How To Get Out the Door On Time, Every Morning
(Even When You Oversleep!)
1. Anything That CAN Be Done the Night Before, SHOULD Be.
It’s hard to have the motivation at the end of the day to keep powering through and doing chores when you’ve worked your butt off all day long. On those days, I just want to sit with a bowl of secret ice cream and binge watch teen dramas (just me?). However, anything that can be done the night before to minimize issues in the morning, should be a priority and considered part of regular “end of day” business. Using time in the evening will help to save frustration in the morning.
- Baths at night only: My girls live for playing in the water, bath time included. Except for in cases of overnight accidents and passing out from exhaustion, we always make sure they get bathed before bed rather than in the morning. Playing is too big a temptation in a tub full of warm water, and best saved for a calming end of day activity.
- “Bookbag Checks” immediately after school: I’ve gotten into the habit of checking bookbags, signing folders, and doing any necessary school correspondence immediately after the kids get home from school. This helps to address anything that may need to be talked about while it’s still fresh on their minds. It also helps to make sure I don’t forget something important in the morning rush.
- Pack lunch at night: Only one of my kids has to pack a lunch daily (Thank you, National School Lunch Program and the FDA!), and I’ve found that I can save time in more ways than one by packing her lunch in the evening. Not only does this take out that extra step in the morning, but it also allows leftovers to be used, while the extras from dinner are being packed away at the same time.
2. Only Give 2 Breakfast Options
Take the struggle out of breakfast and preschooler indecision by only offering two items up for breakfast each day (including flavor options). This could be a choice of instant oatmeal flavor (“Today you can choose to have Maple or Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal for Breakfast”); a choice between pancakes or waffles; choice of yogurt flavor (between two options), but only introducing two total options is key for eliminating the indecision that can lead to running late in the morning.
Too many options is overwhelming and slows down the decision making process, especially in kids who’ve just woken up and are already grumpy and in a low-blood sugar haze. My two girls eat breakfast at home every morning, and the big boy eats at school. The girls will often choose to eat the exact same thing as the other, but have their definite flavor preferences when it comes to oatmeal, muffins, and yogurt.
3. Get Yourself Ready First
Use the time when the kids are eating breakfast to get yourself ready. It creates a few minutes of uninterrupted time to put on clothes without being reminded how “cute my sweet, lumpy belly is”, or playing a game of 100 questions about that time we went to the circus with those people we met. This helps me to insure that I can put my focus on getting them ready as soon as they’re done eating and I’m done dressing.
4. Assign Morning Responsibilities to Older Children
I looked at my big, eleven year old boy a few days ago, one who is almost as tall as me, and who’s smarter than I could have ever imagined, and realized what a great child he’s become and how helpful he is. How did this happen?
Because I’m an asshole who forces responsibility on my children and believes it important to teach how cooperative efforts are mutually beneficial, especially within a family unit. Now, comparatively, our kids probably don’t have THAT many chores; when it comes to quality, though, we make it count.
Utilize your older children to help with the younger ones. Mine know that this both helps me, and mostly absolves them from having to do stuff like pick pieces of lint out of the carpet because the vacuum won’t do it (mostly…). Delegate responsibilities in the morning and make sure that each child is helping another one to get out the door.
My oldest helps the youngest pick out her clothes; the middle one puts the diaper on the youngest (real live baby-doll! A 5 year old’s dream come true!); I brush all the hairs and supervise teeth scrubbing; and the bad ass big kid helps with damage control when my frazzled nerves can’t deal with being screamed at by a highly pissed off two year old so soon after waking.
5. NEVER TURN THE TV ON IN THE MORNING!
If this is something that you’re used to doing, you probably already realize the effect that watching TV in the morning can have on the kids, if they’re like mine it not only intensifies the noise level, but also adds conflict and makes them less likely to get up and out the door when the time strikes. Eliminating TV in the morning (as in, never ever not even an option) can shave minutes of time spent getting ready, and endless frustration off of your morning.
If the kids currently watch TV while getting ready, what could you do to entertain them otherwise or substitute with? Music is a great option. The Amazon Echo is a great option and allows younger kids to control it. The kids can put some pep in their step without the annoying distraction of visual stimulation.
6. Establish a Strong Morning Routine
Kids, like many of us adults, are creatures of habit. Instilling a routine in the morning that doesn’t deviate is a great way to help them take responsibility for getting ready, as well as shave off time spent asking, “What should i do now?”
Our routine goes something like this:
- I sleep like shit because the kids are up and down all night.
- My alarm goes off at 6:42 am. I’m either already up (usually), or begrudgingly wake up because I’ve only had a solid hour or two chunk of sleep.
- Coffee is always ready. This is key. My first step after the bathroom is pouring a cup of coffee.
- There’s a 50/50 chance the two youngest will already be awake, as my husband leaves the house at 6:40…and they clearly hate me and never want me to have time to myself.
- I feed them and get myself dressed while they’re eating
- When they’re done eating I have the oldest help the youngest get dressed and have the middle dress herself.
- Have all kids brush teeth and hair
- Sit on couch with big brother and read until I’m done collecting everything we need to get out the door.
The kids know that after breakfast I expect that they’ll get dressed, and don’t have to ask. Next they always brush teeth and hair. Once they’re done they *normally* sit on the couch with their brother and he reads to them, but sometimes they play. I try to make sure that everyone is centrally located to the front of the house, right by the front door, so that when I say it’s time to go, we can all get out the door with ease.
More Peace in the Morning
Once we established some good guidelines for our mornings, getting out the door has been simple. We are often all ready to go with 15-20 minutes left to spare. We’re also a bit calmer and more collected for not having started out with a struggle to get out the door on time.
What are some of your best tips for getting out of the house on time? Comment below and let me know!