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)

150 Comments & Reviews

  1. As an adult with ADHD, I prepare my work bag and clothes the night before. In the morning I use a bullet List when sorting myself. This helps me stay on task and remember what I need before leaving the house. My school children use a similar system with great success!

  2. My daughter has her clothes laid out the night before (literally, laid out on the floor right down to the socks and shoes). We each set two alarms and any reminder on our phones. She has sticky notes on her mirror reminding her to take her meds and put in her contacts. School backpack and dance backpack are packed the night before and placed in front of the bedroom door so she has to step over them. Lunch is thought out and all items gathered in one place in the refrigerator the night before. Phones are charged, and a phone charger is packed just in case. For me, keys, phone, employee badge are placed in the same pocket of my purse the night before so I am not searching for anything in the morning. Everything extra that I have to take to work is placed at eye level right by the door, so it is the last thing I see leaving the house. It is hard to miss.

    The incentive for me is a smooth, out the door experience. All I have to do is think about what my day would be like if I didn’t do these things ahead of time.

  3. In our house we work hard to “set the scene for success “
    Each family member gets clothes out for the next day,
    Checks the list to be sure: their chrome book is plugged in,
    Backpack is on the hook for going out the door, and lunchboxes are
    On the kitchen counter to be filled in the morning

  4. We are starting a checklist this week for each time of the day (morning, after school, bedtime) to help our entire family (parents included) to remember everything that needs to be completed, and also to speed the process up.

  5. My kids are young, so I try and get as much organized before they wake up. Clothes are out and in the living room where I can help keep them on track. They have to get dressed before they eat and the TV never goes on on school days.

  6. I make sure my son’s backpack is packed the night before, and he picks out his clothes the night before to streamline our morning. He has time blindness and has no sense of urgency, so his alarm goes off at 6am giving him an hour to get ready for school when in reality if he would get up when the alarm goes off the first time (he doesn’t) and would complete the 4 tasks he needs to get ready for school without delay, he would have plenty of extra time to play games on the ipad. As it is, I have to build in this extra time for him to zone out and piddle so that we can still walk out the door in time. Mornings are a real struggle!!

  7. We start by giving him his meds and then he rides a stationary bike or other activity for 20 minutes. Then we use a dry erase board with a timelime of his morning. We tried a clock but really would like to use a timer like this. The timeline has been the most success we have had with our mornings. Then I check to see if he’s on track…I try to ask him to check in with himself instead of feeding it to him.

  8. What routines, incentives, tools, and tricks does your family use to help the morning run more smoothly?
    We have identified what needs to be done in the morning and created a basic routine. I made a dry-erase checklist by putting printed paper inside a sheet protector and hanging it on the fridge. The kids can look at it to see if they’ve completed everything, and if they have, they get free time between completion and leaving for the bus. They also get to bring their tablet on the bus for the ride, which is their biggest motivation. Our routine is: wake up, go to the bathroom, get dressed, brush hair. Eat breakfast. Brush teeth. Put lunchbox in backpack, put shoes on.

    There a short section for once they get home: go to the bathroom, put shoes away, put lunchbox away, unpack backpack.

  9. So I am an ADHD Mom with an ADHD daughter so we really do well with routines in place. We do several things the night before to organize ourselves for the next day such as unpacking our backpack, placing papers in the note bin, picking out an outfit, and then doing nighttime routines- get dressed, brush teeth, talk about the day with a nighttime book. When morning comes, my children get dressed in their clothes laid out by their beds the night before, make their beds (to help them start their day feeling accomplished), brush their teeth, get snacks out of the snack area (plastic drawer cart with a variety of snacks), get back packs ready to go with lunches/snacks, and then put on shoes to head out the door. We have to be out of the house by 7:30 so both of my children eat at daycare and need to get ready quickly. If all routines are completed without whining or breaks, they will get a penny for their Penny chart. They also get pennies for staying in their beds and doing chores around the house. They can trade these pennies in when accumulating 10 for a special treat, Game Night, or other activity of their choosing to do with us. Being an adult is hard work, and being a parent is completely exhausting…so any little thing helps! Thank for all of your great ideas and have a blessed day!!!

  10. Mornings and evenings run pretty smoothly because for years we used lists with visual queues on them. It is the time in between getting home from school and getting ready for bed that is our rough spot.

  11. We set out everything we need the night before in the same spot each night, so that in the morning everything is where we need it and we do not have to rush around looking for things while stressed about being late.

  12. I am a second grade teacher and use a time timer in my classroom. To be honest, I never thought of bringing it home to help my son. I loved reading the article and can think of many uses, including homework, time on electronics, getting ready for bed, time reading, and even earning time for various things. This would be a great addition to our household!

  13. We have a wake up alarm on phone, visual time and task chart. I try to stick to the exact same routine every morning so he knows what is coming next. Would love to use a timer like this to let him be more in charge of when next step is to happen.

