Getting Out the Door on Time Without Saying ‘Hurry Up!’

Tips for stress free mornings

I recently read a blog post that really spoke to me. It was this one – The Day I Stopped Saying Hurry Up by Hands Free Mama. As I was reading this post all I could hear was my own voice barking, ‘Hurry Up!,’ as sometime during the last few months I had fallen into the trap of hurrying us through our morning routine. There are all sorts of reasons this had happened but upon reflection I realised that in our case many of those reasons were because of my own lack of organisation and general stress levels. Sure, my girls both have mornings where they are less co-operative for whatever reason, but much of our angst was my reactions rather than their behaviour. And as I suggested in my Dealing with Attitude post, changing your own response as the adult in the situation often results in a powerful effect on the behaviour of your beloved, smaller family members.

The other thing I realised was that my ‘Hurry up!’ really wasn’t helping in any way, shape or form. We weren’t getting anywhere any faster, and we would all just end up leaving the house a lot grumpier than was necessary.

So I banned myself from saying ‘Hurry up!’

Childhood 101 | Positive Parenting_Ideas for getting to school on time without saying 'hurry up!'

When I shared Hands Free Mama’s post with my Facebook community one question that I was asked was how I was avoiding saying ‘hurry up,’ especially when we had to be somewhere time sensitive.

Now I certainly don’t have all of the answers (in fact, many of the other community members shared their great ideas, some of which I have also included below) but this is what is working for us so far.

  • Just the act of making a commitment to avoid saying, ‘Hurry up,’ has made me more mindful of my general mood and stress level. This self awareness means I often find myself taking a breath and reminding myself that I have a choice in how to respond whenever I am feeling frustrated.
  • Where I have struggled to prepare the night before because once the girls are in bed I work before collapsing exhausted into bed (usually just an hour or so before my small girl’s first wake up for the night if I am lucky), I have incorporated a few small shifts into our evening routine that are making a difference to the morning. These include making sure Immy’s complete uniform is laid out, that her diary and anything else that can be pre-packed is dealt with and in her bag, and asking Immy what she wants in her lunch box the following day. Although I am not packing her lunch in the evening it does mean I don’t have to wait on her to get a response in the morning, especially if she is sleeping in or wakes grumpy.
  • I am trying to be up and at least mostly ready myself before the girls wake up.
  • In the mornings I typically check my emails and social media accounts first thing. Now, if I oversleep it has to wait as the computer goes off and the phone away once the girls are awake and stay that way until the school run is done.
  • I am using incentives, reminding Immy that if she gets ready without distraction that she will have time for a little play before we leave.
  • I know I have mentioned them before, but our routine cards (which are printable if you are interested in a copy of your own) continue to be a really effective way to keep Immy on track with a whole lot less angst. The cards relevant to the morning routine hang on our bathroom door in the order that they need to be completed and they serve as a great reminder of what needs to happen next.
  • I am faking it til I make it, being overly cheery, singing and laughing, adding in a bit of slapstick comedy or a joke or two to keep things light, which really seems to be helping.

When I asked on Facebook for the community members’ top tips for getting out the door as smoothly as possible, these were some of the more creative responses;

  • Jess: I set two alarms on my phone with different ‘songs’. The first to go off is the “10 minutes to go” alarm. This usually gets my daughter moving if she’s having a slow morning as she knows the second “ready or not” alarm means we’re leaving whether she’s ready or not. She’s been to school with messy, unbrushed hair once, and she’s eaten breakfast in the car a couple of times but she’s NEVER turned up at school in pyjamas so I’m calling it a successful system. It really helped me to stress less in the morning and put the responsibility back on to her to be ready for her day.
  • Lilly: Giving the kids warning, at least twice, and then setting them a task a minute or two before “Sam can you put your shoes on before we go” “Amelie would you like to bring the book or are you putting it away?” I also lose it a little with the time it takes to move to the car but ‘missions’ for them seems to help me seem less like a headless chook.
  • Kirsty: We have some success with ‘shops’.. The girls go to the clothes shop to get dressed, the shoe shop for shoes and the the taxi queue for the car. Plus the cafe (for brekky), the hairdresser and the beauty salon (clean teeth and wash face).
  • Amanda: We made a game style chart for the girls to work through each morning. This was a great way to get them in the routine of doing all the things needed to get out the door. You choose a marker, start at the bottom and move your way as you do the routine. When you get to the GO space you’re ready to go.

I would love to hear your ideas. What are your top tips for getting out of the door on time, that don’t involve ‘hurry up!’?


  1. I think getting up & ready before the kids are up is a biggie. My mornings always were much smoother when I was able to do that.

