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« Q&A: baby naptime problems | Main | Q&A: early rising »



Great advice. I barely got out of the house with one, and now with three it seems impossible. And you nailed it-- it's the five (20) minutes of actually collecting stuff and walking out the door that's the worst. And then the 5 (20) minutes getting back in the house with tired babies.


Having everything packed the night before is good. I keep most everything in a bag in the car, so the only thing I am packing before I go is perishable stuff and a change of clothes if the outfit I keep in the car got used the day before. Also, if I want to leave the house between 10 and 11, I tell my self I want to leave between 9:30 and 10:00. My husband think it is funny that I "leave" for pre-school at 8:30 every morning when it starts at 9:00 and it is only 5 minutes from here. I try to leave at 8:30, but often I don't make it, so that extra 25 minutes helps me be on time. (Of course, every once in awhile we do make it and my four year old says, "Where is everyone? Are we early again?" It's happened like 5 times over the course of the whole year.


The getting dressed advice is huge. My 4-yr-old is not allowed downstairs (where the food and TV are!) before she's dressed. On the few occasions where she and my husband have been up before me and he's let her downstairs in her PJs---disaster!


Tee hee, NY1 :-) I am also obsessed with weather on the 1s.

I very rarely have the car at my disposal, so we mostly walk. I have been guilty of stashing my 23 mo in the stroller with a slice of cheese so I can pee and change the baby (1 month) and do the other last second stuff without having to follow her around.

Today I actually did have the car, and I took both kids to go grocery shopping. I had everyone dressed (including shoes) and ready to go, diaper bag packed; then I turned on a 25 min DVD so I could nurse the baby. When that was over I hustled everyone out the door. It actually worked pretty well, although I did not get to eat breakfast until I chugged a smoothie in the car on the way home.

There are mornings when I think of dressing the toddler first thing, but she is in the stage where yogurt/melon juice/etc=finger paint, so I'd just have to change her clothes after breakfast anyway.

Ditto to ignoring the computer (sadly) when getting out the door in a timely way is really crucial. Or doing any other task that doesn't involve the internet.


I am still always late for everything with just one in the house, and the thought of doing this all with two has been on my mind...
But yes, the advice of having everything ready the night before is great. If I pack Polly's bag with everything except her milk bottle the night before, we have a much better shot of making it out on time and alive.
One of my friends does this with her toddler son: since he was throwing tantrums over getting dressed on the two mornings a week that they had playdates, she started dressing him the night before and he would sleep in his playclothes insetad of jammies. I thought that was pretty smart.


I have a 4 1/2 yr old, a 3 yr old, and a just turned 1 year old, so I feel for you. At these early stages, the kids need me for everything, from brushing teeth, doing hair (oldest 2 are girls) to tying shoes before we can get anywhere, so I have to allot sufficient time for getting all 4 of us ready. My 3 yr old also has to be handled with kid gloves as she is extremely tantrum prone and if she goes off- well, we're not going to be able to leave the house for a while!

So I have to set the tone. This is key. The night before, at bedtime, we discuss what day it is tomorrow and what we will do (preschool, dance, church, etc.) At breakfast we chat about it again, and talk about, for example, that Miss Kate the dance teacher needs everyone to be on time for class because we have a recital soon, and because it is the polite and respectful thing to do. This gets all of us moving toward the same goal. I can NOT turn on the computer in the morning, or everyone wanders around like lost ducklings and will not help to get ready. We do get dressed right away, and try to do breakfast, teeth brushing, getting on shoes and coats in separate distinct stages so that it's not just one mad pile-up at the back door when everyone needs me doing things for them at the same time.

As for stuff, I don't carry any. Really. I've got the baby in a backpack or sling most days and a preschooler on each hand, so I just carry a couple diapers and some wipes in my ordinary sized purse. A water bottle and some snacks if we're going to be outside for some time. That's it. Simplifies things tremendously, and if someone trashes their clothes while we're out, OH WELL, they can change once we get home. (I think this only works if you're breastfeeding the baby though, it cuts down on the need for supplies.)

