Simple changes at home

7 Tips for Helping the Day Go Smoothly

By Lexi Walters Wright

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100Found this helpful

Many families struggle to get everyone to school and work on time. This can be particularly tricky if learning and attention issues make it hard for your child to transition from task to task or keep track of time. The following tips can enhance—and ease—your daily routines.

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Get a jump start on the day.

If possible, carve out a few minutes before bed to prep for the following day. This might include setting the table for breakfast, picking out clothes and packing lunches. Review the day’s schedule before your child wakes up and morning mayhem begins.

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Make time more concrete.

Reminding your child how much time she has left to do something can help her stay on task. You can place clocks in strategic locations, set alarms on wristwatches and activate schedule reminders on cell phones and laptops. Using kitchen timers can be helpful too, especially for younger kids.

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Use pictures.

Picture schedules can help kids understand what’s expected of them and in what order. You can draw your own, print free downloads or use apps. Be sure to use pictures your child fully understands. It also helps to review the schedule together several times a day.

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Write it down.

Written, step-by-step directions can help older kids follow routines. Consider adding time frames like these.

6:30–7:00am: Wash hands and eat breakfast.

7:00–7:15am: Wash face and brush teeth.

7:15–7:30am: Get dressed.

7:30–7:45am: Check backpack and get in the car.

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Color-code your calendar.

Simplify a crowded daily, weekly or monthly calendar with a color key. Maybe each color represents a different child. Or they could stand for different types of activities, like household chores vs. school events. This is especially easy to do on a dry-erase board.

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Plan for in-between times.

Are there long commutes between activities in your schedule? If so, you might want to pack snacks, changes of clothes and books or audiobooks for you and your child. You can even leave a packed bag full of these items in your car. That way they’re always on hand when you need them.

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Enroll in before- or afterschool programs.

If you can, try to reduce the number of transitions in your child’s day. For example, you might take advantage of early drop-off or breakfast programs and afterschool care. If you want to go this route, talk with your child’s school about what they offer and who will supervise.

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About the Author

Portrait of Lexi Walters Wright

Lexi Walters Wright is veteran writer and editor who helps parents make more informed choices for their children and for themselves.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Ginny Osewalt

Ginny Osewalt is certified in elementary and special education, with experience in inclusion, resource room and self-contained settings.

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