As any veteran parent knows, getting out the door (on time) in the morning really starts the night before. Packing up lunches, stuffing homework into backpacks and having shoes ready and waiting by the door are a few of the basics that most parents have learned to save time and frustration in the morning.
But if you want to up your get-out-the-door game, we’ve got a few other tricks for you to try the night before and morning of.
Writer Lorraine Allen recommends pouring out (and covering) the kids’ cereal, prepping the coffee machine and filling the water pitcher the night before.
For families with babies, whose hands are often full holding hungry, squirming offspring in addition to being super pressed for time, simply setting up the highchair with the baby bowl, spoon, bib, sippy cup, and jar of mush can make a huge difference. When I take the time to do this, I’m able to feed my little one while enjoying a cup of coffee and my own breakfast, too.
Making lunches the night before is good. Having the kids make their own lunches the night before is great.
Let children pack their meals themselves by setting up a lunch-making station in your refrigerator. Just buy a few plastic bins (I picked up these modular onesfrom Target) and stock them with grab-and-go lunch components, like string cheese, yogurt pouches, or little baggies of fruit and veggies. Then place them on a refrigerator shelf that your kids can reach. You can create a similar setup in a low cabinet for non-refrigerated items—bread, packs of nut butter, applesauce cups and granola bars. For the youngest kids, it might help to number the bins and tell them they must pack all six (or whatever number) items. Yes, you’re still doing some of the initial legwork, but they’re gaining autonomy by making sure their lunches are complete.
It sounds intense, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder if the idea could work in my home. We love music and often use upbeat songs to tidy up quickly. The key here would be choosing the right tracks. You’d want them to be cheerful but not manic, fun but not distracting.
My son is unique in that he likes to get dressed the moment he wakes up. This seems great, I know, but once in a while, it’d be nice if dude could just lounge in his PJs for a sec. Plus, it would eliminate those frustrating moments when the spilled orange juice or syrup on the sleeve means a second outfit change before your day has even started:
One thing you can do to get everyone out the door faster is have your kids get dressed after breakfast. You’re anticipating disaster (which is more of the norm than the exception when you’re dealing with tiny humans who haven’t mastered their fine motor skills). Pajamas can be tossed into the hamper if some jelly and syrup gets on them. It will not mess up the process.
Recently, I came across some advice from Katherine Reynolds Lewis, author of the new parenting book The Good News About Bad Behaviour: Why Kids Are Less Disciplined Than Ever—And What to Do About It. She says that if your young child is resisting the morning schedule (or stalling in other ways), walk out the door. Don’t yell, don’t nag, don’t threaten. Simply walk out the door, stand outside and wait. Stand there for five or 10 minutes or however long it takes your kid to get moving. And if they’re older and you’ve established your expectations, you can leave.
I actually did this one myself one morning last week. My son was taking four and a half hours to get his shoes on, and I decided that I was tired of spending so many hours a day watching him put his shoes on. So I opened the front door, turned the lock on the knob and headed down the front walkway to my car, yelling, “Pull the door shut behind you when you’re done!” behind me.
He came out just a moment later and I was feeling rather smug about the whole thing. (Until he realised he forgot a book and I had to go back to unlock the door—but I still think we saved time and frustration overall.)