Scheduling your mornings

Family Matters with Dr. Renaud

Dear Dr. Renaud,
I have a huge problem with my 8 year-old daughter — getting her ready and to school on time. We have huge battles over getting dressed, eating and getting out the door in the morning.
Please help.
Distressed Mom

Dear Distressed Mom,

Don’t be distressed, I can help you with this situation. Unfortunately, you’ve fallen into the trap that many parents fall into — giving too much power and control to a child who’s not mature enough to handle it.

What’s required here is a plan. First, you need a morning schedule with times on it for each part of getting ready — one that you make together. Start with arriving at school on time (at 8:50 for 9:00 start) and work backward. Discuss and decide together how much time each activity requires. For example: how long it takes to walk to school (no driving her if it’s close, she needs the walk). Then back up again: getting dressed, 15 minutes. She must pick out three outfits the night before and can only choose from those in the morning. Next: breakfast, 20 minutes, and continue to work backward until you arrive at the time that she needs to get up. Make the schedule together on a Bristol board and post it on the fridge (so it can be easily viewed). Draw clocks beside each activity with the hands positioned where they need to be for each part of the schedule, for example, 8:00, 8:15, etc. This is a great activity for the two of you to do together as it will give you the opportunity to discuss, debate, disagree and then agree. These are all good ways to develop and to strengthen communication between you and will give you the framework in which to work through other issues. Let me know how it goes,

Dr. Renaud