How Do I Get These Girls Out of the Door?

Updated on January 14, 2015
H.B. asks from Lenox, MA
20 answers

Mornings! I know they can be frustrating for all of us. I have two girls, 6yo and 9yo. No matter how early we wake up, we can not get out of the door on time. If I wake them up earlier, they just lay in bed longer. I go downstairs to make breakfast and when I come back up they still aren't dressed. They even tell me they can't find their clothes even though I lay them on the bed before I make breakfast. They just don't care if they're on time at all. We go to bed early, clothes are picked out and everything they need for school is right at their finger tips. I'm at a loss.

What can I do next?

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answers from New York on

They don't get dressed they go to school in pjs. End if discussion. Non negotiable. It will happen once and never again.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I told my kids that we were leaving at X time, and when that time came, I carried them to the car and we left. I took my kids to school as-is when it was time to go. If they didn't have shoes on, I took them barefoot.

I did take their shoes with me and let them put them on at school. but it only took 1 time each for them to realize I was serious when I said we were going if they were ready or not. Now they are pretty much always ready on time.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Portland on

Patty's right--- take them to school in their pjs with their clothes in their backpacks. I've had a few friends do this and yep, never more than once. Kids are embarrassed to get dropped off in their pjs to change in the bathroom.

See, the thing is, you have decided that their getting dressed is your problem to deal with. Nope. It's theirs. THEY need to decide to get dressed on time and go. Make this their problem-- the car leaves for school at X time and you have to be in the car, dressed or not. One time of having to change at school-- a big "this is not my problem, Kiddo, this is yours" and my guess is that the girls will know mom means business.

If there are other issues, maybe you stop tv/computer/entertainment privileges until they earn them back. Maybe they earn a ticket for 20 minutes of media time each morning that the child is ready to walk out the door on time. Start making the impact on them-- really, the drop'em off in PJs works-- and stop sweating it.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I'm on the same page as Gidget. DS just turned 9. I wake him up and escort him to the kitchen where we eat breakfast. At 8 am, we go back to his bathroom, he brushes his teeth while I put out clothes for him. Then he gets dressed - often while I am in there. If I still need to put my contacts in or comb my hair, he gets dressed while I do that. I check that he is wearing shoes, he puts his stuff in his backpack and then he generally has 5-10 minutes to play before we need to go out to the bus stop.

He can do all the steps on his own. He is much more reliable than in the past, but he definitely still gets distracted. I am seriously NOT worried he will still need me to help when he is ready to go to college and I would very much rather have an enjoyable morning than a confrontational one. He LOVES to talk while getting dressed. Someday he probably won't share quite as much with his mom as now. I am going to enjoy the time.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

You need to make promises and keep them. If they are not up and dressed, they will be driven to school "as is" then do it. No one will judge you, they will applaud you.

Our daughter sometimes wanted 5 more minutes.

So her alarm was set for a time, then it was set for 5 more minutes across the room by her bedroom door.

I would walk in when the first alarm went off and turn on her bedroom light. When that second alarm went off she had to get up and walk across the room to turn it off.

She knew if she was not dressed by the time we needed to leave, she would be placed in the car in her pjs with a granola bar.

We had a bench by the front door with her backpack, jacket and anything else for school. No cartoons in the morning, I watched the morning news.

If she did not get up on time, that night she would be made to go to bed 30 minutes earlier.

By 4th grade, I never had a bed time for her, it was up to her to decide how late she stayed up as long as she got up on time in the morning. I told her, if I ever had to force her to get up, she would lose this privilege. Never had a problem.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My kids liked to watch TV while eating breakfast, so our morning "rule" was that they had to be completely dressed before the TV got turned on. Would that work for you?
I'm not big on punishment but honestly if they kept that up there would be consequences, taking away something they care about (computer time, playdates, TV?) and they wouldn't get it back until they got up and dressed on time consistently for at least a week.
Kids won't change their behavior without consequences, either positive or negative.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My son was like this. You have to make the consequence of their behavior less desirable than the behavior itself.

Two simple things:

Pack up a set of clothes for each child the night before, and put in a bag by the door. These might not be the clothes they would have chosen, but they should be "acceptable". At the appointed hour, put the bag in the car, and put the kids in the car in their pajamas. They can change into the school clothes in the school parking lot. Yes, it's cold out. Oh well. You simply say, "How unfortunate for you that you didn't get dressed at home, sweetie." If they don't change, then they go in the door in their pajamas. (And no, no one will think you are a bad mommy - except the kids. Other parents will say, "that mom has guts!")

