Back-to-School Sweepstakes: Win a Time Timer!

Enter to win one of three Time Timer MOD + Dry Erase Boards — a great tools for managing mornings — by answering this question below: What routines, incentives, tools, and tricks does your family use to help the morning run more smoothly?

ADHD Brains Hate Mornings

ADHD brains whirl and buzz and stew and wonder late into the night; we struggle to fall asleep and, therefore, the morning almost always comes way too early. On top of that, our brains hate transitioning, and the morning routine is just painful — so many executive functions being tested all at once. If your child has ADHD — or you have it yourself — you’ve probably devised some tricks and routines and incentives to help your morning run more smoothly. Everyone is different, but we’d love to hear what works for you.

How Time Timer Helps

At all times of day, people with ADHD often need ‘external cues’ to help them stay on task, prioritize projects, and set limits. For this, a favorite tool among ADDitude readers is the Time Timer — the visual timer that has helped people manage time for more than 20 years. Now, the Time Timer® MOD + Dry Erase Board allows you to list out three to five critical morning tasks, and assign a time limit to each. Empower your children to start managing their own morning routines by timing each task and checking it off as it’s completed. Or use it to get yourself in a routine. Repeat until it’s all second nature.

The Time Timer MOD + Dry Erase Board comes with a removable Time Timer MOD and a dry erase board that includes a caddy on back to easily store dry erase markers.

Enter to Win a Time Timer

To win one of three Time Timer® MOD + Dry Erase Board (a $53.45 value each), use the Comments section below to tell us:
What routines, incentives, tools, and tricks does your family use to help the morning run more smoothly?


Monday, September 30, 2019, at 11:59 pm EST.


Only Comments posted with a valid email address will be considered valid entries. One entry per household per day. The editors of ADDitude will select two winners at random and notify them via email on Wednesday, October 2, 2019.
(Official rules)

Updated on April 3, 2020

150 Comments & Reviews

  1. Over the years I have learned that successful mornings come with making sure that my children get enough sleep! They have always had a fairly early bedtime for this reason and maintained it even as they entered high school because they, themselves, came to understand sleep as an important part of their capacity to function during the day. I also use colorful signs that I move to different places to keep them novel. Signs include “Got instrument?”, “Got Lunch?”, and one for the TV screen that reads “NO TV unless you are TOTALLY ready for school.” Because of the slow to warm up to the morning idea process, I also wake them up early to give them plenty of time to get through their routine. There is nothing that ruins a morning faster than adding the panic of having to rush.

  2. What routines, incentives, tools, and tricks does your family use to help the morning run more smoothly? We use the Alexa as a timer to remind us when we have to start getting ready for school. And mom does a lot of reminding. I definitely need this in my life.

  3. My morning routines are kept the same. I give him 2 hrs of time to wake up, shower for 10 min and the rest he sits there getting his toughts together. No TV, no cell phone until he is ready for school. I get him going by asking what would he want for breakfast? After he tells me he starts moving. He hardly makes it to brush his teeth, but to me is important he eats his breakfast before the medication that takes his appetite away. Making sure he goes to sleep early and gets enough sleep.

  4. My daughter knows her morning routine and follows it, but when it comes to the time management it’s a fail. So, I continuously remind her of what she should be doing so that we leave on time. Also, her motivation this year is be on time so that we can bike to school, which I’ve also read is good before school or school work.

  5. We have a board hanging in the living room that has each morning task listed out. As they complete the task, they check it off and earn a quarter to put in their piggy banks.

  6. My mother dealt with her ADHD and 4 kids by skipping breakfast for all of us. To this day, her breakfast is just black coffee and prayer! As an adult, I know how much smoother the day goes with breakfast in me. I eliminate any choices before leaving the house. Breakfast is predetermined and ready to go, but for a quick spin in the microwave or toaster. Coffee is auto-brewed. Clothes have already been put away with the just-washed on top (drawer) or right (hangers), so selection is from the bottom (drawers) and left (hangers)—fashion be damned!! Choices are my nemesis. No choices? No problem.

  7. Have three alarms going for wake-ups, and my Tile so I can find the important stuff I have mislaid – keys, phone, pass. Clothes are folded on the dryer, and I just grab them as I need them. All pants are black or blue, so almost any tops will work with them. Have black, tan and blue shoes that can go with anything. Cuts down the stress factor. Have alerts for meds on my Outlook calendar; desk calendar to write down appts. as I make them, so I’m not calling about them later. Before I sign off for the night, I email myself reminders about anything I need to take back up in the morning. Not back to school since they’re grown, but more for me.

  8. In my family, we plan ahead by planning backwards. We know what time we have to leave in the morning and how long our various morning routines will take, therefore we have determined how early to wake up and get started. Visible checklists and verbal reminders are always a helpful addition. Using this method, we can also determine the best bedtime and develop a night time routine that makes the morning run more smoothly. Visual, color-coded schedules dominate the afternoon and ensure that homework and chores are being completed with plenty of space in our day left over for free time. I use chore bingo to incentivize the work no one wants to do, such as taking out garbage and cleaning dishes. This way, even though no one likes chores, my family is motivated to complete them and is practicing delayed gratification. As a family, we also menu plan for each week, which incidentally also helps with streamlining grocery shopping. It is important that, above all the routines, tools, and incentives, we are working together, practicing effective communication, and maintaining consistency!

