We all know how we'd like to begin our days: lounging in a plush bathrobe, a latte in one hand, a good book in the other.
Whether or not someone in your family has attention deficit disorder (ADHD), that's not likely to happen. Especially on school days, when you have to make sure everyone wakes up, gets dressed, eats breakfast, and gets to school and work on time.
Did he have enough to eat? Did she remember her homework? Did you grab your cell phone?
You won't be able to avoid busy-ness at the beginning of your day, but you can ease stressful mornings" by creating an "island of calm in your morning routine. Here's how:
Ask for help!
Call a family meeting to decide who will be responsible for which tasks each morning. For example, Dad will make sure the kids get dressed and brush their teeth, and Mom will take care of breakfast and the carpool. Don't forget to assign tasks — like loading the dishwasher — to the children, too.
Draw up a schedule, and post it for all to see. If you have young children with ADHD, include photos or illustrations representing the tasks that they need to do, so that they will understand their responsibilities.
Use an ADHD timer to move things along, if necessary. One family I worked with tape-recorded their morning schedule, splicing in various songs as accompaniment, and played the tape each morning.
They knew that when they heard "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," everyone should head to the breakfast table.
Shift tasks to the night before.
The more you do before you go to bed, the less you'll need to cram into the following morning. Switching from a morning to an evening shower is a great way to ease the morning crunch. Ditto for running the dishwasher (so you'll have clean dishes in time for breakfast) and doing the laundry (just be sure not to leave wet clothes in the washer overnight — run the dryer).
What else can you do the night before? Quite a lot, actually...
- Lay out tomorrow's clothing, for yourself as well as for your children. Do you often have trouble deciding what to wear? Hang complete outfits together in your closet, or list all the components of outfits you've enjoyed wearing in the past on index cards and keep the stack by your closet. Keep your children's matching shirts and pants in the same drawer or on the same hanger, so they can find them without your assistance.
- Gather everything that you'll take with you the next day — briefcase, umbrella, dry cleaning, letters to mail, library books to return on your lunch hour, and so on. Assemble them in one place, near the door you exit from in the morning. A box, basket, or shelf designated for this purpose will help everyone stay organized.
- Make lunches, distribute lunch money, and pack your children's backpacks. Teach your kids to get everything ready for the next day before they go to bed. This will help you avoid last-minute searches for shoes or homework — and the announcement from a tearful child that "I don't have any clean clothes."
This article appears in the August/September 2006 issue of ADDitude.
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How do you reduce stress during the morning rush? Share it with others in the Parents of ADHD Children support group on ADDConnect.