Next time, don't rush them. Let them lie there as long as they choose without you nagging. Set a kitchen timer for each one, but if they shut it off, they shut it off. Tell them they can be late to school and that's okay, but of course there is a late sign-in procedure, so when they arrive at school, they don't go directly to their classrooms. They go to the office. Tell them you will not be making up some excuse for them. They can go in and meet with the principal to explain to her/him why they don't think it's important enough for them to be in school on time. Tell them you don't know their reasons so you aren't signing them in for some made-up story. You say they don't care if they are on time - but they WILL if they have to sit and explain their point of view to the principal. They have to be in school, that's the law. It's not Mom's rule, it's the law. You have no control over school procedures, right? (If you have to, give the principal a call ahead of time and let her know this may happen.)

Take the emotion and the frustration out of it, take the nagging away. Let them deal with the consequences. This will happen one time. Thereafter you will have no problems. Put them in charge of selecting their outfits the night before, and next you can put them in charge of their breakfast. You are doing it all, and they are doing nothing. At 6 and 9, they can do 90% of this.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I tell my kid, if there is any whining or if I have to ask more than once for her to get up, that I will take away her ipad, and any other technology. It worked.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

Use a timer as a reminder. When the timer goes off they better be dressed and eating breakfast. Set it again and now it's time to leave. If they are still not dressed they go 'as is'. Shoes or boots go on over pj's and they finish at school or in the car.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

Maybe I'm crazy, but I sit in their bedroom while they get dressed. My boys are 5 (almost 6) and 8, and they are easily distracted and will crawl back into bed if I let them. I wake them up and sit on the bed while they get dressed.

I know that there are many kids the same age as mine that will get up and get dressed without much prompting. Great! But mine need me to stay on top of this task. There are many things my boys can do that other kids their age are not yet doing, so I don't worry about it. I just do what works.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

I remember being little and not doing this. My mom had clothes out and would polish my shoes each morning before I left for school. The TV was on but it was on a news channel no cartoons. When I lived with my aunt there was no TV on and I still had to get up and get dressed and meet up with kids to walk to school (a good mile and a half).

Things have changed over the years and parents do more of the getting the kid ready for school than the child be responsible for his/her own actions of not being dressed and in the car or on the bus on time.

Do take them to school in the pjs a few times, they will get the message when their peers pick on them.

Have a set routine in the morning and stick to it. If it is x time you should these things done. If you are not done, you will not have breakfast but you will be ready to get in the car or catch the bus to school. If I have to take you to school, you will see the principal and explain to him why you are late.

If you work, then you must make sure that these children do not make you late for your job. You get up and get yourself ready before you get the kids ready for school. No need to try it after they are up and you are rushed because of their actions. Your employer is not going to keep you at the job if you are not on time.

Besides getting children ready with routines helps them in the long run and in the future so that they can be productive citizens and function in work place environments.

the other S.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

Start giving a punishment when they are late. Too tired to get up on time? Then no tv that afternoon and bed time in an hour earlier. Still can't get up on time and out the door? Better move that bed time up another 30 minutes. They need to see that there are consequences for them, not just for you, when you are running late every day.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

It sounds like the problem is that the kids are upstairs and you are downstairs. Wake them up and escort them downstairs. In the kitchen (where you are making breakfast) will be their clothes, backpacks, homework. When they are dressed, they eat. After they eat,they brush their teeth, brush their hair - keep a set of toothbrushes/hairbrushes/hair ties in the kitchen. If everything occurs near you, they will stay on task.

Avoid having them go upstairs for anything.

Finally, there needs to be a reward if they are successful (Fancy dessert tonight!) and a consequence if they're late. (Late to school, no TV for the remainder of the day.)

This is an easy one to fix but you need to have the attitude that they WILL be out the door and on time.
T. Y

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

What would they like to do with the extra time? Computer time, TV, whatever, can't have it until you are dressed and ready.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Getting kids up early doesn't do what you think it will do. You think it gives them more time to get ready so they'll be out the door on time but really it just gives them more time to fool around in the morning and you are still trying to get them out the door on time.

We use to lay out everything the night before. Backpacks packed and at the front door. Jackets, musical stuff, etc right there too. Clothes picked out the night before and lunches packed and in the fridge. In the morning we'd wake them up with just enough time to get up dressed, groomed, fed, and out the door. It was still stressful but much better to be stressed for 20-30 minutes than a hour.

