Welcome to A Kid's Life.

For last 20 years Angela Lockwood has been engaging with kids, empowering parents and educating professionals teachers to navigate a child's learning journey to help them thrive.

Through the A Kid's Life podcast Angela Lockwood’s goal is to help us adults better understand the complexities of life as a kid. Angela and her guests share stories, reflections and simple strategies to support kids of all needs as they walk through life. Whether you’re a parent, teacher or health professional, A Kid's Life Podcast is the place for you.

For more tips on parenting and supporting your child through their learning journey, follow at www.angelalockwood.com.au or @angelalockwood_ over at Instagram.


Visual supports for calm days.

Getting out the door in the morning can be hectic. You can say the same thing over and over and your child still walks out the door with the wrong uniform, no lunch and one shoe on. In this episode, Angela Lockwood shares a simple yet effective way to keep everyone organised and on track for a calm start to every day. Angela shares how to implement visual supports in your family like checklist, visual schedules and visual reminders to make the start to everyone's day seamless and stress-free. Enjoy!

Thanks for listening to the podcast. For more tips on parenting and supporting your child through their learning journey, follow at www.angelalockwood.com.au


Episode Transcription

Welcome to A Kid’s Life Podcast.

I’m Angela Lockwood and thank you for joining me today. We are going to be looking at how we could help our kids get out the door on time. Walk out the door with their lunchboxes, walk out the door with at least two shoes on with the school uniform on. How do we help create calm during these morning routines and more getting out the door on time on the way to school so that we’re not all stressed and starting out the day with these yelling matches or being upset with each other or forgetting things ha ha it’s such an important topic. I see it so many times and I see with my work in schools where kids turn up at school there in the wrong uniforms or they forgot their lunch and they’ve had to call mum or dad to come. Then they leave work to get their lunchbox to bring it to school or have seen kids in tears when they’re forgotten something or they bought the wrong thing ha ha it’s stressful for the kids and it’s also stressful for the families and believe it or not something you may never of thought of, it’s really stressful for the teachers to because they have to help settle their kids so that they can feel very upset during the day because they’ve forgotten something.

Now I would love to say as the podcast host here on A Kids Life that I have all the answers to every parenting concern, but I’m sorry I did not have all the answers because I have two children myself and I would love to say that I have everything perfect running smoothly in my family, but do you know what one of the most stressful things in my family is having the kids get out the door on time by kids are teenagers out so I am so totally with you as a parent here as much as the podcast host as much as an occupational therapist who works at kids all the time and I’m hearing parents they’re going and can you please help with some strategies of how we can get our kids ready in the morning without all the screaming matches, or without having to drag our kids out of bed in the mornings and today, I want to address it by a really practical strategy that I know works doesn’t work 100% of the time but I do not know any strategy that works 100% of the time, but this when I when we work through the strategy you’re gonna go ha ha I can see how this applies I can see how this is really important and it doesn’t need to be this big behavioural overhaul for our kids and it will help your kids. It will help you. It’ll help the entire family unit to know what is expected, that is using the supports of visuals or visual supports.

However you want to say it because it can be really challenging for parents and kids getting ready in the morning has a lot of different compounding factors so for some kids I don’t want to go to school and other podcast episodes but they’re not motivated to get out the door on time. They don’t want to get to school anyway so that they’re more than happy to drag and drag the things out in the morning. Some kids are motivated to get to school, but they’ve got things everywhere. They’ve got their uniforms aren’t ready or they don’t have their lunchbox packed or you know they’ve got different things they want to do in the morning other than getting ready for school. Some kids asleep in some kids will watch TV and I’ll leave it right to the last minute and they realise that the bus is coming and they have to run around the house or frantic now what we know with some of the scenarios is it is starting our kids off in the morning in a heightened state, so their stress levels are already increasing and I haven’t even really started the school day yet what we want is for our kids to feel calm For kids to feel organised and in control so that when they get on the bus or when they get dropped off at school or they they walk in the school school gates they are starting their day off on a very calm and very I’m feeling like they’ve got today all sorted from a very calm base. Okay what we don’t want is our kids to be running through the the gates are walking through the gates feeling stressed feeling out of control because what we know is those height and states don’t get very many opportunities throughout the day for it to come back down to a state of equilibrium. We know that the stresses can build up over the course of the day, and that’s where we start to see at the end of the day behaviours will increase and our kids can be really tired. They could be really cranky and you cop that when they get home from school and that’s not okay we don’t often think about it to his parents and actually how we start our day. 

It has such a big impact on how our day unfolds and how our day finishes so this morning routine conversation and talking about how to use visual supports to help. It is actually around setting up the framework for the entire day the expectation of the entire day and I hate we are not gonna start stressed out frantic running around in a in a way that we are hind we’re gonna do this day calmly we are gonna start it off and we gonna be in a in a space where we can approach the day in anyway, and if and face things that pop up unexpectedly in a very calm way and that really does will come back to and starts from the moment your child wakes up in fact, it actually starts the night before, so depends on what time they go to bed and how well that they sleep. But in the morning when they wake up we are actually setting almost like the base for how the day is going. I’m fault so by doing things like what we going to talk about today it’s setting up a really calm base for your child but also gives you a really good system and an element of predictability. You know I love predictability when it comes to routines and family life so this is a great way to do it. So gonna go through five things okay five reasons why these visuals can work and five different ways that they’ve the visual. 

