Master the Morning Rush

This week we're talking about how to reduce the stress of getting the kids out the door to school on time.

It took just three days, as the morning school bell loomed, that I uttered my first exasperated, “we’ve got to goooo…NOW!”

I think this is when I may have officially become a genuine article, card-carrying member of the school parenthood. Cue my aneurysm.

But because I knew this was coming (but perhaps not quite so soon), I did a little strategic pre-planning to (hopefully) hold off that aneurysm a bit longer. Tips that work for me are:

  • Designate a “school launch pad.” 

I bought an inexpensive container at Target a few weeks before school started, placed it near the door and started teaching my son to place everything he would need to take with him in it. When my son comes home from school, his school bag goes into the bin straight away. Another strategy I use if I know I am going to drive is to place everything I can in the car the night before. I also make the car the home of certain must have items. For example, a wise mom of 3 once gave me the handy tip to keep the school shoes in the car, which she learned after she had to circle back home one morning upon discovering that her child was shoeless. I tend to also leave jackets, umbrellas and rain boots in the car.

  • Preparation, preparation, and more preparation.

Do everything that can be done ahead of time, such as making/packing lunches, setting out clothes, signing paperwork, packing the backpack/school bag, etc. To cut down time lost to making decisions (having arguments) about what to wear, I purchased a hanging sorter labeled with the days of the week, and we pick the outfits for the week ahead of time.

Also, when I cook on the weekends, I typically cook a little extra when I make waffles, or other baked goods, and save them for the week’s breakfasts/lunches.

  • No TV, or time it very carefully.

Although it can sometimes buy me some time in getting multiple children ready, if I allow it too late in the routine, I am setting myself up for a battle.

  • Model, mentor, and then delegate.

I have a new student, so I am deep in the modeling stage for now, but I fully intend to gradually relinquish control of the morning steps once he has the hang of it.

To help him learn and keep track of what he needs to accomplish before leaving the house, I’m using a simple “Ready to Go” picture chart that he can follow and check off. My son responds to positive reinforcement, so after a streak of doing this for himself with minimal reminders he has a fun treat coming.

  • Leave 5 minutes earlier than your “must leave” window; ten minutes if it is stormy.

I have a little problem with this one, so I’m not above “accidentally” setting the clock incorrectly.

  • When the going gets rough, have a sense of humor and mischief.

I tip my hat to my husband on this one. When I start to get a little too “command and control,” he reminds me that a dose of humor and blatant use of reverse psychology can ease the most resolute resistance in our boys.


What strategies help you get out of the house in the morning? What have you found works with older children?


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