  14. We’ve programmed a morning and evening routine into Google Assistant. In the morning, it automatically turns on the lights to full brightness (this is great for those dark winter mornings), lists any reminders I’ve set the day before, tells me about my commute, and plays a series of news/podcasts that I know is roughly the amount of time that we have before we need to get out of the door. Once the podcasts are done, I know we have to be wrapping up whatever we’re doing! In the evening, Google automatically dims the lights, tells me the weather tomorrow so I know what clothes to lay out, and asks me if I have any reminders for tomorrow morning.

    It was a lot of time investment of time and money up front, what with having to buy smart lights/appliances and figuring out what timings worked for us, but having the British Google Assistant voice providing some “outside accountability” for our ADHD brains works pretty well.

  15. For my son who seems to have a hard time with the idea of time I think this timer would be a huge help for him. Pairing it with the board would ease some of the anxiety of remembering all the to-do’s and the timer would be a huge help to keep him on task.

  16. We allow 15mins for our son to “wake up” by watching tv before starting the morning rush of getting dressed/brushing teeth, etc. This has allowed him time to be more awake and then feel more alert. Then the routine is always the same, get dressed, eat, brush teeth and put on your shoes. Trying to keep the mornings consistent is the biggest help. Having this timer would help with the amount of time he and his siblings can spend on each task so they can visually see if they need to pick up the pace or if they have plenty of time left.

  17. We get the clothes ready the night before. We allow 5 minutes wake up time and time each step ( breakfast, getting dressed, getting breakfast…), but my son thinks that if he stops the timer he stops the time ;-). i love the idea of a visual 60 min timer.

  18. We use the routines feature on the Amazon Echo. Our son picks the songs he likes for when he should be brushing his teeth, making the bed, and most importantly – knowing that he should be downstairs and at the breakfast table before a certain song ends. Additionally, Alexa, will relay a message (and reminder to put on shoes) to our son each morning prior to walking out the door. On a good day I have the time to create a new message that correlates to the events of the day (good or bad). Other days it relays how “special, kind and outstanding” he truly is. We started this in Kindergarten. He’s now in 1st grade and it works amazingly well!

  19. 2/3 of my kiddos (and my husband) are ADHD and we rely heavily on Google. We all have a mini in our bedroom for reminders and timers and it’s great for me to broadcast messages to keep them on track. I also keep a stash of juice boxes in my closet so I can have my middle son take his meds first thing before he leaves his bed. The sooner he takes it the better (for him and the other 4 of us) 🤣

  20. I really hate to cook. But I have found that batch cooking for 2 days a month, makes the days, nights and lunches so much easier. Everything is weighed and measurured into baggies and containers and labeled. Then frozen so it won’t go bad. We have saved a lot of money doing this and making lunches is a breeze. We also don’t eat out as often so we are saving money and eating better food. As a busy Mom, it gives me peace to know my meals are cooked and waiting for me. God Bless the person who made the Instapot! Take a frozen chicken, add a cup of broth and some spices, and 30 min later…done! I bought 2 of the instapots.

  21. I work at my child’s middle school, which is very close to our home. The best thing I have found is giving him the deadline of time to be ready to go and if he isn’t ready, he has to walk or ride his bike. I have tried countless reminders, etc. but it really needed to be up to him to decide how he was going to get ready to go. He relies on his phone for a timer, but can easily get distracted. This timer would be a great replacement.

  22. My eldest son (age 9) is super eager to get to school so my other son and I who are inattentive type follow his lead. He gets to the bus stop early while I get my other son dressed and out the door. I narrowed down my essential morning tasks to the bare minimum, starting with a “slow start” of drinking a homemade latte and journaling, listening to news or browsing online. Next is breakfast (cold/easy is fine, but needs to be high protein/high fiber), get cleaned up (wash face, brush teeth and put on deodorant), get dressed, get bag (and lunch etc), go. I’ve had to start writing down “leave time” because if I think about the time the meeting starts, my brain underestimates how much time I need to drive there and get out to my car and park and get to the room, etc. So I have to backtrack and think through the fact I’ll need 10 mins to walk in from where I’ve parked, to how long it might take from my door at home to parking and then another couple minutes for actually getting from my door to my car and turning it on, etc. When I have a meeting I’ll try and first post “leave time” so I can time getting dressed and packing lunch correctly. But by posting leave time I know if I just have to grab an apple and cheese and go or if I can take extra time to pull together something more complicated. I have a notebook I now use for all meetings. It has colored divided sections. It seems to hold half a year’s worth of notes. That way I don’t have to look for the “right notebook” or file for that particular group and can just keep it in my bag always. That way I have my notes on hand from previous meetings of that group as a reminder of what I might have committed to or what we discussed. Finally, I put my Driver’s License on a lanyard connected to my car keys and put up a hook inside of a cupboard in the kitchen where I put them every time. I still forget my phone but I can leave without my phone. I can’t leave without ID. Just this week I got a low balance credit card so I can leave my debit card at home too and not worry about having my bank account drained if somehow I misplace my bankcard. It took me a long time to develop this approach but it has given me so much freedom and ability to get where I need to got, I’m really proud and delighted with the results.

