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How to Get Everybody Out the Door on Time, According to 7 PureWow Parents

In the old days, you used to show up ten minutes early to everything. And then you had kids. Now, you’re lucky if you show up 30 minutes late with socks that match. Don’t sweat it: Whether you’re getting into a back-to-school routine or just trying to get the kids out the door a few minutes faster, these get-ready hacks—from real moms who have been there—will have your back. (And maybe even buy you a few seconds to get yourself ready).

That’s because establishing a daily routine—from brushing their teeth to getting them dressed—that actually works for your family can be rewarding and enjoyable. We promise.

Orajel Kids

1. Make Toothbrushing Fun

When it comes to getting your kids ready in the morning, brushing their teeth can feel like the ultimate chore. But establishing good dental habits is a big deal, since getting your kid into a toothbrushing routine now sets them up for success later. Once your child reaches Stage 3, aka between the ages of 2 and 10, they should be starting to learn how to brush independently.

Luckily, Orajel Kids is the perfect solution to help your child establish healthy oral care habits, no matter which stage they’re in. Their fluoride toothpaste formulas are made with over 99 percent naturally sourced ingredients and the added cavity-fighting power of fluoride. The non-fluoride training toothpastes are made with 100% naturally sourced ingredients and great for learning how to brush. Plus, your kids will love seeing some of their favorite characters—think: Paw Patrol, Jurassic World and CoComelon—on the packaging.

Once they’re set up with the brushing essentials, try playing a favorite song or cute, timed video (like these toothbrush timers from Orajel Kids) to up the fun factor and keep your little ones focused on the task at hand. Says mom Ali G., “I sing a song ('Brush them high, brush them low, give your smile that shiny glow'—It def was a commercial on a show they watched!) and we do a dance while the kids stand on the toilet. It’s a bit complicated, but it works!”

Check out these tips for more toothbrushing motivation for your little one.

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2. Use the “Two-Choice” Method

You needed your kid to be fully dressed 15 minutes ago. But when you demand it with “you need to get dressed right this minute,” the answer is a defiant no (which may or may not be accompanied by tears). Enter Rachel B.’s trick, “My go-to tactic is what many a therapist calls the “two-choice method”—and nine out of 10 times it works.” Instead of listing our your demands, you offer your child a choice: “Do you want to wear the red shirt or the blue shirt?” Suddenly, your kid has all the power back. And since tantrums at these ages and phases tend to be about a quest for independence, the two-choice method suddenly gives them exactly that.

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3. Keep Things Playful

The more you can turn routines into something fun, the easier it will be to motivate your kid. “To get out the door, I'll sometimes pretend his stroller is a spaceship or lawn mower or race car,” says mom Alexia D. “On our walk to school, we have to catch the stars, get all the weeds or be the fastest.” And Ali G. agrees: “We do races for a lot of things—who can get dressed faster, who can put on shoes faster, etc. It's fun, but we actually get out the door on time and without as many fights!” And since time is an abstract concept for kids, it can help to use visual and audio cues to motivate them. Instead of “we need to leave in five minutes,” try: “We need to leave when this song is over.”

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4. Let Your Kids Choose Their Own Clothes (Yes, Really)

No, we’re not telling you to let your three-year-old tear apart her closet and come downstairs in flippers and a pink boa. Instead, set out two seasonally appropriate options the night before, so your kids can choose which of the two outfits they’d like to wear. Then, if they’re old enough, they can get dressed without any input from you. To make things even easier, stick to neutrals, plus two or three matching colors when shopping for each kid’s wardrobe. Voila: Any combo of clothes becomes an outfit.

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5. Make a Schedule That Works for Them

Whether you consider yourself totally Type A or a bit more relaxed, things like writing the morning routine out on a whiteboard will help the whole family know what is expected each day (and take the mental load off of you). Then, try to plan ahead what you can, because there’s bound to be last-minute shake-ups. “I always give myself more time than I even think I’ll need,” says new mom Rachel G. “I try to do as much as possible ahead of time, like making sure everything is packed and ready before I even wake him up.” Above all, don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go according to plan. It’s not the end of the world if your preteen ends up having to buy lunch at school or your twins’ pigtails aren’t totally matching.

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6. Use Some Encouragement

Sure, you might try to limit screen-time as a rule, but a little incentive can go a long way. “I have no shame about putting on a five-minute ‘short’ show and letting her watch while I do her hair and help her put on her shoes. It's made a big difference in the ‘don't brush my hair!’ fights in the morning,” says mom Candace D. Or consider a school-appropriate toy that can be tucked away: “On days when she really doesn't want to go to school, I'll let her choose a ‘backpack buddy,’ aka a keychain-sized toy that can be stuffed in her backpack and keep her company throughout the day so she feels less alone.”

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7. Designate a Storage Space for Each Child

“Mom, where’s my shoe?” “I forgot my folder!” “My backpack is missing!” If this sounds like your house every morning, it’s time to create a designated area by the door for each of your children to put their stuff. Attach a row of hooks to the wall (stick-on hooks work great in a pinch) at kid-level, then label one for each child. This is where they’ll put their backpack, jacket and shoes when they get home each afternoon, so everything will be organized and ready the next morning.