After a summer of leisurely wake-ups, Canadian families might be dreading the shift to morning mayhem. As kids head back to school next week, many parents will be struggling to get everyone out of the house on time.
Leslie Josel is a parenting coach and author of Order Out of Chaos. She said daily rituals to manage time will serve kids long after graduation as they’re learning life skills. Global News spoke to her on Wednesday from Larchmont, N.Y., about her advice for keeping the family on time while staying positive.
Hang analog clocks
For kids of all ages, Josel said caregivers should hang an analog clock in every room of the house where children spend time to help them grasp the concept.
“Here is my mantra: If your child cannot see time, they cannot learn to manage it,” Josel said. “That whole morning war on getting you out the door in time is going to be lost on them if they can’t see time.”
For kids in junior and senior high school, Josel said caregivers should try using sticky notes beside the analog clocks to keep kids on task.
“You take giant Post-it Notes and you write on that Post-it Note what time you want your child to move out of that room to the next. And you place it right next to the analog clock,” Josel said. “It’s a great way to teach kids time but in a very fun and energetic way.”
Use one room
Josel said families tend to spread out throughout the house in the morning, making it difficult to keep kids on task. Her advice is to put everything, including food, clothes, toiletries that kids need in one room.
“Even the night before, bring everything into one room. So if you spend most of your time in the kitchen then there should be a toothbrush in there, there should be a hairbrush in there, there should be toothpaste.”
“You have to give your children no reason to go anywhere else than in that one room.”
Josel said parents should allow kids to feel like they have some control in the morning. She suggests negotiating.
“If they want to put their jacket on before they eat, if they want to eat standing up, if they want a sandwich in the car, if they want to walk out to the car barefoot, give it up. Remember your goal is to get out the door.”
“I like to say this: I think it is the parents’ job to set the parameter. It’s the child’s job to negotiate it.”
Move alarms for teens
Josel said alarm clocks for teenagers should be placed far enough away from the bed that they force them to get up.
“Any alarms you put should not have music or snoozes. They should just be loud or obnoxious noises.”
How to stay on-time and positive?
Josel suggests playing music in the morning to help kids stay motivated and calm. For younger kids, Josel said parents can try playing a game where, for instance, the child has to get dressed before the songs ends.
“Music engages our brain. Music helps us initiate. It helps us plan. It helps us get started,” she said. “It sends an energy into the household that it’s time to get up and get energized and get moving.”
According to Josel, parents should ensure they know exactly how much time their kids need to perform tasks in the morning. Josel suggests spending a few days timing their kids, so parents can plan their time appropriately.
“You would be surprised by how many parents go, ‘OK, we’ve got 45 minutes. But it really takes your child an hour to move through the morning.”
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