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Girl Brushing Her Teeth

I do not like to be late. But, I also have many things to do every time we leave the house. Between making sure each person has just what they need for their day, double-checking that the house is ready for our day-long absence, and yes, trying to do it all without sacrificing punctuality, the rush out the door can be hectic and chaotic. This is increasingly problematic as fall, and those first few days of preschool, is drawing near.

I like to consider myself a laidback mom. An easygoing mom. But in this one instance, it seems that very carefully constructed plans are the only way to fend off the chaos. So, we’ve developed a bit of family protocol for leaving the house, dividing up responsibilities to limit that frantic scramble.

  • Figure out how long it takes to get out the door (be realistic). I often plan our day without considering how much longer it takes my son to dress than the rest of us. Sure, I can brush my teeth and run a comb through my hair rather quickly, but if I’m being realistic, our combined efforts take a good bit longer.​
  • Give kids their own responsibilities- even if it stretches them. The smallest member of the family is, of course both the neediest and the least capable. Still, he has his own out-the-door responsibilities. He checks the cat bowls to make sure they’re full. He dresses himself, combs his bit of hair, and packs a backpack with a handful of toys and a change of underpants (just in case of accidents). The first few times we’d tried this routine, the cat bowls were a bit of a mess and my son’s shorts were on backwards. But with time, he’s gotten better at these small tasks.
  • Keep a bag packed with the important things and replace as needed. My son has his backpack always at the ready. I keep my important items in my purse, and even my husband has a dish by the door for his phone and wallet. We almost always need the same handful of items when it’s time to leave, so it just makes sense to keep them together.
  • Divide other tasks among adults. My husband and I divide and conquer the rest- one of us locking the windows and doors, the other in charge of car keys. We each take specific responsibility for specific items so no one is left flailing about.

What are your strategies for leaving the house smoothly and without stress? 

Liz Moorhead

Liz Moorhead is an English teacher-turned-writer and illustrator. She paints stationery, writes for a top wedding site, and blogs at Happy Sighs between walks to the park with her two boys.