Trying to get anywhere with kids is challenging. But add in the extra pressure of getting there by a specified time? Near impossible.
Here are 3 no-fail tips to get your kids out the door on time, most of the time.
Tip No. 1: Shift the power and responsibility to get out the door on time to the kids by having a clear, consistent penalty for tardiness
Every school morning was the same. Begging, pleading, and rushing my kids to get out the door on time left me an exasperating mess. And all that negativity didn’t exactly get my kids’ day started right either.
After one particularly long string of tardies, I had an epiphany. The kids had zero incentive to be on time.
There were no repercussions at school. No detentions, lost privileges, or even a side-eye from the teacher. As for repercussions at home, my endless morning rants on how important it is to be on time for school and how they were going to make me late weren’t leaving them racked with guilt.
Out went the begging, pleading, and rushing. And in came a clear and consistent rule.
If you are not ready for school on time, no electronics (including TV) for the remainder of the day. No warnings. No negotiations. No threats. You’re either ready on time or you’re not. And if you’re, no tech.
With this one simple change, the power and responsibility to get kids out of the house on time shifted from me to the kids, where it belonged.
We’re 6 months into the change, and school mornings are running much more smoothly in my house.
Tip No. 2: Give time warnings and put up electronic devices (or turn off the TV)
I aim to give four time warnings before we leave the house.
A 30-minute warning with a rundown of what the child needs to do before we leave the house (e.g., change clothes, find shoes). At 20 minutes, electronic devices get put up and the TV gets turned off. The last 2 time warnings come at 10 minutes (with a reminder of what they need to do before we leave) and 5 minutes to go.
Tip No. 3: End a “leaving” tantrum by asking “what can I do to help you”
The dreaded “I don’t want to leave” tantrum. Your child is so engrossed in whatever she is doing that she doesn’t want to leave. Perhaps it’s a playdate she doesn’t want to end. Or a video game she doesn’t want to stop playing. Or she just doesn’t want to leave the house.
Whatever the reason, cue the tears, pleading, yelling, etc.
One trick I’ve learned to deal with a “leaving tantrum” is to repeatedly (and calmly) ask the child what I can do to help her get out the door. A drink or a snack? A rundown of our itinerary? Something to keep her busy in the car? Let her pick one of our activities or a treat later if we get out the door on time?
The point of this question is two-fold. First, I want my child to know that I hear her and sympathize with her having a hard time leaving the house and want to help her. Even grown-ups sometimes have a hard time dropping whatever they are doing to go somewhere. Second, focusing on the question helps keep me calm (i.e., not lose my cool) and in control of the situation.