*Hard to wake? Tip #5 is for you!
Creating self-sufficient tweens is not only a way to ease your load in the morning but more importantly, it builds up your child’s abilities, habits, and self-confidence. The best way to help them be self-sufficient and foster success is to set them up for success. Make it really hard for them to fail, and that easy success will help them create the habit, and create a sustainable change in their morning routines, and lives.
10 Tips for making your kids successful at being self-sufficient before school:
- Get to bed early! 9-13 year-olds need at least 10 hours of sleep a night. So if they are getting up at 7, they should be in bed before 9pm. Enough sleep will make this new routine and responsibilities easier for them.
2. Have them choose and lay out their clothes the night before. It is hard to make decisions when your brain is not completely awake – make those decisions the night before so all you have to do is put your clothes on.
3. Have them review their schedule and prepare their materials for their day (pack their bag) the night before. This just saves you the time and frustration of “Where is my library book – it is due today” and allows for a calm morning.
4. Give yourself enough time for success and failure. Being late is the worst outcome, it is discouraging and makes it seem insurmountable. If we don’t make it to #10 – it is ok, we can work for that tomorrow – but we didn’t fail. If they are failing – stay in the supervisory role, even if that means standing behind them as they complete each task. Manage their time until they are able to.
5. Help them set their own alarm clock. If your child is hard to wake the Sonic Bomb, or any of Sonic Alert style of alarm clocks for hard to wake children are the way to go. The clocks all have a vibrating bed shaker that when placed under the mattress or pillow vibrates the bed when the alarm goes off. It also has flashing lights that offer other sensations other than the super loud alarm to help your child successfully wake up on their own.
6. Work on 2 or 3 types of breakfasts that they can make on their own. Toast and cereal are the obvious choices, but start them on eggs and sausage as well when they have gotten the routine down. A 9-year-old can easily make eggs and sausage on a frying pan unassisted, but supervised, with a little practice. (Make sure they don’t forget to put the dishes in the washer when they are done)
7. Lunch: They can make it either the night before or in the morning. Make a list of what is needed, and let them make it. They are more likely to eat it – if they put it in their lunchbox.
8. Make a “to do” list, laminate it if necessary. Hang it on the fridge so they know what is expected, and how much more they have to do.
9. Brush teeth, brush hair, get shoes on, coat if necessary, and have everything else right by the door (backpack, lunch, gloves, hat, etc.)
10. Let them have “free time” or “Screen time” when all of their tasks are complete. This is their reward. Some children will have 40 minutes, some will have 5 minutes, but as long as they get to it, or are working towards it – they are learning to complete their tasks before play time.
This may seem like a lot for them to be able to do, and you may need to slowly add new responsibilities every couple of weeks as they master the previous. But they will be able to do these things, and it will make them more self-confident, self-sufficient, and successful as they master each task and realize all of the things they can do on their own. You are giving them keys to success as you allow them to control their morning. If you are positive, consistent, and only help when absolutely necessary – they will be able to do all of this on their own in a few months.
As the mother of two 9-year-olds and a 12-year-old who has done this for 3 years now, I have children at each stage. I only hear my 12-year-old as she says goodbye as she leaves for the bus, so I am not sure if she has chosen to watch tv or play Xbox before school. But, I do see her frying pan from the sausage she made. As for the 9-year-olds, one has 40 minutes of free time, and the other has between 5 and 20 depending on the day. Screen time is very scarce and precious in my house during the school year, and because of that, using it as a reward for a job well done has been very successful. Use what works for your children. Forming good morning routines and habits is life changing – even for adults.