Ignite. Empower. Imagine.

School Mornings

“Getting Ready for Back to School”

School Mornings Park Academy Parents Understand

What a relief, back to structure and routine. A summer of too much screen time and no camps. My son won’t even attend a day camp, let alone a sleep away camp. He has a hard time keeping up with what’s going on, following directions and getting rest when he needs it. It creates more stress and anxiety than the benefit of the experience.

Of course it took me years to figure this out. He doesn’t fit into the typical “things they should be doing by now” schedule. Did I mention too much screen time?

First day. Third year at PA.

Perfect. School clothes on the night before, eliminates one thing to do in the morning for my son.

For me: Wake up my son, give ADHD meds so he can get out the door and focus to learn, pack his lunch, make my coffee so I can survive. Easy peasy, right?

“Where are my school supplies?” “I can’t carry all that” “Why do I need all this?” “No, I don’t want breakfast.” “I don’t know where my earbuds are.” “I hate school.” “I don’t want a lunch.” “I’m not getting a water bottle.”

All shouted at me in a tone of anger and defiance before coffee. With several other nasty comments, from me making us late, to the wrong kind of bread…

Okay, I know my role, take a breath and let’s stop for a minute. Intellectually I know not to engage with him in the middle of this. Emotionally it takes practice, discipline, and love. I’ve apologized to my son for losing my cool hundreds of times on this journey called our lives.

I stop, tell him to calm himself and give him a hug. “Mom, I’m scared to go to school. I don’t want to go.” A longer hug, some comforting, a short pep talk and assurance it will get better, and he is back on track. First day of school jitters, not a personality transformation overnight.

Sometimes I do rock the parenting thing! Sometimes I don’t.

For the record, we weren’t late (a win), and I did get my coffee (another win).

At least he didn’t ask me where his shoes were today. Third win of the day. At our house, we celebrate even the smallest successes.

Years of interventions, therapies, research, support groups, outside-of-the-box parenting skills and now being in the right learning environment at PA have made a difference. It does get better. I remind myself, this is a marathon, not a sprint.


I. Streamline

My son only has five things to do in the morning:

  1. Take meds (first thing, when I wake him. No, he hasn’t mastered the alarm clock yet)
  2. Get dressed (frequently done the night before)
  3. Brush teeth
  4. Brush hair
  5. Eat breakfast

II. Anything that can be done the night before is gold: putting backpack by the door, finding shoes, changing clothes, packing snacks.

III. Less time in the morning, not more time.

Too much time and he is distracted by other things. I give him 30 minutes from waking up to out the door. Sometimes only 20 minutes.

Usually, he is done in 10. But sometimes needs 10 minutes to get out of bed, and 10 minutes for (fill in the blank—unknown glitches).

This, of course, goes off the rails at times, but it’s way better than it used to be.

– Park Academy Parent

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