Returning to the 9-5 or typical school and work routine after the summer holidays can cause allot of confusion, frustration and feelings of being overwhelmed.
To our youngest members of the family it can be like we just changed the rules without warning and suddenly raised our expectations beyond what they feel they can achieve.
Leaving the house on schedule can be difficult and trying in most households so please don’t think yourself alone, unusual or in any way failing if mornings are difficult. Mornings where you hit the drivers seat sweating more than you do at the gym are weekly occurrences for so many parents. Sometimes no matter how organised we are or feel we have prepared our child it still ends in confusion and tears.
What might help:
1. Starting your morning routine before you actually need them to execute it in reality. So perhaps putting your typical school morning routine into action 3 days before “back to school” actually starts. Get them to practice getting up, washed, dressed, and eating breakfast regardless of whether your actually leaving the house. The skills and pace needed are then given ample time to bed in. Its also a good opportunity for you to assess what time you may really need to allow in the coming days.
2. “Too late Deirdre we started back already and its a nightmare”…. Start your morning earlier to prepare for success and to build up their stamina and skill level. Allowing them more time to complete is the best way to prepare for success in this particular scenario, rather than leading them and yourself into a situation where you’ve already proven isn’t working. Hopefully after a week or two of allowing that extra time to get everybody running like clock work you may not even need the extra time.
N.B. If off to a bad start already definitely make my visual suggestion below!
3.Giving clear simple instructions. 1-3 words max with the toddlers (check out think statements blog and video https://thoughtstotsandtea.com/2019/05/02/top-tips-communicating-with-a-toddler-think-statements/#more-2624)
4. Start the day by telling them each morning the plan for the day. Who’s dropping who and where are they going. Who will be doing the collecting etc. If this causes allot of anxiety for your child a weekly visual schedule can be a great support.
5. One adult take the lead with delivering instructions. Its best to get clear concise instruction from one voice when trying to get something done rather than multiple voices giving instruction, reminders and feedback.
6. Make a visual schedule of your child’s morning routine. Using clip art and word, copy and paste visuals to match your families morning routine. Include each step you expect your child to complete and when you expect it completed in the scheme of the morning. For example only when fed, washed and dressed in this house can you play/tv. Below I have attached pictures to give you an example of what I mean.
It supports the child as it gives a clear expectation of what will be asked and what needs to be achieved. It helps support any frustration caused from overload of language and/or processing. Using velcro or sellotape they can rip off each completed step and get to the end of their page.
Visual aids don’t have to be a permanent fixture in the household. It might just be a temporary measure to help get everyone singing off the same song sheet. When the routine and rules are back in place you’ll find you might not need it again until after midterm or Christmas holidays.
Why and Who might benefit from this simple visual tool:
A Home Where…..
– The pace of school mornings is totally new to all family members so there’s a big shift in the families lifestyle.
– The child has never been cared for outside of the home prior.
– There are younger siblings that monopolise parents time in the morning. The visual could give the older child a purpose and its completion something to be celebrated!
– There are different adults in charge depending on the day or week. This can keep the expectations the same and the rules regular no matter who is facilitating the routine. Children love everyone being on the same page!
A Child who…..
– Enjoys going at his own pace.
– Seeks control over his environment by digging is his heals and becoming what appears to be “defiant”.
-Enjoys and possibly needs clear and concise direction.
-Is seeking your attention through out the morning via repeating instructions and demands or possibly arguing over every instruction.
-Has a processing issue.
-Has a language delay.
-Who works better when they know the lay of the land and have a plan.
-A child who wants to “be in charge”
-Enjoys routine and predictability…… Oh by the way that’s every child ever 🤣