What is so special?  I guess, like most things, it depends on your perspective.

    If your kids are driving you crazy right about now, you probably can’t wait to send them back to school where they can be somebody else’s responsibility for six hours a day.  But if you enjoyed a lazy go-with-flow type of summer, you might not look forward to the demands of a new school year and the complicated schedules of a busy family involved with academics (think homework and class projects with deadlines), sports (think practices, games, uniforms and snacks), clubs and other extra-curricular activities (think carpool, ever-changing locations and supplies).

    The elementary school years are a time for learning how to exist in the world around us.  Sure, the three R’s are important (reading, writing, and arithmetic…which by the way are an R-W-A combination, somebody couldn’t spell!).  For the AD/HD family, there is a fourth R.   Routine.

    Just about every professional organizer or life coach has something to say about establishing routines, especially at this time of year, and I’m gonna do the same.  The difference is, I invite you to tackle ‘routine’ realistically. I mean, let’s face it, there are details about life that other people just seem to get, that are maybe not so obvious for everyone else.

    Have a family dinner, set regular bedtimes, do homework when the kids are not tired, set out clothes the night before, eat a healthy breakfast, pack a nutritious lunch….who can do all of this?

    My advice is to approach setting routines by focusing on one area of challenge at a time.  It is unrealistic to expect to make changes in every part of the day all at once.  Successive Approximations is one of my favorite social psych theories.  It’s all about shaping behavior Look it up.  The application here is to get closer and closer to establishing routine by experiencing the rewards that come with every baby-step that you take toward that goal.  My friend Gayle talks about ‘celebrating small triumphs.’

    Let’s just talk about MORNINGS for now.  Readers familiar with this blog know that I include at least one new link for a resource with every posting.  Check this out:  Recently I corresponded with Lisa Coatti, co-owner of Out the Door Chore Cards

    In response to my questions, Lisa told me, “I developed this system for my son when he was about 4 (he is now 9).    Before we learned he had AD/HD (diagnosed last year), I only knew he needed some different methods to help him (and me) along so I created this.     This system is a great help to him, but is also perfect for my other two children that do not have a diagnosis.   It meets the needs of many!”

    Here’s an example of some of the tasks that can be selected for your personalized Chore Card.  Each card has a defined chore both in words and a visual.  The child turns over each velcroed card as a task is completed to see a happy Good Job message from Chore Dog.

    Unless a parent feels it’s important, it doesn’t matter what order the cards/chores are in, as long as the tasks are completed.  The benefit is that you know that all of the necessary chores got done when you see all the smiling Chore Dogs.  Lisa literally says to her children, “Did you flip your cards?” She adds, “I don’t have to nag about each individual chore, and better yet, they don’t have to hear me nag!”

    Chores get done without saying a word.

    I’m speechless.

    Wishing my readers a very special 2010 back to school season.