If you have children over the age of two, this might sound familiar. If you have younger kids, just you wait.
Mom: Okay, guys, it’s 7:30, you’ve got 30 minutes before the bus comes!
Kids: Ok! We’re ready!
Mom: Grant! You’re still wearing your pajamas, go get dressed!
Mom: Isla, your lunch box is still on the counter, put it in your backpack.
Isla: I will!
Mom: Grant, it’s 7:43, go get dressed!
Mom: Miles, why is your homework still on the table? Put it in the folder.
Miles: Got it.
Mom: Grant, it’s winter, you need socks. Go get socks!
Grant: But WHY?
Mom: Grant, seriously, you’ve got five minutes to get ready, go find some socks.
Grant: Geez, okay, I will.
Mom: Why are there still lunch boxes on the floor? Put them in your backpacks! Isla, you didn’t brush your hair. Miles, did you brush your teeth? Let me smell your breath. You didn’t brush them. Go swish some toothpaste around in your mouth and get back down here and put on your coat. Grant, you need TWO socks. One for each foot. Isla, the brush is right here. Okay, it’s 8:01, go go go! I love you guys! See you after school!
And… cue dramatic flop on the couch.
Every time we needed to leave the house at a specific time, I found myself stressing over remembering which kid still needed to do what, the kids were flustered because I was barking orders and we continually felt rushed no matter how far in advance we started to get ready.
So I made this chart. It’s not a chore chart and it’s not linked to money at all – it’s a responsibility chart with sticks for each kid describing one thing they need to do in the morning, after school and by bed time.
I bought a large cork board and used up some of the scrapbook paper that’s been sitting unused in my office for years because I won’t have time to scrapbook until I’m 70 years old. Googled “library pocket template” and found one I liked, then Isla and I set about tracing, cutting and folding.
I made six pockets for each kid – Morning Done, Day Done, Night Done, Morning T0-Do, Day To-Do and Night To-Do. Super fancy. In each “To-Do” pocket are hand-written sticks with one task each, tailored for the particular child. For example, Isla and Miles have just “Get dressed,” as part of their morning reminders, but Grant always forgets socks so he has an additional “Put on socks” one. Jonah can’t read so only has one stick right now so he feels included.
Not enough time has passed yet to say whether this is a smashing success or not, but I can tell you this – it is a huge relief for me AND the kids if I simply refer to the chart when they look like they’re dawdling at any point. Miles turns on the TV? I ask him if he’s done everything on his list. This has helped Grant, in particular, because he seems to do well with routines and having clear expectations laid out for him.
I am planning to add a few more soon (we ran out of sticks, oops) but so far I can say this has made for much more relaxing mornings and outings.
What do you do to keep your kids on task? Or are they just naturally good at remembering what needs to be done?