Published On: Mon, Oct 22nd, 2012

How To Get Out The Door Faster

Danielle Mantakoul

How To Get Out The Door FasterDamn, I have burnt the toast and that was the last of the bread. Can kids have Jatz for breakfast? Is that acceptable?  I tell myself, it is now! With our super busy lives, for most of us with kids it can be difficult to get out the door on time due to those little morning set backs. There’s that missing shoe, a dawdling child, the last minute hunted news item or simply the struggle to get up.

When I started working more, I just knew I had to be more organised to get out the door on time. Now, there could be no laxed feelings about being just 5 minutes late. With minimal effort, I have been forced to turn my mornings around by simply putting some new strategies into place to get us all out the door that little bit quicker, and certainly that little bit happier.

Time Eating Traps and How to Avoid Them

Time to Wake up
Send your kids to bed late, and there is a good chance they are going to wake up late too, or at the very least struggle to get ready due to tiredness. It never feels good when I have had to rush the kids in the morning. Every second word coming from my mouth tended to be “hurry up” and I would end up dropping them off at school feeling most guilty that I had just encouraged the shovelling down of food simply because I couldn’t get them up any earlier. Watch that bedtime clock and be consistent with what hour the kids go to bed.

Lack of Routine
We work more efficiently if following a routine, and this is the case for kids as well. Routine helps kids to know what to do next and encourages independence. Sometimes the tasks we set for our kids are too big a scope. For example, when you tell your child to go and get ready, there are many different jobs within this one instruction. Brushing teeth, taking off PJ’s, putting on the shorts, putting on the shirt, socks on, shoes on. We easily put this all under the umbrella of getting ready. For young children, this umbrella is too big. You need to break down the tasks for them until they have gained more experience.

When I found myself all of a sudden having to organise three children to be ready for school on time, I made a to do list chart to break these items down for them. (See below) After they had completed each task they would go to the board and cross it. As adults we enjoy crossing off things on our to do list, and kids are the same. The to do list for them not only broke the tasks down making them more achievable, but it helped to keep them on task and to show them how much left they had to do. I had great success with this and highly recommend this.

Mistaking How Much Time Things Will Take
The gambler in me always thinks that not only can I do it in time, I will also be able to do that and that! Sure I get to those extra things, but it makes me late! My dear friend Louise has the clock that she refers to in the morning five minutes fast to help her get out the door with a few minutes to spare. I shall certainly be stealing this idea. If we can trick our brains into thinking we have less time than we actually do, we just might be early! Okay may not, but at least more of a chance to be on time.

Where is your hat?
Ensure clothes are ready the night before. It may still take just as long to find that other sock in the pile of clean clothes, but boy is that time it takes highlighted if we are trying to do it when under that morning pressure. Bag packed and checked for necessary bits and pieces such as hat, homework, jumper, library bag or news is also invaluable and something you can teach your kids to be responsible for making it one less job for you.

Focus on the End Goal Only Mistake
Break down your goals for the morning. Sure we have the goal to be out the door by a certain time, but you need time goals within these. I want breakfast completed by….. kids dressed by….. lunch made by…..  The break down of your big goal to get out the door on time helps you to keep on track and to more easily identify where problems are. Get dressed first. If you leave it till last you will feel that once again there is no time for you leaving you with a sense of frustration and annoyance which can easily transfer to the kids. Getting dressed first will also make you feel that the tasks ahead of you are more achievable as you will feel more prepared and even feeling good about being out of your PJ’s.

Sorry I’m Too Busy to Accept Help
We don’t take the help when it’s offered. If you are fortunate enough to have access to help in the mornings then accept it. For most of us though this is not an option. But I found though, that if I delegated just one task to my husband before he left for work, it made a noticeable difference to my stress level. As small as the task may have seemed, something about knowing that I had one less job to do helped.

Taking On Too Much
We say yes to things that make our mornings more difficult. The taking of someone elses child to school, or talking on the phone to a friend (childless of course) who has called with their latest dilemma.  Anyone with children knows the witching hours and that calling the house at those times is a no go. Think carefully before taking on additional tasks and remember to have “no”, or at the very least “not now” in your vocab to use when you need to.

Lack of Workable Systems in Place
Our environment certainly plays a role when it comes to our stress levels. If we are surrounded by breaky dishes while trying to make lunches, or toys all over the kitchen floor, this hinders our ability to get the jobs we need done in the least amount of time. If you know breaky dishes are making it more difficult to make lunches due to lack of space, do something about it other than curse the dishes! Change that pattern of behaviour. Stack the dishwasher, stack the plates, pile them in the sink area, do something! Identifying these areas of stress is the first step to fixing them.

Everything should have it’s place. Looking for shoes can be made so much easier if you have a specific place for shoes. At our house we have a shoe basket by the door that shoes go into as soon as everyone gets in the door. Makes for a much quicker shoes on.

The most time consuming task of a morning for most of us are the making of lunches. Ideally make these the night before. Having more time to make them, you will find you are automatically making better decisions on what goes into the box.

As for TV, if it is too distracting turn it off until your child is totally ready for school. It’s amazing how much faster kids can get dressed if not watching the box.

Constant Hounding of the Dawdler
The Dawdler is a killer. No matter how desperate your voice, the amount of pleas, the numerous rewards promised, the dawdler never seems to understand our sense of urgency. The best chance you have with the dawdler is ensuring that they have absolutely everything in place to get the task done, and that they know exactly how to do it, for example, are they trying to put their pants on over their shoes. While another child may speak up, the dawdler can tend to simply grind to a halt.  There is this great little app called Lickety Split. In a nutshell it’s a timer for kids that makes the speeding up of tasks more fun. You can find it at the app store for around $1. It’s especially great for dawdling kids who need a visual timeframe to do a task.

Tackle the morning keeping in mind that it is a team effort to get out the door. Talk about this with your kids if old enough, and communicate to them on how they can best help you. Good luck all.

By Danielle Mantakoul
Copyright 2012

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