It’s a universal challenge: getting out of the house in the morning on time — ideally with your children in tow, snacks packed, shoes tied, coats on, teeth brushed and hair combed. It was hard when we had one tiny tot. It was harder when we had two. Now that we have five, well, it’s not easy but, we’ve learned from our mistakes and, in the spirit of sharing, hopefully you can too!
- Wake up earlier. It’s painful but trust me, it works. We made two mistakes in this category. First, we often hit snooze until a baby cried and demanded our attention; at that point, it is too late. You’re already behind the 8-ball. An early rise is critical to the success of our morning mission. It allows us to literally be one step ahead of the little people — which is where you need to be if you’re going to drag them out the door on time. The second mistake we made was letting them sleep in; after years of being told “never wake a sleeping baby”, it seems counter-intuitive to do just that but, you must. They need time that transition time from the land of nod to the day ahead and the more time you allow them, the less hustling and bustling and screaming and yelling there will be. Trust me on this!
- Prep the night before. Make the lunches. Pack those snacks. Put out the clothes. Pack the backpacks. Sign the forms. Write the notes. Set the shoes by the door. Locate the gloves, hats and mittens. It’s not fun but it’s a lot less fun to tackle these tasks with whining tots and as tempers rise and the time ticks away in the morning. And, whatever you do, don’t forget to set the coffee maker! What the heck – you may even want to pick out an outfit and pack lunch for yourself!
- Let them “do it self!” Kids love to help. So, put them to work! A toddler can find his shoes and put them by the door. A kindergartener can pop a snack into her backpack. And a third-grader can and should be responsible for neatly packing up his homework and picking out clothes for the next day. So, let them. It will ease the burden on you, make them feel great and teach an important lesson about responsibility along the way.
I suppose last but not least, allow room for error. You know what they say about the best-laid plans right? Well, the morning routine is no exception and sometimes you just need to roll with it. Sometimes you are going to be late. And that’s ok. That’s when it’s good to remember one of my mantras, for better or worse, better late than never!