Pressed for Time? How to Get a Slowpoke Out the Door

clock
Image via Katie Hurley

When you don't have to race out the door super early every morning with lunches made and backpacks packed, you can take time to observe your family's habits and figure out where you might need to make some changes.

It never fails when you're running short on time and patience–your child seems to find hundreds of distractions between her bedroom and the front door. While some kids are quick to get dressed and tie their shoes, others need extra time. And while this might seem like a problem that only exists during the school year, slow movers and hurried parents can clash at any time.

It can take time to figure out what works best for your family, and summer is a great time to test out some new time-saving strategies during a lower-stress time.

It's important to keep personality type in mind when working on routines and strategies around the house. Some kids move at a slower pace because that suits their personalities, while others rush and forget things because stress sends them into overload. Creating routines that work for your child's personality makes it easier for kids to follow the routines.

kids playing
Image via Flickr/ Mads Boedker

Break bad habits

Although I don't like to be late, I'm not much of a morning person. Consequently, I tend to spend just a few too many extra moments lounging in bed before I get going. Those moments often turn out to be crucial. The solution? I learned to set an alarm for 15 minutes earlier than when my kids typically wake up so that I can take it slow before the morning rush.

Whether it's email, social media, or TV in the morning that slows you down, it's important to evaluate the habits that tend to steal time. Kids tend to get into their own routines, so if playing a rousing game of pirates is taking too much time in the morning, you might suggest they start earlier or set a timer to end the game at a certain point to keep everyone moving along.

{ MORE: Parents Are More Powerful than Superheroes }

kid schedule
Image via Flickr/ woodleywonderworks

Create a simple schedule

Creating a simple schedule and posting it on each child's door will help the kids know what is expected of them in the morning. Keep it simple! For preschoolers, the list might include get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, get shoes on, and get backpack. For older kids, you can increase the responsibilities.

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Remember, a schedule is great because it reduces the questions and confusion, but most (okay, all) young children continue to need support and reminders along the way. Set timers on your phone to prompt you to provide gentle reminders. It also helps to check in every few minutes and see if anyone needs help (kids don't always ask).

packing lunches
Image via Flickr/ Rubbermaid Products

Prepare the essentials

Nearly everything you read about family time-saving tricks will encourage you to do the prep work the night before, but sometimes that's easier said than done. I know I'm fairly exhausted at night, and I don't always prepare the lunches in advance as suggested. That extra fifteen minutes in the morning, however, gives me a few minutes to prepare.

As important as it is to squash bad habits, it's just as important to develop good habits. Prepare the essentials the night before or get up early to allow for time. Packing backpacks, making lunches, and filling water bottles can really add to the time crunch. If you do these things in advance, you'll have an easier morning. I am known to pack enough snacks for the week in advance so that I can just grab one in the morning. Additional tip: shoe and sock bins by the door can be a real timer saver for slow movers!

dancing
Image via Flickr/ Lars Plougmann

Add a little music

You know how your favorite tunes get you through that dreaded run when you're exhausted? Some peppy music can really get the kids going in the morning!

Create a get-out-the-door soundtrack that includes peppy, kid-friendly music. Kids will learn that it's time to move when the soundtrack starts, and they will have fun doing it.

{ MORE: To the Parent Who's Raising Their Children Differently Than They Were Raised }

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Image via Flickr/ Mark Doliner

Emergency car pack

Sometimes, things are forgotten, and that's normal. Stock a bag to keep in your car with a few essentials. Your kit will reflect the needs of your family, but you might consider a hairbrush and hair elastics, sunscreen, snack packs, sweatshirts or an extra coat, socks (yes, seriously), band aids, toothbrush and toothpaste (you can brush at school), and dental floss.

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{ MORE: What To Do if Your Kid is Petrified of Halloween }

How do you motivate your children to get out the door?

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Pressed for Time? How to Get a Slowpoke Out the Door

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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