Ah, mornings. The dreaded time of day when kids turn into sloths and nothing can get them out of bed. It doesn’t matter that they wake up at the crack of dawn, feeling peppy and bright on the weekends. There’s something about that Monday-Friday grind that has them dragging (I mean, same). One mom on Reddit was tired of doing everything to get her kids out of bed and out the door to school, so she just…stopped.
In the Parenting subreddit, a mom of two elementary school students decided she was going to take herself off the stressful morning schedule, and let her kids take some more responsibility. Which is certainly a choice!
“So, I have 3 kids with 2 of them being school age. I saw a video the other day where a dad had done nothing for his kids,” she wrote. “He said it was all their responsibility. This got me thinking.”
So she brought her 10- and 8-year-olds into the kitchen for a family chat, where she laid down the law.
She said, “I will no longer wake you guys up in the morning. I will help you set an alarm tonight which will also tell you the weather, so dress appropriately. I will also not choose what your clothes will be. You pick them and if you’re cold at school or forgot your coat then 🤷🏻♀️. I’m not telling you to brush your teeth or take a shower. You want to be smelly then🤷🏻♀️.”
This has the potential to backfire — will they develop cavities? Enjoy being that smelly kid in class? — or work really well. But she goes even further in her independence streak.
“The car leaves at 7:25. If you’re not in it then it will leave without you,” she continued. “When I get back and have to take you then you will pay me for gas with chores. Your laundry will now be done by you and put away by you. You have wrinkly clothes or no clothes for school then🤷🏻♀️.”
When turning on fun music doesn’t work and picking out their clothes the night before barely helps, what else can a parent to do to help their kids wake up? I definitely understand the motivation if not the method.
“I had absolutely no clue that I was doing so much for them and it was causing me stress,” the mom continued, adding that she felt like she was always saying, “Wake up, wake up, please wake up. Get dressed, brush your teeth, get a sweater, do you have your homework, blah blah blah.”
“My morning is now waking up, brushing my teeth, brushing my daughter’s hair and leaving,” she added. “Not only am I less stressed but I am actually teaching them responsibility and independence…which I was not doing at all. What a pleasant relief.”
As a mom of an elementary student and a preschooler, this sounds like the dream! It wouldn’t work for my son though…he went through a phase where he was purposely late and even lunch detention barely phased him.
Some people on Reddit thought the mom was being a little dramatic with her rules.
“This is how we were raised too, and I think in a lot of ways it helped make me a self-sufficient, confident person (31f),” one person said. “I really think our kids are more capable than we recognize. However, I didn’t wake up one day and have my whole morning routine dumped on me. It was a gradual handing of responsibility in a way that empowered me and set me up for success, rather than burdened me at too young an age.”
“Yeah there is a fine line here between teaching independence and being neglectful,” another wrote. “OPs on the right track, but I don’t see a lot of teaching happening in the post. I just see dropping responsibilities.”
This is true. You want to make sure you’re doing this for your kids to help them — not as a punishment for dragging in the mornings. After all, even adults can have hard time waking up in the mornings.
Some people liked the approach with one tweak: don’t skimp on their basic hygiene.
“I tell my kids that hygiene is non-negotiable. Whenever they’re adults they can choose to not shower or not take care of their teeth,” one person commented, adding, “Kids don’t like being told what to do and they don’t like to feel like they have no control over anything in their lives… but sometimes we need to make sure they understand WHY we need to make them do things like brush their teeth and take care of their hygiene.”
“In my opinion letting children go out dirty, with dirty clothes, or without appropriate clothing for the weather, etc, is not teaching them a lesson. It is neglect,” another said. “Of course it depends on the age and abilities of the child. But an 8 year old often won’t understand the consequences of leaving without a coat for example. And as others have pointed out, dental hygiene is very important and can have life long negative effects if it’s not taken care of.
It’s a judgement call, maybe OP’s kids can do everything independently and just needed the opportunity. There’s also picking your battles. Kid wants to wear a princess dress to school, fine. Kid wants to wear the same shirt from yesterday which is still reasonably clean and smells ok, also fine.”
Others pointed out that this approach will not work for all kids, even those in the same family. “My daughter has been handling herself since she was born it feels like. This would be no problem for her,” one person said. “My son? With his executive functioning issues? He’d be an 8 year old drop out. It’s great if it works for you, but this approach won’t work for everyone. Especially not dropping everything all at once. I teach my kids one new skill at a time. I don’t know why I would have kids and then opt out of parenting them.”
The mom did address some of the comments with an edit, writing, “I am shocked at how this post turned out. I’m not sure how having my kids do 3 things (wake up, get dressed, brush their teeth) every weekday morning is neglect and CPA worthy, but to each his own.”
She also clarified that she gave her kids what she thought they could handle. “They’ve been waking up to alarms, they’ve been brushing their own teeth, they’ve even been getting dressed alone (I know, shocking that an 8 and 10 year old can dress themselves),” she wrote. “They also know how to shower alone. I STILL brush/floss all my children’s teeth at night…now they just are responsible for the morning. I STILL feed them and do homework/study with them after school everyday. I STILL read to them daily. I’m not just going to throw them to the wolves without either teaching them or knowing THEY CAN do it on their own. As a SAHM my kids are literally 100% my life. I am not burdened by them but only felt I was hindering them by doing what I knew MY KIDS were capable of doing alone. “
One thing we can all agree on is parenting is hard. There’s definitely more than one right way to do things and sometimes it’s just a matter of figuring out what works best for your family!
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