How to Get Out the Door on Time on Busy Mornings

I’ve enjoyed this summer — a lot — and only part of it is because I don’t have to get up early to get out the door on time so Little Dude gets to school when he should. Still, I have a list of things I do each morning around the house, and summer time isn’t reason enough to let it go. I like my house clean, and I don’t operate well in clutter; my desk, kitchen drawers and the coffee table, doesn’t matter what it is, I like it to be functional, attractive and neat. Easier said than done sometimes, but by following a basic list of things each day, my house stays clean and ready for company at any moment…without having to run around last-minute or not let someone look in the closet!

When I mention that I work at home, frequently people assume this means I have all sorts of time to do what I want or that I can run errands…or their errands even. I could tell stories about the assumptions, because people don’t realize that wherever I work, it’s still work. It’s still a job. I still have to do it for eight hours a day and it needs to be done just as good as if I was in the office, or maybe better. Working at home is accepted by a lot of people, but not nearly enough. Studies have shown that people who work from home have very high standards and a lower rate of error combined with a higher rate of productivity, but we still find ourselves selling it. It means I’m not downstairs folding laundry when I should be working. I’m at the computer all day finishing tasks, so if that kitchen is a mess, I have to see it when I head to the Keurig or refrigerator. I have to get things done before/after work like everyone else, so I had to come up with a workable plan so it all gets done and I’m not trying to do double-duty.

Here are my tips on how to get out of the house on time in the morning.

Institute a weekly cleaning schedule for the house. Once your house is under control, it’s easy to maintain. Mine is as follows:

  • Every weekend (Sundays right now, for me) we scrub tubs/toilets, dust and vacuum the whole house.
  • Once a week, usually Tuesdays, I do a big load of towels. Sheets/bedding gets done another day.
  • Mid-week, I dust again briefly; Charlie, the white lab, sheds everywhere!

Take five minutes to do “cleaning,” and I don’t mean neatening. Each morning before work, I wipe down each bathroom except my teen daughter’s bathroom. A quick spray and wipe prevent it from ever getting gross.

Get a load of laundry in the machine, started, before you go to work. Put it in the dryer and run it so you can fold it that evening.

Make school and/or work lunches before bed. Make it part of the dinner process, involving everyone. This gives kids a say in their lunch and helps build their responsibility for making their own lunch early.

Kids’ outfits are chosen the night before; you can spend that time with them or if they’re old enough, they can do it on their own (again, teaching them good habits) and no rushing in the morning.

Before bed each night, do a quick sweep of the house: put away what’s not in its place, and make a pile for each other in the house. (If you’ve got little-littles, then you have to handle their pile, sorry!)

Establish a “school and work prep zone” somewhere close to the door you exit through in the mornings. Use it for permission slips that need to be signed, mail that needs to be taken to the box, the mail key to pick up mail, basically anything that needs to be reviewed and go out the door with someone.

Similarly, set up a lunch prep zone. Whatever you use to pack up lunches, including bags and containers all get kept in one spot. All you have to do is add the food. Put the prepped lunches in the same place every day so everyone knows where to look. (In fact, this is great for everything — empty spaces stand out and you more easily see when something’s not done.)

See the pattern? Most of the things you do to get out of the door on time in the morning get done at night! Take the time before dinner, if possible, so you’re not rushing, and use it as one more excuse to spend time together. You can be more relaxed at night because your day starts better,  and you’ll have less reason to run around crazy in the morning.

What do you do to simplify your morning schedule?

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