5 Ways to Make Your OWN Kids More Independent in the Morning

If you are a teacher and a parent, you are around children all day long. No matter how patient of a person you may be, you will eventually find yourself stressed out and overwhelmed. At times you might find yourself taking it out on the children you love the most - your own. Getting out the door in the morning can be the most stressful time of the day. Over the years, I’ve tried many different strategies to make my own children more independent in the morning. We are at the point now that my kids don’t need me in the morning - until it is time to drive to school, of course! Today, I’m sharing a few tips to make your own children more independent in the morning.

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#1 - Being asked a million questions in the morning can leave us feeling anxious ourselves. Find a kid-friendly calendar system that the entire family can use. I love Google Calendars for myself but for the kids in the home, a large paper or dry-erase calendar is a must. My calendar has changed over the years, but it has always been a staple in our home.

The calendar itself won’t be a success. For this system to truly work for you, you have to implement it just like you would implement a routine in your own classroom. When my children ask me a question about their day, I don’t answer it if the answer is on the calendar by the door. The second I answer the question for them, the calendar is a useless tool. Create the calendar and redirect your kids to it each and every time. Eventually, they will be in the routine of planning and problem solving on their own.

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#2 - There is absolutely no iPad time in our household during the week. The kids do get TV time after all homework, rehearsals and practices are complete (work hard and relax is the motto in our home). The kids miss their iPads during the week, so this year, I’ve allowed them to have their iPads for 15 minutes if they have completed their morning routine and are packed and ready to go at least 20 minutes before we have to leave. They know the rules though, if I have to rip the iPads out of their hands on the way out the door, they lose the privilege.

#3 - My children each received an Amazon Dot for Christmas last year, which they put in their bedrooms. This device has changed our family in so many positive ways. Both of my kids use the Amazon Dot as an alarm clock and we also set important reminders so I don’t have to hound them all morning long. For instance, the Dot reminds my 5th grader to take his saxophone to school on Tuesday mornings. It also gives a 5 minute warning before it is time to leave. They also ask the Dot about the weather, then look at their weather chart and dress appropriately. I also have a Dot in my kitchen, so if I feel anyone is moving a bit slow, I can call their Dots in a calm manner instead of yelling up the stairs to get their attention.

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#4 - Create a pack your own lunch system in your home. In our house, I make the main course (sandwich, pasta in a thermos, etc) and the kids fill in the rest. They know the expectations: something crunchy (popcorn, pirates booty), a fruit or veggie, a yogurt or cheese and something to drink. We’ve done this since kindergarten and it makes my life so much easier and it gives the kids choice and sense of independence.

#5 - Implement 2-week challenges to help your children get into good independent morning habits. I’ve always based our challenges on the little things that are grinding on me. For instance, if I was feeling frustrated that the kids weren’t at the door, ready to go when it was time to leave, I start a new challenge. Example:

At the Door, Ready to Go Challenge: If you are at the door with bags, lunches, shoes, coats, hats etc. five minutes before we have to leave - you get a sticker. Show this behavior for 8 out of 10 days get the reward.

I am not a mom (or educator) that thinks we should reward children for every little thing they do right, but this system brings awareness and builds great habits and confidence in kids.

Finally, remember to leave time to connect with each child before you walk out the door. It only takes 30 seconds to look your child in the eye and say I love you or I’m excited for you or I believe in you. Remember, your kids have to navigate the world without you for the rest of the day. Make sure they know you are on their side before they walk out the door to face the day.

Carrie Conover