Lisa Allen

The return of hectic mornings
The return of hectic mornings

By most people’s standards, I usually have a pretty leisurely morning. I don’t have to be at work till 11AM (of course, I work till 7, a couple of hours later than most people). I don’t have any children, either, so I don’t have to deal with the drama of getting kids out of bed, dressed and ready for school.

My morning consists of getting out of bed around 7 (without the use of an alarm), waking up with my morning coffee while catching up with news and e-mail, getting dressed, walking the dog, eating breakfast, and leaving for work at around 10:30.

Some moms have had the luxury of a little extra time over the summer, but the hectic mornings will soon be back as kids go back to school.

Here are some tips for getting everyone out the door on time from

1. Slow down. It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s true: If you take time to breathe, do tasks methodically, and remain calm (easier said than done!) during the morning hustle, you may actually get out the door faster. It may be hard to remember in the moment, but no one likes to feel rushed, and nothing slows down kids — or, frankly, adults — more than yelling, ‘Hurry! We’re late AGAIN!’

2. Streamline choices. Too many choices can be a big time-waster — keep them simple, direct and finite: ‘Would you like peanut butter toast or oatmeal?’ ‘Would you like to brush your own hair, or shall I do it?’ When you’re really in a hurry — like on any weekday morning! — don’t feel you have to offer a choice at all. Just give kids what you want to give them, without opening things up for discussion.

3. Dress before breakfast. Make it a policy that kids must be dressed before they leave their rooms. You can give them a sense of control by letting them pick out their own outfits, but do it the night before or tape pictures of types of clothes (pants, shirts, underpants) onto drawers to help make it easier — and faster.

4. Avoid brushing battles. Get young kids’ teeth and hair brushed by employing some ‘helpers’ that make it more silly than stressful. If you’re still assisting on teeth, try naming each tooth as you go, pretend to search for ‘sugar bugs’ or other critters, make up ridiculous foods that you see in there, or invent a goofy song. For hair, try naming a detangling spray something exciting — fairy mist or dragon’s breath, for example — and distract your child as you brush (like with a bowl of pretty barrettes to choose from when she’s finished).

5. Stock the door. Keep all key items by the front door, including shoes and socks, jackets, school or sports equipment, and backpacks. For those who have a hard time making decisions, having only one jacket or pair of shoes in sight can make everyone’s life easier.

6. Oh, shoes. Play shoe store, Cinderella slippers, astronaut boots, or dinosaur feet — and commit to it, with voices and everything — to tackle the often ridiculously challenging task of getting shoes and socks on your little ones. (While you’re at it, make sure you only buy the simplest shoes with the easiest one-strap Velcro design you can find … no matter how cute those lace-up high-tops are.) If need be, let them hit the car barefoot and put shoes on when they’re strapped in.

7. Use a timer. Sure, you can use a timer in a straightforward way to signify when your kids need to be ready, but you can also use it to sell a ‘beat the clock’ challenge. If you want to be out the door in five minutes, let the kids know and tell them to listen for the bell. Will they be able to beat it? This appeals to most kids’ healthy sense of competition. Better yet, it neatly takes the responsibility of a deadline off of you and puts it on the timer.

8. Bribe them. Let’s face it, sometimes a simple bribe is the best solution. Whoever gets in the car on time gets a reward. You choose what’s the best motivator for your kids, and what you’re OK with: a breath mint, jelly bean, coin or even the chance to pick the car music. It’s worth it!

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