Struggles Getting Kids Going in the Morning

Q:My son has started to meltdown soon after getting up and does NOT want to get dressed to go to school. The screaming and carrying on are brutal. This morning he absolutely wouldn't let me dress him. I had to pick him up and get him dressed. I really don't like to do this, but we're on a tight schedule in the morning. One morning he had my husband out of his mind (not an easy thing to do) because he wanted to put on his own socks. When my husband said "No problem, go ahead." our son wouldn't actually do it.

He may be tired, we get him up at 6:15 to go to school. We have tried putting him down earlier, no success ("I'm not tired, Mommy!") He still gets about 9-10 hrs at night & 2 hrs at school.

Any ideas? I give up!!!

A: The morning struggle is so common that it seems to be a ritual in many households. There are lots of ways to work around it, get out of the house on time and still maintain the peace.

First, realize that this is a stage that many kids go through, sometimes more than once. It may be related to wanting more time with you, needing more time to wake up, or something stressful going on at school. Investigate to see if you can pinpoint the reason (other than just plain being a kid!)

Whether you can pin it on a specific problem or not, here are some tips straight from our Moms on creative ways they use to get the kids dressed and out of the house on time.

I was getting so frustrated with trying to get him dressed in the AM. It wasn't so much the putting ON of the new clothes, it was the taking OFF of the pajamas. I finally thought, "What a stupid waste of time... get undressed for bed, put on pajamas, get up, get changed again. Its not like he's out running around getting the clothes dirty." So the night before I started asking him what he wanted to wear to school the next day and then dressing him in those clothes for bed. Now, in the morning, all I have him do is put on his socks and shoes.

This has made a big change in the morning. He has more time to spend on breakfast, to play a little and spend with me.. .everyone wins.

I get up between 5 and 5:20AM and begin getting ready for the day. I get our daughter up at 6AM. My husband gets ready for the day and makes her lunch while she and I snuggle up on the couch til 6:15 and help her wake up. Then we change her, dress her, and I finish getting ready. We're all out the door at 6:30.

If she's fast asleep and difficult to wake up, we change her and dress her while asleep, include putting on shoes.

If she won't let us put her shoes on before leaving the house, I put them on in the car, or even wait until we get to day care to do it.

If she insists on playing with certain toys instead of getting ready and out of the house, we scoop them up and take them with us.

This is not a perfect method but for the most part it works.

One mom of twins brings her kids to day care in their pajamas and does and the changing and dressing there. It sure must help having someone to keep an eye on twin A while twin B is being changed.

Lately, in our house, what works is a promise to stop at the bagel shop if we get out of the house on time. He knows that he must get dressed immediately, with no dawdling over toys if he wants to get that bagel.

Another thing is that I gave up trying to get breakfast in him at home. He's just not ready to eat until he's been up for a while, so why fight it?

And I've done my best to streamline my own morning routine. I try to have his lunch all packed the night before and our clothes laid out. I leave my keys and purse in the car (locked in the garage) so I know where to find them . And I've cut off all of my hair so I don't have to spend any time with the blow dryer - a bit drastic perhaps, but I like it.

Our son is two years old and has two outfits he absolutely loves...-both sweatshirt/pants combinations, one with a train on it and one with a fire engine. If he has a fit when it's time to get dressed and it looks like a major one, I can usually win him over by letting him wear one of his favorite sweatshirt outfits.

This week it wasn't sweatshirts though--we bought him a new pair of puddle-jumpers and he "has" to wear them every waking moment...I guess if it works...

So, adjust your schedule (even if it's only by a few minutes), try to create more leisure time in the morning and be creative about getting those clothes on without a hassle.

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