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7 Time-Saving Tips for Getting Out the Door with Your Kids and Your Sanity

Photograph by Twenty20

My daughters and I loathe mornings. With school starting back soon, I dread rushing out the door at the exact time necessary to make morning drop-off and dash to work. Maybe your kids catch a bus at a precise time or your manager pounces if you scurry in a minute late. If the thought of getting up a moment earlier makes you want to fall asleep right now, follow these time-saving tips for conquering the morning rush:

The Night Before

1. Prep the Coffee

How hard is it to flop in a filter, scoop out some coffee and fill a water canister? Well, that depends. Am I fully awake and functional? If it’s morning, the answer is no because, as you might have guessed, I haven’t had coffee. What takes seconds the night before becomes an agonizing morning process that wastes several minutes, a few dropped coffee filters and way too much of my patience.

Do yourself and everyone around you a favor and setup the coffee the night before. Program the machine so you awake to the heavenly aroma of brewing coffee or allow yourself a few moments to stare blankly at the filling carafe after you hit the start button.

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2. Pack What You Can

Packing backpacks and lunches when you’re not rushed (and when your brain is fully functional) saves time and increases the chances of actually getting out the door with everything you need for the day.

What kind of mom am I? I’m on-time mom. Sometimes, that means I’m short-cut mom.

3. Check the Weather and Select Outfits

If you’re raising a budding fashionista and / or kids who will meltdown over itchy fabric, it’s best to let the little ones help choose their clothes the night before. I also have a couple go-to outfits for rushed mornings, guaranteed to extract my toddler from her PJs with minimal resistance:

Toddler: “I stay in my pajamas.”

Me: “Look, these socks have Elmo on them.”

Toddler: “OK." Rips off footie pajamas.

You’re welcome.

It also helps to check the weather forecast. Otherwise, you might rush out the door, already five minutes late, only to discover that winter arrived overnight and your kids are rocking crocs and sundresses.

4. Detangle Hair and Braid Loosely

This pro tip comes from my aunt, a kindergarten teacher and mother of two. Since I’m basically the worst with hair, tangles have a way of derailing our morning routine. The braids keep long hair from becoming messy overnight and make morning styling a snap. After the kids bathe, do battle with any lingering knots, dry the hair (unless you’re going for a curly or wavy look), and braid into two loose pigtails.

In the Morning

5. Don’t Skip What Makes You Feel Human

Some things are worth precious morning minutes. Unless I’m awake before 5:30 a.m. to catch a flight or battle aliens, I’m taking a shower. Yes, I have a tendency to just stand there, letting the minutes slip down the drain, but it takes me so much longer to wake up without that time in the water.

My girls have sensory processing issues, so each morning they shuffle downstairs in their pajamas, sit on a couch and rock back and forth. We’ve learned from experience: DON’T MESS WITH THE ROCKING. I even made a visual schedule of our morning routine for my oldest with “Rocking” as a prominent item.

Whatever that thing is for you—scrolling your Facebook feed, doing yoga, having sex—you do it. Otherwise, the rest of the morning will fall apart.

6. Serve a No Judgment Breakfast

Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be the fastest. I try to plan balanced lunches and dinners for my family. As much as I’d like to tell you my kids eat egg-white omelettes with spinach for breakfast, I can’t.

They eat whatever they will eat as long as it’s fast and the first ingredient isn’t sugar. Microwave pancakes may be a huge source of mom guilt for me, but they’re also the reason I get out the door on time.

As I pry those little cakes apart with my fingernails, I tell myself I should at least make a batch from scratch over the weekend and freeze enough for the weekdays. Or I could fry them an egg! What kind of mom am I? I should be making them an egg-white omelette with spinach. I should be raising cage-free chickens in my backyard. Then the microwave beeps. In less time than it takes my brain to travel from frozen pancakes to micro farming, breakfast is ready, and I’ve dirtied zero cooking utensils.

What kind of mom am I? I’m on-time mom. Sometimes, that means I’m short-cut mom.

If your kids are old enough to eat in the car, throw some cereal in a baggie and buckle up. I promise not to judge you.

Or make that egg-white omelette the night before and zap it in morning.

7. Leave It For Later

If something can wait until the evening, let it wait. Leave the dishes to molder, the dirty underwear flung on the floor, and just leave.

If keeping your house immaculate is that thing that makes you feel human in the morning, tidy up. If you can leave a mess without thinking about it all day, go ahead and go.

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I find it’s easy to follow these tips at the beginning of the week, but much harder to drag myself in the kitchen on Thursday night to setup the coffee maker. That’s OK. Some mornings will be more rushed than others, but just knowing a few tips to speed them along should help ease the back-to-school transition for everyone.

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