School Mornings: I Don’t Want To Be a Nag

I’ve struggled to get the kids motivated for school in the mornings.  Although we do have a regular morning routine, individual tasks are getting lost in the cracks. There’s the forgotten lunch box or the homework that was supposed to be back at school.  Shoes

 may not be on when we walk out the door and hair is sometimes unbrushed.   It’s not that the girls are particularly trying to be difficult, they just can’t seem to complete tasks in a regular pattern.

Now I have three at school, I need for my older two girls to be responsible for their own school tasks without prompting.  After weeks of unsucessful mornings, the girls and I had a talk about what may help them finish their tasks without being distracted (or constantly nagged by me).  We decided to design charts to help them complete all their morning tasks. This is not a reward chart as such, but a “To Do” list.  I do use reward charts on and off but right now, I’m focusing on encouraging the kids to own their morning routine so they have the opportunity to learn valuable skills (and so I’m not a constant nag).

Below is printable morning and afternoon task list templates you can print if it’s useful. Just click on the picture to access the PDF file.

Morning_Tasks Chore Chart

afternoon_tasks Chore Chart

Our current morning list looks like this:

* Make Bed

* Have Breakfast

* Get Dressed

* Shoes On

* Brush Teeth

* Brush Hair

* Check Family Calendar (for prompts like library day, sports day etc.)

* Pack bag: homework, lunch,  drink bottle.

* Do job: Unstack dishwasher

Tips to help with the morning rush:

1. Lay clothes out the night before.

2. Do the majority of lunches the night before. See here for my LunchBox tips: Lunchbox Monster.

3. Use a family calendar or planner. We use a Mooo Family Calendar (I reviewed it here) and KleenexMums have a free family weekly planner you can print.

4. Talk about it: I talked about the expectations I had and WHY.  I find my kids respond well (without resentment) when I provide the big picture of why I push independence.  If I do everything for them, and they fall back on me all the time for motivation, it’s not going to be helpful as they mature.

I’m determined not to constantly nag my kids. I do admit to falling into the habit sometimes though.  I believe it’s important to teach kids independence (and to expect it).   Confidence, and often reward, comes from responsibility. Plus, I really don’t want to be  nag.

What are your best tips for getting kids ready in the morning? Would love to have a collection of ideas in the comments.


Chore/Job Suggestions

Turn on the Autopilot

External Link

KleenexMums: School Routine

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Kelly loves life at both ends of the spectrum: wearing high heel shoes one day and hiking boots the next; sipping tea out of a pretty cup and slurping hot coffee from a camping mug; challenging herself physically and stopping for quiet unhurried moments to feel the wind on her face. Kelly and her husband Matthew seek to live a fun and adventurous life with their four children and pet bird.

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  1. says

    I can really relate to this with my daughter, though she is younger. I can’t imagine what it will be like when she needs to be more independent with getting ready to a deadline! At the moment, I struggle to get her to do one job (e.g. pack up a box of toys) without constant prompting (nagging!)

    Like you said, she is not trying to be difficult or being disobedient, just gets so easily distracted along the way.

    Visual prompts are so important and helpful!

  2. Natalie says

    Thanks Kelly – I have just done these up for my two kidlets – the eldest has just started Kindy and so reading is still a challenge. I printed off some clip art pics and pasted them on next to the job ‘words’ so there is a hat next to the word ‘hat’ etc. It definitely makes for a happier morning when you can just remind them to chekc they’ve finished their lists instead of hollering about who’s got to go and do what NOW!!!!

  3. says

    Great charts, Kelly. I’m lucky that my two seem pretty happy to get themselves ready. I challenge them to be quicker than me! My boy especially loves a race ;o)

    My latest morning challenge seems to be that the older one gets ready quickly then distracts the younger with games and stuff. She doesn’t understand that he can’t focus on two things at once. So I’m talking a lot lately about not playing until they are all ready to go.

    • says

      Yes, we have that problem as well somtimes. The younger two seem to play their BEST and most beautiful games right before school HA! I do the same…get ready quickly and THEN you can play!

  4. says

    I was getting tired of nagging, too. So, I made up small cards for the kids to use in the morning.

    Each kiddo has an envelope (small business size) with their name on it on the wall in the dining room.

    In the morning, they go to their envelope, pull out all of their cards (I think it’s ten or so per kiddo) and lay them out face up. I included their morning chores and asthma inhalers, as well as getting their lunches ready. Also, things related to getting dressed and signing planners.

    As they complete each task, they turn the card over. (They get to choose the order)

    When they are completely done, they put their cards back in the envelope (in theory anyway).

    On each card, I put the first letter of their names in the corner so I can easily tell who left their cards out that morning.

    When I see them looking a little distracted in the morning, I can just say, “How are you doing on your cards?” Instead of saying, “Have you brushed your teeth? Where are your shoes? Gotten your snack yet?…etc.”
    (Again, in theory. I still end up saying these things sometimes out of habit)

    Overall, though, this has worked really well for my kiddos who are kinesthetic learners and visual learners. Even my little auditory learner seems to take to it well.

    I’m thinking of making up a pack of cards with just pictures on it for the preschooler.

    It has really made things a little easier around here. As easy as it can be with 6 kiddos under 9 years old, that is!

  5. says

    To stop myself from nagging, I decided a while back that I would be prepared to jump into the car with the 9 year old in her jamies.
    I’ve come pretty close to doing it too!

    I’ve decided that I like freezing sandwiches made on Sunday nights. Takes the edge off the mornings.

  6. says

    I generally make all lunches on the weekend, so all that needs doing is the lunchbox pack either the night before or in the morning. My kids have to be up and dressed, with hair done prior to breakfast. This makes our morning go so much smoother. It took them a little while to work out that if everything was done, they would have a long time to play before school – rather than rushing around at the last minute with me nagging them.

  7. says

    We had a very similar chart when i was a younger – it seemed to work well, and took the stress out of icky monday mornings…

    Hope you’ve had a wonderful long weekend,

    K xx

  8. says

    We no longer have this problem, my biggest tips include
    – keep the routine the same (or similar) everyday
    – ensure (as much as possible) your child gets enough sleep
    – ensure your child is eating well
    Routine, sleep and energy made all the difference for us.

  9. says

    I don’t have school kids – just a toddler and a growing bump – but I rely heavily on to do lists. I write it at night before I go to bed and then use it as a plan of attack on how I’ll go about my day :)

    • says

      I used to do HEAPS of to do lists….and I still do but I need to do them more I think…so I don’t get so distracted 😉 And great idea about doing it the night before Melinda. I’m going to try that. Thanks.

  10. says

    Wow – what great ideas! My big girl is such a ditherer in the mornings. she also loves stickers which is really helpful. Miss 3 is another story, prying tiaras and high heals off her is my main challenge. We have the routine that if both girls (wee boy is sometimes compliant) ready by 8am they can watch tv while I get ready. I have found that if they are both ready, I can relax and get ready without the constant chatter. This is my first pop onto your blog – really great stuff here – well done! I have added you to my blog list. Hooray for you – I have 8 readers!

  11. Jenny says

    Hi, I have done a chart for my kindy boy using clipart pics – of a uniform, breakfast, toothbrush, toilet etc. I then laminated them and made an a4 sheet with velcro dots so that he could move them from the “to do” to “done” side of the chart.

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