When are kids old enough to get themselves ready for school?

My children will be home from vacation before it gets dark out tonight!

Today's topic is inspired by a discussion with a friend with two 5-year-olds. She is frustrated with being angry and stressed every morning about getting everyone out the door to camp (and soon, school).

I started thinking about how my morning stress level has been going down progressively over the last year (obviously, the miracle of not having a 45-minute subway commute to school helped) and about how a lot of that is that I've been deliberately shifting more of the responsibilities in the morning to my kids. (For them, not for me. Although if this keeps working, maybe in a couple of years they'll make my coffee and help me get into my clothes in the morning, too. That would be sweet.)

I feel like Kindergarten is a big time of increasing responsibility for a lot of kids. I know it was for both of mine, but I wasn't able to capitalize on it. I was so stressed myself, and our living situations and school situations lefft no ease whatsoever for me to take advantage of the new things my kids could do and wanted to do. If I could go back in time I'd give myself the time to go get a pedicure and think about our morning routines and think about what I could shift to which child while I wasn't in the heat of the moment.

It feels to me like there are physical tasks, and there are responsibilities. After a few weeks of Kindergarten, kids are more and more able to do the physical tasks. Last year in 1st grade, my younger son could easily choose his own clothes (I put his clean folded clothes in the right drawers and he picks them) and put them on when I asked him to.

Then one morning I was making bacon for breakfast (on a weekday!) and jokingly said "Bacon's for dressers" (little Glengarry Glen Ross joke, clip NSFW) so they ran and got dressed, and the next thing we knew, the expectation was that they'd be dressed before they came out of their rooms and did anything else in the morning.

The next step was to have them pack their own lunches the night before. I thought my younger one might be challenged by this, but he gave me the "Duh, Mom" attitude and sailed right through the packing and then putting his lunch in his backpack the next day.

All of this made me realize that I'd been thinking I was teaching my kids responsibility and not holding them back by doing everything for them, but there were still a ton of areas in which I thought I'd have to push, but they were easily ready to take on those tasks.

The responsibility seems to kick in later than the ability to do the physical tasks, and seems to have more to do with personality than age, at least for my two. We saw some good success after my friend Susan Messina told me about having her daughter come up with her own morning schedule and put in time markers so she knew when to do what to get herself out the door in the morning. Just having my older one walk through his schedule to know what he needed to do when was a big shift in his responsibility. My younger one doesn't seem to feel it as much, he just does it, if that makes sense. So once we talk about it and walk through it, he does it.

At what age do you think your kids can do aspects of the morning routine? I think Kindergarten, and by age 7 they can probably do the physical parts, and at least by age 10 that they can be resonsiible for themselves. Is this your experience? What do you think? How has shifting responsibility been for you emotionally?