The visuals are present all different ways you can use it to suck kids like certain things they like it presented in one way where’s other kids don’t Before we go through these things from a child’s perspective I just want you to think about imagine if I took off you your to-do list and I didn’t let you create a to-do list today or I took off your calendar from you so I took away your calendar and said right you’ve gotta get through your work day today without your calendar okay you have to rely 100% on your memory or it might be that you’re gonna go shopping grocery shopping and you can’t take a list alright and you have to rely rely on your memory to be able to make sure that you’ve got everything in your household that you need okay and you have to do it within a budget and you can’t get anything straight away don’t you go well that’s impossible how in the world would I do that one of the three might be your thing that you rely on. If you are like me, you might rely on all three things I rely on a shopping list. 

I rely on my to-do list and I rely on my calendar and as you can imagine and you will learn more towards the end of this podcast episode today is yeah I have a few of these things myself because that element of I just wanna think about so many things and there is and there is a concept called decision fatigue, and if we have to make all of these decisions so frequently and is about 20,000 decisions we have to make each and every day that are subconsciously made and I write about this extensively in my first book the power of conscious choice and we look at how do we make decisions and what we do know is that the more decisions we have to make the more exhausted we get and what we end up doing as we end up making decisions that are either lazy because we just don’t have the ability, energy or the attention to invest in making a good decision. Sometimes we deflect the decision onto somebody else I will go will look I don’t have it. I’m exhausted. I don't know I’ve made so many decisions today you decide and a perfect example of that is when kids ask. Hey what are we having for dinner tonight and you go? I don’t know, I haven’t even thought about you decide and what is up happening is the outcome is often not what we want so this decision fatigue is a real thing it actually you’re really compounds on our stress levels on our fatigue levels and setting up a really good framework or some visual schedules around or visual supports around how we start off our morning can’t you feel that you can you can see that okay we’ve got a good system that minimises our stress. It offers an element of predictability which sets our day up in a really calm way so it’s like a win-win for everybody we start off calm. We have predictability and we know that our brains not having to make these decisions before the start of the really big cognitive load that our kids face at school so every time we talk about this anything I kids my kids don’t need that. 

Think if you didn’t have a Calendar to-do list shopping list checklist all of those sort of things. If you weren’t able to rely on those what would your life be like how much harder would your life be and the same goes for our kids and we don’t often think about that our kids need these things as well so let’s have a run through what five different visual supports you could use in your family to help support your kids. 


  1. The first one is creating a morning routine chart and out You might have already you might already be using one of these or you might of heard of them and not quite sure what they are so it’s basically a visual aid and it outlines the steps. Your child needs to get ready for school so we are just going to look for the morning routine. It can be as simple as a list of pictures or symbols that represent each task; it could be a picture of someone washing their hands, a picture of somebody putting their clothes on. You could actually take a photo of your kids doing this you print it you put it somewhere on the wall and what is showing is okay first of gotta do that so it might be something like put in a go to the toilet Eat breakfast get dressed. Brush your teeth get your bag and then there’s a picture of a bus okay so it could be something as simple as that you could can create the chart with your child if you like and they can help because that’ll make it fun and also you just customise it to whatever your family‘s retainers the hanger chart in a really visible spot, and I might be like the bathroom or the bedroom or on the fridge or on the door next to the door before they’re going out so they can do a quick check and go. Yep I’ve got everything I need and what you do, is you create these charts so that reduces that cognitive loading for your child and they Are yeah I’ve got everything I need done let’s go okay .and it’s you make it I guess you don’t want to have 1015 different pictures you want to as small as possible so that you know what it’s like if you say 20 different things on your to-do list is at stress if you see three go yes I can do this it’s achievable same with the morning routine chart and I have plenty of downloadable as well over at Angela lockwood.com.au and you can see free downloadable there around morning routine charts. 


  1. The second thing is using a timer now I have never really used a an actual timer, so things like a time timer or on the microwave or you’re putting on your phone Never really worked for my kids however I do have friends have said that this is the best way for them to get the kids ready in the morning because the kids are super competitive and I love that element of motivation to beat the clock so that’s that’s a fun way. You know you know your kids so they’ll either I’ll either like it, or they won’t some of the things that I do I did do with my kids is also write an account 10 and let’s see who can be the first want to get dressed And buy it be a let’s see if you can do it in 30 seconds okay ready go and then I’ll countdown for 30 and this is when they were little and they will do it so using a time. It doesn’t have to be an actual clock you could count it down but it does it as an element of a bit of fun and trying to beat the clock, so it says an example if they have five minutes to brush their teeth set a timer and see if they can finish before it goes off. That’s that’s something really simple I can make the morning routine really fun and engaging, but it also can help your kids develop time management skills because I know even in my work if I’ve got all day to do something I feel the whole day doing that one thing but if I know I’ve only got half an hour I’ll get in get it done, get focus and I’m finished so just another little side thing. I know that parents I’ve worked with have used their favourite song as the end of the alarm so rather you know how your actions can change songs on your phone rather than doing it that awful like clock sound you can change the sound to their favourite songs. I’ve become something even more motivating so one visual support is around the morning routine chart that you can print out and put on the wall. There’s also an actual using a timer of some sort. 


