It sounds absurd doesn’t it. Why would anyone ever need help with something as simple and self explanatory as leaving the house? And yet, parents around the world are keenly aware that this blog title needs no justification whatsoever. Whether it’s persuading kids that they need to leave for something or the practical elements of preparing to go, this can take a frustratingly long time. Perhaps the problem’s best summed up by comedian Michael McIntyre in this video.
Is this solvable?
What can we do about this though? This article provides some solid ideas for creating a ‘getting up, getting ready and leaving for school’ routine and the principle can be applied at other times too. If struggling to leave is a problem you encounter, it’s likely that you encounter it all the time as we build patterns of behaviour in our life which are then much more likely to repeat. Getting out of a loop like that requires a concrete plan and a little discipline when you first start using it.
Thinking about the process
What things do you need to do every time you leave the house? If you were going without the kids your routine probably happens automatically, you decide on the appropriate shoes and top, put them on, maybe check your bag or pat pockets to make sure you have your phone, keys, purse, etc. and off you go. What elements are always needed when you go with the kids?
Do you need to go hunting for shoes and coats every time you leave? Do they need to take anything with them (eg. school bag, lunch, entertainment for car)? Avoiding the last minute rush is all about preparation: making sure they put shoes and coats back in the same place when they come in so they’re easily found. Making sure the school bag is packed before going to bed. Of course, this can be more easily said than done, but once you recognise the different elements of your routine and which ones are causing problems, you can at least start to try implementing some changes.
Perhaps it’s difficult to summon the kids away from their games, tv shows or whatever other way they’re spending their time. Kidslox can certainly help with getting mobile devices switched off (and coverage for desktop Mac and PC’s is in the pipeline). Otherwise a couple of warnings ahead of time so that they can mentally prepare to stop can help smooth the process. Bribing your kids with offers of sweets, toys etc. might not sound like a particularly healthy approach, but in a fix it’s one which many of us are willing to turn to. And you might not want to think of it that way anyway, offering an incentive like “On the way back you can pick something at the bakery” might turn something that needed doing anyway into a special treat.
I’m sure you’ve got your own coping strategies for getting everyone out of the door. I’d love to hear about them in the comments below! My main suggestion here is that you think about what you do, what you need to do, what works with your kids and how you might get those different elements ready in advance to build a family habit out of leaving promptly. By being purposeful about these parts of our routine, we can transform them from a recurring nightmare into something much easier and healthier for our relationships and we may even (with discipline and a little luck) get to where we’re going on time!