Andrea Loewen Nair: Connect-Four Parenting


Getting Out The Door On Time

Reduce battles and get out the door when you need to

Here are some tips to get you and your family out the door without battles and on time:

Create a schedule and post it.

The easiest way to get everyone moving, particularly in the morning, is to have a predictable ROUTINE. This routine needs to include a list of tasks and an order to complete them. I like to call the list of these things "jobs." For example, our morning job list is: pee, eat, get dressed, brush teeth, gather things. Keep the language simple!

Give children a choice regarding what order they'd like to do the jobs so they don't feel overly controlled. Put sections of playtime in between the jobs. Once the kids have picked the order, create a poster that reminds them of the order. I put a picture of our family's poster above. I wrote out the jobs and cut them out, letting my kids place them on the poster in the order they liked.

Use a timer.

We use the microwave time to let the kids know how much time they have to complete a job or how much playtime until the next one. I often say things like this, "Okay, after you get dressed, the timer is going on for twenty minutes of play time." Kids do better seeing a clock counting down with regular reference to it than using "when the long hand is touching the 3, it is brushing-teeth time." Did you notice I used an "after/ then" also known as a "when/ then" which leads me to my next point...

Use When/Thens and After/Thens instead of threats.

Threats put people on the defensive. It is a subtle difference, but using a when/ then or after/ then statement hits the right part of the brain to get cooperation. For example, "If you don't get dressed right now, no iPad for you today!" might get a kid to finish dressing, but she'll likely be fuming. The following line, on the other hand,combined with a gentle voice is much more effective, "When you are done changing, then we have time for ___ (playing/ to read a book together/ to hang out)."

Introduce the concept of the "Late Zone."

Let the kids know what time the late zone is and when it starts. I say this, "The late zone starts at 8:30 so we have to be out the door before that." Talk about what the late zone is, being sure to emphasize all the negative aspects: "The late zone means we have not left early enough and will end up arriving late. We'll have to apologize to your ___ (teacher/ camp-director/ doctor) for not being there at the time we were supposed to. I feel yucky inside when we're late—all rushy inside." Please use language that is age-appropriate.

Use the routine and timer to stay out of the late zone. I regularly put the timer on for the late zone and say things like, "Oh, I see we have three minutes until we're in the late zone; what needs to get done before that?"

Talk about the "Out-The-Door" time.

This goes hand-in-hand with the late zone. Make sure everyone in the family knows what the out-the-door time is. I shout this out pretty much every time we have to be somewhere. "Hey, our flight leaves at 7am so our out-the-door time tomorrow morning is 5:20am. EEK!" or "In order to make our six o'clock reservation, our out-the-door time is 5:25."

Less is More.

Poor planning is often the reason people are late. Do not try to cram just one more thing in before running out the door. Be rested and let that one thing happen at a later time.


I post other free parenting help on my facebook page so you are welcome to pop over there. Here's to getting out the door happily and on time.

You can learn even more ways to get organized and transition from summer to school on our Back-To-School 2014 page.