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Go Ask Mom

Morning a mess? Try a routine chart

Posted August 26, 2010

The start of school next week for my kindergartner will be the start of something new in our house: a rushed morning.

I have worked full-time outside the home for most of my life as a mom. But before I started working from home for, I was very lucky to have a job with a flexible schedule. And many mornings, my older daughter and I had a full three or four hours together before it was time for us to head to work and daycare. Anne Sherman Morning a mess? Make a routine chart

But starting next week, we'll have about an hour to get ready and make the 10-minute walk to school if we want to get there on time without having to turn on an alarm. We need to get organized.

To do that, my daughter and I headed over to Project Enlightenment's resource center near downtown Raleigh last week and made a routine chart.

The chart has cards for each morning task - waking up, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, etc. Once my daughter has completed one task, she sticks the card in a little envelope and moves on to the next. It's worked like a charm. Best of all, I'm no longer nagging her about all the things she needs to be doing in the morning.

Anne Sherman, coordinator for Project Enlightenment's resource center, tells me routine charts work for several reasons. Kids usually behave better when they know what to expect. Predictable routines give kids a sense of comfort and security. And the charts can help to reduce power struggles.

Sherman says they work best for preschoolers and kids in elementary school. But even middle schoolers can benefit from at least a list of tasks.

The resource center offers the materials to make and customize your own routine chart. You can also make them for bedtime routines or for very specific tasks, such as going to the bathroom or dressing, which Sherman tells me can be very helpful for special needs kids. Or you can just buy a kit for $5.

Click here to learn more about the importance of routines and sleep (go to "The Importance of Routines" workshop). And click here to learn how to make a routine chart (click on "Routine Chart" and "Routine Chart Pictures").

And check the video for more from Sherman on routine charts and what Project Enlightenment has to offer.


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  • shall6 Aug 30, 2010

    I actually had something a few months ago on allowance:

    But now that I've figured out that we're ready for it in my house, I need some kind of device like what you're talking about ... so I agree ... time for another allowance post :)


  • howdiditgettothis Aug 30, 2010

    maybe you can tackle allowance in your next column, sarah? ;-)

    i've talked to a lot of moms, and done some online reading about it. the moonjar sounded most appealing to me, but i'd love to read anything regarding children and money.

    thanks again for the links. i wish i'd read more information BEFORE they were born. ;-)

  • shall6 Aug 29, 2010

    Thank you howdiditgettothis. I've been wondering about allowance myself.

  • howdiditgettothis Aug 29, 2010

    very helpful links! thanks for the information!

    my 3 & 4 year old's morning "chore" chart had 4 items, and included things like get dressed, "make" bed, eat breakfast, and brush teeth. the "evening" chore chart was similar.

    i picked one "chore" for daytime to work on -- like sweeping.
    gave each kid a sweeper and said sweep up after lunch. after they became great sweepers, i'd mix it up and say how about setting the table? (work on that until mastered) then how about putting up laundry.....

    at 6 & 7, my children have been handling their own laundry, setting & clearing meal time table, and mornings/evenings aren't too bad generally.

    they know all our family members are responsible for helping take care of our home and property -- without expecting monetary payment for the chores. items that aren't taken care of are removed, and reintroduced again at a later time.

    we plan to integrate allowance in the near future, using the MoonJar method (google it).

  • shall6 Aug 27, 2010

    No problem! I'm so glad you found it helpful. I definitely recommend you calling the resource center for some more ideas. Good luck!


  • thinkb4speak Aug 27, 2010

    Thank you so much for this information. I have a child that was just diagnosed with ADD and I am trying to find ways to help keep her organized. Her Dad gets her ready in the morning and there is usually a struggle. I think this will help A LOT. And I can see ways that I can incorporate this into other parts of her day. Thanks for the link!!!