Yesterday my son went to preschool with no shoes on. Not “no shoes” as in they were in a bag or something — no shoes as in he showed up completely barefoot. My husband was on drop-off duty, but somehow every shoe in the house had ended up in my car — and I was at work already, across town.
This is my first back to school season as a mom — my two and a half-year-old just started preschool. But already I’m realizing the challenge that lies between the alarm going off and actually exiting the door in the morning. And it’s no joke, because at our school if you arrive after 9:15am, you have to wait until 10:30 to drop off. The little kiddies are in their “morning meeting” during that time, and it can’t be interrupted.
Yesterday Penelope Trunk blogged about how she gets out the door in the morning with her two sons (and how she did it as a single mom). She didn’t describe the morning routine in the rosy, simple way it looks in magazines — it’s controlled chaos, and she’s really open about it. For example, her son (and Trunk herself) has Asperger’s and related sensory issues, so handling breakfast might include having to ask him to clean up after himself after vomitting up his quesadilla. Kind of puts things in perspective.
So what were her top secrets to surviving the morning?
Use a visual schedule: Key for people with Asperger’s according to Trunk, but applicable to anyone who is helped by being able to see things in front of them. Her son’s occupational therapist suggested it and it helps the whole family stay on track, check things off the list, and keep moving.
Forget the Norman Rockwell vision of breakfast: Basically, from Trunk’s perspective any eating is good eating, because her son was diagnosed early on with failure to thrive.
Reward good behavior: Her sons get a star every morning if they stick to the schedule. 20 stars and they can get a new Pokemon cartridge.
My favorite tip from fellow blogger Madeline Holler on getting out of the house on time is that no one in the family can play with toys or electronic gadgets of any kind before everyone is completely ready to go. Genius.
And things that are working for me: setting up coffee the night before, waking up 45 minutes before my son (painful but effective), and even dressing him while he’s still in the crib so he’s contained. Oh, and tomorrow I will put his shoes by the door.
What works for you in the morning?
Image: Flickr/Robert S. Donovan
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