I’ve heard it from so many families and it’s the same in my house. Mornings with ADHD are perhaps one of the hardest times of day. Once school starts and the frenzied rush to get to the bus on time begins, chaos ensues and tempers start to rise. By the time we get the kids off to school, we have no energy left for our own day, and our kids are probably feeling exhausted and discouraged before they even leave the house. I know my family has had mornings like that - more than I’d like to admit.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. What if I told you it’s possible to build morning routines that not only teach your kids to be independent, but help maintain your relationships and don’t sap your energy? IT IS POSSIBLE! The secret is in developing routines that make the mornings easier. Routines become habits and habits actually create more brain space! (Novotni) This is because anything we have to think about requires so much more energy for kids (and parents) with ADHD. But habits don’t require us to think. Our brains kick into auto-pilot and we don’t even realize we are checking things off our to do list.
So, how do we help our kids develop morning routines that become habits, freeing up mental energy and freeing you from nagging? It actually starts the night before.
Make a list of all the things that need to happen to be ready to head out the door in the morning. Mark anything that can be done the night before, such as packing lunch, putting papers in backpacks and setting out clothes. Add these items to existing bedtime habits. For example, my kids already help with dinner cleanup each night they don’t have extracurricular activities or too much homework. It’s pretty easy to add making lunches to that so they are ready to go in the morning. In addition, we always straighten up the house and our bedrooms before we go to bed, so we’ve added packing up our backpacks with any papers and setting out clothes for the morning to that routine.
Print out an evening routine checklist. I’ve included one here you can download for free, or you can create your own. You can put specific times in the blanks or use them to check off each item. Start with your child’s bedtime and work backwards, estimating how much time is needed for each of the activities. Set an alarm on your phone and start your evening routine at the same time each night. Bonus points if you work together and make it fun! And if your kids whine about it, or ask why they can’t just do it in the morning, remind them you want the mornings to be smoother for all of you so you can all start your day off on the right foot. Tell them, working together is what our family does.
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The content found on Flourishing Family Coaching’s website and blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding ADHD, anxiety, depression or any other medical conditions. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or blog.
Novotni, Michele. The Antidote to ADHD Fatigue and Exhaustion? Stacking Habits (and Spoons). ADDitude Magizine, 2021. Additude Magazine, https://www.additudemag.com/fatigue-adhd-spoon-theory-habit-stacking/?utm_source=eletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=adult_august_2021&utm_content=082421&goal=0_d9446392d6-f01d6209eb-291086797. Accessed 24 August 2021.