The Sleepyheads, Two Destinations
Margie, Flo, 7-year-old Max, 5-year-old Theo, and 3-year-old Owen
Common Hurdles Waking three boys and getting them dressed. Packing lunches. Two kids go off to one school, the third goes to day care. Plus, Margie works a few days a week, so those mornings require leaving earlier.
The Expert Andrea Sharb, certified professional organizer and coach in Cleveland
Morning Story Never wake a sleeping baby. Margie has been taking this advice to heart for more than seven years -- which is why she doesn't like having to rouse her kids. "I resist it for whatever reasons -- I feel guilty or I'm a softy," she admits. Besides, the longer they sleep, the more uninterrupted time she has to prepare the boys' lunches -- a daily stressor, because she wants them to take along a healthy, home-prepared meal. Once the boys are up, she finds herself in nonstop-nag mode: "Max in particular needs constant reminders of what to do and also needs to be reminded of the time." He's also easily distractible and a chatterbox. "I feel bad when I have to cut him off and get us going," Margie says.
And yet, when Sharb asked Max what his mornings entailed, "he rattled off everything he needed to do -- he knew it all," Margie says incredulously. Sharb recommends skipping the endless reminders and instead posting a visual chart of each step in the process, then laminating it or hanging it in a plastic folder so Max can use a grease pencil to mark everything off as he's done it. "He'll feel less nagged and more in charge," Sharb says. Margie will make one for Theo too -- and believes that their brotherly rivalry will spur them to get out the door a lot faster than her pleas ever would. Since Theo and Max share a room and go to the same school, Margie plans to retire her chirpy-morning-dove duties and get them an alarm clock. Three-year-old Owen has his own room and wakes up on his own -- and his dad, Flo, shuttles him off to day care on his way to work.
As for those lunches that slow Margie down, Sharb recommends blocking out 15 minutes to make them the night before, after the boys are in bed. "We often underestimate how much time it takes to do some things," Sharb says, "and packing lunches is definitely one of them."
Originally published in the November 2011 issue of Parents magazine.