7 Tips to Get Out the Door on Time
It’s back-to-school week here! With the excitement and the nerves also comes the anticipation of rushed and sometimes stressful mornings. My goal for this school year is to make it to school on time without rushing. It makes such a difference when we start the day off slowly and follow a routine. I know that this will require a lot of preparation (and self-discipline on my part!) Whether you’re trying to get out the door for school or any other activity, I am confident these tips will help your morning flow more smoothly.
Practice - Reflect back on recent stressful mornings…which parts were the most challenging? If a child is frustrated by not being able to put on their own shoes, can we help them master this skill more indendently? Making time in the slower afternoon or weekend to practice skills such as this can make the more hurried times less tense.
Prep Ahead - Certain choices and tasks can be done ahead of time to minimize the morning to-do list. For example, we can let children choose their outfit the night before. I also like to make packing snack boxes/lunches easier by chopping fruits and veggies and making sure the pantry is stocked on Sunday.
Organize Entryway - Although admittedly challenging to maintain, an organized entryway is a game changer for efficiently getting out the door. When everything we need for the morning is already at the front door, we eliminate the need to run around and zoom in and out the door before leaving. In our house, this means having low hooks for the kids’ backpacks and coats, a basket for socks and hats, and a low shelf for shoes. This also makes it easier for them to put everything away as soon as we get home.
Allow for Autonomy - Independence looks different at different ages, but even the youngest of toddlers want a sense of control. The more control they feel, the less meltdowns occur. This means giving them opportnities to get themselves ready. It also means offering choices. Can we let them serve their own cereal or make their own toast? Can they help pack their lunch box or backpack? Can they choose between the two pairs of shoes by the front door?
Routine Chart - Young children crave predictability and routine. It gives them comfort to know what comes next and confidence to be able to initiate that next step. Routine charts are a great way to establish a new routine. We have made a number of routine charts, cards, and checklists over the years, both with our own photos and these printables from The Creative Sprout. We typically reference these for the first few weeks of a new routine, and then bring them back out as needed throughout the year.
Set the Timer - Sometimes it’s simply the transition from morning play or breakfast to getting ready to go that’s the challenge. Our favorite tool for transitions are to set a song or a timer to indicate when it’s time to end one activity and start another. The kids know that when the song or timer ends/beeps, it’s transition time. Playing or singing the same song during a morning routine can be a really gentle but effective way to move things along.
10-minute Buffer - One trick I always count on is to prepare to be early. When we plan to be somewhere 10 minutes early, we are usually on time. That 10 minute buffer allows for the unpredictable and often inevitable slow down to occur! And occasionally, we’re actually early.
What are your favorite tricks to getting out the door smoothly?