Get them up and stay upstairs until everyone is dressed. Then go down as a family and make breakfast together.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I doubt they are getting enough sleep. Make sure all If they are supposed to get up at 7:00 then every minute later than that is a minute subtracted from bedtime. so getting up at 7:10 means going to bed at 8:00 minus ten minutes, no excuses. and make sure 8:00 is the usual bedtime, baths at 7, while they are in bath you prepare for bedtime putting out pajamas, snacks, water night lights fave teddy bear whatever they might ask for before sleep. then snack stories, (NO TV before bed,) 7:50 bathroom and teeth brushing. Lights out at 8:00. No chatting after 8.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would use a timer and if they are not ready when the timer goes off, they go to school as they are.

In elementary school, my daughter rode the bus and she knew not to miss that bus.. Even though I was perfectly capable of taking her to school, IF I had to take her to school because SHE missed the bus, then SHE lost privileges.... no favorite TV show, no computer time, and early bedtime. That only happened a couple of times.

Granted... I helped with prep in the evenings by having everything together for the next day by the door, snacks packed, fresh water bottle, and she got her clothes ready each night.

You have to be firm and consistent with the rules. I have been a substitute teacher over 14 yrs and I have seen some kids dropped off in PJ's because they were not ready. It only happens one to 2 times and then they "get it".

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

It sounds like you need a new morning strategy. I don't know how you wake them now, but I suggest you don't do it gently. Flip on the light and give them a loud Good Morning.

But you also need to put some of this on their shoulders. Talk to them the night before and tell them that from now on, they will get out of bed immediately, get dressed, and come to breakfast within 5 minutes.

Depending on what works best for your kids, you will either need to have a consequence for not doing it, or a reward for accomplishing it. So you would tell them either:

A - If I have to come back into this room to get you, <this negative thing> will happen.

(These can be unique to the one that doesn't obey. You don't punish the one that is getting it done.)

B - If you are up, dressed and at the table within 5 minutes every morning this week, we will <fun thing> on the weekend.

(This reward should be co-operative. Both have to be 5 out of 5. They will encourage each other to succeed.)

Like others mentioned, you can send them to school on time, but without breakfast, in pajamas, with unbrushed hair and lacking any object they can't find because they didn't pack it up the night before. You might want to give their teacher a heads up email.


answers from Columbia on

Do they have a clock? Make it a race against the clock. Whomever is dressed and ready to go, shoes on, bags by the door, before 7 (or whatever time) gets to have breakfast in front of the TV. After 7 they have to sit in the dining room.

ETA: Oh yes, and pushing bedtime up an hour earlier is also an excellent motivator.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I love Love and Logic classes.

We used to live in an area where our front door couldn't be seen by anyone else. The way the house faced and the 1 neighbor that was right there was nearly 75 feet away. They had no windows overlooking my front door. It was completely secluded okay?

I talked to my granddaughter and told her that she was old enough to get herself ready, that she had her clothes picked out the night before, she just needed to brush her teeth and get dressed and out the door by 7:20am.

I told her since she wasn't getting ready on time that I would be setting an alarm for 7:20 and what ever she had on was what she was wearing to school. Period.

So the next morning I hollered I'm setting the alarm, you need to get ready or else. She blah blah blah'ed back to me.

The alarm went off. I went and took her by the arm and took her to the front door and put her out. Unfortunately she only had on panties and a tee shirt.

I told her to get in the van and shut the door behind her. She stood out there about 2 minutes banging on the door screeching.

She's ready every morning since.

Consequences have to make sense to kids. Consequences come after you've laid down the law and said "It's this way OR ELSE". If you never give the "OR ELSE" they know you're a liar and they don't have to pay any attention to you or anything you say.

It's the "OR ELSE" that you have to follow through with. If you say "Get ready or else" there has to be a consequence that is directly related to the Get Ready part.

It does no good to say "Get ready for school or you don't get to watch TV when you get home". TV has nothing to do with waking up and getting ready for school.

On the other hand giving a reward for being done is a great way to manipulate your little ones into doing what you want.

If they don't get TV in the mornings then you can say. When you get ready for school, backpacks and coats in your lap, and are done with breakfast (Our kids eat for free at school so that doesn't apply to us) you can watch TV until it's time to go.

Giving them something to work for that they want really really a lot will make morning time so much easier.

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