How to Get My Son to School With No Drama

A frazzled mom’s morning experiment to achieve calm

Bright yellow clock amid out of focus items scattered around it.
Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

I love to experiment, especially on my behavior. Right now, my daily experiment is how to get CP, my 7-year-old son, to school with no drama.

How I define drama:

  • Yelling
  • Getting to school late
  • Forgetting something at home
  • Feeling frustrated

While I can’t control everything that happens in the morning, I can strive for a system that’s conducive to calm. And “calm” is not how I’d describe the typical morning in our house on a school day.

The Morning Mini Kanban

That’s where the infamous morning kanban enters the scene. I used a personal kanban to get back some of my sanity during remote learning. It’s a life-saver if you need a system to help you manage that soul-sucking process.

Now, that we’re back to in-person learning, I have a new act to get together. I need to remember over a dozen tasks before herding my kids into our truck and traveling to school.

I needed a new system and I think I found one. I started it this week, and so far, so good. (I probably just jinxed myself. Anytime I get cocky, the universe puts me in my place).

Last week, I’d give my calm morning routine a “C-.” This week I’d say I’m at a solid “B” edging toward a “B+.” I only had to drive back to school and deliver one forgotten item (winter coat) this week. Last week I went back to school three times.

Here’s what my mini kanban looks like right now.

Images by author; left shows all the items in “To Do” column; right shows chart with items in both “To Do” and “Done”

Sure, it’s not going to make any Pinterest pages, but it works. I’m all about function.

On Day One, I realized that I forgot two key items: a mask and a water bottle. Whoops. I didn’t want to miss anything else, so I dedicated a full week to test this sexy kanban. I think I’ve got all the tasks (for now) identified. This weekend, I’ll update the format and add velcro to the laminated sheets.

The beauty to the kanban is the visual management. I easily see what still needs to be done. It works for me.

Looking at this image, I marvel at how much crap we need to remember every morning. My self-diagnosed ADHD brain aches just looking at it. The only thing I remember needing in 1982 was a coat, book bag, and minty teeth. But, I digress.

Additional Calm Morning Success Factors

  • Get up 90 minutes before I wake up CP (I need to clear my foggy brain)
  • Wake up CP by 7:15 am
  • Wait 20 minutes before barking orders at CP (he needs time to clear his foggy brain)
  • Wake up CP’s crotchety 5-year-old brother by 7:30
  • Shut up and give CP a chance to do a task before prompting him (this is the hardest part)

By approaching this as an experiment, I expect to make mistakes, learn from them, and make changes. When I’m in my learning mindset, I’m more apt to laugh at my mistakes rather than cry. And my sense of humor helps me get through the tougher days.

What morning experiments are you tackling?

Here’s my simple 15-minute after-work routine that helps me continually improve.

Adrienne Parkhurst writes about leadership, management, parenting, and life. She dabbles in poetry.

I’m passionate about personal and professional leadership. I write about lessons learned from managing teams (and myself) for 20+ years.

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