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How To Get Your Kids To School Without Yelling. Yes, It’s Possible.

By Kelcey Kintner

getting ready for school without yelling

This is how I imagine myself on school day mornings…

I shepherd all my children into the car. They are dressed. Teeth and hair are brushed. They have eaten something nutritious that may even include “whole grains.” Backpacks are brimming with completed homework. We are so ahead of schedule, that I can drive at a leisurely pace as we all sing along happily to One Direction.

But unfortunately this is more the reality…


I was yelling way too much.  So I asked some moms (okay, begged) for their best tips on getting their kids out the door to school, without losing it. And you’ll be happy to know that they all admitted to losing it sometimes but they had fabulous ideas on making morning go more smoothly.

Prepare as much as possible the night before.
I recently noticed something. When my husband is out of town, things go much more smoothly in the morning. Why? Because I prepare. The night before, I make the lunches, put out coats and shoes, line up backpacks by the door and it all makes for a much less stressful morning.

Shower before your kids get up.
That means waking up before they do which can be painful if you decided to watch The Jimmy Kimmel show before you turned off the light but it’s worth it to propel yourself out of bed before the chaos and jump in the shower. Plus, I look so much cuter when I have time to put on a little eye concealer and lip gloss.

Stay off your smart phone.
Yes, I know you thought of a really funny tweet in the shower but once you start tweeting, emailing and texting that hilarious video of your husband snoring, you are losing valuable morning minutes.  There’s a reason they call social media a time suck.

Kids must get dressed before going downstairs for breakfast. 
Any kid who does not come down properly dressed will be sent right back upstairs.  (Note: a t-shirt, tights and bare feet is not an acceptable outfit.) It can also help if your children pick out their clothes the night before to avoid a chorus of, “I have nothing to wear!!”

Make a chart for the kids to check off as they complete their morning routines.
For example, get dressed, put clothes in the hamper, brush teeth, put on socks and shoes, tell your mother how awesome she is, stuff like that.

Remember that you aren’t running a diner.
Try to streamline breakfast a bit. Today is cereal. Tomorrow is pancakes. It takes way too much time to make individual meals. My point is – if your kid wants an egg white omelet with extra cheese, tomatoes and mushrooms, she is going to have to wait until the weekend.

Load up the car 10 minutes before you really need to leave
This allows time for the… I forgot my backpack. I forgot my favorite key chain, that absolutely must come to school. I have to go the bathroom (although that’s mostly me).

If your child is ready by a certain time, he or she gets a reward. This could be 10 minutes to work on an art project, play with his/her iPod or read a book. Whatever will motivate them.

So, doesn’t that all sound easy? But I promise you– even trying one or a few of these tips, can make for a more relaxed morning which your whole family deserves. And yes, you will still occasionally yell. But forgive yourself and try again.

Now, we want to hear from you. What works for your family in the mornings? Spill it. Also, would love for you to experiment with one or some of these suggestions and report back to us.

Kelcey Kintner
About the Author

Kelcey Kintner

Kelcey Kintner, an award winning journalist and freelance writer, is a fashion critic for US Weekly, created the humor blog 

Kelcey Kintner, an award winning journalist and freelance writer, is a fashion critic for US Weekly, created the humor blog The Mama Bird Diaries and writes for the Huffington Post. You can follow her @mamabirddiaries or on Facebook. She’s still trying to fit 5 kids on a Vespa. 

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  • autumn

    February 15, 2013 at 8:59 am

    When I was 8, I wanted my ears pierced in the WORST way and I was horrible about getting to breakfast on time.  So my parents struck a deal with me, I had to be ready and sitting in my chair before the 7 AM news started on the radio for a whole month.  Miss one day and the month started over.  Took me 3 months, but I did it.  And my mom was tough, nose blowing when I had a cold wasn’t an excuse (at day 27!) and I had to start over.  

  • Chris

    February 18, 2013 at 7:41 am

    I used to do a lot of yelling and telling my daughter to hurry up, brush your teeth, brush your hair, get dressed, etc but what I found was that it just frustrated her and made her slow down to snail speed in an act of defiance. So now I sit back and let her do it on her own. She knows what time we have to leave. Funny how she manages to get ready in time without me yelling, we have yet to be late for school. Oh, and my boys, who are older, do it all on their own now, I get up in time to say goodbye. They do have to get up at an ungodly hour, it sucks to be in high school.

