Getting Kids Out the Door On Time!

by | Feb 27, 2017

1. Have Compassion

Remember, kids would often rather stay home with mom and dad. It’s a lot of work to get out the door. It’s no fun to say goodbye to their favorite people. So if we can just name their experience, such as “I can tell you wish you could just stay home and watch this show. Sometimes I wish I could stay home, too.” This can help get us out of “drill sergeant” mode and instead, into making polite requests. Then, when they are doing what we want them to be doing, it’s better to notice and comment on that than it is to focus and nag about what we don’t want. Wherever we focus our attention is what we amplify.

2. Use Enforceable Statements

Instead of nagging and reminding school-aged kids of what they should or shouldn’t be doing, it’s more effective to say what we will do or allow or provide to them. If I say to my son, “Hurry up, we’ve got to go!”, I have no way of enforcing how fast he moves. In fact, commanding him to speed up is likely to make him slow down. Instead, I can say, “I’m getting in the car at 8:00. I charge $1/minute (or a chore/minute) to wait.” “Everyone who is in the car by 8:00 gets a ride to school for free!” is another option. Then, get in the car and start your timer. When your kid gets in the car, stop the timer, say nothing, set a reminder to charge him/her after schools and drive to school with no arguing. The two most important parts of this: 1) no arguing during the drive and 2) follow through and charge what you’ve said you’re going to charge.

3. A Little Bit of Playfulness Can Go a Long Way

I used to be so serious about getting my three three little boys out the door. Some days, the routine was exhausting and not much fun. My stress about it probably rubbed off on them. But on the good days when I could be playful instead of forceful about getting my strong-willed three year old dressed, everything changed. On my those days, I’d talk in a silly voice and “be the shoes looking for some tootsies” and chase him and tickle him as I slipped the shoes on his feet. He was happier, I was happier and those mornings went better. Never underestimate the power of playfulness in getting your kids’ cooperation.

4. Get Ready Before the Kids Get Rolling

I used to stay in bed until my kids crawled in with me. Then I’d get up and get ready while they did. Since I tend to run late more than I’d like to admit, this means I’d be in a rush and not very available to help them. A smart mom (Vicki, you know who you are!) told me that when she had a job before kids, she always got ready before she went to work. Duh. And once her job became being a mom, she still thought it was a good idea to get ready first so that she could give her kids positive attention in the mornings. She got up early, showered and read the paper before they even woke up. Yes, she may have missed out on a little sleep, but she also didn’t wear herself out battling with her kids and rushing around in the mornings.

5. Build in a Buffer

My mornings got so much calmer when I built in a buffer of time. If we had to leave at 8:30, I’d act like we had to leave at 8:15. If the kids were ready on time, they could earn the privilege of watching a show, or if I was ready on time too, I would read them a book or take them to the school playground early. Then, on the days we were late, we were only eating into the buffer instead of the actual time we had to be at school. This kept me so much calmer than if the kids were at risk of missing the bus or making me late. That dynamic never brought out the best in me.

Check out the Video

Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT
©2017 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, LMFT, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

Visit Kerry’s extensive collection of articles on parenting…a treasure trove of tips and insights.

Calm Parenting

Before I had kids, I always pictured myself as a calm, loving, happy, and nurturing mother. I was sometimes. I still am sometimes. I didn’t realize how hard I would have to work sometimes just to avoid coming completely unglued and falling apart right there on the...

That was then…This is now

As I watch, walk, read and listen, I am horrified and heartbroken about the systemic pervasiveness of disrespect and destruction of Black people’s lives that is rooted in racism.

One Way to Start Mother’s Day 2020

I think the sweetest gift I could receive would be WORDS. Words that in spite of my imperfections, my humanity, my annoying idiosyncrasies, and my mistakes along the way … that they’ll take me the way I am. That I am enough.

Raising Boys Made Me Braver

I have had to call up the intrepid, courageous, and active parts of me that, up until motherhood, had laid somewhat dormant.

The Car Sanctuary

So often while driving, my kids would fall asleep and I found that to be a quiet peaceful time. So, I decided to make my car my sanctuary.

Instead of M&M’s, Kids Need More N&Ns – AKA: My Kid Hates When I Say “No”

One day when I took my young son to Burger King, he wanted something he couldn’t have and I said no. It didn’t work out well for either of us.  What he wanted was “white pop” (known to older kids as Sprite). I was OK with that. I held the cup to the Sprite label on...

Popsicle vs. Poopsicle: your ticket to better dinner conversation

It's possible that dinner conversation is not quite what you had dreamed of. I had fantasies of a happy family gathered around, politely eating a meal that they appreciated and each person happily chatting about their day, one at a time. If you have that,...

How Do We Parent in Ways We Weren’t Parented?

Make lasting changes in behavior that last a lifetime and span multiple generations. In some ways, it's easy to parent our children in ways we weren't parented, right?  I was a latch-key kid with a working mom who was gone a lot. When it came time for me to be a mom,...

What Is Head and Heart Parents About?

Hi! I’m Kerry Stutzman. At Head and Heart Parents, we care about all things related to parenting.  I, and the other therapists I work with, think about the entire system of a family, from the well-being of the kids to the sanity and sense of humor of the parents....

My Favorite New Year’s Resolution

I loved this resolution because it helped bring to life a piece of me that I longed for: the part that can pause long enough to truly see and hear my children’s words and respond with a smile