Time Saving Tips To Get Out Of The House On Time

Parents share their tips for getting out of the house on time as easily, quickly, calmly, and pain-free as possible.

From the original poster: "Getting out of the house is always a scramble and I’m hoping to get some tips for saving time in the morning that folks do...".

 

 1. No playing or distractions until the kids are all ready - even if that means playing video games with hats, coats, and gloves on:

"We eat breakfast and then everyone gets dressed. The children (10 and 11) are allowed to play only once they have bags packed, teeth brushed, shoes on and coats etc at the ready by the front door. My son often plays Minecraft for 20mins. He sits there with his coat and hat on, which is hilarious. But it works as he is the procrastinator."

"We do lots of the same...coats, gloves and shoes being organized and near the door."

 

2. Plan as much as you can the night before:

 "More stuff ahead -- we pack the backpack the night before -- gym shoes, notebook, permissions slips, extra snack on after-school days, etc. And if I'm really on top of things I check the weather to see if we need to get rain or snowboots out, etc.  When we make pancakes, french toast or waffles on the weekend I make enough to last the week. pancakes/French toast reheat in the micro in 20 seconds and waffles reheat nicely in the toaster. if I make oatmeal I make enough for 2-3 days. When we have to boil eggs for any reason we boil a few extra because my daughter will eat those for breakfast (or lunch)."

"As a consultant who often works from home, my time saving tip is straightening up the apartment a bit right before going to sleep and then being efficient while the coffee is brewing in the morning--doing dishes etc. so that when I get home after dropping off at school I can get straight to work and I am not distracted by clutter."

"Laying out the clothes the night before is crucial here and dressing before breakfast."

"I do some lunch prep the night before. It's a huge help to have that little bit done. I make a sandwich the night before for one girl, put some cheese in a container for the other one (of course they couldn't make it easy and like the same thing for lunch!) I put some crackers/other snacky things in pouches. Veg and dip for one, fruit for the other. I'm happy to know that a PB & J (almond butter for us) sandwich will stay good in the fridge--I thought it would get soggy. Thanks! I will now make two at a time!  My girls get dressed before breakfast; it's easier for us. If they have breakfast in their nightclothes, they dawdle a little more as they're getting dressed, whereas if they can't eat until they get dressed, it puts more spring in their step. We don't always pick out clothes the night before, but when we do, it's much smoother the next morning. I also prep the coffeemaker the night before, so I just push the button when I get to the kitchen."

"I know you all probably do this already, but I make the kid's lunches the night before. It's a little thing but it has transformed my life. Now I just wake them up and toss a few waffles in the toaster."

 "Also setting a routine and prepping the nite before helps a lot."

"Shower at night, have the clothes ready in the morning and slip into them right away, no room for debate. I am lucky I have two boys: short hair, they do not care about what they are wearing, they sleep in sweatpants at night and it has happened that they have gone to school with the same ones they slept in."

 

3. Have easy lunch options:

Prepack yourself (or use the healthy alternatives):
"When I remember and feel motivated, I like to prepack containers of fresh fruit. That way you can just plop 'em in the lunchbox. I also like some of the pre-packaged lunch options, like hummus and pretzels. Don't have to do anything there.

Load up on lunches in advance:
"I make 2 sandwiches per kid on Monday and Wednesday. Then on Tuesday and Thursday I don’t have to make sandwiches, just put the lunches together AROUND the sandwiches (drinks and accoutrements).  (This works because my kids have been eating PBJ every day for the last 5 years.)"

Have leftovers:
"We eat leftovers for lunches, which makes a surprisingly big difference. I hope my daughter never outgrows eating cold leftovers, but I'll probably be out of luck soon. I also cut veggies once a week for lunches. Yes, they lose some nutrients being cut ahead of time, but at least I'm eating them."
"I sometimes heat up baked beans or pasta (from the night before) for the lunch flask. It actually is easier than making sandwiches. Less ingredients to pull out of the fridge and put back again! Just remember the fork."