  • Jen @ And Two More Makes FIVE

    February 18, 2013 at 11:59 am

    My stepdaughter is 12. Going on 15. She is always late, which makes me late to work. One morning after calling for her 20 million times, I just got into my car and left. My husband is a stay-at-home dad…he took her to school…but, surprisingly, she FLEW into the car the next morning. On time.

  • Kristin

    February 18, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    I have resorted to bribery.  If my daughter is dressed, having gone to the bathroom and her bed is made by 7:30 – she gets a quarter.  (This works best if we pick out clothes the night before). And I set my alarm on my phone to go off 4 minutes before we have to leave – a signal that shoes and coats should be put on NOW (works for me also).

  • Aisling

    February 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    I think a good habit to get into as well is not to do everything for them. My step-brother is 17 and he is always, ALWAYS late. Like he’ll decide to get out of bed 5 mins before my dad has to leave and then start looking for his ipod and shoes etc. My dad goes out in the car and sits with it running while he gets ready. If he’s late for school and gets detention my dad lets him be late. He went away to college this year and since my step-mom is always doing things for him he decided to finish packing his suitcases/boxes the morning of. My dad was in the car waiting to leave for a 6 hour drive and my bro was still asleep. When my bro finally emerged to the car, the suitcases were still upstairs in his room. My dad walked in the house, sat in front of his soccer game and said, “I’ll let you know now when I’m ready to leave” and made my bro wait in the car for him for 30 mins. My point, if my step mom wasnt always helping my bro do everything and get out the door, he would’ve learned better habits by now and more importantly, some respect.

  • Jenelle Little

    February 28, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    My four-year-old daughter is the SLOWEST child on earth. Mornings were miserable until we started doing a couple of things: 1) Mondays and Wednesdays are pants/shorts (which she hates), the other days are dresses/skirts. No exceptions. 2) She wears her clothes to bed the night before, except for shoes and jacket. 3) We take breakfast with us and she eats it at school. Her teachers are very understanding – they know how slow she eats. She’s the last one done at lunch every day.
    She’s still not speedy in the mornings, but it makes me lose my mind a little less.

  • Betsy

    March 3, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    I am a mother of a 7 year old, and 4 year old. Mornings can change from time to time. Some are slightly peaceful, and some are well, down right boxing matches to get them ready. (well, maybe not literally boxing). My oldest is the worst because he does not enjoy being woken up, at all! He is so grumpy, and then becomes lazy and doesnt want to do anything. He never repeatedly puts things where they belong so they are ready and he knows where it is…which leads to him stomping around angry becasue he cant find his shoes, etc. Then theres days where out of no where he is completely ready to go before I even wake up. My 4 year old will get dressed but, only with help, majority of the time. The worst thing is that he will wait until he nearly pees his pants before he will finally goes to the bathroom in the morning. We battle with them from time to time to get them to the bus or car and include breakfast in their mornings becasue one wants this but the other doesnt. I am glad that I found this post because I think I am going to try and start doing the checklist and maybe the rewards in conjunction. I know we atarted a chore chart with my oldest because we have been teaching him about money, business, earning money, saving, etc., he does pretty well with that, so maybe this can help alleviate the morning madness. Is there any other ideas available to get things to be more consistent without having to spend $$$ just to get them to do what they should be doing to be prepared!

    • Isabel


      March 3, 2013 at 9:35 pm

      Hi Betsy, the reward doesn’t have to be money or a gift. It can be a privilege. Like 5 or 10 extra minutes of game or tv before bed. Every kid has a different privilege that matters to him/her. I’m sure you know what that is.

      Good luck!

      • Betsy

        March 11, 2013 at 5:29 pm

        Thanks Isabel!

  • Denisse

    March 12, 2015 at 7:59 am

    Well firstable you wouldn’t feel as rushed..and telling the kids they are late..if you actually wake up early. If you know
    they would take that long..and there are lots if things to do before leaving..then u need to wake up even earlier.

  • Denisse

    March 12, 2015 at 8:24 am

    It is actually very simple. I have 2 kids 5 and 3 and i never rush at all in the mornings..i even take a shower and have my coffee.