“I feel like we are always at odds in the mornings,” says a friend. “And really, perhaps I’m to blame for not leaving us more time and being more prepared.”
Mom all to blame? Don’t make me put you in the ! But it’s true that with the start of kindergarten, or even before, many families like ours begin to feel a squeeze in the morning. I continually hear friends say they need to be more organized both the night before a school-day, and in the morning. They strive for more preparation and a better flow.
Rather than join in the blame-game, which is never black and white, I do want to offer some help.Would that I could! So far we’ve been late four out of five days this first week of school, which now has an earlier start time, and no end in sight.
To try and edge away at the edginess this is creating around my place, we created a morning chart this weekend. I found many free downloadable ideas to get started, or if you prefer, you can use these to gather some ideas and then create your own.
The gist is usually the same and starts by creating cards with images, text, or both, of the things you do every morning before leaving the house. For text, you can handwrite or print from a computer, for images, paint, draw, take photos, cut up magazines, or download free clipart.
Then either lay the cards out vertically, or horizontally on a board. It’s a good idea to laminate them for durability. Often charts have two columns,and cards are moved from the unfinished column to the finished one when done. You can also place markers like checkmarks, buttons, magnets or other objects next to the cards themselves to show completion, rather than use columns.
To get the cards to stick to the board attach magnets for use on a metal board or refrigerator, or use Velcro dots on wood or poster-boards. Other ideas are to order a pre-made plastic pocket chart for the cards, use clothespins on lines, or create flip charts where tasks are stuck on separate cards which are held together by rings so children can flip them when they complete a task. One particularly creative mama posted this bead-slide chart to her blog, where a bead is slid over to the opposite end of a string when a chore is completed.
For our chart, we decided to create cards with watercolor and colored paper cut-out artwork. Then we painted a bulletin board and pinned on the cards in a row with some artsy pins. Finally, we attached Velcro to felt hearts from the art supply store and placed opposite Velcro pieces next to each card. In the mornings, as we complete things like getting dressed, brushing teeth and applying sunblock, a heart is applied under each thing done.
I intend to try not to use the morning chart as a tool for nagging, but rather a helpful reminder for everyone of what needs to be done. When my daughter is not getting ready for school, instead of haranguing, I’ll try to ask questions such as:
- "What's still left on your routine chart?"
- "What do you need to next?"
- "What needs to happen for you to get ready for school?"
Also, from what I’ve read and heard, these kinds of charts can take a while to be effective, so we plan to wait at least month to decide if it’s helping. But, judging by how much fun we’ve had so far with it, something tells me it will be a big improvement on the system we have now—which is, well, nothing.