Win Back-To-School: How to Get Your Kids Out the Door On Time

Hi everyone!

I hope the kids have enjoyed sleeping in all summer. But now that September's almost here, it's time to wake them, do their hair, get them dressed (bathing suits no longer count as clothes), get their bags packed, and get everyone out the door and on the way to school.

Some moms can barely get the kids to the playground before naps, much less make it out in time for nursery school dropoff or $6 early-bird admission to The Play Place. Are you one of those moms? Follow these steps and you'll always get where you need to go on time, toddler meltdown included!



But first, mark your calendars for the free Hoff-Barthelson Music School open house taking place Friday September 7 and Saturday September 8. Learn about the music school and take a demo class. Hoff-Barthelson offers music classes and instrument instruction for all ages. Click here for more info. 



Step 1: Do your math

Let's say you want to be at school on time every day. First, figure out how long it takes you to get to school, then add 10 minutes for red lights, construction, and late starts. If the place you're going is a longer drive, add 15 minutes. For example:

School starts at 8:30, and it takes twelve minutes to get there. Add 10 minutes for traffic and construction and that gives you a 22-minute trip. So that's 8:08.

That's the time everyone needs to be in their car seats (chest clips high and tight!). Subtract 10 minutes, which is how long it takes to get from the door to the car with potty breaks, shoe meltdowns, forgotten coats, etc. That’s the time you'll aim to leave.

So in our case, leaving the house at 7:58 for school ensures we'll get there by 8:30.

Now, we don’t literally leave at 7:58 EVERY morning. But we’re watching the clock, and we know if it's 7:58, we need to start walking toward the front door to put on our coats and shoes. With last-minute potty trips and lost socks, we tend to leave the driveway at 8:10 or 8:15, which still gives us enough time to get to school.

Note: Don’t forget to account for how long it takes to get OUT of the car once you’ve arrived. The time you spend car seat unbuckling, coat wrangling, stroller unfolding, and trekking through the parking lot can add up. 

With our math, your calculated departure time is probably much earlier than you'd ever considered aiming for, but adjusting your goals by just ten or fifteen minutes makes the morning routine go so much more smoothly. It's great to have some wiggle room to deal with the unexpected world of tired toddlers.


Step 2: Make it easy to know what time it is

Put clocks in every room so you're always aware of the time. Placing a clock in your children's rooms is essential. It can seem like time stands still when you're chasing them around their room trying to get their socks on. Having a clock near the front door helps too. I often find myself frozen in the foyer wondering what else I need to do when one glance at the clock would tell me I should be hauling butt to the car. The reality check of the clock helps speed me along.


Step 3: Do as little in the morning as possible

I'm not going to give you the age-old adage "Lay out their clothes the night before," because I personally hate doing that. (I'm a George Costanza dresser myself.) But if you can get the diaper bag ready the night before or put all the school stuff by the door before you go to bed, that's one less project for the morning when your brain is being pulled in a million directions and that coffee buzz hasn't set in yet.


Step 4: Go downstairs once

The biggest time suck in the morning is coming down to the dining room in pjs, eating breakfast, then trudging back upstairs to get dressed. Why herd sheep twice? In our household no one goes downstairs for the day without being dressed. It can be a risky proposition because it means they're eating breakfast in their school clothes, and I have to cross my fingers the baby doesn't have a blowout before I leave the house. But not having to drag them upstairs and then drag them back downstairs is at least ten minutes saved.


Step 5: Keep your go-stuff in an easy-to-see place by the door

Make it idiotproof. We keep coats out in the open on a coatrack right by the door. Kid shoes out in the open in a bin right by the door. Winter woolens laying on a bench right by the door. Once the diaper bag and school bag are packed they go right by the door. The tea I make every day goes right by the door. Are you seeing a theme? The more stuff two feet from where you need to exit, the better chances of actually exiting with said stuff.


Step 6: Don't be afraid to go it alone

Instead of stressing out about remembering and carrying everything that needs to get to school, I'll make a quick trip to the car by myself to deposit the diaper bag, school bag, my tea, and anything else non-human that can get stored in the car early. Then I'm free to focus on getting my two hardest (living!) things in the minivan. 



Step 7: Don't negotiate with terrorists—give in!

If you read the blog, you know the system I swear by is "House Toys Stay in the House and Car Toys Stay in the Car." But like any good rule, it can't be enforced 100% of the time. Case in point: We had to leave for the doctor and my 3-year-old decided she NEEDED to bring Sick Elmo. I didn't even bother trying to convince her otherwise because we didn't have time for yelling or tears. We grabbed Elmo and got to the office on time.

So if your little terrorist makes demands, give in for the greater good. Or try to find a way around it. If they don't want to do their hair, just grab an elastic for later. Won't put on their shoes? Carry them to their car seat and put them on when you get there. It's amazing what a few moments of peaceful contemplation while strapped into their car seat will do for a toddler's stubborn streak.

I hope this makes the morning easier. If all else fails, console yourself with a trip to the drive-thru Starbucks. Just make sure to do it after dropoff. 

That's it for this week! Don't miss the free Hoff-Barthelson Music School open house on Friday September 7 and Saturday September 8. For more events every day, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

See you next time!