By Kerry Rivera
Three kids 10 and under. Two working parents. One crazy, golden retriever. Every day we choose to accept the challenge to get out the door, on time and without screaming at one another.
Yes, we are not battling sleep-deprived teenagers … yet. But I have to say our track record is good. My kids have NEVER been tardy to school. My husband has NEVER been late to work. Me? Well, I have a 35-mile commute, so there are times when traffic is outside my control, but I am rarely late, and I take pride in our timeliness.
Every family is different, and schedules vary, but mornings can be tough for kids and parents alike. There are school drop-offs, appointments, breakfasts to make and eat, and the last-minute scramble for jackets and backpacks.
How can you consistently get out the door on time?
Get organized. Stick to a routine. Work as a team.
Here is our 5-point-system:
- Prep the night before. Everyone, including me and my husband, lays their clothes out for the next day. If something needs to be ironed, it’s pressed the night before. If a child wants to negotiate, the bargaining takes place the night before. If a shoe is missing, it is hunted down the night before. You get the picture. With clothes identified and ready the evening prior, there are no last-minute searches, scrambling to find that favorite T-shirt or arguing over pants vs. shorts. If you aren’t doing this already, it’s a must.
- Figure out the breakfast meals for the week ahead. My husband even goes so far as to ask the kids what they would like the next day so he can help prep for the morning. As my kids are getting older, I’ve additionally been working with them to prep their own morning meal. They know how to microwave pancakes, pour cereal, use the toaster and grab juice. We still help the four-year-old, but everyone else knows what to do and how to chip in.
- Carve out a morning routine. In our household, the kids get up to eat first, then they head upstairs to brush teeth, comb hair, use the bathroom and get dressed. When they are 98 percent ready – which means everything has been completed outside of putting on the shoes – they are allowed to watch a cartoon or read.
- Give time checks. Usually I am the last one to get ready, so when I’m close to finishing up, I give them a warning. I tell them we’ll be leaving in five minutes so there’s time to grab lunches, jackets, put shoes on and get the dog outside. This saves me a few moments of last-minutes scrambles, and the battle to turn off the TV. It goes off when they get the warning.
- Don’t forget to say, “I love you.” Since we have our mini-system, the structure brings a sense of calm to our very busy schedule. Everyone knows what to expect, so we also work to ensure everyone gets in the car with a smile. We say, “I love you” as we depart. We remind each other about the day ahead. We try to remember we all want to go out in the world and do good things.
There are certainly moments in life for chaos and spontaneity, but a morning routine built around your family can keep you on track, on time and off each other’s backs.
What are your tips for keeping your family on time during the busy school year?
About the Author
Kerry Rivera is full-time working mom to three kids in Southern California. In addition to her corporate gig, she writes for various publications, websites and Breadwinning Mama, the blog she founded to discuss the joys and chaos of working motherhood. You can also find her tweeting @breadwinningmom and on Facebook.