How to get out of the house in the morning

Working mum with baby

Getting yourself and your child (or children) out of the door on time each day can seem laughably ambitious, particularly if you have a school and/or nursery run to fit in on your way to work. But it is doable with a bit of preparation – here's how…

Do the groundwork – get the kids to bed on time

Preparation is so important and it starts the night before. It’s easier said than done, getting your children to bed on time, but it’s vital if you want things to run smoothly the next day. Here are a few basics that sound obvious but really are key to getting your targets down in good time for a less ratty start the following morning:

  • Establish a strong routine. Insist on a regular bath and bedtime, particularly on school nights, and make it sacred.
  • Let the answerphone take any calls.
  • Calm them, ready to sleep, with a story, cuddle and then lights out.
  • Keep things quiet in the rest of the house, so they can drop off easily and aren’t woken. Meanwhile…

Prep all bags the night before

Each evening, think about the stuff you'll need for the following day. Don’t put it off until the morning – you’ll forget something or it will make you late. All bags (including your handbag) should be pre-packed the evening before. Here’s what else you should do:

  • Check the weather forecast to make sure the clothes you've chosen – for yourself and your children – are appropriate.
  • Make up packed lunches and other snacks the night before (you’ll be glad in the morning).
  • Make sure you have a stash of spare baby stuff at the nursery or childminder's – cups, spare clothes and nappies – for the day when you will inevitably leave something behind.

Hacks for getting yourself ready

Get showered and dressed before your baby or toddler is awake if possible (but not if this would actually mean the middle of the night).

“Put your dressing gown on over work clothes until your baby has eaten,” advises one Mumsnetter. Or a large shirt would do it.

“You could shower and blow-dry hair the night before. I reckon this saves me 20 minutes in the morning and I don't smell too badly.”

“If you need to restyle somewhat, a quick spray of dry shampoo can help. I also keep an emergency stash in my office for when I'm REALLY late: spare make-up bag, face wipes, deodorant and perfume, styling brush, mirror.”

Hacks for getting your baby ready in the morning

In really dire straits, dress your baby the night before (don’t forget to change their nappy though or you will not be popular with your childcarer). Put a T-shirt and bib over your baby while breakfasting, and then remove once you reach the childminder or nursery: Ta-dah, clean baby.

“Buy your child a selection of long-sleeved bodies, which are quite T-shirty rather than vesty in style, and a load of tracksuit bottoms. Put them in the body the night before, then the next morning all you need to do is change their nappy and yank up some trackies. Takes seconds. You can chuck a zip-up fleece over the top when it's chilly or swap for short sleeves in high summer.”

Get everyone breakfasted like a pro

Should you need to accommodate a long and leisurely morning breastfeed before anything else really happens, you'll have to get up that bit earlier.

“If you need to get up at 5:30am for the next year, then just do it. You WILL cope, but make sure you adjust your and baby's bedtime so that you still get enough sleep.”

Some mums recommend a plastic booster highchair, which you can stick on a wipeable mat near you, so that your baby/toddler can be self-feeding while you run around like a headless chicken doing everything else.

A bigger baby or toddler may be able to breakfast in the car or, at a pinch, on the bus. Look out for recipes for ‘breakfast bars’ you can make at the weekend and store – or there’s nothing wrong with a marmalade sarnie for breakfast occasionally.

Alternatively, think about whether your child could have breakfast at nursery or at the childminder's? Can you have breakfast at work or on the way to work?

Share the leaving-the-house load

Divide the getting-ready-to-go-out tasks between the available adults:

“When I worked, I would get up at 6am, have my shower and get ready, while my husband would get up for our son. If the baby woke later than 6am then that would be a bit of a lie-in for my husband. He would give our son his breakfast and/or bottle. Then, when I was ready, I would come down and take over getting our son dressed etc while my husband got showered and dressed.”

Stay on top of sleep management

Sleep deprivation is miserable so, to make sure you get 'enough' sleep to stay sane (if not in tip-top condition), here are some tips from Mumsnetters:

“One night a week, go to bed at the same time as your child. Sounds utterly ridiculous I know. But my God it works, in terms of avoiding burn-out. Take a book/newspaper if it's too early for you to sleep. I read this on Mumsnet, thought it was rubbish, but actually it is a great piece of advice.”

“If you work in an office, schedule in when you leave the office and be completely rigid about it, if necessary cutting off colleagues mid-sentence. Otherwise, you will find yourself zooming out in a panic 15 minutes or half an hour late, and then it all goes tits up at home. Make sure everyone knows your hours and don't get into the habit of doing work on your days off, it's a slippery slope.”