Routine Charts for Getting Out the Door on Time

It’s back to school time! Soon families will be adjusting to a different schedule, and mornings can feel early, short, and frustrating to get everyone and all of their things packed up and out the door. Back to school can also serve as an excellent opportunity to revisit or create a morning routine that works. To help ease the transition from summer to school, your family can use a routine chart to support and guide the morning. Routine charts are meant to be collaborative and encourage children to take responsibility for their things and time. Here are tips for creating a routine that helps get everyone out the door and on time!

“The more children do for themselves, the more capable and encouraged they feel.” (Nelsen)

Nelsen, J. (1987). Positive discipline. 1st Ballantine Books ed. New York: Ballantine Books.

Collaborate!

Create a routine chart with your child. The goal is to help the child feel involved and part of the routine. When children are involved in the process, this helps them feel a sense of pride and ownership. Collaborating and getting their help is a great way to teach and build time management and life management skills. This can be something added to the Family Meeting agenda!

Brainstorm!

Working together, brainstorm all the steps and tasks needed for a successful morning. We want children to feel encouraged, so all ideas are welcome! Ask them to tell a story about their morning, share tasks they can do, and what they need your help with. This is the time to look at all of the parts of the morning and then decide what key things are needed each day and in which order.

Make it Creative!

To help children feel ownership in the routine, ask them to help decorate, write, and color the chart. You can use stickers, pictures of them doing each task, or whatever will help the child recognize key steps and see their contribution to the list. This is meant to be their work! Then, find a spot in the household where everyone can see it on display.

Take Time for Teaching.

It is important that every child feels informed and capable of how to move through each step of the routine. Spend the first week doing the routine together so that you can teach the skills. This can help the child feel like the routine is a team effort and help start the school year positively.

Let the Chart do the Work.

Now that the tasks are outlined, the chart is made, and the family has discussed each element, it’s time for the chart to “be the boss.” This helps take the parental “nagging” out of the situation and gives a clear visual and reminder for what is next. It is normal to experience resistance and for kids to test boundaries to see if you really plan on sticking to this new plan. When you hear pushback, gently remind the child of the routine in a Kind and Firm way, “I know you are tired, AND I appreciate your help packing up your backpack.” Remember to encourage, encourage, encourage! Take time to acknowledge their cooperation and completion of tasks.

Written By: Janet Mize, LMSW Supervised by Kirby Sandlin Schroeder LPC-S LMFT-S