Category Archives: Be On Time Series

How to Be on Time in the Morning, Part 3

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This is part 3 in my series on how to be on time in the mornings. If you’ve missed the other parts, click here for part 1, and click here for part 2!

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Okay, ladies. Here we are. #3 in the series on being on time. What seemingly impossible task can I tell you to do today? (Has anyone else noticed I have a thing for bossing you all around, or am I successfully keeping it a secret? Lol.)

Yesterday, I talked about how it’s their job to go to school. Yes, you are the mom. Or dad, I’m cool with that. You are the parent and you have a legal obligation to make sure your children are in school. BUT. What does your school handbook say about how they go to school? (I’m not talking transporation, here.) Stick with me, okay?

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Ideally, we send our children out the door (or out of the car, or onto the bus), looking perfect. Their socks match, their outfits well coordinated (oh, I envy you uniform schools!), their hair is perfectly in place, their tummies full of nutritious breakfast, and their backpacks zipped, containing every piece of homework, form, and book needed to return to school. This is real life though, and real life isn’t quite so perfect.

My next tip for being on time is

3. Give your child the chance to learn natural consequences.

What you need to do is let go of any perfection that is slowing down you getting out the door. As parents, it is our job to teach our children responsibility, as well as natural consequences when we fail our responsbilities. If we rescue them over and over by bringing them homework, driving them to school because they slept in and didn’t have time for breakfast, or were just moving to darn slow to eat breakfast, we will raise children who depend on us to save them and are unprepared for the “unfairness” of life.

Guess what? If you don’t have time to get dressed, the natural consequence is that you go to school in pajamas.

  • If you don’t have time to get your hair styled, the natural consequence is going to school with messy hair.
  • If you don’t put away your homework and can’t find it in the morning, the natural consequence is not getting credit for the work you’ve done.
  • If you are moving too slow to eat breakfast, or you sleep in past breakfast, the natural consequence is going hungry, or going with only a piece of fruit as you head out the door.
  • If you are late to school, the natural consequences are explaining to your peers why you are late, as well as missing important information at the beginning of the day.

Is this mean? Perhaps, but school is about learning, and getting ready for school has just as many opportunities for learning as school itself. Being on time is a skill, one with which you yourself may struggle. Giving your child the chance to learn this from a young age isn’t cruel, it’s providing them ample opportunity to learn this skill.

To what age is this applicable? 

Well, on the one hand, I wouldn’t put your kindergartner in charge of getting to places on time. Chances are your kindergartner has no real concept of time; which is why using this chart is a handy tool. But I have dragged my preschooler out of the house crying because she wasn’t wearing pants. As I buckled her into the car I explained that she told me “no” several times when I asked her to put pants on. When we arrived at our location, she quickly and eagerly put her pants on, and the next time we left the house, she complied with no defiance.

So while this suggestion is mainly for older children who are able to get themselves ready for school with not much help from you beyond nagging, it can be helpful for younger children as well. We have a new rule in my house: I don’t nag (I use a timer or offer friendly time reminders), but you leave the house with whatever you are wearing when it’s time to go.

There are so many more ideas and posts I could give you on this subject; because it’s something I struggle with (and learn from!) on a daily basis.

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A few tidbits:

-arrange a carpool or a walkpool (if you walk to school) with their friends. Kids are very motivated by not keeping their peers waiting!
-give yourself 5 extra minutes if you are consistently 5 minutes to school. Even if it means waking up 5 minutes earlier.
-use rewards. Use a sticker chart, and every day they are on time for school they get a sticker. ‘X’ many stickers equals a prize (we often work towards Doughnut Days before school!)
-a small “ride to school” treat goes a long way. A sucker, a Tootsie Roll, or some non-food related prize can be an easy bribe on days that you need to move quickly
-children who are ready before it’s time to go can be given a few minutes of snuggle time, TV time, or reading time

Speaking of a sticker chart, I made one for you! I’m all nice like that. :) Print it off and reward your child when it’s all full of stickers.

Okay, now it’s your turn. What are your ideas for how to be on time in the morning? Post them below to make this a great resource with all of your ideas! 

How to Be On Time in the Mornings, Part 2

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This is the second post in my series on being on time in the morning. If you missed the first post, click on over and check it out! 

