7amclockDo your kids drag their feet in the morning? Are you often repeating the same commands over and over again to get them out the door on time? Do you leave the house frazzled most mornings?

If you start your days stressed because your kids can’t seem to cooperate in the morning, let me share the best tool in my parenting tool kit for getting kids out the door on time in the morning.

It’s called a morning map.

This is how you create one: First, sit down with your kids and ask them, “What are all the things you need to do in the morning when you get up?” Make a list. Then ask, “What order do you want to do them in?” Label them in order.

Next ask them, “How much time do you think it should take to do each of these tasks?” Kids don’t have a good concept of time until they’re about age 11 so work together to figure out the right amount of time to leave for brushing teeth, getting dressed, eating, etc.

Then you add up the total time needed to complete all the tasks. Somewhere around 45-minutes is typical if you make sure your kids eat breakfast daily.

Then have your child pick an image to represent each task. The child could draw a picture of each task, find an image on the internet or you could take a digital photo of your child doing each task.

Next, put the tasks in order with a visual for each task so it looks like a cartoon strip. (See sample below.) And voila, you have a morning map for your child to follow.

In the beginning, you must guide your kids through the map by setting a timer for each step. Praise them as they complete each task and ask, “What’s next on your map?” This will take some of your time and attention to get started but soon enough, they’ll follow the map on their own. Parents I’ve worked with have been creative in making the maps. Some parents laminate the map, others put it on a clipboard, others’ have the kids check off each task as they go.

Here’s what one client I worked with said about the morning map:

“Getting out the door in the morning has been an incredible change. It was always a constant struggle to get our daughter out of bed, dressed, hair and teeth brushed, socks and shoes on, and backpack in tow. With your help we created a physical map to our morning which means we get out the door on time and I can start my work day feeling calm.” Sylvia Barbagallo, mother of three, Mendota Heights, MN

Here’s a sample of a morning map.

Also, try to be as organized the night before as you can. With your kids, check a weather app to see what the weather will be and have them help select the right clothes to wear and lay them out. Have your kids pack their snack and put their back pack by the door along with any equipment for activities the next day. (i.e. an instrument for band)

One other very important thing I should mention… Please make sure that your kids are getting enough sleep or it’ll be very hard to get them to cooperate and complete these tasks on time.

Here are the sleep guidelines to check if your kids are getting enough sleep:

Sleep Guidelines:

  • Toddlers: 12-14 hours (including nap)
  • Ages 3-5: 12 hours of sleep (including nap)
  • Ages 6-12: 10-11 hours of sleep
  • 13-19: 9.25 hours of sleep
  • Adults: 8.25

Source: Sleepless in America, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

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