Most of all, I grew up with a mom who was a screaming maniac about being late, which made for many miserable mornings. So if it's a slow or rough morning I make sure not to give the kids (or myself!) a hard time about it. I have more important things to pass on to them than a rage for punctuality.

Asha Dornfest

I have a feeling this is a universal reality. I am forever running back into the house for the forgotten sippy cup, or snack, or umbrella, or something, and my kids aren't even tiny babies any more.

One thing that has really helped is to keep a fully stocked "extras" bag in the car. Extra diapers, wipes, change of clothes, a couple granola bars, pad of paper and pencils, bottle of water. I don't generally need it, but when I do it's there.

I also keep the kids' shoes and socks in the coat closet, so getting out the door is easier than if we had to wander all over the house for coats/shoes/purse.

I have a single place where I keep my purse, keys and cell phone (a habit instilled in me by my organized husband after he watched me searching the house for missing keys one too many times.)

As for actually getting them out the door and in the car, a minor bribe (a fruit leather or a Tic Tac) sometimes does the trick. So does the promise of the drive-thru car wash, or the sunroof open, or a stop at the playground on the way home.


I also packed the diaper bag the night before. I fill up the snack containers, extra diapers, change of clothes, etc ... I also get their next day clothing all set and ready to go for the morning. I have a 2 year old and a 4 month old. I also try to get a head start and allow myself an extra 20 minutes cushion. Though most times I'm still running out of the house late.

I just have to remind myself too that people will understand if I'm late, especially when they see me dragging two kids with me while trying to catch my breath at the same time. :)


I use my porch as a staging area. As I get ready in the morning, each item gets thrown onto the porch as it is "completed." I leave the house with so many bags that this really helps me to feel a sense of accomplishment and lessen stress.

First my daughter's backpack - I put in her lunch, zip it up and toss it outside. Then the baby's diaper bag. I throw in a bottle and a mini cooler of food and it goes to the porch as well. Last comes my stuff; the computer bag and the gym bag. This makes things much easier. All I need to do is pick up the baby, have my daughter wait at the door and we are out. I get the kids into the car and pull up to the porch to load everything. Trying to get to the car holding the baby and managing my four year old while holding four bags PLUS a purse proved to be impossible. I get the kids settled and then load up the gear.

I do the same thing when we get home too, by the way. I pull up to the porch, run everything up while the kids sit in the car, and THEN park.


When my son was young enough to need a fully-stocked diaper bag (and use up the stuff in it) I would restock it when I got home, as soon as I could. I would leave the bag on the counter, IN MY WAY, until I did this. Then it was always ready to go at a moment's notice. Now that he's older (20 months), I keep a smaller, stocked diaper bag in the truck of the car (with snacks like pretzels and fruit snacks that don't go bad quickly). I bring it in to restock only if I need to. I usually only need to remember a full sippy cup of water and we are good to go. (The stroller lives in the trunk too.)

I also had two older boys, my nephews, for almost three years (they went to live with their dad a few weeks ago). They are now 5 and 7. I made sure to keep an "distraction" bag with coloring books and crayons, books, little cars, soft balls (like Koosh), small Etch-a-Sketch, and anything else I could cram in there, like fruit snacks. I kept it in the coat closet, ready to grab if needed. This bag was *only* for times like doctor's appointments, when I knew there would be a wait. It made us very popular in the waiting room, since they were always happy to share.


I have 2 boys, 3 and 1, and I think this is all great advice; laying things out the night before and keeping things in the car have both been my salvation. I also have my kids sleep in their clothes if I know it's going to be particularly tight in the morning. Also, my husband leaves for work at 6:30 but before he goes he makes the baby's lunch and my lunch for work, and also lays out all of our bowls and cups etc. for breakfast. This is a huge help, and he sees it as a fair tradeoff for not being around for the actual morning routine.
Most important? Newton's law: that is, a body in motion stays in motion. As much as possible, I try to keep us constantly moving physically and mentally towards the door.


