Does anybody else struggle with this?
As the minutes tick past each morning, your voice gets louder and louder, hustling the kids through their morning routines. The kids dawdle and take their time, while your heart rate climbs and your patience gets shorter.
Believe me, I’ve been there. If you think getting 2 or 3 kids out the door on time for the school bus is hard, try getting one baby, 5 toddlers, and 2 school agers (all in full winter gear) out the door in plenty of time for the bus.
It can be done! And you can do it without going bonkers, and with everyone still in one piece.
The key is planning ahead. The more that’s ready ahead of time, the easier your morning becomes.
How To Get Your Kids To The Bus On Time
Get out of bed on time and get yourself ready before the kids. Take care of yourself first. Mommying 101, right? But how often do we forget about ourselves? And then it just means we have to get ourselves ready at the same time as getting all of the kids ready.
Have lunches, water bottles, school bags, permission forms and agendas ready to go. Whether you pack your children’s lunches or they do, get it done early (or even the night before). Refilling water bottles and signing forms can be done when the kids get home from school, after dinner, or before they wake up – but most importantly, they should be done before it’s time to leave for the bus.
Store outdoor clothes – coats, snowpants, boots, mitts, hats – and backpacks where the kids can easily find them. Create a storage system that enables the kids to know exactly where their things are so that there are no last-minute seaches for lost items.
Wake the kids up at least an hour before they need to leave. If they have a hard time getting out of bed, they need to go to bed earlier. Often the threat of an earlier bedtime is motivation enough for them to get out of bed ;-). When all else fails, try a spray bottle filled with water – misting the air above their heads works wonders!
Be consistent in making sure the kids are ready for the day (dressed, breakfast, face washed, teeth brushed, hair done, etc) before they have free time to watch tv, game or play.
Keep breakfast as low key as possible, and as self-serve as possible. Having a selection of cold cereal, bowls and spoons on the table makes it easy for the school-age kids to serve themselves while you change diapers, feed the baby or help your toddler get breakfast. Having a wrap or carrier for a baby that just wants to be held is a lifesaver!
Start getting the kids out the door long before the bus is due to arrive. Older kids can wait on the porch or in the yard, while younger ones can sit near the front door while you get the others ready. For me, it’s always been easier to get the older ones ready first and then work my way down to the youngest (who often needs the most help), and then to get my own outdoor clothes on last.
Aim to be at the bus stop 5-15 minutes early, depending on how many kids you have. That way, when the inevitable delay happens, you’ve got some margin for error.
Create consequences for when children drag their feet and are late. For my kids, I was able to follow through on the threat to make them walk to school if they dawdled and missed the bus. My oldest had to walk once when he was 4, and has been early ever since. The youngest had to walk once when she was about 6, and we haven’t had an issue since. The middle child seems to have learned from his siblings’ mistakes :-). If you can’t walk the kids to school safely, then come up with another consequence and enforce it every time. Consistency is key.
Many kids learn that if they take too long to get ready for school, they’ll miss the bus and earn a free day off. But working with them to get there on time sets them up for not only a better education, but for an ethic of punctuality and an attitude of responsibility for their future lives at work and at home.
How do you make mornings go more smoothly in your house?