HURRY UP! 6 Secrets to Get Your Kids Out the Door on Time
Roger can’t find his gloves, Emily hasn’t finished her oatmeal, the school bell will ring in 15 minutes, and you haven’t even scraped the frost off the car windows yet. How many times will you have to yell before they’re in the car and barreling down that road to avoid another late slip?
Roger and Emily have finished their nutritious breakfasts, taken their dishes to the sink, and are dressed and ready at the door as you take their lunches out of the fridge. You’ll drive slowly and safely to school and have time to visit with other parents as the kids laugh with their buddies and get ready for a day full of learning.
If you let yourself believe just for a moment in the possibility of Act 2, doesn’t it feel blissful? Imagine the high-quality conversations you could have with your fresh, unguarded offspring. You could actually taste that healthy, balanced meal and revel in the life lessons you are teaching them about time management, respect for schedules, and self-care. You could look forward to the meaningful, unhurried interactions they will have with your peers in the parking lot. And you could feel the positive, relaxed, and confident energy you all carry into the rest of your day.
Yes, it really is possible to move from Act 1 to Act 2 (and, regrettably, back again). While there are no silver bullets or magic remedies that work for everyone, there are a few good habits that will get you further along that healthy path.
1. Start the Night Before
Prepare everything you can before you go to bed–ideally right after they go to bed, before you get too tired or distracted. Put out the lunch, clothes, jackets and mittens, shoes, books…everything that usually results in a mad scramble in the last five minutes.
2. Choose Clothes and Stick to Them
If clothing selection is a constant battle, do it together before bedtime. Some simplicity parenting experts say not to give the kids any choice at all; with my children, simply letting them select clothes for my approval skirts the whole issue. In the morning, they put on the clothes that they chose and stacked the night before, saving time and tears.
3. Get Up on Time
Actually, get up early. That last 10 minutes of snoozing may feel right at the time, but it costs the price of another frantic, confrontational morning. Give yourself more time than you think you need–enough to enjoy your family, do the routine right, and get there early.
4. Set the Clock Ahead
Some parents swear by this method, tricking their kids and even themselves to get going a bit faster. Personally, I prefer the discipline and honesty that comes from teaching and modeling good time management, but I also have good morning kids. If manipulating the clock is what it takes to avoid stress and get out the door on time, though, then perhaps that’s most important.
5. Focus on Them
Don’t jump onto your e-mails, fly away with your palm pilot, or stretch too far on your yoga. Get up early enough to take care of yourself (and again, do as much as possible the night before), then give 100% of your positive, relaxed energy to your children and the comfortable morning routine you’re establishing. The vast majority of the time we are late or rushed these days is not because the kids dallied but because I had to do “just one more thing.”
6. Be Centered
As important as all the behaviors and timelines are, the key ingredient to this adventure is the calm, centered energy you radiate. The goal isn’t just to get to school before the bell; it’s to have a relaxed, together start to the day and to create an energy that you all carry with you as you meet with peers, learn, grow, and enjoy.
On bad (Act 1) days, I’m throwing oatmeal in front of the faceless kids while turning toward the laundry room to search for gloves. On good (Act 2) days, we’re sitting together eating that oatmeal, watching the sun rise, and talking about what we hope the day will look like. That extra five minutes and calm energy, simple as they may seem, make the oatmeal and the whole day taste a lot better.
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