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Tuesdays with Jane: What’s Your Procrastination Pitfall?

In developing family routines, all personality types can fall into the Procrastination Trap—we just do it in different ways! While there’s comfort in knowing that you aren’t the only one who would rather hit the snooze alarm again than bolt from bed to get the family routine underway, the variety of ways to procrastinate means that what works for one family just may not work for another!

Your first step is to decide what kind of Procrastinator you are as a parent—and if possible, whether your children are similar or different. Here’s a few basic kinds and what works best for them:

  • Pulled-By-The-Moment Procrastinators. If you start out with good intentions each morning, but then end up in a last-minute rush because you finished an especially good news article, or experimented with a different way of making coffee, or decided to teach your child how to play pick-up stix with leftover toothpicks, this might be you. A little reward system might be your best bet for leading the way to calm mornings, to add a little excitement to routine. How about a little jar with slips of paper you pull if everyone leaves the house on time? Keep the rewards simple but fun—stream an episode of your favorite show only if you draw that slip, or add a flavor shot to your morning coffee, or keep a few of your favorite MP3 tracks for just these days.
  • Perfectionist Procrastinators. If your definition of “on time” insists that all beds are made, all crumbs wiped up, and all clothes on hooks or in hampers or it’s an “epic fail,” this might describe you. First, do a reality check with other households. Where might you loosen up just a bit? Second, consider a “morning success rating.” Turn it into a bit of a game. Think of three or four categories where you would really prefer to see closure each morning—being on time, all parties dressed and clean, no last-minute searches for belongings, minimal food mess. Take a quick second to rate each from one to ten each day and celebrate progress on the weekends!
  • Adrenalin Rush Procrastinators. If you secretly enjoy the adrenalin rush of a last-minute scramble, this may fit you best. Remember that while you might work faster under these conditions, if your children have different styles, being last-minute may not only cause anxiety but also increase the chance that they’ll spill milk, forget their homework, or have a meltdown! You may have to plan backward—and stick to it!! What needs to get done? Make a list. How long will each item take? Check your estimates against reality. Then, fit them into a schedule. When does your alarm realistically have to go off if you are going to make it out the door without tears from anyone?
  • Pushover Procrastinators. Are you simply too nice to corral your little darlings in the morning? Well, start picturing them in your basement when they’re thirty years old after being fired for not getting to the office on time! Remember that children are masters of manipulation (“Mommy, you’re so mean…” “Dad, it’s your fault I’m so tired”), smile, and stick to the plan using whatever technique from above seems nicest to you!
  • Daydreamer Procrastinators. If all of a sudden you realize that while contemplating an upcoming meeting, you spent five minutes longer than intended in the shower, this could be you. First, get one of those shower clocks and use it! Second, figure out what prompts those lost-in-thought moments. Planning dinner? Brainstorming your son’s science fair possibilities? Move those activities to the evening!

No, you don’t want to resort to the uniforms and whistles The Captain used in The Sound of Music, but if you can figure out your own procrastination hot buttons, and what delays your children, you can start to develop a morning plan that just might succeed!

Jane is an educational consultant, specializing in teambuilding, coaching, and school staff development. She is also the coauthor of more than 20 books. Jane’s website  is