 

4. Cook in bulk and quantity:

When you cook, cook a lot:
"I guess the general rule in our house is, if you're cooking, cook a lot. It saves time later."

"We do a lot of par-baking and freezing.  I make huge quantities of baguettes, rolls etc. when I have time and par-bake, then individual wrap and freeze them.  On the day we need them or the night before, I can just pop them into the oven to finish them off.  As good as bakery fresh or better. We used to have to run out in the morning to get fresh bread for sandwiches, but this is a way better solution. Of course, it means you have to have time to make your own bread but I highly recommend it if you have any interest.  Also, if I make a lasagna, I individually wrap and freeze about half of it into portions for use later.  Same with pasta sauce, soups, etc.  Noone wants to eat 3 quarts of tomato soup in one succession but they are super happy to have it several weeks later."

"My daughter takes hot lunches most of the time. So on Sunday I cook a big pot of something like whole wheat pasta or macaroni and cheese and then split it between 5 containers, alternating what i mix in with it -- say, 2 with peas, 2 with ham cubes, 1 plain with carrot sticks/apple/sugar snaps on the side. When we come home in the afternoon I empty the lunch box and assemble lunch for the next day (fill the water bottle, add a fresh snack or "side' to the lunchbox and pop in 1 of that containers. In the morning I boil water for tea for myself and to fill her thermos with hot water and let it sit while I make breakfast. Then I microwave today's container and fill the thermos. So there's no more than 2 minutes of lunch prep in the morning. I always put the container in her lunchbox the day before so that in case i forget about the thermos at least she has lunch (albeit cold). Sometimes on Sunday I will I cook a batch of chicken or turkey cutlets, which she can eat at room temperature, which saves the step in the morning. I just assemble the cutlet and a healthy side when we come home from school. If she ate sandwiches (and we're still working on that), i would make the sandwich in the afternoon, too."

Get closely acquainted with the slow cooker and freezer:

"Freezer meals and the slow cooker Our dinner plans:
Monday: Fish or tofu (easy, in the oven) usually with side veg and couscous or rice
Tues: Dump stuff in the slow cooker. We have a huge one, and I freeze at least half of it.
Wed: Huge casserole -- and I freeze half of that.
Thurs: Something from the freezer
Fri: Chicken and challah.
This also means that if someone doesn't feel well, I'm late with the grocery shopping, have too many assignments, there's almost always something we can pull from the freezer, stick in the microwave, and have dinner.
 
At the beginning of the month I make and freeze lunches for the toddler, who's in a nanny share, so for the rest of the month I can mostly grab something from the freezer and she's good for the whole week. Carrot mac n' cheese, meatballs, some muffins or oatmeal bars on the side."

 

5. Offer incentives for the kids:

"I find the "game" of baiting me into nagging them to be a tiresome time-waster. I create incentives (usually fun things to do together, NEVER money or sweets) for avoiding the game.  The trick is in finding incentives that are more enticing than the game. In-the-moment incentives: With little kids, we might play "name the dog breeds" during our walk, or I could play "crazy stroller driver." With older kids, I might offer to tell a story about myself, or play a word-game or practice tongue twisters while we walk. I have found that daily and weekly incentives actually change behaviors:
- every day that you complete a, b and c, we will... (walk the dog together, watch a favorite TV show together, etc).
- if you did not fail to do a, b and c last week, we will order your favorite take-out on Monday.
Note that all incentives are done "together." 
My son and I have had burritos for dinner every Monday for 7 years (since he was in 6th grade). It all started as an incentive for him to hand in all of his HW on time. The really great thing is that we STILL have burritos every Monday, but now it's all about the ritual of eating a favorite meal TOGETHER."

 

6. Show your kids how to take ownership out of getting ready:

"Our nine-year-old is super-distractable, but a couple of weeks ago, I made him write down what is expected every school-day morning. Four simple steps, but it decreased the yelling and exasperation to almost zero:
"every morning before I start reading or Drawing I need to:
1. get outta bed
2. get drest*
3. pack my bag**
4. ask a parent
*including shoes
**lunch/waterbottle/reading log/HW folder notebook"
If this list is in front of him, we have a pleasant morning. If it isn't, we're at least five minutes late and grumpy to boot."

