Does the mere thought of trying to get out of the house on time make you want to pull out your hair? Or maybe you’re perpetually late every time you need to be somewhere with the kids?
I get it. That used to be me too.
Last fall, my oldest started preschool and I need to leave the house at 9 am every day to drop him off. I’m telling you, just having somewhere to be on a regular basis made a world of difference. This summer, I’m going to try to stick to the same time schedule to help us keep the groove going.
How I Knew Our Morning Routine Needed Help
I was tired of waking up angry at my kids for waking me up, exhausted because I stayed up too late. Growing up, we were always late for everything. I was following the same path and I didn’t want that to continue. It took me forever to get both kids out of the house. I wanted that to change.
I’m constantly tweaking our routine, but it’s safe to say that the morning routine took the longest to set and perfect. First, I had to admit that, while I’ve always thought of myself as a night owl, I really do get my best work done in the morning. Then I had to be intentional about making the changes I wanted.
Change Starts With You
Mastering my morning routine, and actually the entire routine in general with the kids is a subject that’s always on my mind. Intentionally setting and tweaking the routine gives me a little control in this crazy world and helps me know what comes next.
Before I had kids, I always considered myself a fairly flexible, easy going person. I never really felt the need to try to control anything or anyone. I just did my thing. Despite this, my life always fell into definite routines and patterns. They just weren’t intentional. I got myself ready in the same order every day and walked to class the same way every day. You could find me at the same table in the student center every day at the same time… I could go on and on.
Fast forward to life with kids and my realization that I thrive on routines.
I’ll write more about how we initially established our routines and how they changed over time in a few other posts. Today, I especially want to share our current morning routine because I think it really sets us up for a successful day. I’ll also share tips about how you can make your own routine work for you.
Tips To Master Your Morning Routine and Get Out the Door With Kids in Tow
I think the biggest thing that helped was having somewhere to go at the same time every day. If you don’t have something like school drop-off driving you, make something up. Commit to going out to the yard, the park, or the library every day at the same time.
Make sure everyone gets to bed early enough that they’re getting plenty of sleep without you needed to wake them up. This includes you. The kids go to sleep between 8 and 9 but this will be a little earlier once naps stop. I go to bed at 9:30 or 10:00. Sometimes it makes me feel old, but I’m also ready to get up in the morning and that feels great!
Set an alarm and commit to waking up for your life, not waking up to your life. (Read this inspiring post on the Art of Simple.) Even getting up 5 minutes before my kids makes a big difference in my mood. I know this one is really really hard. It took me awhile to get it right because sometimes my kids are up at 5:00 or 5:30 am. Keep trying. Try not to get frustrated when you don’t get hours of uninterrupted time in the morning and eventually they’ll sleep later and you’ll get more. Patience grasshopper. (It’s my weakest skill.)
Pay attention to the order you naturally do things and the rhythm your morning takes. Figure out how long it actually takes you to get everything done to get out the door, completely undistracted by your phone or computer.
Have a quick, low maintance hair and makeup and skincare routine. A shower takes me 15 minutes. Then it only takes me another 5-10 to get dressed, pull my hair up, put on moisturizer, foundation and mascara.
Set yourself up for success the night before by finding shoes and putting them by the door, laying out clothes for the kids, packing lunch. Where are your keys? If you notice you’re getting snagged on the same things every time you try to leave the house, eliminate the problem. Then you won’t be running through the house yelling “Find your shoes, NOW” like a crazy person or searching frantically for your keys when it’s time to walk out the door.
Give yourself built in time buffers. I can get ready in 30 minutes, but my “must be in the shower” deadline is an hour before we have to leave. Sometimes the buffer only needs to be a few minutes. Get out the door at 8:55 instead of 9:00 so kids can get in the car at their own pace, not yours. It takes me 40 minutes to drive somewhere, I try to give myself an hour. Then when I stop for coffee, or I hit traffic, I’m not ridiculously late. (Most of the time.)
Have a Plan B
Since I want this post to be useful to you, I’ll be honest that it doesn’t always go this smoothly. I can’t tell you how many posts I read telling me to get up before the kids and I just couldn’t make it happen. For 4 years, actually. I had a million excuses why. Mostly I was just exhausted and tried to hang on to every last minute of time with my eyes shut.
The important part is to have a back up plan when things go wrong.
These past two weeks my 3 year old has been getting up before the sun. Every day it’s earlier and earlier. Getting angry doesn’t help. I have to recognize that I’m angry and move past it as quickly as possible. Having a back up plan helps. That’s why I suggest paying attention to rhythms (yours and your kids) and to do things in a general order instead of relying on a strict time schedule.
If I’m up and in the hallway before he says “Let’s go downstairs”, it’s a win. Take your little victories when you can. At first it doesn’t need to be hours of uninterrupted time in the morning
We have gotten in such a groove here that we can just go through the motions of our routine without really looking at the clock. I can take a deep breath and know it will all get done because we do it in the same order every day. As long as I’m not stressing out about it, I can pick up the pace and get out the door quicker without them even knowing it.