This might seem a ridiculous topic for a blog post, especially one coming from a blog striving to be about working parents. But given that in many cases (no not all; flexible working and all that) you do actually need to leave the house to go to work, I felt it to be sort of important. And well, once you have kids, leaving the house becomes more than just opening the front door and walking out. It becomes a thing.
For me, leaving the house requires at least an hour and a half of preparation. It requires a process. Maybe one of these days I’ll create a SOP (Standard Operating Procedure for those of you fortunate enough not to have been subjected to hours of business streamline training) for leaving the house. For now though, here is my step by step guide to getting you and your kids out of the house in a stress free and timely manner (that’s a joke by the way; as long as you have young children, the chances of you walking out the door without your blood boiling are slim to none).
1. Get your shit together the night before
Pack the baby’s bag, make your lunch and above all, sort clothes out for everyone. This is important and saves at least 10 minutes of morning faffing and furious tornado-ing through the airing cupboard of doom, trying to find matching socks for the baby. (Side note- what are the rules here? I often wear mismatched socks as I tend to keep my shoes on, but is this ok for the baby or is this a total parenting fail? Like a beaming badge of my disorganisation?)
2. Get up
Sounds pretty basic but really, you do actually need to get up. Don’t use that extra 10 minutes of time you saved by adhering to point 1 to have 10 more minutes in bed, it might feel good now but YOU WILL REGRET THIS BY POINT 5!
3. Teach your kids to get dressed by themselves
This absolutely does NOT entail them choosing their own clothes. No way. Trying to make a bargain with the toddler that she can wear her mermaid tail and sunglasses combo when she gets home, but no they are not practical for nursery, will add on at least an additional 20 minutes to your morning (please refer again to point 1).
4. Breakfast needs to be speedy
Invest in a breakfast cereal that your kids will actually eat. If they don’t like cereal make them a fruit feast (ideally the night before obviously – refer to trusty point 1). If they don’t like fruit then give them a yogurt. If they don’t like that, (seriously what the hell do they actually eat?) game over. Your kids need to eat breakfast quickly to make this thing work. You do not have time to be giving your 3 year old mouthful by mouthful encouragement.
Oh the hair. Now depending on the length/style of your child/children’s hair this could be the difference between you skipping out the door with a smug smile on your face or storming out in rage and forgetting your handbag (with your keys in obviously, so you cant go back in to get it). I have girls. Girls with long, curly, tangly hair and demands for French Plaits and Dutch Braids (YouTube tutorials by the way – you’re welcome). My best advice here is to try and plait whilst they eat. If this is a no-go as plaiting stops eating (see point 4 – they must eat quickly) then plaits need to be saved for weekends or non-working days. You do not have time for that shit. Plus in my experience, the more you plait, the more they cry = the angrier you get. If all else fails, bribe with a biscuit (as lets face it, they are probably hungry from not eating breakfast anyway).
6. Ensure everyone has been to the toilet
This is crucial as in theory it should avoid the classic ‘I need a wee’ wail once you are all coated up and belted into the car and just about to pull off the drive. Or worse still having to clean up accidents in your work suit. Not ideal.
Think carefully when buying shoes for your kids. Those lace up converse trainers may look cute but how many 3 year olds can actually tie laces? Erm not mine that’s for sure. BUY VELCRO. Or wellies. Wellies are great for every occasion. Above all, most kids older than the age of two can get them on themselves. This is what you need. Although it might be best to curb it in the hot summer months, unless you’re going for the festival-chic look which can obviously look cute, but then will make you wish you’d done plaits to get the full effect and… don’t do it! (SEE POINT 5).
8. Pretend to be happy
This is the final point from me on how to leave the house and is critical to your mood for the rest of the day. Even if you are angrier than the angry man from the tango advert circa 1993 (does anyone actually remember that guy or why he was even angry?) Even if you’ve shouted at your kids all morning; do not and I repeat DO NOT shout at them in the car or in the last 5 minutes before you drop them off. All you will remember ALL DAY are their sad, indignant little faces. By 10 am you will be feeling like the world’s worst mother and by 2pm you will be ready to leave work and pick them up early to compensate for your previous, unacceptable behaviour. (Obviously by 6pm the witching hour will have struck and you will be back to being shouty-mum but that’s fine, you have hours before you need to leave them again).
So there we go. How to leave the house. Tune in next time for more advice on dealing with things that are now things. Next up: packing the car up to go away for the night (that one’s for you hubby :-))