I have a 2.75 year old and a 10 month old. One of my biggest helps has been my Land's End diaper backpack. It fits everything I need for two kids and has enough interior pockets to help me stay pretty organized.

I rarely pack the night before, but usually my backpack is in good enough order that all I have to do is a quick check to see if there are enough diapers, then add water bottles or fresh snacks. I always keep non-perishable snacks in the backpack: individual packets of Goldfish, boxes of raisins, etc. That way if I forget the cheese stick or whatever, I still have snacks for my 2-year-old. I also keep a couple of sandwich bags full of stickers, crayons, a notepad, etc., that I can hand to my 2-year-old if she gets bored or grumpy on the go.

Cat, Galloping

But how do you get dressed before you know the weather forecast? You just made me remember how much I miss Pat. Sigh.

Lisa (the girls' moma)

I'm not very good at getting myself out the door even without the kids! All of the previous advice rings true. I have to say that sometimes the answer for me is getting my 3-yr old into her car seat first, then getting a bag or two in the car, then scooping up the 1-yr old and getting her buckled in, and then getting all the last minute stuff I'd forgotten. I do this almost every time I have to leave. There is no way I could just let them wander around the kitchen while they wait for me to pack the car first. I'd never get anywhere. Anyway, this works for me, and the 3-yr old loves being the first one in the car and choosing music to listen to while she waits.


Here's a little trick that helps. Dress your child in "tomorrow's" clothes after their bath at night. Then there is very little that needs to be done before leaving the house....just hair, shoes, potty, grab a snack/breakfast to go and a sippy cup. This really helps when you have to get out of the house early in the morning.


I've noticed that the majority of the comments have come from moms, so I hope I'm not out of bounds here.

My wife works an overnight shift, so I've been on my own with 2 kids (4 1/2 and 2) for the past few months, as we've had a gap in live-in help. It's definitely gotten easier in that the kids are much more capable of going through our routine then they were even 4 or 5 months ago, and I get to work (mostly) on time (8:45ish) flying solo.

There are lots of little things that contribute to getting out on time, but the most important one is to minimize the distractions and stay focused on "the mission." (ex-military type here).

I try to pack my briefcase the night before, to minimize hunting for that stuff. I let the older one pick out her clothes -- she gets it mostly right, and has (thankfully) her mother's sense of style, so it rarely is a problem. If she's too cold or hot, then I use it as a teachable moment... Shoes and socks are the last thing, and the kids know that signals our impending departure. The most interesting thing for me has been learning how to do little girl's hair -- hair clips and pony tails weren't in my original issue seabag, but there you are.

Having a particular place to be at an appointed time sort of sets the schedule for us, since it's not a play group that I'm on my way to, it's my job. One other nugget I figured out early on with the first one is that if you're wearing business attire, it's a good idea to get dressed after you've fed the kids -- you never know what might come back at you from the high chair.

When the wheels start to come off, I try to stay calm, but I'm not above picking kids up and putting them in the car as a last resort. Familiar music in the car tends to soothe the savage beasties....


I've often just focused on one kid, got them ready and put them in the car in their carseat with a snack or toy, then got the other one ready. My kids are 2 1/2 & 6 months, and it's gotten easier, but it's still a struggle!

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  • My expertise is in helping people be who they want to be, with a specialty in how being a parent fits into everything else. I like people. I like parents. I think you're doing a fantastic job. The nitty-gritty of what you do with your kids is up to you, although I'm happy to post questions here to get data points of how you could try approaching different stages, because, let's face it, this shit is hard. As for me, I have two kids who sleep through the night and can tie their own shoes. I've been a married SAHM, a married freelance WAHM, a divorcing WOHM, a divorced WOHM, and now a WAHM again. I'm not buying the Mommy Wars and I'll come sit next to you no matter how you're feeding your kid. When in doubt, follow the money trail. And don't believe the hype.
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