  23. We definitely do A LOT (as much as possible the night before… lay out the clothes, make the lunches, put everything in the backpack, set up the breakfast food. But Honestly my ADHD daughter is an on-off switch and can pop out of bed and is ready to go, it’s just a matter of keeping her on task. My ADHD son is slow moving and needs constant podding to keep it moving. It would be nice to have some help with that. We used to do the checklist, but DD’s got it down, it’s more a matter of not getting distracted on her way to brush her teeth. My son other the other hand needs me to basically hold his hand every step of the way in the morning. I’d love to try this clock, looks like it would be a big help.

  24. We make lunches for the week on Sunday so it’s grab and go. Bags are packed up the night before, and outfits chosen for the next day. The more we can do before bedtime, the easier the mornings are.

  25. For us, the most important thing is what happens the night before- prepping for the next day, lunches, clothes laid out, backpacks ready. And making sure we all get adequate sleep is so important. Morning routines are predictable so kiddos know what to expect but it can still be rough.

  26. We set everything out the night before, we plan ahead of time if he will eat hot lunch or cold lunch, what’s going to be in his lunch so he’s not surprised, he’s ASD/ADHD, trying to figure it all out! He has lots of meltdowns, if he’s thrown for a loop. This would be a great tool for all of us. To let him take control also! Thanks

  27. We have a time timer that broke but it used to work well! We also have printed picture schedules so the kids can stay on track themselves. But it is pretty chaotic, so there’s a lot of ‘hurry ups’ and ‘lets goooooo!’s!!

  28. My 12 year old daughter uses an App on her iPad, where she can list what she has to do in the morning and check them off as she goes. I’ve found that when she comes up with her own way to manage herself, it works better than when I try to introduce a new method. My 6 year old son is another story, he has absolutely no concept of time, so even though charts work for him, he doesn’t understand the reason to get it done now over later. This timer would be good for him! When they succeed they get additional benefits, like texting time before school for my daughter or candy for my son. Sometime they will opt for a 15 min later bedtime

  29. I have ADHD and my daughters are in an after school care program. We struggle in the mornings mostly because I can’t get myself organized! Lately I’ve been using time together as an incentive. If they get themselves dressed, teeth brushed, shoes on and otherwise ready to go in the morning without too much effort/reminding from me (I also have chronic migraines so I need all the help I can get!) then I le will pick them up early from aftercare so we can spend extra time together as a family doing something fun. Oh how I need this timer to help us!

  30. I really have to have stuff ready the night before in order for things to go smoothly in the AM, although I don’t always stick to that rule and usually regret it.

  31. We try to get all our belongings ready and by the door the night before. Breakfast is sitting on the table when the boys get up so they can eat right away. We forgo the making of beds during school days until after school or not at all. (It’s not worth fighting about first thing in the morning.(

  32. With my teenager, getting out the door by a certain time means we may have time for a drive through Dunkin’ Donuts for a small coffee on the way to school. The coffee is a huge incentive for her, as she is just entering the “small bits of coffee allowed” age, and the small bit of caffeine actually works as a stimulant to get her become alert and focused for school. (Note: she is not taking other stimulant add medications that the caffeine might interact with)

  33. Both my son and husband have ADHD. For the morning routine at home I use post-it notes to help everyone remember what they need to do in a timely fashion. We also prepare our lunches the night before so that we don’t have to do it during the morning rush. I have all of the household chores on a google doc, that I print off, they’re organized into daily, weekly, and monthly chores. Once a chore is complete, it gets checked off the list. As I was writing this I just realized I should probably laminate the chore list so I don’t have to keep printing it, just erase instead. For our alarm clocks, we use Wake-Up lights instead and this is working very well so far.

  34. I created a list with check boxes and had it laminated at my local office supplies store. We posted the checklist on the forge and hung a dry erase marker on it. Instead of nagging, I would direct my child to the list. The last item was “Hug Mommy”. When I got my hug, I knew he was done. Eventually the list disappeared because he had the routine established.

  35. We’ve had a checklist since my son was 4. Before he could read it was pictures of his morning chores and now is a just a simple list with a place to check off each chore. The element we struggle with is time. Having a visual timer would really help!

  36. I created a flip-up, picture-based chore chart for my son. The tactile act of flipping each task up is helpful but we’re missing the timing component which is especially tricky in the morning. Always happy to learn others’ strategies!

