First of all- this morning was a disaster, so I thought this might be a good topic for a blog post. Since my oldest is now 19 and out of the house, I cannot claim to be a novice at getting children out the door. My youngest is now in fourth grade, so again I should be good at this.
I learned many years ago that mornings and evenings with children can make or break any parent's heart. All kids out the door with teeth brushed, hair combed, deodorant on, lunch in hand, and backpacks on equals home run, grand slam, touchdown. If either or both parent makes it out the door with work lunch, work bag, clothes, jewelry, watch, phone, brain cells, positive attitude, AND shoes--- well you might as well say we have won the lottery.
The secret to these success stories (which let’s be honest are few and far between for most of us) is having a morning and an evening routine. I know, I know, everyone and their mother, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin is online touting about elaborate morning and evening routines that are super unrealistic for a single person much less for a family with multiple children.
My goal in writing this article is to tell you the absolute truth: the cold, hard, ugly, sometimes-hilarious, often meltdown-provoking truth. The truth is that getting kids out the door is hard. It also takes practice and patience.
The following tips will help you get your kids out the door:
The 15 minute buffer: Parents and kids alike need a 15 minute buffer every morning. This is a fact, and I’m not sure why it is true, but it is true. If everyone needs to leave by 7:15 AM , we ALL need to mentally think 7 AM. Allowing that 15 minute buffer reduces anxiety, rushing, attitudes, and raised voices. I personally use the 15 minute buffer always on all days just to reduce my own anxiety since being late provokes panic for me.
Have a dedicated spot for backpacks, shoes, and lunchboxes: All five members of our household have always taken their lunch to work or school. This saves money and is better for our physical health. We have a dedicated spot for lunchboxes so that packing lunches is easier. I asked my husband to install hooks in our hallway between the garage and laundry room for backpacks since the layout of our house does not lend itself to a mud room or drop off bench area. The backpack / hoodie hooks have been a game changer in our household. Similarly, shoes are deposited in a designated space as we enter our home. This prevents all the “where are my shoes!?!“ screams in the mornings. When the kids get off the bus or my husband and I get home from work, things aren’t strewn across the kitchen. They go where they belong.
Use a timer: I use a the timer on my watch for several things every single morning.
Set expectations ahead of time: My kids know that their homework must be done before bed and not the morning of school. Unless we have a late ballgame or rehearsal and they are just exhausted, they know that they are not allowed to do homework in the morning. This prevents any last minute “mom I have to do this worksheet real quick“ debacles that can derail any smooth morning. My children also know that they eat breakfast at home at the table every morning, and they must allow time to eat in their schedule. They will not be eating a pop tart or breakfast bar on the bus. Whatever expectations you have for your family, I encourage you to make those known well ahead of time and be consistent. Consistency is key.
Remain calm: This tip is probably the most important tip but also the most comical in my opinion. I can definitely say this is the hardest one for me to follow. While I am naturally a morning person and usually a calm person, my aforementioned anxiety that stems from being late causes me to get easily flustered if the kids go off the rails. It never fails that the dog won’t go outside or the milk gets spilled or the backpack won’t unzip or mom forgot the applesauce on the click list. These things happen. Since we have the 15 minute buffer, it is best to remain calm and take a few deep breaths before unloading every thought and frustration onto our children. We love our children and our spouse and our dog. Repeat that three times LOL.
Weekly habits that make daily routines flow smoothly:
Check schedules every night: I have used a planner my entire life. I am a planning guru. However, when work is crazy and kids' schedules are busy and homework abounds, I sometimes forget to look at my planner. This is never good. Whether you use a digital or a paper planner, it is easy to dismiss a digital reminder or leave a beautifully decorated planner unopened. Check the planner. Check it again. Every night.
Charge all the things:
Morning routine for parents:
Evening routine for parents: