Mornings are a little crazy at my house. I have three kids to get off to two schools each day. This means waking up earlier than we would all like to, and making sure everyone is ready on time so that everyone arrives to school on time. In the past, my youngest was typically the one who struggled the most in the mornings, because honestly he didn’t care if his sisters were late to school or not. Nor did he care much if he was late! I have had to make a very active effort to teach the importance of punctuality and how it goes hand in hand with respect. It’s not whether or not you are late, it’s the fact that others are depending on you, and it’s respectful and courteous to be punctual. Habits need to be learned because they don’t always come naturally! Here are some tips that have helped my kids understand the importance of punctuality, and I am happy to say we are rarely late for anything anymore!
Lead by example
Are you organized and on time yourself? If you’re consistently “scatterbrained mom” running late for appointments and meetings, your kids will pick up on it. And guess what? They can smell hypocrisy a mile away! Make sure you give yourself enough time when having to be somewhere so your children see you leading by example. They will naturally pick up on those habits, and understand that if it’s important to mom, it should be important to them too.
Attitude is everything
If you’re stressed out in the mornings, barking orders, getting frazzled and adding tension to the home because you’re running late, there’s no doubt the kids are going to want to stay in bed to avoid the uncomfortable morning rush. Be positive about being on time and don’t turn it into something you “have” to do. Instead of making it a chore, make it a goal. “Let’s see if we can make it to school 5 minutes early today!” instead of “If you don’t hurry up, you’re going to be late AGAIN!” Having a positive attitude in the morning will inspire your children instead of making them feel guilty and resentful.
Make sure everyone is getting enough sleep
We all know what mornings are like with tired and grumpy kids. Because we know how awful this can be, try not to compound it by being tired and grumpy yourself. Everyone should be going to bed at a decent hour on school nights. Including mom and dad. I know if my kids know I am up after they’ve gone to bed, it makes it harder for them to fall asleep because they feel like they are missing out on something! They have admitted to laying in bed for 2 hours if they know I am up. Just go to bed with the clan and you’ll all wake up feeling a little more refreshed and ready to tackle the morning routine!
Don’t underestimate the power of preparation! Completing simple tasks like making lunches and choosing outfits the night before can make all the difference in the morning. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been late in the past because shoes and jackets were misplaced, or homework wasn’t done. Taking the time each evening to make sure you have all your ducks in a row, will save so much time the next day!
Teach your kids time awareness
Using the actual time in your vocabulary will help teach your children time management. For example, when you’re waking them up, say “it’s 6:45, and you have 30 minutes to get ready” instead of “get up, you’re going to be late”. This teaches them what 30 minutes feels like, and what time they need to be up so they have enough time to complete their tasks. Continue saying things like “You have 10 minutes to eat your breakfast, or 5 more minutes and then you need to brush your teeth” keeps kids on task while teaching them how to manage time. It’s an important skill they will definitely need as they get older.
Emphasize manners and respect
We often think of manners including things like learning to say “please” and “thank you”, or saying “excuse me”, but punctuality should also be included when teaching our kids manners and respect for others. By being punctual for class they are showing respect for their teachers and peers. When we are punctual for appointments or meetings we are showing respect for those we are meeting with, and it’s a habit and skill that can definitely be instilled in our children with a little effort.
We’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you struggle with punctuality in your family? What tips or advice would you give other moms who struggle with it?