Don't Fall for These Sneaky Morning Time-Wasting Tricks Kids Use

girl hitting alarm clock

There's a reason why many parents can't get through the morning without an industrial-sized coffee: because kids are professional procrastinators! Whether it takes them half an hour to brush their hair or they just can't seem to get out the door without changing their clothes five times, it seems like little ones have an endless supply of tricks up their sleeves designed specifically to make you (and everybody else in the house) late. There's nothing more frustrating than walking in on your kid staring into space as he sloooooowly brushes his teeth (or packs his backpack or ties his shoes...) -- and we've all been there! 


Don't give up -- it is possible to stop your kids from wasting ridiculous amounts of time, thanks to some real-life methods moms use to get mornings moving faster.

Plan Ahead

Take, for example, the long and oftentimes exasperating process of getting your kids dressed. Leaving the task of picking out an outfit until the morning is sure to result in panicked whines about "not having anything to wear" -- or worse, some ridiculous fashion choices. Either way, precious minutes are wasted. That's where planning ahead comes into play.

"Each of our three children has a nightstand with drawers in it. We put their clothes for the school week into their drawers in complete sets," Jenna Duetzmann of Terryville, Connecticut, tells CafeMom. "We call them 'packets.' This means that when the kids wake up they can just grab a packet and get dressed quickly without having to fumble around looking for matching socks." 


Forget the Pajamas

If you can't trust your kids to put their clothes on in an efficient manner, you might want to take this tip one step further and have your kids actually sleep in their clothes on occasion, like mom Carly Snyder of New York, New York, does.

"We pick out clothes and pack backpacks, etc., the night before," Carly says. "During particularly slow weeks, I'll have my kids get dressed the night before [and sleep in their clothes] to reduce procrastinating and shave a few minutes down in the morning."

Set It to Music

Another super smart way parents have found to motivate kids in the morning is to add some tunes to the mix. 

"When my kids were little, we would put music on for teeth brushing and getting dressed," says KJ Landis of San Francisco, California. "It was a mix CD that I created to be musical chairs style -- about two minutes of their favorite pop/hip hop/R&B or kids' fairy-tale music."

Have your kids aim to finish each task by the time the song ends.

More from CafeMom: 5 Creative & Fun Ways to Get Your Kids Out of Bed Without Complaints

Create a Game

If upbeat tunes don't help your kids to pick up the pace, try turning your routine into a game. 

"Once they're done with breakfast, my kids race against themselves to see how fast they can get ready," says Snyder. 

"They compare their time for the morning to their time for the day before and are incredibly excited to do better every day. (Note: We have electric toothbrushes with two-minute timers so they can't skimp on brushing their teeth!)" 

Reward Them

You can even combine this approach with other motivational methods, like chore charts.

"We have a points chart on the wall," says Landis. "If they do activities above and beyond their normal duties of being a kid in a family, they receive points worth money. If they help each other get ready faster (without being asked by a parent), help me do the dishes without me asking, help make beds, throw in a load of laundry in the morning, all without being asked, they are going above and beyond, they are focused and on-time and deserve to be acknowledged. This motivates them to not procrastinate as well." 

Duetzmann says that she rewards her kids for being efficient in the morning with screen time. "They all know that the morning ends up being a pretty easy place to earn their screen time, so they try their best."

Open the Blinds Early

Of course, the first (and sometimes biggest) hurdle for many parents is getting their kids out of bed to begin with -- especially if they've got a kid who lives to sleep in. 

"I open the shades and turn the lights on to wake my kids up," says Allison M. of Stamford, Connecticut, who's found that her three kids are more likely to open their eyes if their bedrooms are bright.

More from CafeMom: How Kids' Yoga Can De-Stress Your Crazy Mornings (Seriously): 10 Easy Poses to Try

It is pretty tough to sleep with the sun in your eyes!

Make Sure Bedtime Is Early Enough

It's also pretty tough to wake up when you're overtired, which is why Snyder reminds us that a good night's sleep is key to keeping mornings on schedule. 

"Get the kids to bed earlier so they can wake up with more energy," she says.

That's advice we all should follow -- mornings are so much harder to manage when we're exhausted, too. Here's to new dawns that don't make us want to go right back to bed!  

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