 

7. Kids aren't the only one to get distracted:

"I've found that it's crucial for me that I not get caught up in email, Twitter or the like in the morning until I'm safely out the door, even if I wake up early and no one else is awake. Kids (maybe especially babies?) are unpredictable and flow-disrupting enough; if I add email, I'm doomed. I'm also doomed if I listen to the little voice that says, "You have enough time," or worse, "You'll be early if you leave now." Something always comes up. What I'd really like is to not spend so much time on weekends and in the evenings preparing for the week and mornings, but that doesn't seem possible when working full-time."

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8. Have a buddy system to stay on time:

"Like a lot of kids my daughter has no sense of time and can take 5 minutes (no joke) to put on velcro sneakers. But she also gets anxious and flustered when we start saying 'hurry up hurry up hurry up!" which slows things down more. What helps: meeting up with a buddy to walk to school. Saying "susy is waiting" or "we might miss susy" definitely gets her moving."

 

9. Keep the mood upbeat and light.  Have a jokey routine when nagging the kids:

"My kids eat breakfast and then get dressed. For some reason, they recently started getting dressed first and my morning is now soooo much smoother. I used to have to yell to get my son from breakfast to clothes to bathroom to shoes. But now, he is moving in the morning -- Oh, geez. I hope I didn't just jinx myself.  On the mornings when I do wind up screaming like a loon, I try and turn it into a joke -- how much will mommy have to yell this morning to get you out the door? Or, I think [my son]'s ears must be broken because I say, Get your shoes on, and he sits down and plays with Legos. Time to call the doctor! Doesn't get us moving much faster, but at least it cuts the tension, which is lethal. And it's a time saver in terms of reducing the minutes I need to decompress post-drop-off."

"At school when kids dawdle the teacher says, "you're chocolate's burning." I have no idea where this expression comes from. But since she knows this expression I can say it at home and she gets the message without getting flustered. So maybe finding your own catch phrase can help?"

 

10. Play fun, poppy music:

"This is not exactly a "time -saver" but something that helps both the pace and the mood in the mornings: music. For us,  something nice to wake up to, then some upbeat pop or rock. Instead of telling and reminding DD that it's now time to leave breakfast and head to the next step, I turn off the music."

 

11. Give warnings:

"The only thing I'll add is that I start giving warnings at 10 minutes till shoes and coats on, rather than 10 minutes till we need to leave. I include a 5 min "get out the door" in my schedule so we start the exit process 5 minutes before we actually need to leave. By giving the kids a few warnings, it helps them know that they need to finish eating, put toys away, etc."

"I used this twice today. Not arguing or negotiating saves SOOOOOO much time!! Count DOWN to zero. Do NOT up to 10, because 10 is arbitrary and can be tested for negotiability; zero is absolute.) I make counting down from 5 last a full minute or more; counting down from 10 can last 2 to 5 minutes, and can be announced across a playground.  Between counting, just go about your business. Don't yell, or threaten: just count. Counting down works like MAGIC. I never get to zero....until 7th grade...

 

12. Keep a timed bathroom schedule:

"Lastly, we time bathroom time (3 girls who strongly believe in daily hair and skin care - oy!"

 

13. Just wake up earlier!

"Recently, I started waking them up 15 minutes earlier - a minimal sacrifice for a tremendous benefit of alleviating yelling and late anxieties of various household members:)."

"Getting up earlier myself, and getting everything done beforehand. THis works great, except for the fact that often my younger one wakes up as early as I do (he hears me) so I end up wasting a lot of time tending to his crankiness and I am back to square one. But when he sleeps, it helps a lot."

 

14. ...and go to bed earlier

"- Going to bed earlier. It worked like a charm. Not easy, but I had brand new kids in the morning."

