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The Best, Speediest Ways to Get Out the Door On Time

By Heather Turgeon |

Daily routines for school daysYesterday my son went to preschool with no shoes on. Not “no shoes” as in they were in a bag or something — no shoes as in he showed up completely barefoot. My husband was on drop-off duty, but somehow every shoe in the house had ended up in my car — and I was at work already, across town.

This is my first back to school season as a mom — my two and a half-year-old just started preschool. But already I’m realizing the challenge that lies between the alarm going off and actually exiting the door in the morning. And it’s no joke, because at our school if you arrive after 9:15am, you have to wait until 10:30 to drop off. The little kiddies are in their “morning meeting” during that time, and it can’t be interrupted.

Yesterday Penelope Trunk blogged about how she gets out the door in the morning with her two sons (and how she did it as a single mom). She didn’t describe the morning routine in the rosy, simple way it looks in magazines — it’s controlled chaos, and she’s really open about it. For example, her son (and Trunk herself) has Asperger’s and related sensory issues, so handling breakfast might include having to ask him to clean up after himself after vomitting up his quesadilla. Kind of puts things in perspective.

So what were her top secrets to surviving the morning?

Use a visual schedule: Key for people with Asperger’s according to Trunk, but applicable to anyone who is helped by being able to see things in front of them. Her son’s occupational therapist suggested it and it helps the whole family stay on track, check things off the list, and keep moving.

Forget the Norman Rockwell vision of breakfast: Basically, from Trunk’s perspective any eating is good eating, because her son was diagnosed early on with failure to thrive.

Reward good behavior: Her sons get a star every morning if they stick to the schedule. 20 stars and they can get a new Pokemon cartridge.

My favorite tip from fellow blogger Madeline Holler on getting out of the house on time is that no one in the family can play with toys or electronic gadgets of any kind before everyone is completely ready to go. Genius.

And things that are working for me: setting up coffee the night before, waking up 45 minutes before my son (painful but effective), and even dressing him while he’s still in the crib so he’s contained. Oh, and tomorrow I will put his shoes by the door.

What works for you in the morning?

Image: Flickr/Robert S. Donovan

More from this author:

Is Your Pediatrician Using the Right Growth Chart?

Are You Too Empathetic?

Are You in Control of Your House?

Doctors Misdiagnosed in all Cases of Infant Death From Whooping Cough

Are Psychopaths Born or Made?

Too Much Pregnancy Weight Sets Up Babies for Obesity

Antipsychotic Medications for Toddlers?

C-Section Twice as Likely When Doctors Induce Labor.

Why I Abandoned the “Readiness” Approach to Potty Training.

Are Babies Sleeping Less These Days?  5 Nap Tips and More.

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About Heather Turgeon


Heather Turgeon

Heather Turgeon is currently writing the book The Happy Sleeper (Penguin, 2014). She's a therapist-turned-writer who authors the Science of Kids column for Babble. A northeasterner at heart, Heather lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two little ones. Read bio and latest posts → Read Heather's latest posts →

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6 thoughts on “The Best, Speediest Ways to Get Out the Door On Time

  1. Andrew Rogers says:

    Totally agree on the something is better than nothing concept for b-fast. While I’d love to think the kids are getting the full food pyramid every morning, we’re usually lucky to send them off with a bagel and juice in their stomachs.

  2. Kevin Shiu says:

    I agree too. I especially love the notion of a visual schedule. And dressing our daughter in the crib. It’s funny how preschool, potty-training, and food picky-ness all hit at the same time. Ahh, parenthood.

    Thanks for the article.

  3. Becca says:

    We use the picture schedule though no rewards for ours but she is not allowed out of her room in the morning until she is dressed and her hair is brushed, than we eat breakfast, than she goes in the bathroom to brush her teeth and wash her face and hands, and we are ready to go at that point. We usually have a good extra 30 minutes which is good since she isn’t night trained and sometimes needs a bath. We get up at 7 and leave at 8:30 every day.

  4. mbaker says:

    My son helps me make his lunch the night before which saves a surprising amount of time. Also, he’s not allowed to come downstairs until he’s gone to the restroom and gotten dressed. Since he doesn’t have any toys in his bedroom he’s highly motivated to come downstairs. If he eats breakfast and finishes getting ready in time he can watch tv until it’s time to leave for school.

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