08 June 2011


Spell It Out

Morning rush is hard with school aged kids, especially with a toddler underfoot.  I found myself constantly nagging the boys to hurry, brush teeth, shoes on, etc.  On the days when The Girl was still sleeping (she loves to sleep, thankfully), it was almost worse, because in addition to my constant nagging, I was also yelling whispering at them to be quiet.

And then one day I read this awesome post over at steady mom, and I was inspired.

Things changed after that.  I made a routine chart, as well as reminders of daily jobs (and the consequences of neglecting them).  And you know what?  It worked.  It still works, actually.  Now in the mornings I simply periodically ask how the list is coming.  I also give a 10 minute warning so the boys have a gauge of how fast they are moving.  It is amazing.  

I post the routine schedule where they eat breakfast.  I hang signs for daily tasks wherever they are completed, as well as a clear reminder of the result of neglecting that task.  For us, the boys earn money for special jobs outside of family chores, and they are fined for neglecting the family chores.  It works well.  People come to visit and ask if they will be fined for not putting their shoes in the shoe box.  My response?  Absolutely.  You can leave your $.05 in the bowl on your way out.

But when I think about it, I feel a little silly that I never thought of this before.  I mean, I work with kids. I know that developmentally they don't have the foresight or sense of time that adults -hopefully- have.  They need to know what is expected of them, but once they know, they are able to sprout their wings and fly.

Of course, my kids are readers, so a list was easy.  But digital photos work great too.  When I set up home and school programs for kids with autism, we used this trick all the time.  We simply photographed and printed a picture of the location or tools needed for a task, and then hung them in the order required.  They usually figured out pretty quickly how to follow the routine.

I'm thankful that I have access to so many resources to help me remember the parts of childhood that I buried deep in the recesses of my memory.  I think my kids are grateful too that my nagging has drastically reduced.  Leaves more time for making good memories, laughing, and general silliness.

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