Simple Systems: Our “before we leave the house” list

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Getting a carload of children out the door to appointments or activities can be stressful. Here’s how I’ve made it easier.

During the month of October, I’m participating in The Nester’s 31 Days link-up. This year’s series is Simple Systems: 31 Small Ways to Simplify Life.

From containing projects and other things to creating formulas for getting dressed and folding laundry, I’ll be sharing small, simple ways I reduce decision fatigue in my life at home.

Delegate responsibilities to get your crew mobilized and out the door faster.

Instead of attempting to manage the chaos of getting everyone in shoes and all the bags out the door and all the lights off and all the doors locked - and don’t forget the keys! - I can delegate the small jobs to the children and bring them on board to make them part of the team.

This is a system I set up first when my oldest was probably around 6 or 7, and have done off and on since then (about 4 years). I just recently reinstituted the practice and it just makes getting out the door so much less stressful.

Instead of attempting to manage the chaos of getting everyone in shoes and all the bags out the door and all the lights off and all the doors locked – and don’t forget the keys! – I can delegate the small jobs to the children and bring them on board to make them part of the team.

When I don’t have the duties delegated and specified ahead of time, then it’s during the stressful scramble that I’m barking orders: You, do that; you, help here. Instead of making them part of the team, this makes them part of the stress and they resent it. They don’t need to have a share of the stress, but they can have a share of the load – and do it mostly happily, when they know it’s theirs and that it’s coming.

Pieces of this system

Instead of attempting to manage the chaos of getting everyone in shoes and all the bags out the door and all the lights off and all the doors locked - and don’t forget the keys! - I can delegate the small jobs to the children and bring them on board to make them part of the team.

  • A list on our chore board
  • A reminder before we start getting ready to go that they each have a role to play

These are some of the jobs that can be delegated to kids to make leaving the house faster and less stressful:

  • Turn off all lights in the house
  • Help the toddler get shoes or coat, or maybe even buckle her into the carseat (my 11-year-old can do this for the 2-year-old)
  • Lock back doors
  • Help carry things to the car (especially if you already have a launchpad area designated)

A friend of mine even has her kids all pitch in for a “two minute tidy” before they leave the house while she’s collecting her stuff. It’s always nice to come home to a tidier house.

Likewise, it’s a good idea to delegate some responsibilities on the way back in from errands and activities, too:

  • Help bring groceries into the house
  • Never come in from the car empty-handed
  • An older child can help make sure the younger ones’ coats or shoes end up in the coat closet instead of scattered around the house. Shoot, he can make sure his aren’t scattered around the house.
How do you help negate the stress of leaving the house with kids?

Simple Systems

Simple Home System: Our “Before We Leave the House” List

Index: “Simple Home Systems
First: “What Is a System?” & “What Is Simple?
Previous: “How to Make a Grocery List
Next: Remembering the reusable grocery bags

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