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  • Writer's pictureTrish

Struggling Mom

Dear Trish

I have two children 13 and 7 and it’s a struggle every morning to get them up for school. I have tried taking phones, tablets and other items from them but nothing works. They have no respect for me and I am exhausted mentally. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Struggling Mom

Hey Struggling Mom

Sounds like Summer can’t come fast enough in your household. I remember the days of school schedules soccer practices, doctors appointments and so much more. I really believe that families these days have so much structure time that it is important for everyone to work together. It sounds like you are taking the ownership of everyone’s schedules. Parents most often take on the role of schedule coordinator. That doesn’t mean you are the only one who should have some responsibility. Children at any age can learn to manage their schedules. While it sounds like you’ve taken away privileges for your children, have you added responsibilities?

I found with my children, logical rewards, expectations, and consequences for the best. For example, I worked in the same school that my children went to elementary school. Every day I would tell my children to bring a coat for recess. There are many times that my son forgot to bring his jacket in and inevitably the teacher, send him down to my room to see if he could borrow my jacket for recess. It may seem harsh, but I wouldn’t let him do it. I didn’t think it was fair for him to be able to ask his mom just because she worked at the same place. He went to school and I wanted to teach him the responsibility of bringing the necessary materials to school. Although this lesson took many times to finally click, it did, and by the time he went to middle school, I rarely if any got called to bring something to school.

With the specific problem of getting your children up for school maybe you could push it back on them. First, before anything else, I would have a family meeting about this problem. Ask them if they understand why this is causing chaos in the morning and how they feel they are involved. It is best to do this at a time in which you’re not arguing about the morning routines . So my suggestion is to do it in the evening or on the weekend. Just as you would like for them to listen to you, make sure you listen to them.

The following are some basic ideas to get the routine started. I recommend setting a bedtime that must be followed. Most likely this will be easier for the younger child, but that doesn’t mean it is not important for both. Stay strong. This will be a battle. Also, I would remove their phones from the room every night. I had my children charge theirs in our room during the evening until they were sixteen. When they got up the next morning, they were able to retrieve their phones only after they were dressed and ready to eat breakfast. Next have your children pick out an alarm clock. This should be separate from the one that’s on their phone. Having an alarm clock is a visual representation of being in charge of getting up in the morning. You can make this a fun activity by allowing them to make the choice of which clock they want. Help them set the alarm clock for the first week . Choose a time that will allow them plenty of time to wake up and be ready to go. This is the easy part.

Next is the follow through and clear consequences and rewards relating to the problem. For the first week I would help them. Knock on their door when you hear their alarm clock go off or remind them the night before what your expectations are. I maybe would do both. This will take time for the habit to form, but that does not mean that the consequences of not waking up on their own should not be enforced. Ask them during your discussion if they have any ideas of what could be a reward or punishment for five days of waking up on their own. An example of an award could be something like breakfast of their choice because now you have time to make it instead of the time you wasted arguing before. Another example could be staying up for 30 minutes later after five days of waking up on their own. I’m sure there are many more, and they are much more clever when it comes to rewards. Just make sure they logically fit the objective of waking up in the morning. The same goes with consequences.A consequence could be an earlier bedtime since they aren’t able to get enough sleep to wake up on their own or it could be an extra chore for them to do around the house since they need to learn responsibility and family dynamics. Adjust rewards and punishments as needed.

Ultimately, the goal is that everyone works together. Reinforce how important family is, and that each person plays the specific role in your group, be honest with them and tell them how important it is that everyone, including yourself, works together to make each day start off in a positive way. This will not be a quick fix. Hopefully by using this time to reinforce how important it is to work together, it will help your family respect you more and respect themselves more.

You’ve got this!


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