Recently a friend of mine asked how I was able to successfully get out of the house every morning with three kids. When I thought about it, she has a really good reason for the question. On any given day, I have about 90 minutes or less to shower and make myself look somewhat presentable, help my kids make their beds, get everyone dressed, cook and eat breakfast (and help my children eat theirs), make lunches, pack the car with jackets, backpacks, my children, buckle five million safety latches on their car seats, and get to preschool on time. So how does it happen? Truthfully, a lot of trial and error and then finally success! I have included some strategies I have developed to make this possible:
Having a routine with kids is extremely important, even from a young age. It helps them understand what to expect and gives them comfort in knowing my expectations as well. When my kids wake up, they know exactly what has to be done before we leave the house and in what order.
“Preparation Prevents Poor Performance”. While the 4P’s can be applied to almost anything in life, with kids the 4P’s are almost a must. After we put the kids to bed at night, no matter how tired I am, I always go back downstairs, fix the state of the house and get my game plan for the following day. Even if I only spend ten minutes, helpful preparation for the next morning - packing up the car in advance, taking out the lunch boxes so they are ready to be filled in the A.M. - can save lots of valuable time the next day.
While children do not understand the concept of time completely, they do understand expectations. Therefore, if you tell them, “kids, we have 10 minutes before we have to put our plates away”, they understand that in some short time period, they will have to transition to the next task. This helps prepare them for a switch in activities which can be very helpful, especially for any kids who have anxiety with change.
Alarm with Sound
Similar to time updates, I set an alarm that rings on my phone 10 minutes before we have to leave. This sound is different than my voice and is something my children recognize, giving them a better understanding of what activities they should expect to do next.
Specific Bins for Outdoor Clothing Accessories
In our mudroom, I have set up bins for each person. Therefore, the kids know exactly where their specific bins are and can start the process of getting dressed for the outdoors all on their own. Hats, gloves, sneakers and boots are all easily accessible and our kids take pride in being able to pick out what accessories they get to wear that day. (Bonus - this also keeps the house clean when everyone returns home later. Instead of items arbitrarily landing on the ground, the kids know and enjoy taking the responsibility of putting their items away in their individual bins).
Gift Yourself Time
The greatest gift you can give yourself every morning is time. No matter what time your appointment is, plan to get there 10 minutes earlier. This allows for any last minute unforeseens like traffic, meltdowns, missing items, etc. Also, if by chance nothing happens and you get to your destination on time, 10 minutes is a doable amount of time that kids can usually keep their cool in the car or a waiting office.
With kids, there are always unexpected hiccups but just remember, the more positive you are and the more you laugh, the less everyone cries. For our family, once we get in the car, I always thank everyone for helping us get out of the house on time (or close to on time) and we find music to sing for the ride in. It helps everyone head off for the day in a happy and positive way.
Just remember, every day is a new day and has its own set of opportunities and challenges, but no matter what life brings you, I hope these tips help it start out on the right foot!
What do you do to help your family get out of the house on time?
Original blog posted at Lilladu Exchange - Parent Living