My Calm New Approach to our Crazy School Mornings

School starts on Wednesday! What?! For now I’ll leave out my reflections on how fast the summer went by and how I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed being with my kids all day. Most days. I won’t go into how I’m ready for a routine, but will also be a little teary when my girls hop on the bus and wave goodbye. Nope. Right now I’m focused on making sure we’re all prepared to start the year off right.

You see, I am now entering my third year as a mother trying to get children out the door and onto the bus on time. And I’ve learned from experience that I become EVIL when we are running late for school. I wish I didn’t, but I do. I’m not sure why and how it happens and I should be able to have more self control. I just get a little crazy when all three children ignore my requests to eat breakfast, get dressed and brush their hair and teeth as they stare blankly, entranced by Mickey Mouse or Princess Sophia.

In the past, I’ve tried implementing a “no TV before school” rule, but it seems to go right out the window on that one weak morning when I didn’t sleep well and I need a little quiet to sip my coffee before I have to direct people. Then it spirals out of control. When I’m like, “You can watch Peppa Pig after you eat breakfast,” it’s like they heard me say, “Don’t listen to anything I say and do whatever you want.” But, this year, there’s a new sheriff in town. I want to say goodbye to my kids each morning with a smile and a kiss, not having to say “I’m sorry I acted that way.”

That’s why I decided to create a new approach to school mornings at our house. Enter, the Morning Schedule Chart… clever name, right? Here’s how it works. Each child is responsible for accomplishing each of their morning tasks, the basics, before they can watch TV, play on the computer or set up a village of Legos in the living room. With each task they complete (in any order) they move that sticker from the “to do” column to the “check/complete” column. I’m borrowing this approach from the one and only Ms. Mare, one of the most brilliant preschool teachers ever. If she can get it to work in a classroom of 14 busy preschoolers, I should be able to make it work here with just three children.

It’s not like I’ll be lying in bed expecting them to make themselves eggs and pack their lunches. Of course I will still help them! But hopefully it helps them learn to become more independent and understand that they are responsible for themselves and for being on time. Sound mean? Maybe. Will it work? Not sure. But it’s better than the way things have gone in the past.


Maybe you’d like to try this too. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 Large Poster Board
  • Card stock
  • Printer
  • Paper cutter or scissors
  • 2″ circle paper cutter
  • Clear packing tape
  • Double sided tape
  1. First I created the text for each of the daily tasks, along with the header and the kids’ names. I printed them out and cut them down to size using my Fiskars paper cutter. I laid them out on the poster board and then used a bit of double sided tape to hold them in place. Here is the text I created, Morning Routine Chart.IMG_1258
  2. Then I printed out three copies of the graphics I used for the stickers. I used heavy card stock so the paper wouldn’t bend with use. That was free clipart that I found online here. 
  3. Next, I used clear packing tape to cover the sticker graphics on both sides, wrapping the end of the tape around the corners. This was my way of laminating the stickers so they will last longer.IMG_1259
  4. After that I used a two inch circle paper cutter to cut out all of the stickers. If you don’t have a circle cutter, just cut them out as squares.IMG_1261
  5. Then I placed a piece of double-sided tape on the back of each sticker. I considered using Velcro but I didn’t have enough handy, so I figured I could always add that later on. The tape works fine for now. IMG_1260
  6. After using a straight edge to make lines on the poster board for each child to move their stickers from “to do” to “done”, I used the clear packing tape to wrap the entire poster board with strips of tape, again sort of laminating it.IMG_1263

From start to finish it probably took me a couple of hours. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how things go. Let me know if you decide to try this approach. I’d love to hear your results or any other ideas you have for ensuring your kids are ready for school on time. Please share them below.

Next I’m planning to make a check list of the things they need to do before bed. I think I’ll include things like:

  • Homework
  • Pick up toys
  • Lay out clothes for tomorrow
  • Brush, floss, rinse
  • Pour Mommy a glass of wine

3 thoughts on “My Calm New Approach to our Crazy School Mornings

  1. Marianne Canter

    Brilliant Ashley…..and thank you for the kind words:) An child friendly accountability system paired with visual supports = routine success. I love logistics (that actually work)!


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