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Avoid the Dreaded RUSH by Teaching Time Management Skills

Everybody knows the feeling of being pressured for time. You had to be out the door five minutes ago; hair is still not done, shoes are nowhere to be found, and moans and groans can be heard throughout the house as everyone scrambles to get themselves together. As a parent who always strives to be on time, even living in the country of “Pura Vida” (I live in Costa Rica, where nothing seems to happen on time), this situation is frustrating at least. However, as an adult who practices yoga, I have learned to manage these feelings and not let them get to me, but for my six year old daughter, it’s another story.

A few days ago, I woke my daughter with plenty of time to get ready, have some snuggles and get her off to school on time.

She lazed about on the couch. She told me all about a pebble she found on the floor. She organized her artwork on the fridge. She tried to put her bloomers (yes her uniform has bloomers!) on with both feet in one hole.  

I told her to focus on what she was doing, and to keep moving onto the next task so that she would be ready on time, and not have to rush. RUSH is a four-letter-word in our house. Fiore loathes being in a rush. It’s instant panic, with contorted face and all, so we try to avoid it as much as possible.

Finally, it was mission accomplished. Uniform on, snack packed, hair done, shoes shined (not really) and smile on face. By the time we had to be walking out the door, she remembered that she wanted to bring some toys to school to share with her classmates. I told her she could quickly grab something, so she went into her room, and minutes ticked by. I said “come on bear, it’s time to go”, and I was met with a screech of epic proportions. “MOM! I don’t have a toy yet!!”. I said “Well, bring one tomorrow then, we have to go now”. That was met with TEARS. Lots of them. We had moved into RUSHING territory.  I could tell she felt pushed, defeated, angry, sad, and like she somehow had let me down. She ran out of her room, hugged me, and we got into the car. She was silent. After a few moments, I asked her how she felt. She said she was upset that she couldn’t bring the toys that she wanted to bring. I could tell that she was really sad, but I also saw an opportunity to teach her something.

I told her that there is a thing called Time Management. That it’s something that I have to do all of the time to make sure I get things done for work, in the house and in all areas of life. I explained to her that we have one hour in the morning, from the time she wakes up, to when we have to be at school, and that we have to plan time in that hour for each of the tasks that we need to do. She was intrigued, and the silent tears stopped. I asked her what all of the things are that we need to do in the mornings; brush our teeth, get dressed, comb our hair etc. and around how long each task takes to do. It started to become a game. I reminded her that I had told her at the time she needed to start getting ready, and the choice she made to lay on the couch for ten more minutes. It turns out, those ten minutes could have been used to search for toys! She was smiling. I think having an explanation of why it happened the way it did, and also a plan for avoiding the dreaded RUSH in the future, made her feel a lot better.

My thought now, is to make a clock chart and little stick-ons with each task that must be done daily, and maybe some additional things like “searching for toys” or “extra snuggle time”. The size of each stick-on will be proportionate to the length of time the task takes, so that they can be placed onto the clock to plan the morning out. I think this activity will help her feel more in control of her actions, and in turn give her an added sense of responsibility.  It also makes it fun to get ready and brings a new level of mindfulness into this potentially stressful time of day.

 What ideas do you have to teach time management to children? I’d love to hear them!

Also, check out one of our previous blogs about slowing things down for our kids so they don’t feel so rushed.


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