When I had my first baby, I read all the books on pregnancy, birth, and parenting I could find. And I learned some amazing stuff! But there is one thing that no book or website or friend ever prepared me for and that is the challenge of getting out the door with a small child.
Once upon a time I could decide to go to the store or the gym or a friend’s house and all I would have to do is put on my shoes, grab my key’s and head out the door. Those days are long gone!
I remember leaving the house when I had my oldest, and I was still working full-time. I had no less than six bags that took more than two hours to prep before leaving the house for daycare each morning. Luckily, the baggage required lessens as our kids get older, but adding multiple children to the mix offsets that some.
These days, I have an 8 year old, a 5 year old, and a 3 year old and while we are all out of diapers and need considerably less to leave the house, I was finding myself still overwhelmed, stressed out, and short-tempered about the process of getting out of the house far too often.
A Typical Morning Included…
“Put on your shoes!.” Repeat that x3.
“What do you mean you don’t have socks? Go upstairs and find them…I don’t care if they don’t match!”
“Ok, now put on your shoes!”
“Did everyone go potty?”
“No, you can’t have a snack, we just ate breakfast!”
“Put on your shoes for the fourteenth time!”
“Pack a snack for the road. No, you can’t eat it now we just ate breakfast!”
“Go put pants on, it’s 35 degrees and you can’t wear shorts.”
“Please, put on your shoes.”
“Get your water bottle.”
“Everyone in the car!”
“Where are your shoes???!!!”
The dark side of mothering
I pride myself on being laid-back, gentle, and peaceful most of the time with my children. But as my daughter likes to remind me, the shoe saga and getting out of the house brought out my alter ego we like to call crazy mama.
Crazy mama isn’t very nice and speaks loudly (aka yells) more than I’d like to admit. Life with crazy mama is so stressful, and we all just need some deep breaths to recover from her wrath.
Crazy mama started to come around all too often, and I decided I had to do something about it. My kids are little. Yes they are all old enough to put on their own shoes, but I am the grown up and the person in total control of our situation.
I started looking at what factors were affecting the pace and atmosphere of our mornings and how we could bring peace and harmony back. It took some adjusting, but it has been many months since crazy mama has appeared, and we are all much happier these days.
1. Have a plan & visualize
I like to sit down the night before and think through the morning and visualize how the morning will flow. I think about what we will have for breakfast, plan snacks to take along, think about what kind of outfits the kids need to wear, and think through any extra things we need to take along with us. I’m not a big list maker, but if you are, this is probably a great time for a list!
2. Set an alarm
For the past eight years, I have been waking up to a screaming child. I jolt out of bed and it’s mad dash to grab the child, calm them down, and we all start the day on a fussy foot. Not anymore, friends. I read an amazing book last year called The Miracle Morning, and it has been a game-changer. I now set my alarm and wake up well before my kids and have at least a full hour of “me” time before I hit the ground running with mom duties. Spending some time taking care of myself lets me set intentions for the day and sets us all up for success. Now, when my kids wake up I have the mental capacity to gently flow through our morning rhythm instead of feeling like the morning is kicking my booty.
3. Get dressed right away
As soon as each child is awake, I get them dressed in appropriate clothes. They are fully capable of choosing their clothes and dressing themselves, but we save a lot of struggles if I walk alongside them and we do this together. If I haven’t gotten myself dressed yet, I go ahead and do that too. We don’t go downstairs until we are all dressed, teeth are brushed, and we’ve tidied up our bedrooms.
4. Load the car early
When we leave the house, there’s usually a good amount of stuff with us. I almost always take a cooler bag with snacks or lunch, each kid usually likes to take a little bag or toy, we might need a bag with a change of clothes or shoes, plus water bottles, my purse, reusable shopping bags if I have errands to run…all the things! If I wait until I am trying to load up three kids into the car to load our gear, crazy mama comes out because it is just too much. So I load things up as I have them ready. I might put our lunch in the car at 7am or toss a change of clothes in there the night before. I don’t necessarily do it all at once, but I know I need to get ahead on loading or I’ll end up behind.
5. Make a home for shoes & socks
Ok so you guys know that my kids getting their shoes on was obviously a bit of an issue. But not anymore! At our last house we had two shoe cabinets- one by the garage door and one by the back door that we usually used to come and go. We also stored some shoes that were worn less often in the kids’ bedrooms. All that storage just caused confusion because inevitably the pair of shoes a child needed was never where they were looking. When we moved to our new house, we put all the kids shoes on a shoe rack in the coat closet. No more searching for shoes!
After our move we also discovered one of the joys of a two story house was having to go back upstairs for things you’ve forgotten. My kids could never remember to put on or bring down socks in the morning so there was a big struggle when it came time to put on shoes. In a stroke of genius, I put a three-drawer storage cart in our coat closet next to the shoe rack and put each child’s socks in a drawer. Problem solved! I don’t know why storing socks next to shoes isn’t a bigger thing but I think we should start a movement. This is life changing, y’all!
Find your own rhythm
What works for me in the morning might not work for you. So much of setting yourself up for success depends on your children’s ages and temperaments and the setup of your home. But if leaving the house with kids has you stressed out and overwhelmed and not your best self, I encourage you to take a look at what you can do to approach the day differently. We can’t control our children’s behavior and we can’t always change the facts of where we need to be at certain times, but we can certainly set up our days in a way to encourage peace and harmony to flow through our mornings despite the circumstances.
If you have tips for how you get out of the house with your sanity intact and joy in your heart, I’d love to hear! Leave me a comment- I’d love to hear from you!