Expert Parent Advice

3 Tips for Nag-Free and Tear-Free Mornings for Everyone

With the new school year, parents are already dreading the endless nagging, pleading, negotiating and yelling that goes along with getting kids out the door on time.  We’ll reveal three tips to help get your family out the door every morning, with no yelling required.

I’m Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, and I’m proud to partner with Kids ‘R’ Kids for the Expert Parenting Advice series.  Today, we’re talking about morning mania.  How do you get the kids out the door in the morning without the nagging, prodding, reminding and sometimes yelling that happens in so many households?

It’s important to remember that kid priorities are not the same as parent priorities.  Young kids especially are not concerned with getting out the door on time; they don’t really care if they wear clean underwear or have their hair combed – those are OUR priorities.  We get into trouble when we try to rush our kids through OUR priorities. 

But you can take heart: there’s no need to face this struggle every morning.  The following three tips (plus one bonus tip!) will help get your family out the door in the morning with everyone feeling good about the process, with no yelling required.

1. Take time to emotionally connect in the morning. 

You can imagine what it’s like for kids who wake up without a care in the world to be rushed in a chop-chop way through OUR priorities of the morning routine.  You’ll do yourself and your kids a world of good by taking time to emotionally connect before starting your morning routine.  Staggering wake-up times slightly and spending just five minutes with each of your kids (one-on-one) to snuggle in bed, read a book or just be quiet together is a great way to emotionally connect in the morning.  They need it and you do, too.  It will get everyone off to a great start, and you’ll be amazed at how much more cooperative they are through the rest of the morning routine.

2.  Tame the morning nag-fest by implementing "when-then" routines.

A when-then routine is a tool to help your kids stay motivated to get everything done in the morning—even the “yucky” stuff like brushing teeth and getting dressed. It structures your morning so that all the not-fun tasks are completed before the most desirable part of the morning, like breakfast (or morning playtime, TV time, etc.).

Your family’s when-then routine, which you create in advance, might sound like, “When you’re dressed, your hair is combed, the bed is made, and your backpack and lunch box are by the door, then breakfast will be served.” If your kids show up to the table in pajamas with their hair a mess, you can smile and calmly say, “When everything in your morning routine is finished, then we’ll have breakfast.”

Then simply walk away so you’re not available for whining or negotiating.

3. Implement a no-rescue policy.

If you consistently remind kids to remember the lunch box, PE clothes, homework, and permission slip, it’s time to implement a no-rescue policy.

In parenting education circles, we remind parents, “A child who always forgets has a parent who always remembers.”

If we always remember things for our kids or bail them out by driving the lunch box to school, there’s no reason for them to ever take responsibility and remember for themselves. Now we’re not talking about a “once in a blue moon” forgetting to take their coat or PE clothes.  This is for consistent forgetting and consistent reminding on your part.

But we can’t just spring the no-rescue policy on kids without warning.  Set them up for success:

§  Let them know in advance that part of growing up is taking responsibility for themselves and that you won’t be driving forgotten items to school. If they forget their homework or lunch box, they’ll need to face the consequences – they won’t starve, but I promise they’ll remember the lunch box the next day!  There’s no doubt that this takes courage on your part, but remember you’re training your kids for the long term. Believe it or not, your kids’ teachers will thank you.

§  Implement a process or a system to help them be successful.  You can say,  “Since I won’t be reminding you about what you need to take to school, what ideas do you have to help you remember?” A morning checklist that they see on the way out the door can be a great visual reminder.  Removing yourself from the equation will help your kids be more independent and ensure your morning doesn’t turn into a nag-fest.

Now – there’s an important Bonus Tip that can make all the difference in achieving the calm and relaxed morning routine you long for, and you can find that in the interactive that accompanies this video.

These three strategies will work wonders to remove you and any nagging, yelling and reminding you’re prone to do from the situation each morning at your house and train your children to be more independent and responsible at the same time.

Now, you can really look forward to tomorrow morning!

For more information on how to tame morning mania and to learn the Bonus Tip #4, check out the interactive that goes along with this video.

And visit us often for more helpful solutions from the Kids ‘R’ Kids Expert Parenting Advice series.