourself"
that's why i read you!!!

Heidi said...

You know what? That's great advice, and the part about consistency is great no matter what the age of the child. I think it's important to give them a sense of control and achievement too, not fussing over whether the bed is made to Mom's ideals, but rather expecting the child to do their very best and complete the task. That's the important part. In other words - picking your battles is very important!
I read some great parenting books when my first-born was tiny - the very best was fun and easy: "How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk" by Faber and Mazlish. The advice they give really, truly works! And it works with husbands, too! Which is excellent, cause often I really need something...:)
Have a great weekend!
Heidi - Heart and Home

Skipper said...

This is a very helpful post, thankyou! My little boy has recently been diagnosed with a Sensory Processing Disorder - and our mornings tend to be quite stressful - especially if he melts down. We can't have a clock in his room because he watches the time - he has an obsession with numbers. But he's only 4 so lots of time yet. Thanks heaps for the suggestions!

Unknown said...

In regards to your issues with an alarm clock. You can put a lamp or radio on a timer to turn on in the mornings for wake-up. You don't have to use a standard alarm clock-if numbers are the issue :)


Brakes and Gas said...

Those resources are fantastic! I work with kids on the spectrum and I am ALWAYS looking for more icon sites! Thank you! And how awesome that you utilize pictures to support your son; all children benefit from clearly communicated expectations!

Brakes and Gas said...

Those resources are fantastic! I work with kids on the spectrum and I am ALWAYS looking for more icon sites! Thank you! And how awesome that you utilize pictures to support your son; all children benefit from clearly communicated expectations!

katherinemarie said...

Really really super ideas!!!!! I adore the velcro chart with clipart... Next when Mason starts school---I'm so doing that.

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

Liz Jenkins said...

Excellent post! I teach classes on organizing for kids and it sounds like you could too! I use all the techniques and more that you wrote about because they work. I'm really big on routines and responsibility and natural consequences. I love your picture chart - what's great is it takes the burden off of you and puts in on your son so he knows exactly what to do without having to get in a battle with you. It takes you out of the picture (and lets you sleep in, haha!).

Michelle said...

This is great advice & I actually do the same thing with my children. My 12 yr. old daughter is ADD & my mornings can be "HELL" if a routine is not followed! I don't have perfect mornings by all means but the simple things like laying out clothes & packing lunches the night before helps A LOT!!! We tried the alarm clock thing & she was turning it off or hitting the snooze button so I just gave up! LOL!