Doing what we already know…

Last Friday I reached a limit of frustration trying to get my daughter out the door to school. Three days a week I juggle all three kids in the morning, to get everyone fed, dressed, packed and dropped off at their respective schools. On Friday Daddy had to leave early for a meeting in the city, so his time to help was limited and all of the children had to be ready at the same time since he couldn’t help with drop off duties. I had to take everyone all at once. It looked something like this:

7:10 – Wake up Sissy – “Hi, sweetie, time to get up and get dressed. What do you want to wear today? A dress? Oh that will be nice. What do you want to eat for breakfast?”

7:20 – After getting some breakfast ready check in with Sissy – still in her pajamas. “I need you to get dressed, honey, your breakfast is ready.”

7:30 – Get twins started eating, check in with Sissy – now in her underwear. “It’s getting late, finish getting dressed, please…” Return to kitchen to pack lunches.

7:45 – Sissy’s finally dressed, twins are done eating, time to get them dressed. “OK, sweetie, time to eat. We have about 20 minutes.” Start getting twins dressed.

7:55 – Half eaten breakfast, Sissy is wandering through the living room, not sure why. “Finish eating, please!” Daddy’s leaving now. I finish packing everything that needs to go with us, and start putting on shoes and coats.

8:05 – Time to start heading out the door. “Get your socks and shoes on, please. You don’t know where your boots are? It’s time to go. Wear shoes, then. You don’t want those, wear these, then. I don’t care, it’s time to go!” That last bit was not said in the nicest tone, I must admit.

There are two frustrating parts of this, to me. First, I know she can do this. She is completely capable of doing each step, she has plenty of time available to do each step, and there seems to be no reason for her not to do them. She has been dreading the transition to school, but once we arrive there she usually settles into her classroom quickly and seems quite happy to be there. Second, and more importantly, I know how I should be helping her when, for whatever reason, it becomes hard. I don’t have to get frustrated and start scolding her or nagging at her to do things. I know what she needs, and I should be doing it rather than getting bent out of shape.

Sunday night I made her a new visual schedule with her school morning routine. We talked about it and put it in her bedroom where she can see each step. Monday morning it took her two (2!) minutes to get dressed (instead of 35). She did every step of her routine with minimal prompting – mostly help with keeping track of what time it was. The difference was astounding. Here’s the real kicker: This morning the unthinkable happened and Mommy accidentally slept in until 8:02 a.m. (one too many sleep challenged nights I guess). I woke up in a panic and ran out to the kitchen to find my daughter dressed, and packed for gymnastics after school. I had to make a fast breakfast and pack her lunches while she ate, but we left in plenty of time to get to school, and she was calm and cooperative throughout.

It’s so important to remember what we already know…for ourselves and for our kids.

P.S. Thanks to Laurie’s comment below I decided to insert a photo of our schedule in case anyone else was curious. I went quick and easy on this schedule and just used clip art in Microsoft Word to generate it. In the past I have also used photos of real objects and/or my daughter doing certain tasks, but our color printer is ka-put and I didn’t have much time to put this schedule¬†together. There are also special programs (like Boardmaker) for making things like this, but they are generally expensive. If you have a helpful teacher or school¬†psychologist¬†they sometimes have access to something like this and can help you make one if you can argue that the child’s difficulty preparing for school impacts their learning. I have always found clipart that was suitable for my daughter’s needs, though you do need to be selective about which images you use. Hope this helps!

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