  1. The third one is looking at using a picture schedule so picture schedules are get another type of visual aid that can help kids to understand what they need to do, and when they need to do it so they’re particularly useful for kids were not yet able to read or they might have difficulty with taking on verbal instructions so there might be a kid, so you can only tell them one thing for them to be able to recall that or two things for them to be able to recall that so creating server picture. Schedule includes pictures or symbols just like the morning routine chart and it’s things like putting on shoes, packing a backpack saying goodbye and you go through the schedule with your child each morning and encourage them to follow along so it might be okay at this time you do this at this time you do this this time you do this and that’s another it’s it’s very similar to the morning routine chart but a picture schedule is very much Looking at pairing the time with that as well and also for older kids. You may not just need the picture you could just do the word so it could just be brush your teeth. I could be get ready pack your bag and so just depending on the age of your child whether or not I need pictures they might a picture in a word or they might need just the word the last one. I was so the fourth one is around making a checklist. Yeah I love a good checklist. In fact I have to be disciplined not to create another checklist on top of my already done checklist you might be that weigh yourself. They could be a helpful to a particular for older kids who can read and write and checklist of outlines the steps. They need okay and then they check it off as they go. They put a tick on it, and they check it off and help kids feel a sense of accomplishment. Achieving something that day that’s important for your child and it could also help them stay focused and motivated you know it might be literally like in a tick the box it could be a sticker that you put on. It could be. They get to move the picture to another sort of side so that they can see cool. I’ve got five things to do now I’ve done three. I’ve only got 2 to go in. We know how good checklist  it really does give us that sense of accomplishment that we’ve achieved something. 


  1. Now last time we gonna look at is not a practical thing. It’s actually a very very emotive based strategy and that is using positive reinforcement now everyone loves a good good job. Well done you’ve done it you’ve done a really good. It is your focus really well today. Positive reinforcement is important and remembering to use. Positive reinforcement will actually allow your child to have a greater feeling of success but also it will help them want to do it more now it doesn’t mean that you’re present for every single step all the time, because don’t get bored with that appraising your child for their efforts and for following the morning routine actually does allow them to be able to want to do more than what we are looking for is not the reliance on external reinforcement from you, but that internal sense that is the goal but for some kids to start them off Having a reward like it could be a stick or extra playtime a high-five. It doesn’t have to be buy them a new phone or anything like that just giving them that real sense of motivation that this is an important thing for us to be doing in our family and even telling them that when you got yourself ready this morning what an allowed us to do was to get out the door on time that’s really important for me and it’s really important for you. So good job. 

Let’s try to get tomorrow and using these sort of systems in the morning relies on the child to become more independent, and because a lot of people a lot of parents will say to me but and aren’t these external things that my child will become reliant on yet getting it will, but eventually they won’t even need to look at them. They will know they will know the routine well that they won’t even refer to them in rather than pulling them down and think in my child doesn’t either there might be a morning when I wake up and they’re super tired and they need it. Where is if you took it away from them then they are. The brains are tired they might they need to fall back on that so don’t take them away if you feel like your Childs got it. You might need to change it up a little bit as they get older maybe not a picture any more. Maybe it is the words You can change it to suit what they need or later on when they’re teenagers they have their own schedule so that’s might be in their room that they create which is the case for my kids. You know they they they know what the routine of the family is but their individual routine and what’s required, then that’s up to them, and so using the strategies hopefully will help start your day off your child’s day your family day off in a really calm platform and a really calm foundation and then that way when they go into the school day were things do pop up on expected they’re doing it in a way where they’re not heightened. They’re not stressed and they know that they can face that now that’s when they’re doing their morning routines we know that these strategies work for all areas of their life so just start with the morning. See how it goes. 

Try some of these things and I’d love to know how you know how it went for you. Which one did you choose and what difference did it make? Did your kids not like some of them, but they loved another one because for most of us we would be lost without the structures in our lives so they’re really effective way to help your kids get ready in the school morning okay so with a little bit of effort and a little bit of creativity. You can make your morning routine fun and positive for you and your child and obviously like everything I say, get them involved have your child make them with you get them invested in it and before you know what your mornings will be nice and calm and smooth, and everyone will be walking out the door. I would love for that to happen every morning, but let’s face it. This will allow success for you and your kids every single morning to be able to have a smooth start to the day. Thanks for joining me.

For more tips and strategies head over to www.angelalockwood.com.au and of course here on A Kids Life Podcast if you loved this episode, please share it with other parents who might be having difficulties in this area or who you know would absolutely love the things. We will talk about here and A Kid’s Life until next time. I’m Angela Lockwood stay safe and enjoy!