I hate being late. Even more than being late, I hate feeling rushed or chaotic, especially in the morning.
It’s one thing to get myself out the door, on time, each morning. It is a complete and utter miracle to get myself AND my seven-year old ready and out the door on time. I have never left him behind, to date. Of course I’ve threatened to leave his pokey butt behind a few times, but we all have, right? I can only say, “Beckett, go brush your teeth.”, or “Beckett, you can’t go to school without pants on!” so many times before my head explodes!
When I wake up, I know exactly what needs to be done and how long we have to do it. My son…not so good in this area, even though his morning is like the movie Groundhog Day– the same every day. At seven, he really has no concept of time. He has no idea how long things take or how quickly things can be accomplished if he stays focused. Compounding the focus problem, my son has ADHD with the added bonus of lack of impulse control and oppositional defiance (ODD). Our mornings are like running through a physical and emotional a gauntlet! I often feel like a contestant on Wipeout by the time I get us to our daily destinations. I thrive on organization and order, and this chaos just wasn’t working for me. I was stressed out and pissed off before I really even got my day started. It wasn’t doing my son any favors either! Kids in general, but especially kids with ADHD, thrive when they are given a routine. It provides the structure that they need (and desire), while also giving them comfort in knowing what to expect. And let’s be honest, nobody likes to have someone hovering over them, constantly telling them what to do.
I did a bit of an inventory, to see where the morning was going wrong. I hate to say it, but it started with me. It was time to make a change and institute a morning routine!
DO IT THE NIGHT BEFORE
I had always packed my sons lunch the night before, but my planning stopped there. Now, I also pack my lunch (duh, fridge is already open) and my workout bag. We also lay out our clothes and take out the trash the night before. This accomplishes two things. First, it takes these tasks off the morning list. And second, it let’s my mind rest at night instead of worrying if I have clean clothes for the morning or if the cream cheese will be furry when I open the container.
SET YOUR ALARM CONSISTENTLY
I was never getting up at the same time. The snooze button, I’ve come to learn, was my worst enemy. I used to set my alarm an hour early some days just so I could shower and go back to sleep. I called it a built-in snooze alarm!* The only thing harder than waking up in the morning, is waking up twice! But let’s be honest, some days that bed is toasty warm and the agenda ahead of me is less than appealing. Now, I set my alarm once and I get up, no matter what. I allow myself enough time to shower and dry my hair before my son wakes up. This gives me the ability to focus on him, if he needs extra prodding.**
HAVE A CHART
There are many websites that have pre-made morning charts for kids. I couldn’t find one that I liked so I made my own. It’s not ground-breaking, but it works for us. I tailored the chart to Beckett’s needs. In order to establish some balance, I make him take his medicine as soon as he pops (ok, rolls or slumps) out of bed. Otherwise, he can work through his chart in any order he wants. There are words and pictures for each task in his morning routine; he knows that these things are expected of him every day. We also try to build in fun little rewards when he does a task without being asked. He can hit this really cool buzzer that makes laser sounds or opt for a one minute dance party!
PLAN FOR EMERGENCIES
It’s inevitable; every morning comes with it’s own little surprise. You never know when your garage door won’t close, your kid will have to poop, your sump pump won’t kick on, your car door will be frozen shut, your kid has an “experience” with a bowl of cherries or you brew a full pot of coffee without the pot underneath. As you can see, we’ve had our fair share of surprises so we’ve learned to plan for them. If you have a routine in place, it’s much easier to plan for the unknown and navigate around whatever your morning brings. We build in 15 minutes for the unknown. If we need it, the time is there. If we don’t need it, then we have time to watch Looney Tunes or add a few bricks to our newest Lego creation.
I have found that life has a nice balance when my day starts out right. I like when I feel in control of the chaos and like everything is in order. Beckett likes having a routine, knowing what to expect and, let’s be honest….having Lego time before he heads to school!
*My husband also threatened to leave me if I continued this behavior. He didn’t appreciate my built-in snooze, as he could never fall back to sleep. I let this one go for the sake of my marriage.
**They’re kids. They always need extra prodding, no matter how spot on your routine is.