This week, I’ve been talking about how to be on time in the morning, even while herding multiple children of varied shoe-finding abilities out the door. I want you to think back for a moment, if you can… try to recall those blissful moments, pre-kid, when you needed to leave the house. Maybe there were hectic days (because you set your alarm for exactly six minutes before you have to be out the door, perhaps), but I’d be willing to bet you could be on time to any given situation.
{If you really wanted to be, that is.}

This was you. Then you had kids.

Now that we’ve had a moment of reflection, and shed a few tears for the young, youthful, skinny woman you used to be; reflect on today. Was there a lot of noise? Was there yelling? Was there more than five minutes spent looking for one item, only to realize you should have been looking for two missing items all along? Was there begging, pleading, and nagging, only to have it all fall on suddenly deaf ears?
(Though if you whisper “pick up some ice cream” to your husband, those ears are as fine tuned as a sniper’s in the jungle.)

What’s changed? The birth of your innocent, precious angels. Somehow those little angels turned into people who needed more than just a diaper and a source of milk.
Which is also why you shouldn’t get a puppy. They tend to turn into dogs.
They are now kids who need breakfast, and backpacks, and socks, and shoes, and signed field trip permission slips, and money for lunch, and their top secret diary because their illiterate preschool sister might “read” it while they are gone. On top of this, they still manage to leave their homework in the car and will call you two hours later asking you to bring it to school. Seriously.

Let’s step back. Let’s think about this for a moment. Just who is causing all the problems in the morning?
Certainly not you, who can still roll out the door in 6 minutes flat, given enough motivation and no kids.
It’s them.

 My next tip for getting out the door on time:

2. Put the kids in charge.

No, don’t roll your eyes. I know I don’t know your kids, but I know my kids, and kids are all the same. :) I happen to be a stay at home mom. My job is to raise and feed and care for my kids to the best of my abilities. Their job is to go to school. So why are you stressing about getting them there on time?
I know, I know, you can’t just let them not go to school. I’m not suggesting that. We want to live within the bounds of where someone could call DCFS on us; isn’t that every parent’s dream?

In all seriousness though, put some of that headache inducing stress on them. If they are older than 5, they are plenty old enough to be picking out their outfits the night before. Have them lay their clothes out, socks and shoes included. Backpacks need to be packed by the door (or even in the car!), ready to go. If you are OCD (I’m not, I’m just a control freak), double check the outfit to save their teachers from anything that could potentially blind with “flair.”

Older kids can be given an alarm clock. Teach them how to set it, and if your child is not a morning person, teach them how to use the snooze. Let them know the absolute latest they need to be up.
If this ends up being a problem, let them know how soon they need to be up if they expect to shower, and the latest time to be up to get out the door, semi-dressed. Let them know at what time they need to be in your sight dressed to leave before you will come and wake them up; set consequences if you need to take the time from your morning to wake them up.

Even little kids can set the table for breakfast. Alternatively, setting the table can be part of after dinner chores, unless that will drive you crazy to have the table set all night. :) But don’t feel like you need to be the only one making their breakfast. My oldest either pours all the cereal or starts the toaster. On smoothie days, he’ll help pull the ingredients out of the freeze so all I do is combine and blend. If lunches need to be packed, older children can help with this as well. (You do have your monthly menu posted on your fridge, don’t you?) If your kids are too young or not responsible enough for this chore, then be sure to pack the lunch the night before.
(Hint: place condiments between layers of meat, or between leaves of lettuce, and the bread won’t get soggy! Or you could get little condiment packets from Sams Clubmustard here, mayo here–and have your kid spread them at school!) 

And one last idea for the kid who just can’t get going, or spends way too much time doing basically everything, I suggest this:

The all-powerful timer. I’ve posted about using a timer before, but another way to use it is to set a timer for each activity your child needs to be doing. Eating breakfast? Give them ten minutes. Brushing teeth? Two minutes. Dressing? Five minutes. And so on. Every time the timer beeps, have your child (or assist them) to reset the timer. I’ve included a free printable for a morning checklist. Simply write in the time each task should take, and let them check it of when they are all finished. Put it in a sheet protector and use a dry eraser marker for re-usability (I think I just made that word up.)

