COMMON GROUND: Good habits form before school year even begins

With school less than a couple of weeks away, my children are not even remotely ready to rise at the crack of dawn on their first day of school.

No. They have fallen into a rotten routine consisting of watching nighttime kids’ shows and falling asleep on the couch.

They wake up late and sometimes lounge in their pajamas until noon.

I’m afraid they have no hustle in them right now. They are going to oversleep and miss their 6 a.m. buses’ arrival on Aug. 8, the opening day of school in our parish.

With no regrets, the honor of changing my children’s laid-back bedtime and waking habits fall both on myself and on my husband.

So, here’s the challenge. I want my children, who are ages 6, 8 and 11, to get to bed well before 10 p.m., which seems to be the time when they are most engrossed with all of the new Nickelodeon and Disney summer series and specials.

My other challenge is to help them get readjusted to waking up at 5 a.m. in order to catch the bus on time.

The best advice has come from seasoned moms who know a thing or two about raising children.

My husband’s aunt, a retired Iberville Parish school teacher and mother of two adult children, told us to keep our children busy and prepared in the summer. Set up math and reading review sessions, make them do book reports, help them research science fair topics and practice preparing them for the opening day of school.

Through practice, children can build positive and useful habits, she told us.

I can’t go wrong with her advice and I can probably turn a few things around, through practice of course, in the next 13 days.

Since my children love turning something serious into a game, next week’s challenge will be to go to bed at 8 p.m. and wake up at 5 a.m.

To help them out, they’re getting new, obnoxiously loud alarm clocks this year. Apparently, the cheap, battery-powered ones I bought last year failed to do the job.

Winners in the challenge will earn reward points for taking baths, brushing teeth, preparing for bed ahead of time, not sneaking up and getting up on time.

Losing the challenge could mean giving up three things they love: television, computer time and outdoor playtime with their neighborhood pals.

They will also face their father’s “old school” consequences if they cannot show improvement in the days leading up to school.

We hope that by getting them readjusted to avoiding the early morning rush, we can avoid hearing “It’s too early” or “Where’s my backpack? Where are my shoes? Where are my socks? Where is my uniform?”

OK. I’ve read up on a few pointers about that, too. Make a list of items to bring to school and post the checklist in an area where children can see it the night before.

Another pointer I borrowed from a parent of a recent high school graduate is to post a daily routine and chore chart on the wall.

I do chore charts fairly regularly and it does keep confusion at bay. I’ll have that up and ready next week as well.

In the meantime, “Wake up kids! School is around the corner.”

Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer and the mother of three children. She can be reached at