It’s back to school time! (and Halloween, if you believe the drugstore displays. But I digress…) It’s such a bittersweet time of year. On one hand: Take my kids, please! On the other: We have to get them up and ready for school and looking and acting like normal kids with brushed hair and clean clothes who are well fed. That’s a lot of work before 7:30am!
The easiest way to make sure back-to-school is a smooth process is to spend a few minutes mapping our your morning schedule to make sure they get to school on time. Baby Got Chat has spent a few years honing this tried-and-true method that works whether you’re driving them or just shoving them outside for the bus.
But first, we wanted to share this awesome product with you. Mabel’s Labels, our go-to for marking the things our kids could lose during the day (which is basically everything they own), has released a fantastic self-inking stamp for use on clothing, schools supplies and more. Check it out!
We’ve been labelling up a storm with it. Our daughter loves the cute unicorn and we love the ease of use and not having to write out her name a hundred times with a bleeding, soaking Sharpie. The stamp is fully customizable. Add their name, or just initials, and choose from 22 different designs such as hearts, animals, or sports equipment. There’s something for every personality. Click here for more info. Mabel’s Labels also has gorgeous, full-color labels for clothing, lunch items, shoes, and more!
How to Get Your Kids Out the Door On Time
Step 1: Do your math
Don’t worry, it’s not Common Core! First, look up how long it takes you to get to school (not just a guess, but the actual Google Maps estimate). Now add 10 minutes for red lights, construction, and late starts. If your destination is more than 30 minutes away, 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. Subtract 22 minutes from 8:30 and you get 8:08.
That's the time the car should be leaving the driveway, with everyone in their car seats (chest clips high and tight!).
Next, 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.
10 minutes earlier than 8:08 is 7:58. 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 without fail. But now that we know our goal time, we can keep an eye on the clock. If it's nearing 7:58, we know to put on our coats and shoes and head for the door. With last-minute hair emergencies and lost socks, sometimes we don’t leave the driveway until 8:10, but since we accounted for all that in our math above, it still gets us to school on time almost every day.
Important: Don’t forget to account for how long it takes to get OUT of the car and into school once you’ve arrived. The time you spend unbuckling, jacket 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 choppy mood of tired toddlers. I find myself yelling less, which makes my day go better too.
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 child’s room is essential. It can seem like time stands still when you're chasing them around their room trying to get their pants on. Having a clock near the front door helps too. Sometimes I’ll freeze right near the front door wondering what else I need when one glance at the clock would tell me I should be hauling butt to the car. That reality check 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 kitchen 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 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, into their rooms, and then 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 jackets out in the open on a coat rack 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 morning gets put right by the door. Are you seeing a theme? The more stuff two feet from the exit, the better the chance of actually exiting with said stuff.
Step 6: Don't be afraid to go it alone
Instead of stressing out about remembering everything that needs to get to school while the kids are by my side potentially falling down the front steps or running into the street, 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 ahead of time. Then I'm free to focus on getting the two hardest (living!) things in the minivan safely.
Step 7: Don't negotiate with terrorists—give in!
If you read the blog, you know one system I swear by is "House Toys Stay in the House and Car Toys Stay in the Car." But like any great 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, grab an elastic for later. Won't put on their shoes? Carry them to their car seat and put them on once you arrive. 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 drop-off.
That's it for this week! Don't miss the free Hoff-Barthelson Music School Early Childhood open house on Friday, September 6 from 10 to 11:30 am. You’ll be able to visit the campus, meet instructors, and attend a demo class.
Like what you're reading? Help keep the computer screen on by following us on Facebook or Instagram and signing up for our weekly emails at BabyGotChat.com. And as always, check our website for events and our easy-to-navigate chart of every weekly kids library program in Westchester. Just be sure to check the date you wish to attend against the library's calendar, because many programs are off for the summer.
See you next time!