How to Get Out of the House with a Million Kids
Hi, my name is Chaunie and I have a million kids that I am responsible for getting out of the house every single day.
OK, that's a small exaggeration. But I do have four young kids. And at one point in my life, I had a six-year-old, a four-year-old, a two-year-old, and a newborn and I was responsible for 1) getting all those kids out of the door to drop my oldest two off to school in the morning 2) going back up at 11:30 to pick up the four-year-old from preschool with the younger two in tow, and then, as the grand finale, waking everyone up from naps (the pain!) to pick the six-year-old up from school again at the end of the day.
It was an absolutely exhausting time in my life and even writing that all out, I kind of want to cry a little just remembering it. My life since then has gotten a lot easier as my kids have grown, but every day I am still getting a lot of little people out of the door. And I won't lie to you: it drives me absolutely bonkers most days. Sometimes, there's just no good way to get them to cooperate because that's life.
But after years of herding them out of the door and trying my hardest to keep the meltdowns to a minimum (mine, that is, not just theirs!) here's what I have found works the best for me to help get everyone out the door more smoothly:
Watch where your kids naturally stash their stuff
What on earth does this have to do with getting out of the door, you ask? Well, my little tip of the day is that a successful trip out of the house starts much, much in advance of actually getting out of the door. I believe that as moms, we should base our systems and our organizational structures around what our kids are actually doing instead of what we wish they would do.
Case in point: When we bought a new house, my husband wanted to put a special box in the entryway for the kids to put their shoes in. But I knew that my children, who can barely pick up their own toys, would take the time to lift their shoes up and physically place them in a chest every time they kicked their shoes off. I argued, very sincerely, with my husband that it made much more sense to acknowledge that they were going to take their shoes off on the rug and we needed to work with that instead of trying to force them to do something else.
Eventually, my husband came around to my side–we let the kids go for a week or two and watched what they naturally did. Where shoes were kicked off, I put a shelf above them, so the shoes could slide under; where they tended to drop their coats and hooks, I asked my husband to install low hooks; where they tended to stand around waiting to find their gloves, I stashed a basket full of spare pairs that were in plain sight and easy to reach. The point is? Work with your family's natural tendencies, not against them. It will help you get out of the door much faster and easier.
Load the kids up first
It can be tempting to want to pack everything you need before you walk out of the door, but if you have access to a car or a garage with a car, it will probably be most helpful to load the kids up first. Do the buckling and the carrying and the settling in and then go back and grab your bag of snacks, double check your diaper supplies, and fill up your travel mug of coffee (don't forget that!) before you hit your road. You will probably be so much less frazzled to at least have the kids safely loaded up first, that you will ultimately save time, even if you're technically doing two trips.
Stash 8,000 snack and diaper bags
This might be a slight exaggeration, but only slightly. I don't even have babies anymore, but I have three ready-to-go bags hanging by my door at any moment. I stash things like charged tablets, socks for my kids (they somehow always lose socks!), small toys, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, easy snacks such as bags of goldfish, granola bars, fruit snacks, and even meals for myself like protein bars and water bottles in there and check them every so often to replenish the stores. Having a few bags handy at all times makes it easy for me to grab one no matter where I'm at and even if I “think” I have one in the car, I can grab another one, just in case.
Embrace the moving office
There was a time in my life when I would have never wanted my kids to eat in the car. But now? I welcome it if it means us getting out of the door on time. My kids regularly eat in the car because sometimes, that's the only way they will get fed. I bought a bunch of small glass leftover containers and use them as our “to-go” meals for many mornings.
One of my other tricks is that if I have a young child who is being uncooperative, I don't fight her. I simply load said child up in the car, still in her jammies, and pack her clothes, shoes and socks, and hairbrush to take with us. By the time we get where we need to be, odds are she will have perked up a little and I can quickly dress her in the parking lot. No shame in my game because I have learned that fighting a sleepy toddler just isn't always worth it.
Be OK with life being crazy for now
You can be as prepared as you want, with everyone's clothes laid out and morning smoothies made, but you could do everything “right” just to have kids, well, be kids. Someone will have to poop at the exact moment you need to leave the house, someone will lose their folder and that one paper you needed to fill out; another someone will be unable to locate a shoe and still another will start crying for seemingly no reason at all.
This is life with children and it's not going to change, no matter how prepared and organized you are. Preparation and organization can help you, of course, but in the end, getting out of the door with a million kids successfully comes down to a single most important factor: You.
Staying calm, laughing at the madness, and remembering that no matter what happens, being a few minutes late will not be a tragedy so for heaven's sake, drive at the speed limit, are the only things you need to do as a mom with a bunch of little kids trying to get out of the door. Sure, life might be crazy for right now, but that will change, so for right now? Be OK with things being just a little not OK.
Do you have any tips for getting kids out of the house?