 

15. Creatively engage your kids with the morning schedule

"When I was a kid (maybe not as young as 4, but my little brother surely was), my mom made a "morning clock" that worked really well. We made it together, actually: cut out a circle (the size of the clock you're using)in the center of a piece of poster board and then tape the clock to the poster board. Then, on the posterboard, label ( pictures and words) around the face of the clock what kids need to be doing at that time. E.g. from 7:20 to 7:35 there's a picture of everyone eating breakfast, at the 7:55 mark there's a picture of kids getting on the bus, etc. I remember this making it so clear if we were on track or not, and all our parents had to do was point at the clock, vs. nagging. I think we used it until high school!"

 

16. Don't run out of essentials

"Have an excess of underwear and socks, they disappear in my house, so we have a gazillion and never run out. I also gave up caring about the matching socks, laundry is a science, I have mastered the quality and time of it, but not the fact that I put in 2 red socks and receive back 1 grey, 1 blue, and 1 brown. ALWAYS. So, mismatched socks it is. No teacher or school counselor has complained so far..."

 

17. Get help

"Last year my now 10 year old decided to become a challenge in the morning and ended up being late for school a lot. So this year I switched schedule at work, and I go to work very early, so they have their old baby sitter come in the morning and get them to school in one hour, from bed to school, the 2 of them. A true miracle. With her there is no fussing, no negotiating, no distractions. and I get to work early, be productive and I am done super early so I can do stuff and be with them after school, which is great, for a change."

 

18. Make it a game

"Not sure what you mean by "playing", so maybe you've already tried this, but we've found that making the elements of getting ready a game can help.  This has worked for us with getting our son (almost 4) dressed.  I say to him "do you think you can pick out your clothes by the count of 10?" and he now looks at that as a challenge and hops to it.  We do the same thing with getting his clothes on once he's picked them out.  It's been working for us for several weeks, but as with all such things, it probably won't last indefinitely.  Good luck!"

 

19. Show and tell your morning routine

"I had been having issues getting my 4 year old to dress herself in a timely  manner in the morning, and my sister-in-law (who works as a behavioral  therapist for autistic children, but whose advice I have found to be useful  for our children) helped me institute the following:   She drew a picture timeline of the morning steps (mostly stick figures).   First, she drew a picture of my daughter picking out her clothes.  Next,  she drew a picture of her getting dressed.  Finally, she drew a picture of  her playing and a picture of her at school with her friends.  Then,  sometime not in the morning, my daughter and I went over the steps  together.  I explained that the first thing she had to do was pick out her  clothes.  If she didn't do it all by herself in one minute, then I would  get to pick.  Next, I explained that she needed to get dressed BEFORE any  play could occur (and only if there was still time before school).  The  next morning, we took out our picture guide and went through the steps  together with no problem.  If I find her playing, instead of nagging her, I  calmly put the steps pictures in front of her, obstructing her from her  play, and remind her of what the steps are.  I barely ever need to do it  now!  I think both the breaking it down into discrete acts, and the picture  representation were immensely useful for her."

 

20. Keep it creative

"When I was a kid (maybe not as young as 4, but my little brother surely was), my mom made a "morning clock" that worked really well. We made it together, actually: cut out a circle (the size of the clock you're using)in the center of a piece of poster board and then tape the clock to the poster board. Then, on the posterboard, label ( pictures and words) around the face of the clock what kids need to be doing at that time. E.g. from 7:20 to 7:35 there's a picture of everyone eating breakfast, at the 7:55 mark there's a picture of kids getting on the bus, etc. I remember this making it so clear if we were on track or not, and all our parents had to do was point at the clock, vs. nagging. I think we used it until high school!"

 

21. Make choosing clothes easy

"Have an excess of underwear and socks, they disappear in my house, so we have a gazillion and never run out. I also gave up caring about the matching socks, laundry is a science, I have mastered the quality and time of it, but not the fact that I put in 2 red socks and receive back 1 grey, 1 blue, and 1 brown. ALWAYS. So, mismatched socks it is. No teacher or school counselor has complained so far...

 

Further Reading on Park Slope Parents:

Tips Getting To School on Time

Meal Planning Tips