Note: This is the final installment in a series from the book Organizing the Disorganized Child: Simple Strategies to Succeed in School by Martin L. Kutscher and Marcella Moran. Thanks for your positive feedback on this series!
Describe your morning and evening routines with your child. Do you have to repeatedly call the child’s name to get her up? Is he wasting time looking for items in the morning? Does she get everything set for the next day at night? Does he have a hard time getting to sleep at night or tends to stay up too late?
Chaos occurs for the disorganized child when there are no strategies in place for the morning and nighttime routines. Organizational strategies like the ones previously suggested can extend to all waking hours. Set routines truly help establish a structured pattern to follow everyday. As always, ask lots of questions (and really listen to the answers) to determine exactly what part of the morning or night routine (or both) needs help so you can work together to seek win-win solutions for all. This will result in your child feeling more confident and responsible as well as less stressed, and you too! Consider the following suggestions in both areas:
Morning Routine — Frustration need not start the moment eyes open to a new day; everyone deserves to start off the day stress free and ready to move forward.
- Begin the wake up process 30 minutes earlier.
- Use an effective alarm clock (one that is annoying or hard to turn off).
- Establish morning routines with lists; picture charts work well for young ones.
- Once the child leaves her room, she should not go back in there.
- Have a list or picture chart in the kitchen area for reminders, chores, or other morning details before school.
- If breakfast is an issue, consider having the child “eat on the run” or while getting dressed (like a protein shake, breakfast bar, bowl of oatmeal, etc.).
Nighttime Routine — This routine should start after homework and supper are completed.
- Prepare the backpack with tomorrow’s necessary papers and books. Put all the work going back to school into the proper folder or place (discussed earlier).
- Prepare the backpack (the black hole) with all of tomorrow’s supplies (gym clothes or shoes, anyone?). A written or visual list of special supplies for each day of the week posted in a general area may be quite helpful.
- Choose outfits and clothing the night before (with my youngest daughter, we laid out two complete outfits–this way she still had a choice when she got up, but only between the two outfits).
- Try bathing at night and then sponge-bathing in the morning if showering is a time issue.
While all these things are negotiable depending on your household routines, just remember to always develop strategies WITH your child because it’s all about listening and compromising in the end!
Final Thoughts on this series: As with most ideas, children in particular are more willing to try something new if they are asked to consider doing it during a “trial” period (adults too, for that matter). Often times, children will come up with their own best solutions when we work with them on it in an open, patient manner. Start now to adopt the attitude “so, it doesn’t meet my idea of organization but it’s working which makes it fine by me!” 🙂 Keep your sense of humor and continue asking lots of questions. Baby steps, mom and dad! Teaching and supervising simple organizational skills doesn’t occur overnight. Some children are simply shown and they’re running well. Others may be waiting for the frontal lobe of the brain to kick into gear. Finally, others may simply be on a 50-year plan. 🙂 Gratitude, self-worth, and contentment come from achieving a common goal together. Just remember that you don’t sprint an entire marathon; you pace yourself (and your child) to make steady progress along the winding journey. Here’s hoping you find these many strategies useful for school and life success…now let’s get organized! 🙂