  9. I have not found anything that motivates my 14-year old for more than a day or two. I have tried everything but if he doesn’t want to do it he just won’t do it. Hoping that I can find something to help our mornings to better. This has been an issue for 5+years

  10. My eight-year-old son really hates to wake up. I’ve taken to waking him once, letting my hit my head like a snooze button, and coming back 10 to 15 minutes later to REALLY wake him up. Right now, I leave his blinds open so the sunlight will start waking him but soon I’ll use the programmable sunlight lamp for that purpose. It mimics the rising of the sun and the wavelengths of light that would normally come with that. I allot quite a bit of time for waking up as it really is a tough transition. Sometimes I brush him but more often I give him a sort of squeeze-massage all over. Then – since he likes it – I smack the bottoms of his feet! Yes, he has Sensory issues too so getting the pressure helps his body and mind wake up together. Then! Then our dog starts sniffing him and tries to lick his face. My son usually puts out a hand for the dog and once he’s getting doggie kisses, he’s really waking up and ready to shower.

    He plays with the dog for a bit and then heads to the bathroom where he uses his Time Timer to time his shower time. Without a limit, he’ll stay in the shower all day. So, on his “Reward Board” the first morning item is a shower in 15 minutes or less. He’ll come out in his undies and dress while eating breakfast and playing with our dog and cats. I imagine this would look insane to most families with neurotypical kiddos, but I just roll with it. Of course, next he needs to brush his teeth and put his shoes on but with another incentive for being ready at a certain time, that usually goes well. He has the choice of putting his shoes on or brushing his teeth first. I have built-in a lot of time for the morning so that if he wants, he can hurry up (and he’ll ask me to help remind him of the time) and get to school for the morning recess time, or he’ll take it easy and make the first bell.

    His “Reward Board” has many categories that have evolved over the past couple of years. When he masters something, we ask him what else he’d like to work on. We rank rewards for the various tasks differently. For instance, the morning shower and being ready by a certain time get a green poker chip for each. Having a “Kind and Polite Words Day” gets a red chip for the first two days and then black chips for each successive day. That’s a more difficult task for him so we reward it more richly and incentivize the continued behavior. We use poker chips and he can get one just for doing something really well or without being told – I’ll just grab a chip that seems to match the magnitude of the behavior. Each chip has different value and he puts them in a bank. He can cash them in for screen time (up to a limit) or cash. He has learned that if he saves up, he can buy things he really wants! So his immediate reward is the chip itself and the ultimate reward is determined by my son.

    Our mornings have gone great so far this year – we’ve been in school over a month – and we used it all summer for camp as well. For my son, the Time Timer in the bathroom is essential and sometimes he’ll also set it for the time he wants to leave. I’m fortunate that I can give him so much time in the morning to wake and ease into his day. He is always proud of making his time goals. Oh! He packs his backpack the night before and then puts in his water bottle, lunch box, and snack bag in the morning. If he forgets something (an increasingly rare occurrence) I don’t go back for it unless I’m still on our street. Just as I would do for myself in most situations. I haven’t ever brought his forgotten lunch to school – he can buy lunch there. And forgotten homework? His teacher can decide if she wants to give him credit when he turns it in a day late.

  11. My kids have their own laminated daily routines (for morning,
    after school and bedtime). They use a dry erase marker to check off each task that’s completed. All tasks must be completed at the end of the day to earn a check mark for that day. If they have check marks for every school day that week, they get an additional bonus to their normal allowance. Our system would work better if we had a timer to help them manage their time. The checklist isn’t motivating but a beep or reminder alert would definitely get them moving. I would love to have two of these timers to keep each of them independently on track.

  12. I am adult diagnosed with AD/HD at age 42! Needless to say, I have had to find ways to work around or through my attention issues. I have trouble shutting my mind down at night. That means I don’t usually want to get up in the morning, because I have tossed and turned all night. Writing down some of the ‘worries’ as they pop into my brain at night helps me let them go to deal with in the morning when I am fresh. I also set my alarm for 5 minute intervals so that I can wake up more slowly and still accomplish what I need to do to be on time for work. I often put out my clothes (or at least decide what I will wear) the night before, and have everything ready by the front door or n my dresser so that I don’t have to search everywhere to find the essentials.

  13. Our routine to make mornings run smoothly is also being prepared. This means making sure the day before that we have breakfast and lunch food, otherwise we need to run out at night to the grocery story. Cutting up fruit like pineapple or washing grapes are done in advance so it’s easier to fill their lunch containers. Reviewing the lunch menu, so they can decide if they want to buy lunch at school or bring a packed lunch. Baths and having clothes picked out are done the night before. Completed homework and any forms we need to sign are done the evening before get put in their backpacks at night. Coffee machine is prepped at night. Their multivitamins, calcium and omega 3 supplements are put out in little containers the night before. Since my kids are little, we prep their toothbrushes with toothpaste. For my son, we incentive him with a good behavior reward and remind him that he has to have a good morning, good day at school and good evening. This seems to help him adjust his behavior. What helps too is if we make sure he gets enough sleep the night before, otherwise he’s not focused and can easily have meltdowns.

  14. We do as much the night before as we can: laying out clothes, packing her book bag, etc. But that doesn’t always work. Now, Her teacher wants to know how each morning goes so that she can reward her in some way

  15. My son is 4, almost 5, and he just started all day pre-K. Daniel Tiger is a life saver for us. All the songs that helps regulate emotions or actions have made executive function development easier to manage.

  16. My 12year old son has recently taken on the huge role of caring for the family dog. With that buddy, my son now understands that in the mornings when he needs to go potty, so does the dog. Same thing with eating and exercise, so they do more things together. My son has ADHD and caring for another (pet) has taken some of the focus off himself. Often there’s lots of bickering in a house full of testosterone but add a dog to the mix and moments become manageable.

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