After nine years of raising other humans, I have come to realize that leaving the house and coming back home are two of the biggest challenges in the daily life of moms.
Get yourself dressed, dress the kids, feed the kids, find shoes, pack diaper bag etc, etc. And when we get home from whatever destination be it close or faraway, there’s always so much to unload from the car, kids to settle back into the house, and bags to unpack and put away.
As a busy working mom with toddlers and school-aged kids, I have a lot of routines and mental lists that I live by. Getting out the door is one of them. Here are the items on my mental check list that I use to help my family get out the door early in the morning or any time of day.
1. If it is an early morning outing like school and work then always lay out your kids’ clothes the night before. This includes packing the diaper bag, jackets, and shoes. We have a shoe bench and coat rack that keeps these essentials easy to grab.
2. Older kids need some sort of their own alarm to wake them and get them stirring. We use one of my son’s ipod docks and choose the wake-up song the night before.
3. Whether it’s a work out day for me or not, I wake up at least an hour before my kids and get myself completely ready to walk out the door.
4. I don’t pack school lunches the night before. My nights just couldn’t handle one more thing, so it is the next thing on my morning list after getting myself ready.
5. Make sure your older kids know the routine and what they need to do to help get themselves ready. My older boys know after they are dressed they need to come into the kitchen for breakfast. My three older children also know their ‘morning jobs’ like feeding pets, and making sure lights are turned off.
6. When you wake up toddlers or babies before they’re ready like early in the morning, then be sure and have a ‘soothie’ immediately available for them, like a sippy cup of milk, their blankie or even their favorite parent (it’s true). Dress them as soon as you get them out of bed and leave their room with everything you need and turning out the light. Toddlers and babies need to know it’s that time when you’re heading out the door. There’s no time to play.
7. Try to have a common area for coats and shoes close to the door. We have a storage bench for our shoes with baskets for each kid. Everyone put on their shoes and coats at the same time and then head out to the car. Surely someone will forget something, but you can always go back in the house to make a once over check after you have everyone buckled in their seats.
Coming home can be just as painful. To prevent the dining table from becoming the catch-all place for everything, make the first thing you do when you walk in the door be to unpack all the bags. For us this includes the diaper bag from the day’s sitter, my kids’ back packs, their lunch boxes and even putting away my purse and work bag. Just like in the morning, the kids need to know the coming-home routine; where to put their back packs for mom to look through and where to put their shoes and coats.
The daily life of a working mom can easily become unbearable. Sticking to a few short mental lists can make our mornings and evenings run so much more smoothly.