  37. I have ADHD, and so do both of my sons. The mornings can be brutal. The only way I can keep my sanity is through physical separation. We all get up and immediately take our medicine. Then, we all part ways for different areas of the house. I go into the master bedroom to get ready in peace (while Vyvanse works its miracles). One son goes to the kitchen to eat breakfast in pajamas. The other son goes back to his room to get ready. In about 20 minutes, we’re all ready to rotate…LOL I make my way to the kitchen, the fed son gets dressed, and the dressed son gets fed. Usually, I’m in a better place to parent after taking some time to myself first. That way I can be a more effective traffic director when the boys are drawn together like moths to a flame. Oftentimes, I have to physically stand between the two to get them turned in opposite directions and back on schedule. It’s not perfect, but we’ve improved from being on time 0% to a solid 25% success. Hey, baby steps!!

  38. All seemed easier “chore/routine” wise when my boy was young: We would either prepare stuff for him (ex.: have school bag ready to go in the morning) or we could transform every chore in a race against mommy or daddy. When his sister was young, he would take pleasure in guiding her on what to do… so things got done with a minimum of refusal or fight.

    As a 14 year old teen… we had to learn how to go about.
    Even if i’m a special needs kid teacher with teens (yeah! I know… i should be a pro at this), I am also a mom. This fact regularly hinges my ability to really be as good as I am in class with my students when I set the rules and hold them. I guess it’s normal. After all, Maybe it should be like this… imagine if even at home my son could not be able to get a break or feel like he is avle to control some stuff.


    Negociating and reviewing Our thinking is important. What we think IS important as an adult vs what really IS in life is a daily battle. I find that teen adhd is as hard for our son as it is for us a parents to find the balance.

    As another comment, making beds in the morning is not worth the repeating/fight. So We just don’t do them.
    We prioritize what’s essential (homework, food, bedtime, showers, friends, family time, sport and yes, video games/internet) and add important stuff in the routine when all is going smooth rather then forcing ALL the stuff we think a normal 14 years old should be doing.

    We have had MANY fights (and still) over stupid chores an only to all feel bad and sad about how we handled the situation.

    The best incentitive we have for the moment is geared towards time on internet/video games.
    Allowed time on video games:
    2h a day after homework on weekdays
    4h a day after chores (the one we ask depending what has to be done) on weekends.

    We tried many chore charts, but after a certain time, he looses interest or we just forget about them (… we are a little adhd as well).

    The best thing ro do is to try what others have done and what works for you, at the moment, is the right way. That’s what I have learned works best.
    … and never stop telling them you love them…. even when you think they don’t need to hear it.

  39. 1. Morning starts the night before! Get as many things ready the night before as possible, (and do them early).

    2. Follow a bedtime checklist and get to bed on time (ish).

    3. Multiple alarm clocks with many alarms to wake up and GET up.

    4. A morning schedule/checklist with items that need to be done and by what time, and check them off as you go. I use Google Keep on my phone for my checklists.

    5. Keep glasses in the same place, and keys on hooks by the door so they don’t get lost. In case they DO get lost, I have the Tile app for my keys and other items.

  40. My husband, who has ADD, is the one who gets up with our children. He has a set routine they stick to, which is especially important for our 9yo ADHD son. Once he leaves for work, I’m up and handle the other tasks necessary, such as gathering their belongings and getting out the door on time for the commute to school. We both have to adhere to a strict time schedule, or else the morning becomes chaos!

  41. I have definitely struggled with this in the past, though more in the evening. For the morning, I like having a set playlist of songs that I enjoy, listening to the music gets me energized, and knowing the play length of the songs helps to keep me on task and aware of how much time I have and if I’m running behind. For waking, I insist on using the “sleep as android” app for android. It has an excellent set of creative alarms to get you out of bed (my favorite is the “Say Cheese!” which requires you to smile at the phone in order to turn it off), a set which I feel can satisfy any tough sleeper. I have used seemingly everything up to a sonic boom alarm clock with bed shaker, and nothing I’ve ever used has woken me up like this app. Hope this helps you all!

  42. Mornings are invariably hard (unless it’s a Saturday and there’s a chance to sneak a little extra screen time!). For us, it starts the night before. Bedtime is key and tough to enforce. Our guy loves every activity he can find, and never wants to leave before the anyone else, just in case there’s more fun to be had! But, we’ve figured out that it is the boundary “let’s go home” that sets up everything for the next morning. Like lots of us with add/adhd, he’s a great sleeper, once he gets to sleep. So, getting him into the bedtime routine each night at least increases our chances for a reasonable morning routine. No matter what, we do the connecting/loving/soothing parts of that routine every time. That part is good for each of us! Next step is helping him make little decisions that either start the day or block the day (like, when you take a shower for 15 minutes, do you actually wash your hair, with shampoo this time, or just let the water run while you arrange little science experiments with hot water in the shower!). We’re getting there!!

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