Is getting kids out the door one of the worst parts of your day?
Here are some of our favorite tricks for making “go time” more smooth!
“Um…with lots of chocolate”? Or “By the grace of all the miracles in heaven”?? or “How do I do WHAT? Not kill them??”? Usually I just laugh and say something funny but I know that lots of parents really do genuinely wonder how to pull off the logistics of a big family. And while most people will never have a van quite as full as this one, I thought I’d share our favorite hacks for getting kids out the door in a timely (relatively peaceful) fashion!
First of all, it’s important to realize our limitations as moms. When I just had the 2 big boys, I’d always try to load everyone up like I carry in groceries: with just ONE trip! But after having my 3rd (and then numbers 4 & 5 as twins, especially!) I realized that I was never gonna make that happen again.
So now, we always load up in waves. This will obviously look differently for each family, depending on the ages and spacing of your children but for us it looks like this:
- Give kids 3 minute warning, or enough time to get shoes and coats, etc on and get to the door. Side note: Think of ways where your morning or errand routine falters. Is it hard for kids to reach their own socks? Are shoes always lost or coats left in random places? We now keep everyone’s hoodies on one rack near the garage, all the shoes near the front door and all the socks in a storage compartment in the hall closet. This has majorly streamlined our get-out-the-door routine since there’s no running to bedrooms to find what they need!
- Ask the older ones to help you get out the door. This can mean asking for help putting shoes on the littles, taking someone to the bathroom, getting the keys for you, grabbing more diapers for the diaper bag, finding your phone…whatever it takes to get out the door!
- Give oldest child keys (if mature enough) or open the car for them (and possibly start it). You’ll have to be safe about this, of course, but when our minivan fit in the garage, I just kept the garage closed and let the big kids open the car door and buckle up (but remember to never start a car in a closed garage). This kept the littles safe from running in the street but allowed them the freedom to get out of the house and into the car themselves while I prepared my bag & got the baby ready.
- Let the kids buckle themselves and each other while you get out the door. My kids now all buckle each other and themselves almost every single time we get into the car. As long as I give them enough time in advance, they’ll all get into the car, buckle the baby and toddler and then encourage the preschooler and 1st graders to do it themselves. It doesn’t hurt to have an incentive, i.e. no radio music or movie on in the car until everyone is buckled!If necessary, you can practice ahead of time letting your kids get in and out of their buckles so that when the pressure’s on (i.e. you’re late to school!) they can do it themselves. If you have a little one in a carseat who’s responsible enough to only unbuckle when told, check out the Buckle Bee! This little gizmo gives tiny fingers the leverage to unbuckle a tough seatbelt and frees up your hands for other things. My sister uses it for her little preschooler and loves it.
- Lastly, always keep your keys and bag (and phone, if possible!) in the same place in the house, and keep your purse or diaper bag stocked ahead of time. When I run out of wipes or diapers on an outing, I come home and immediately refill my bag so that I don’t run the risk of forgetting to do so before leaving the next time.
Loading up children in a timely fashion isn’t always easy but it can get better! Prepare your older kids to be your helpers and practice the process and you’ll be out the door quickly and painlessly in no time.
Do you have any other tips for getting kids in the car happily? Please share them in the comments!
Photography by Christie Knight Photography