After we had my second daughter, we kept getting the question, “Is having the second child more or less difficult than having the first?”
My answer was usually, “Yes!”
For the most part, I think having the second child was easier than the first, except for one major area:
It takes so much more time to leave the house.
I felt that I had a good system down with one child. And I figured that adding an infant shouldn’t shake things up too much… aside from coordinating with her more frequent meals and naps, right?
Having to get two people in addition to yourself ready, switching attention from one child to the other as they need you, all while trying to nurse made it quite stressful to get anywhere. Much less getting there on time.
I’ve always preferred to be punctual, and I didn’t want to have kids change that. So I went back to the drawing board and started figuring out how to get where we needed to go when we needed to get there.
Before long, our rhythm had returned and we were arriving on time again… for the most part.
So in this post, I wanted to share with you the seven things I do to help me get out the door on time with little kids:
And if you prefer to watch instead of read, here is the video that goes with this post:
How to Get Out of the House On Time
1) Know Your Daily Rhythm
Especially if you still have children who nap, it will save you a lot of frustration if you work with your daily rhythm instead of against it.
I love using a Simple Block Schedule for our Daily Routine. I’ve been using a Block Schedule for years and will never go back because it takes all the guesswork out of setting appointments, making playdates, and knowing which naps I am willing to skip! (You can take a peek at our Daily Block Schedule here.)
From the time my girls were tiny, I have always preferred to schedule appointments and outings in the morning.
Why do I prefer to get out in the morning?
- My girls are fresher in the morning after having a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast.
- They have both taken longer afternoon naps when they did two naps a day.
- I’m home in plenty of time to start dinner (which means I am less likely to grab takeout).
- They will typically take an even longer afternoon nap after a busy morning out and about.
- Afternoon nap time is a good battery recharge for me halfway through my day. No matter how I choose to spend this time, it helps me enter the evening fresh and happy to get back to being a mommy. I don’t give that up easily.
Basically, I have to really, really, REALLY want to do something for me to agree to skip afternoon nap time.
You will all be much happier… and more likely to get out of the house on time… if you work with your schedule.
Your family may work best with afternoon outings, that’s totally fine! Go with what works for you when scheduling appointments.
2) Only Commit to What You Want (or Need) to Do
You don’t get extra points in life for signing up for everything anyone asks you to do.
If you really don’t want to go somewhere or do something, DON’T!
Otherwise, you will just dread it, drag your feet getting ready, and arrive late anyway.
Obviously, you will still need to do doctor and dentist appointments. But aside from that, there is no need to be frustrated at yourself for getting out of the house late when you didn’t want to show up in the first place.
3) Check Your Schedule Each Evening
Determine if you need to go anywhere the next day.
Look at how long you be out of the house and if you will be eating any meals while you are out and about.
If you don’t have anything on the calendar, check the weather. It might be a great day to hit the park!
4) Pack Your Bag the Night Before
This has been a game-changer for me. Every evening after I check my calendar for the next day, I pack our bag.
Here is what I take with us:
- My diaper bag. I love having a backpack diaper bag. It makes it easy to carry the bag and the baby. Plus the males in your life won’t feel like they are carrying a purse. 🙂
- Diapers. Enough for the time we will be out… plus a couple extra. If you do cloth diapers, be sure to have more diapers than you would with disposable diapers since babies will need to be changed more often.
- Wipes. Plenty of wipes. I use cloth wipes, so I throw a few baby-sized or standard washcloths into a bag. I just wet them down with water when I need to use them. Obviously you can grab a pack of disposable wipes if that works better for you!
- Wet Bags. These guys are a must for cloth diaper users. But they are also awesome for any wet clothes. I love this one and this one.
- Extra Clothes. I bring an extra pair of clothes for each kid (dirt seems to appear out of nowhere for my kids to play in).
- Water Bottles. One for each of us. my one-year-old loves the Lollacup, and my three-year-old prefers her Nalgene (although it might have something to do with the skateboarding penguins). If it’s a short trip, both girls can easily use the Lollacup. But on a long day out, I take both.
- Lunch. If you will be out at lunch time, make it ahead to save money on the go.
- Mom’s Essentials. Put your keys, wallet, and sunglasses in your bag. It’s much easier than trying to find them all at the last minute.
5) Keep the Essentials in Your Car
If I put them in my husband’s car for a family day out, they go directly back into my car when we get home.
I like having them available if I need them. And I’m no worse off if I don’t end up using it.
Keeping the essentials in the car means my mom-brain has one less thing to remember!
6) Leave Half-an-Hour Before You Need To
Why? By the time your baby spits up on you as you are heading out the door, your toddler needs to pee (again), you grab the jackets that you didn’t realize you needed before you went outside, you run inside for the favorite toy your child can’t go anywhere without… You will be leaving on time instead of early.
See what we did there?
I used to only “leave” ten minutes early with one child, but with an additional baby, half-an-hour works better for us.
The time your family may need will depend on the age of your children and their ability to help themselves get out the door.
If you don’t guess right on the amount of time you need the first time, keep playing with it until you get it right.
You also want to take this grace period into account when choosing your appointment times.
If I find that some days we are in the car more quickly than I expected, I leave early anyway!
Sometimes I will grab gas on the way if I have extra time. And sometimes I think we will be early and sitting in the waiting room for a while, only to realize that my toddler needs to pee and my baby needs a diaper change (again?!).
I have found it’s never a bad idea to get there early!
7) Know Your Limits
If you normally eat breakfast around 8:00 am and usually have everyone dressed and ready to go by 9:30 am, don’t schedule a playdate for 9:00 am.
It will only lead to frustration and stress for you and confusion for your children who aren’t used to getting out of the house by then.
Think about your daily schedule when the Dentist’s office asks what time you normally like appointments to be, then give them an answer that you know you can be punctual for.
There’s no shame in saying you need an 11:00 AM appointment. I’m pretty sure the receptionist doesn’t even care. And she might even be thankful to fill the middle-of-the-day time slots that most people don’t want.
Be honest with yourself and your family will thank you!
You May Also Enjoy…
If you want to create a Daily Routine that will help you get where you need to go on time, check out How to Create a Daily Routine With a Simple Block Schedule.
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