School Morning Sanity Maintained

Last year we were spoiled (sort of) by an afternoon pre-k program. Having the entire morning to get the boys dressed, fed, and backpacks ready to go was a breeze most days. Moms have this ability to see into the future though, and when I glanced ahead this fall, I knew we’d have some hiccups with this all-day Kindergarten thing. After all, I’m not a morning person, and we’d now have to have all three boys out the door in the morning every weekday! Gah!

So what’s a mom to do? Why re-make and return an old friend of course!

Do you see how beat up Lily’s face looks?! Let that be a lesson to not print at your neighborhood pharmacy. Ick! I’m getting a re-print of her picture, pronto.

That’s right, the Getting Ready for School On Time chart has made a come-back! A version of this gem was used 18 months ago when the boys had morning preschool and it was becoming increasingly difficult to get them out the door without a fight, tears, or both.

The concept here is simple, and yet so effective! All you need is a piece of foam board, some velcro (strips to cut or dots), markers and cheap prints of your kids.

This year we combined it with earning of screen time tickets. So we’ve stopped handing out 8 tickets every Monday and letting them earn more as the week goes along, because honestly, they have very little time for screen time these days anyway.

The Run Down:


Food in belly!

Face & Teeth Clean!

Shoes & Coat On, Backpack Ready by 8:30am!

That’s it. IF they can move their face all the way to end by 8:30am then they earn a screen time ticket. We don’t have to leave for school until a bit later, but by setting the goal time for 8:30, we’ve still got a buffer in case someone’s having a rough morning. 8:30 hits and someone is still missing a shoe? No big deal – we’ve got time to help them look for it now. They just won’t earn their screen time ticket now.

You can see I even moved their screen time ticket envelopes onto the top of this getting ready chart, to keep things simple and in one spot. While Lily has been added to the chart, she’s not earning screen time yet – she just thinks it’s fun to move her face. 🙂

Now all this being said, you know what kids are good at? Throwing you a curve ball.

Just as you figure out something that “works”, and you breathe a huge sigh of relief because you caught a glimpse of sanity and order in your life, they throw you a curve ball. This curve ball came a whopping 10 days into the school year. I heard six dreaded words fly out of Ty’s mouth one morning….

“I don’t care about screen time.”

Dang it!

The three of them have figured out they pretty much only have time to give screen time tickets on the weekends now, and on a Monday morning the weekend seems mighty far away still. Time to find something they do care about and add another element to this here game plan of mine!

Phase two – Motivating with Marbles

Alright boys, I see your disinterest in screen time tickets, so I raise you a marble jar!

Now when they get to the end of the chart, they not only get a screen time ticket, but they also get to put a marble in the jar. And what happens when the four of them move all of the marbles from one jar into the other? We’ll take them out to eat!

There are 127 marbles to be moved, so with the 4 of them working together on it, we figure it’ll be 2-3 months before they complete it. Eating out every 2-3 months though is more often than they usually get to eat out, so they’re pretty excited at this prospect!

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  • Elizabeth

    We do a lot of timers at our house. Well, and we have tic tac chores, too. If the kids use the bathroom, brush their teeth, and make their beds, they earn 1-2 tic tacs. When it’s time to get dressed, we set the timer. Any kid not reporting downstairs before the timer beeps runs five laps on our stairs. And if they finish breakfast before the school bus comes at 8, they can have a few minutes of Wii or iPad before the bus. It’s amazing how fast they’ll run the routine when they want to! I guess we have a combo of positive and negative consequences for our mornings. Our kids are 5, 5, and almost 8.ReplyCancel

  • I love, love, love this idea, Helen! It was like you have been peering into our crazy mornings here and my loss to make things better:)! Totally stealing the concept!ReplyCancel

  • pop pop

    I know they eat out at least that much because we come and SPOIL them ! Can’t wait to see you next month and take in a soccer game and eat out.ReplyCancel

  • cindy in San Antonio

    Pretty concerned about the lack of posting. Hope everything is OK.ReplyCancel