So, how do you start your day on the right foot and get out the door and to work on time with kids in tow? Here at Circle In HQ we talk daily to working parents to uncover the best tips for surviving and thriving the juggle. The tactic that comes up time and again is organisation. Most parents, even the most spontaneous among us, say their most successful days are the ones they’re best prepared for.
Start the night before
Completing as many steps as you can the night before saves bucket loads of time in the morning. Laying out clothes is a no-brainer, so too is pre-preparing breakfast (think overnight oats), making lunches (bento boxes are a winner) and packing bags with essentials like sun hats and school books. Avoid losing minutes locating that shoe under the sofa or deciding what to wear.
Then there’s the issue of sleep. Prioritise a good night of it (we can’t stress this enough, folks!). You owe it to yourself! By getting enough shut eye you’re getting the best start to the day, waking rejuvenated and raring to go. OK, so easier said than done with kids around, but try to factor in any interruptions as best you can and work towards the golden eight hours.
Time is everything
Giving yourself plenty of time to get ready in the morning is quite possibly the number one influencer that will determine whether you’ll get out the door on time. Plan your routine by working backwards from when you need to leave the house. Don’t forget to factor in that snooze button, plus add a little time cushion for meltdowns and accidents (not always for the kids!).
Get realistic about how much time you actually spend on tasks by measuring over a week or two how long on average each task takes to complete. You might be in for a shock!
Adopt a punctual mindset and train the kids
Is your mindset hindering your punctuality? We don’t for a second doubt you have a mountain of tasks to churn through, not to mention keeping the kids focused, but if you’ve ever thought you don’t want to be early because it’s a waste of your time, you could be setting yourself up to be late.
If you’re trying to build a habit of being punctual, having a strong ‘why’ could be the key to your success. Planning to be early shows respect for others, good time management and organisational skills—a good enough reason for us!
Teach your kids why punctuality is awesome. Understanding why they must focus on getting out the door on time will encourage kids to take responsibility for getting ready, and over time may help the most easily distracted kids form a habit to be proud of.
And if you do actually make it to work with time to spare, use that time to breathe and take in the day, and pat yourself on the back for not arriving in a fluster.
Create a ritual and stick to it
There’s a lot of buzz about morning rituals and every exceptionally successful person seems to have one. Whether you face the day before dawn or not, bring success to your family by forming a ritual of your own.
Reduce decision making and help kids remember tasks by maintaining the ritual on school days, and keep it up consistently to form good habits.
Visual step-by-step charts help kids understand what’s expected of them. Parents, take a minute to write down priorities and intentions for the day.
Have an allocated spot for items like keys and bags so you always know where to lay your hands on them. Nothing like grab and go!
Prioritise work before play
Once you’ve made the decision to prioritise punctuality, move on to prioritising morning tasks. Be ruthless with your to-do list, remove anything unnecessary, and be mindful of new tasks creeping in (we see you, sneaky check of email!). Teach the kids it’s work before play.
Tidying away all toys at the end of the day removes them from sight in the morning, reducing number of distractions for kids. Ensure screens only go on once everyone’s ready to leave and not before, or else leave them off entirely.
Reinforce positive behaviour
Yelling and anger is one way to try getting the family moving in the morning (raise stress levels and leave everyone feeling lousy!), but gentle encouragement is much more effective in the long run. As difficult as it may be some mornings, try to maintain a calm tone with kids (remember to pause and breathe!) and help get your message across by giving advanced notice and making eye contact when reminding kids what task comes next.
One idea is to use a reward chart to incentivise kids. Once all morning tasks are complete and you’re out the door on time, add a star to their chart. Five stars wins them a small prize.
So, the trick to getting out of the house on time each morning is simple in theory … organisation. Think critically about your morning routine, be realistic about what works, and be brave making changes. It may take time for kids to learn the routine, but teaching your children from a young age to take responsibility for getting ready in the morning reinforces good habits and will make life easier for you, especially as kids get older. As the saying goes: win the morning, win the day!
Written by the team at Circle In