Getting Your Kids Ready on Time

“For the last time, will you get out of bed and get ready for school.” Is this you? If there’s any part of the day when you’re liable to lose your cool, it’s first thing in the morning when you’re still waiting for your first cup of coffee to kick in. If you find yourself pushing your kids out of the door, and shouting after them, “HAVE A GOOD DAY,” you’re over-functioning. It’s time to turn over a new leaf, and here’s how you can do it:

a) Discuss with your children how important it is for them to get ready on time for school. For this reason you find yourself prodding and coaxing them along the way, which inevitably frustrates you and makes you mad. You don’t like getting angry; you’d like to enjoy their company in the morning. From now on you’re going to leave getting ready for school up to them.

b) Make your children responsible for waking up, washing, dressing, and tidying their rooms. Checklists and pictorial reminders posted on their mirror or walls tell children what to do, so you don’t have to. Reinforce your children by saying you’ll be looking forward to their company at the breakfast table when they’ve finished their routines.

c) Suggest your children prepare the night before by laying out their clothes, putting out anything they have to take to school the next day, and setting their alarm clock so they have plenty of time to get ready.

d) Every child is different; they all have different sleep needs and energy levels, but here are some suggested sleep times:

Grades K to 2–7:00 to 8:00 PM
Grades 3 to 6–7:30 to 9:00 PM
Grades 7 to 12–9:00 to 10:00 PM

e) What do you do when your child’s routines are not up to par? It’s best to set your standards for acceptance beforehand, and make sure your child agrees. For instance, your child’s bed must be made with all the sheets and blankets straight and in the middle, and the pillow at the top and in the middle. Nothing is allowed on the top of your child’s bed except for stuffed animals. Take the time in the beginning to iron out details; it will you save you grief later.

f) Be positive. Your children will try harder if you say to them, “I’m looking forward to spending some time with you before you go to school,” than “Forget about breakfast, if you don’t tidy your room.”

o If your child still dawdles, resist the temptation to lend a helping hand. Carry on with your morning, and tell her you’ll be happy to drive or walk her to school whenever she’s ready. I like to remind my son of what the other children are doing while he’s still at home wasting time. For instance, “Now’s the time your friends are arriving and playing together,” or “Pretty soon Mrs. Loyie will be picking the Helping Hand for the day.” Nathan arrived late once. From then on he was reminding me to get ready.

o If your children say they’re too sick to go to school, respond with, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that, nobody likes to spend their day in bed. Maybe you can go after lunch, if you’re feeling better. If not, I’ll try to get you some homework, so you don’t fall too far behind the other children.” Even if your children genuinely are sick, resist doting over them. It may lure them into thinking it’s more fun to stay home than go to school.