The bonus for the child is not only using a nifty gadget, but it helps them pace their own speed better. Children have virtually no sense of time, so picking up a Barbie for what they thought was ten seconds, was actually enough time to miss the bus. This would also work well for the child who can’t get themselves out of bed, but isn’t ready for an alarm clock. Rouse them to semi-consciousness, and let them know you’re setting the timer for x minutes. Let them know they can have one “snooze” where you will come in and reset the timer. Keep the “snoozes” short, so their brains stay in a lighter sleep pattern and will often wake easily by the second time you come in to turn off the timer.

Oh, and speaking of pacing their time; if they only take eight minutes to dress, they can have the rest of the time for play! Before you know it, your child will be racing to get ready for school.

Click here for post 3 in the series “How to Be On Time in the Morning.”

How to Be on Time in the Morning, Part 1

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Everybody has those days where no matter what, it seems impossible to get your kids out the door on time.
{Right? It’s not just me, it’s everyone?}

This is personally the most aggravating thing on the planet. I’m ADHD, people. Once I decide to go, I wanna go. Like, five minutes ago. My kids have this magical ability to sense when I absolutely must be out the door right now because I procrastinated getting ready. This is the time when they move like mud on a sunny day. Tantrums ensue, tempers flare, and yelling escalates.
And they don’t act great, either.

 This is the first in a three part series on how to be on time in the morning. While I’m sure these will also apply to being on time for other parts of the day too, I’m going to focus on being on time in that mad dash out the door for school (or day care and work, or wherever it is you head off to first thing).

My first suggestion I’m bringing you today is all about the breakfast. I am–or was–a huge die hard fan of cereal. My only craving throughout my entire first pregnancy was Lucky Charms. Seriously. So cereal used to be my standby. Five, six, seven days a week, cereal it was. Occasionally we’d break out the griddle for a pancake Saturday.

The problem I was finding is that my kids were spending an awful lot of time in the morning standing in front of the pantry, bleary-eyed, trying to decide which cereal it was they wanted as they slowly woke up. Or worse, there would be an argument over who got to finish that box of cereal. Then there would be the inevitable cereal spills for me to try and remember to clean up after school. And by the time I got home from school, I was hungry again, how were my poor kids making it through the day at school?

While doing my daily perusal of Confessions of a Homeschooler, I came across her menu plan. At first, I was shocked. She had brilliantly planned out a menu not just for dinner, but for breakfast, lunch, and a snack! The word cereal didn’t appear on her menu once. I thought to myself that this could only work for a homeschooler. I’m no morning person; I’m not going to be up at six a.m. flipping pancakes for my crabby kids. Unrealistic.

I asked her a couple of questions, and I took a second look at her menu. Waffles–frozen. Pancakes–frozen. She even makes her kids smoothies in the morning using frozen yogurt mixes from the store. When I sat down to really look at the amount of time she spends preparing breakfast, it wasn’t that big of a deal.

So, on the list of getting out the door:

1. Make your kids a real breakfast.

I know you’re wondering what this is going to do to help you get out the door on time. Adding ‘making a meal’ isn’t going to cut down on time! Well, let’s back up a little. First, a prepared plan for breakfast. No more arguing who gets what for breakfast, no more sleep deprived children trying to make up their minds. Today, we are having frozen pancakes with fruit. Sit, eat. Second, most of my breakfast meals are toaster-friendly, or even go in the microwave. As you toast your waffles, you go about getting your kids ready. You can try to stagger their eating times so the slowest youngest ones eat while you do the older ones’ hair, then while the older one is eating you can finish up the younger ones’ hair.
{Or do it while she eats. It happens.}

 Another benefit of not-cereal-again is that it adds variety to your kids’ schedule. While most kids thrive on consistency, my kids have been extremely excited to wake up and find today is smoothie day. I like to plan smoothie day for days that we’ll be extra short on time, because if you can throw a lid on your smoothie, your kids can drink it in the car.  We’re not going for gourmet, or family discussions on politics while eating. Fast, easy, simple, out the door.

Click here to check out my menu for the month.

Now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite out-the-door or on-the-go breakfasts for the kiddos?

Click here for post 2 in the series “How to Be on Time in the Morning.”

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