Single Minded Moms: Tips to Help Moms Eliminate the School Morning Rush!

By Melissa Chapman

Getting children up, washed, dressed, fed, packed, and on the bus in time for school is one of the biggest challenges for single moms. Mornings are often a time of arguments, yelling, threats, blame, and plenty of stress.  It’s a challenge to get ready in the morning.

About 30 percent of school-age children have trouble waking up, according to the National Sleep Foundation. After a summer of sleeping in, the task of getting youngsters out of bed for school–and back into a morning routine–is a huge problem for parents making the beginning of school even more stressful. Fortunately it doesn’t have to be.

According to child behavior specialist Bonnie Harris, MS Ed, single moms can change their family’s frantic, tense, ill-tempered morning rush into a pleasant, happy, calm time. Sound improbable? Well, she’s helped countless parents do it!

“It all starts with shifting your perspective,” says Ms. Harris, author of, Confident Parents, Remarkable Kids: 8 Principles for Raising Kids You’ll Love to Live With (Adams Media, Sept. 2008), says Ms. Harris. “When your child misbehaves or acts up, such as dragging his heels in the morning or refusing to get out of bed, you often  react by criticizing him, losing your temper, or spewing threats. That’s because you perceive your child as the problem. The bottom line: Your child is not being a problem, your child is having a problem. And when you shift your perception in this way, you can begin to address the underlying causes of your child’s problematic morning behaviors.”

Harris offers single moms these strategies to help make mornings less about fighting, whining and crying and more about chomping on cereal and happily gearing up for a day at school.

ID the problem. Get to the cause of the behavior. For example, a slow-as-molasses child doesn’t have the morning person biology; a clingy child has trouble making transitions; a distracted child can’t focus on more than one thing at a time.

Turn it upside down. Let her know it’s not her fault, it’s okay to be the way she is, and you know how she feels. Find something positive in the behavior. For the slow mover, for example, you could say, “You’re so lucky not to be one of those revved up, go-go-go people in the morning. People are going to love being around such a calm person like you!”

No name-calling. Refrain from telling your child he’s pokey, lazy, whiny, disorganized, bull-headed, crabby, or any other disparaging label. That blames the child for his character, reinforces those negative behaviors, and sets him up to fail.

Start the day with smiles. Instead of yelling or threats to get children out of bed, try using a soft voice and a back rub. Give plenty of hugs and kisses. Exude calmness and happiness.

Own your part. Tell them it’s not their fault you get stressed out in the morning, lose your temper, and get to work late. Tell them you’re actually proud of them for refusing to bow to the demands and pressures you’ve put on them in the mornings, and that you’re going to change. They’ll look at you like you’re an alien–but you’ll definitely have their attention.

Make a list. List with your children the challenges they face before school. For example, sharing the bathroom, getting dressed, having breakfast, remembering homework, packing the backpack, remembering lunchboxes, and getting to the bus on time.

Make a plan. Tell them you’ll help them come up with a plan for dealing with the challenges. For example, the slow mover may need to wake up 15 minutes earlier. The child who is spacey might need to lay out clothes the night before–or even sleep in a clean outfit.

And last but certainly not least; Write a contract. Address each challenge from your list with a procedure and consequences everyone agrees to and signs. Post the contract in a common area.

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