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A Blog from Your Kaiser Permanente Pediatricians in Northern California

Girl putting on her shoes

Making Mornings Easier? Get the Kids to Help!

Crazy school day mornings? These can be one of the hardest parts of being a parent.

Recently, there was some talk on Twitter about this issue. One mom mentioned she was tired of reading articles, posts, and tweets about how if a parent (usually a mom) was just a bit more organized then their mornings would go more smoothly! As if somehow moms just aren’t doing this 24/7 job as well as we could.

Mornings are messy, often stressful, and … they just keep happening. I’m definitely not here to say they’d be better if you were more organized. In fact – my ideas aren’t about you doing more – they’re about your kids doing more!

Having kids do family chores has all kinds of benefits – for your family and for them. Making sure they share responsibility for how mornings run is a brilliant parenting hack. Here are a few ideas:

  • Have kids make lunches. Really – let them do this for you! After making lunches every day for 3 kids for years, I learned the hard way how much sense this hack makes. Changing my strategy and turning this one over to the kids was a game changer!
  • Let kids dress themselves. Obvious maybe – but I think it needs to be said. Let them be in charge of their own style. And let them be responsible for getting those duds on every morning. Maybe ask them to lay out clothes the night before if they need time to plan. Give them a time update in the morning “It’s 7 and we need to leave for school in 30 minutes – start dressing!” “You need to have your clothes and shoes on and be in the car in 10 minutes!”
  • Kids not ready? Just go anyway. Speaking of shoes … I’m famous for having plopped kids, who did not get ready on time, into the car barefoot and headed off to school with their shoes in a bag. In preschool and kindergarten, I warned the teacher that I might be delivering a pouting, shoeless child to them. It usually only takes one or two go ‘rounds for the child to learn to be ready. This approach falls under the category of “natural consequences.
  • Start early. I like to sleep in as much as anyone, but I have learned the hard way that starting the morning 30 minutes earlier than I think is needed works every time. I’m calmer, the kids are happier and get ready on time. And…
  • Make them use an alarm clock. Them, not you. A clock, not a phone. The earlier kids understand setting a schedule and the alarm needed to stick to it – the better. When they’re young, help them learn by setting out the plan: “You have to be at school by 8. It takes 15 minutes to get there, so what time do we need to be in the car?” By working through this process, it helps them set an alarm to the time needed, and you’ll help your child be your partner in the morning routine.

Now, I’m not saying your mornings will suddenly all be easy. But having your kids be part of the process will help ease the morning routine. Bring on the mornings – you’ve got this!

Disclaimer: If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder. This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.