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Morning a mess? Try a routine chart

Tired of nagging the kids to get ready in the morning? Make them a routine chart.

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

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 WRAL.com, 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.

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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