I’m not an expert on much, but with four little ones under six (at least for another month or so!), I can pretty confidently declare myself an expert in this area. If I’m honest, though, my husband is the real expert in the family because he regularly takes all four girls out by himself to run errands (yes, I know — the man is crazy is all the best ways!). Today, Sean’s helping me with this post as we share our top tips for getting out of the house on time with small children:
1. Always leave extra time.
We know how to get out of the house, but we’re running late more often than I care to admit, and usually it’s my fault because I suffer from “just one more thing” syndrome. But if it’s especially important that we be on time, we leave way more time than we could possibly need…and we usually end up needing it!
2. Keep a bag ready by the door or in the car.
While we may not carry a “diaper bag” with us on most outings, we do have things that we take with us everywhere, including diapers, wipes, a small first aid kit, pencil and paper (because I always have post ideas while we’re out and it’s frustrating not to have any paper!), etc. Most of the time, this stuff, plus our wallets, cell phone chargers and books/activities are in the car, ready for the next trip, and if they’re not, they’re on the shelf by the front door, ready to grab on the way out.
3. Practice, and create a routine.
I think the key to non-stressful family life is having routines that work for your family. Kids are more cooperative when they know what to expect, a harried mom is less likely to forget something important when she’s walked through the same steps again and again, and you find ways to make your routine more efficient over time.
Those are my big picture tips. Here are Sean’s practical tips for creating a routine that works:
1. Make sure all shoes are where they should be. Too often we’re ready to walk out the door and we realize that someone’s shoes are missing. Often they’re still in the car from the last car trip — the girls inherited their aversion to shoes honestly — but we always have to be sure before we can lock up the house and load up the car.
2. Make going to the bathroom and checking diapers part of your routine. We’ve buckled kids into the car only to have them declare that they have to, have to, have to go potty on more than one occasion, but Sean always remembers to make them go before we get in the car now!
3. Teach them to get buckled up themselves. Our 3 and 4.5 year old can’t yet buckle the bottom portion of their harnesses, but they know how to get in their seats and buckle the chest buckle so that all we have to do is buckle the bottom, and our five year old can buckle herself in and tighten her harness. Not having to fully buckle all four of them in definitely shaves time off the loading process!
Do you have a routine that works for getting out of the house with small children? What’s your best tip to add to the list?