Are you one of the parents who has kids that are perpetually late? For everything? I’m not, unless my kiddo is having a major meltdown. We’ve gotten into a regular morning routine which makes all the difference in the world.
We have our schedule down to 30 to 45 minutes with some padding in case we have a rough morning. This makes it so much easier for me and keeps me and my kiddo less anxious.
7 Tips For A Smooth Morning Routine with Special Needs Kids
Here are some of the things that I use, along with tips from around the special need parenting world, that will help you establish a better morning routine.
Bath or Shower?
I have two kids. One takes care of herself mostly, but my other one won’t. She has major sensory issues which means that until the last year, she wouldn’t voluntarily take a bath or shower. She hated every minute of it, screaming, crying.
We spent years trying to figure out what works, and right now, it is a bath 2 – 3 times a week. We try to keep it on the same days of the week, but sometimes because of event schedules, it has to change. She’s not minding baths so much anymore and it is not a constant fight to get her in, and keep her in.
One thing that helped was that we let her take a guinea pig with her for her bath. The guinea pig doesn’t get in until she’s fully washed herself. Then the little piggy gets into the water and swims around. This is pretty fun to watch for all of us.
We do baths in the evening, right after dinner. Showers only get used if my girl gets messy – like poop messy – which is much less often than it used to be.
Pre Select Clothing
If your kids are capable, teach them to put together outfits that match. They can do it the night before, right at bed time (or whatever works for you). My girl isn’t great about this. So, I started putting together her clothes a week at a time. She doesn’t like dressed much, so her stock clothing is pants, a shirt, undies, a bra, socks and shoes.
We use a cube shelving system, and I put together matching outfits once per week, folding the shirt inside the pants and pack them into the cubes. Each morning, I pull out a set, grab clean undies and a bra and get them to her.
It’s less stress on both of us. I know she’ll match, and I don’t have to try and figure it out during a stressful morning. I leave it up to her what shoes she’ll wear, but she often tells me to pick them anyway.
Pack their bag
I try to remember to look at my girl’s notebook every afternoon or evening. Sometimes I forget. We usually have a few minutes in the morning after she’s dressed where she’s watching a video, that I double check her bag. I also try to send a note about the morning mood or behaviors, and ask any questions during this time.
Since we have to check for blood sugars, I usually have this out of her bag at bedtime and have to put it back in before she leaves for school. So, I’m checking the bag a couple times a day.
If your kids have homework, obviously, remembering to check after school is best. You could use an alarm on your phone to remind you to look, if you need to remind your kids about homework. Luckily, it’s not something we have to worry about much. When my girl does have homework, she’s usually the first to tell me.
Check the family calendar
I use a planner. It fits in my purse and goes with me everywhere. We tried a family calendar at home, but somehow, it didnt work.
So, I do try to look at the beginning of the week, on Sunday, to see what appointments we have for the week. Then, I remind my girl specifically, because she needs to know and be reminded often. She’ll melt down if she wasn’t told or doesn’t remember an appointment.
Every morning, I try to remind her what will happen when she gets home from school. For instance, “I’ll be at work till supper time tonight” or ” You have your appointment with Sam after school because it’s Monday”.
The couple of times I’ve forgotten to remind her of an appointment for that day, I’ll email her teacher and ask her to pass on the reminder. So far, it’s worked great.
We don’t usually send lunches to school, but when we have in the past, I usually made them after the kids got to bed. They either got left overs or simple grab n go foods. I’d pack it all in their lunch bag, and stick it in the fridge.
The hard part is remembering to get it and put it in their bag in the morning!
Set the table
If your kids eat at home before going to school, you could set out the dishes and dry ingredients the night before. My girl likes oatmeal or a cream cheese roll up (cream cheese melted inside a low-carb tortilla). So, a lot of that is in the fridge and it’s not a big deal to grab them in the morning.
If your kids are independent at all, you could set things like milk and juice or fruit in a place where it’s easy to reach for them like a lower shelf or door nook.
On that note
Your kids may not be able to feed themselves in any way. Or, it may just be much easier and less stressful for you to do it yourself. However, letting your kids do tasks, even easy ones, is important to them exploring their independence.
You may not think about the simplest of tasks like opening a drawer and finding a spoon for their oatmeal, but telling them and showing them is a life changing experience when they can do it without prompting! You may have to do it every day for weeks or months, but when they “get it” it will be so rewarding for you both.
Trust your kids. Listen to what they may not be able to say.
Mornings are full of sensory experiences. Loud alarms, bright lights in the dark, clothing coming off and going on, hair brushing, teeth brushing, and so many other sensations can be quite overwhelming. If you see that your child is becoming aggitated, pick one or two that can wait.
For instance, we don’t brush teeth before school, but we can now get her hair brushed nearly every day. We can’t do a shower to wash her hair ever, but we can manage baths after supper. Those are both things I learned by watching her physical and verbal cues over time.
Please, share what your morning routine is like, and good luck at having a morning that runs smoothly!