Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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A Morning Checklist For Kids

People often ask me how I manage to get all these kids up, dressed, and out the door every morning.

Hahahaha, that's a lie. People rarely ask me that, possibly because you'll note the above sentence lacks the phrases "cheerfully," "with their teeth brushed," or "without large clumps of hair sticking up in every direction."

Truly, we did have issues there for a while. It seemed like every morning we were running out the door ten minutes late no matter how early we got up, how much we hurried, or how many times I screamed words of encouragement at the top of my lungs with a vein popping out of my forehead.

The biggest morning delay (after the usual crowbar extraction from bed) was always breakfast. Even simplest options ("Bagels or English muffins? Umm, no, I don't remember waffles being one of the choices...") sent the kids into fits of disagreement. And the last thing I have time for, besides breaking up a breakfast brawl at 7 am, is making several  breakfasts for multiple picky eaters, considering I barely have time to make one.

Our next biggest problem was that people (I'm not naming names, but let's just say they're all shorter than me) would show up at the door, "ready to go," following some major lapses in their morning routine.
No, honey, you're not leaving for school if your breath could wilt the lettuce on the sandwich in your lunchbox. Why're you putting shoes on when you've clearly forgotten your socks? And no, for the 800th time, your cat-ear headband from two Halloweens ago doesn't fall within school dress code guidelines.

two of my darling cherubs, having a morning "discussion"

Here's the checklist I pretty much have to force my children to go by if I want any hope of getting out the door with them, on time, at least 90% ready for their day:
  • Get dressed (try to remember underwear this time)
  • Yes, it has to be clean underwear
  • Brush your teeth - and I'm your mother, so if you just stand there with the water running I'LL KNOW
  • Breakfast
  • Is your homework finished? Sigh.  Finish your homework.
  • Get your backpack
  • Go back and get your homework - put it in your backpack
  • Collect any of the following that apply: overdue library books, dioramas, tri-fold poster boards, gym shoes, snow pants that you'll be required to wear at recess if it falls below 40 degrees even if it's June, the oversize t-shirt your art teacher keeps asking you to bring so you'll stop staining your clothes with "washable" paint, flutophones, and all 12 zillion box tops we've collected since last week thanks to the baby's fruit snack addiction
  • It's time to go!
  • Where's your jacket? You left it at school? Again???
  • Shoes! Come on! What do you mean you can only find one?
  • Where is your backpack???
At this point we get in the car and drive for approximately five minutes, until someone announces they forgot their homework (naturally) or that they were in charge of bringing the class snack today.

As you can tell, there's really only one part of the morning that doesn't send any of us into fits of hysterics these days, and that's breakfast. Why? Because I gave up on the notion that I'd ever be organized enough to serve a hot morning meal of bacon, eggs, toast, pancakes, and pheasant under glass - or even just the pheasant. Or, on most days, even just English muffins.

I've finally embraced cereal as our breakfast of choice. And no, it does not  make me lazy - or if it does, I guess I'll have to be content with the hope that my kids being deprived of weekday waffles will build character. Cereal is simple. It's fast. It keeps me sane. The kids still get variety, and they can disagree on which kind they want without breakfast taking any longer to prepare.

In addition to getting us out the door on time, eating cereal has freed up all sorts of extra time for them to argue about who's chewing with their mouth open, who got to read the back of which box already, and who's holding their spoon wrong. Thank goodness. I was starting to worry they wouldn't have time for arguing in the morning.

This post is part of BlogHer's Rush Hour Tips editorial series, made possible by Got Milk?

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Karen said...

Hahaha! You have me sooooo looking forward to school age. Okay, wait, I had to just go wipe a tear, cause really I'm scared. Someone hold me. I can nod my head in appreciaton at your list though because I have a 12 year old stepdaughter and I want to pull every hair on my head out when she gets a project. Homework for me! Always great posts, HTV.

Anonymous said...

Best way to dealing with morning dawdling.... We go out the door at X time whether you are dressed or not. Only had to go to school once in Pajama bottoms for the morning routine to establish itself. May not work on kids below second grade.

RobynHTV said...

Yup, nothing says, "Mom's staying up late for the next several nights in a row" like a major project assignment. You'll do great with school age, though - just watch your blood pressure. All that yelling isn't good for us. ;)

RobynHTV said...

Ooooh, good one! It's true though - kids below second grade don't have nearly enough shame for that to work. ;)

TheSocialButterflyMom said...

The 40 degree rule is ridiculous! When I was a teacher, I could not believe we had to abide by this. There are enough extras in the lost and found so all kids can be clothed; for the love of God, let them RUN around outside!

RobynHTV said...

Hear, hear! I've *never* heard a kid complain they were cold on the playground!

Leigh Ann said...

It's hell trying to get my 5 year olds out the door for preschool, and it doesn't even start until 9:30! I'm doomed when they start kindergarten. DOOMED! Or maybe that's when I'll get my act together.

RobynHTV said...

I was lucky with my first and they still had half day kindergarten, because we got afternoons. Ever since then, it's been straight downhill.

Unknown said...

I have twin girls. When they were in preschool, I was forever loosing the fourth shoe. So, in a fit of "I will fix this!" I went out and bought three identical pairs of shoes. And it worked great. For about a week. Until I got a rather confused call from the school: Um. Your daughter is wearing two left shoes: please bring her another pair.
Oh swell. Oddly, they wouldn't buy my excuse of "She has two left feet ..."

RobynHTV said...

This is one of the best examples of mothering genius gone wrong I've ever read - THANK YOU for sharing, Helana!

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