Anyone who knows me, knows that I am always “running.”
No, not running a marathon, around a track, or even around the block (unfortunately – but that’s for another blog matter.)
I am always running late, or usually “right” on time. Not a minute to spare.
Last year I started working at our elementary school as the EA for Preschool. Which meant I could no longer go out the door in sleep wear or sweats. I actually had to have my shower already and be dressed and made presentable before I walked out the door, plus make sure my kids did the same. I was no longer able to be there for them to find this or that, or help then do this or that. We all had to be self sufficient. So I developed some ways to make sure that we were getting out the door on time.
A lot of the ideas I found were not ground breaking, in fact many of them I had tried once or twice before with some success but had just gotten out of the habit. I tend to get lax and complacent in our own rules (I am more spontaneous and “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of person, so real structure is difficult for me to maintain for long periods of time). Therefore, even though we have set boundaries and rules, I am not always enforcing them, and that’s when things start to “not work” and pretty soon we just abandon them altogether.
Homework Rules!: I have found that things run more smoothly if we try to take care of everything right as it happens and when it’s done. Homework for instance; when my kids are done with their homework and bring it to me to check, I’ll then hand it back to them and tell them to put it back into their homework folder, and to put that folder back into their backpacks. I explain to them that in they morning we won’t have to worry about gathering up these things and possibly forgetting them at home. So any books they pull out for homework or to read, papers, pencils, forms we have signed or filled out, all go back into their appropriate folders and in turn the folders go back into their backpacks.
This also applies to extra things that they may be taking to school for a special project or show and tell. All these are put in backpacks, or bags laying next to their backpacks ready to go the next morning.
Having a designated place for everything: We aren’t fortunate enough to have a coat closet or a mud room, so finding a designated area to hang coats, backpacks, etc was difficult to in the limited space we have in our home. We have a garage door and a back door into our house (that’s never used) at the top of our stairs that leads down into the basement. I found some plaques with hooks and hung them on the narrow wall and have the kids hang their coats and backpacks there. The lower hooks for the little ones, and higher hooks for the rest of us.
Don’t get me wrong, they will try and dump their things on the couch as soon as they walk in, but I will make them come back and take care of it, which they find very inconvenient and tend to be better about it for a while.
I also have a place I put my purse, cell phone, keys, sunglasses, and anything I am taking with me on a credenza in our entryway and I make sure everything is there the night before.
My oldest son’s bedroom is in the basement and he used to take his backpack and things down with him right away. We decided it would be best to have him bring it back up and get it ready for the morning, because it became apparent that if he went downstairs in the morning to get it, he would inevitably stay down there for whatever reason and make us late.
Which leads us to the lunch boxes: Same said son, also would attach his lunch box on his backpack and so it went downstairs with him as well. In the morning it would always be missing when getting lunches together. It became such a problem every morning, that we made a designated area on the counter in the kitchen, where they were to put their lunch boxes when we got home, so they were there in the morning and ready to pack.
Making time for breakfast: For some reason it takes my two little ones 30 minutes or more to finish their breakfast in the morning (they get to talking and being silly they don’t have time to eat). So I began putting a timer on for 15 minutes. When the timer went off they had to finish up, and definitely no seconds on cereal or whatever they are eating. I also tried a couple of times a week to have something made ahead of time that just needed warming up for breakfast. Now I have a lot more ideas thanks to Amy and her test kitchen, and her test subjects. Click here for some great make ahead breakfast ideas!
Laying clothes out the night before: Having your kids pick out their clothes the night before so that they are within reach in the morning keeps them on task and not wasting time trying to figure out what to wear, because it’s already out and ready for them. This includes clean underwear, socks, shoes, belts, scarves, hair accessories, anything and everything that will go on their bodies.
I have seen people use a labeled hanger for each day of the week for their children to pull out and hang on their door knob for the next morning. They have the socks and accessories in a little drawstring bag or ziplock bag that hangs on the hanger as well. This is a great idea especially for toddlers and Pre-K to Kindergarteners.
Another idea is to use labels of matching colors (or symbols) on the hangers so that the children know what shirts match or go with what shorts or pants (much like the Geranimals.)
Okay this is the “No-brainer:”
Make sure your children get to bed on time! Seriously!? Yes I’m serious. I am good at rounding them up to get ready for bed, but while they’re doing so, I’ll get distracted and busy with something else and the next thing I know 30 minutes have passed and the kids are still running around. So even though this is a no brainer, you can still be inconsistent with the bedtime routine. It’s easy to get preoccupied with other things around the house, or staying out too late so that the kids don’t get home early enough to get to bed on time.
Guess what? That means you too (as I am typing this at 12:36 am.) You must make sure to get to bed on time as well, because if you are not well rested you will not be “on your game” and chances are, consistency will go out the window.
Having a routine and being consistent is key: My little ones know it’s time for bed at 8:30 pm, but they also know it’s more like 9:00 pm before their little bodies are actually “in” bed and lights out (usually due to my distractions.) So remain true to the designated time and don’t break it. Stay consistent with all your rules and plans, and you will have a better chance at successfully walking out the door on time and NOT- taking it on the Run.