  2. I saw this poat this morning. When I read the title I was actually a little afraid to read it as I was worried just how true this article would be telling our life story. However, I am thankful I did. It is making me make a conscience decision about ny reactions to situations. I was determined to not say it at all this afternoon and yet at school pick up, literally 3 mins after seeing my daughter I told her to ‘hurry up’. I caught the words mid saying them and was sickened at just how habitual it must be for me to say these words. So that was it, no more ‘HURRY UP’ will be leaving my mouth. We spent the afternoon playing at the park, having a millshake and having a relaxing afternoon. While I sat there thinking about all things I ‘could’ be doing I noticed just how tense the muscles in my face were. It is amazing what we motice when we stop and take a look. Simply, THANK YOU

  3. Love these suggestions. With a toddler that seems to need his nappy changed every time we’re just heading out the door in a rush, I need all the tips I can get, haha. 🙂

  4. My phrase was “come on!” which I’ve now banned. As you say, just being aware that when I want to say it I’m feeling frustrated and need to breathe! Clothes are laid out on the ends of their beds the night before, and bags packed with everything except lunch. Though I think I need to revisit the morning routine cards as there seems to be lots of stopping for playing along the way, rather than after all the jobs are done! I might print them out and get the girls to colour them in to give them some ownership of the routine…

  5. I read that status, & then the article 🙂 I am in the exact same boat so I am thankful for these suggestions.
    I need them, it’s such a habit I really dislike – i thought of how my son must perceive me. Stressed, cranky, repetitive, nagging & not at all in a positive light.
    Just being aware has helped, being better prepared, allowing enough time & trying to be proactive 🙂

    1. Being aware does help, doesn’t it 🙂 We’ll just have to keep supporting and reminding each other and taking that momentary pause to choose our reaction. Good luck!

  6. Ah mornings, mornings. I struggle in the mornings. These are both good reminders, and I love your tips Christie. I’ve learned that I have to be more organised, and together with the children, we’ve established my jobs/there jobs and all of us being responsible for them. That is, my job is to have clean uniforms available but their job is to look for them and make sure they have what they need out the night before. My job is to make lunches, theirs is to remember to put it in their bag. I think it’s helped for the kids to see that it’s when we all do our bit that it works…and it’s good for me to have the responsibility to make sure I’m keeping up with my own jobs! Ha!

    I like especially here about just being aware…I needed that.

  7. I was just thinking about this today. Along with getting rid of ‘hurry up!’ I’ve also set myself the monumental challenge of not loosing me temper anymore. Just like you said, it is mostly me, I’m not organised in the morning, or I didn’t get enough sleep, or I’m feeling hungry, rather than anything the kids are doing. Mostly though I am recognising my own triggers and being conscious of when one of them is creeping up on me. And lots of deep breaths 🙂

  8. Thank you so very much for this post Christi. I think it’s such a good one because so many of us are guilty I’m sure of saying ‘hurry up’. I love all the great tips and will absolutely implement them asap.

  9. Just last week I heard my 3 year old yell out the door to her disappearing Daddy (off to work) “Come on Daddy, NO TIME TO WASTE!”
    I’m guilty of the hurry up thing, and this is a good reminder to stop getting so stressed over small things. My kids are too little to care if they turn up anywhere wearing their pyjamas with unbrushed hair, in fact my 3 year old often needs convincing to choose an outfit not including a pyjama top, but I think we will definitely try some of these strategies, thanks for sharing 🙂

  10. Your morning routine cards are a God-send here. With the help of the cards, I’m proud that my four year old is capable of independently getting herself ready in the mornings. It takes the pressure off Mama.

  11. Great advice! I am sure every house hold has this same problem about getting kids ready. Getting the adults up and ready first definitely helps.

    1. It sure does help, Carol, but it’s always the hardest step for this mama 🙂

  12. I loved the post from Hands Free Mama and love your practical tips to implement it. I need these reminders often.

  13. It’s funny, I just read that post on handsfreemama this morning, from a FB link. It was a really good wake up for me too, as I often find myself saying “Come on” and “hurry up.”

    The one thing I’ve been finding most helpful this term is getting the lunches either made the night before, or at least, like yours, planned. Not having to think about what to give them for lunch and morning tea in the morning has seen a great improvement in my own stress levels in the morning, even if it doesn’t get them ready any quicker!

  14. This article is wonderful and a good reminder. I’m guilty some mornings of using (screeching) “hurry up!” even though it never has the desired effect. We use the double alarm system for our girls too (we use egg timers) and a schedule chart, I love the idea of having ‘shops’ though, how much more fun does that sound than just brushing your teeth or putting on your shoes!

  15. I have a 5 yr old Kindergartner that I struggle with. She is a major doddler! Just this morning she sat on the potty for about 10 min, I assumed she was going #2. But NO! She was just sitting there thinking. Sweet, but we just don’t have that kind of time to waste! She is so aloof, just pondering and playing and exploring, which is sweet, and cute, and great during the day, but can be So flustering when trying to get ready in the morning! I don’t know what to do with her except get her completely ready myself. i may try the game board idea, but it may just add to the distractions…

  16. Stephanie fulton says:

    I thinks the best advice is to get dressed to the shoes as soon as you get up. I function so much better when I do. I am teaching my kids this also. It really takes discipline for me too. Because when I change the baby I just want to let him go in a diaper for a bit. But instead I make myself get him dressed right then. I gave up hollering at my kids to “hurry up a long time ago. My then 3 yer old would just move slower and I’d get upset” instead I started give myself extra time. Every morning is a routine. Love your warning timer Idea. I’m typically the timer. But the alarms are a great idea

  17. We’ve had your routine cards ion our bathroom door since Miss 7 started school. She is in year 2 now and still uses them to keep on task. Miss 5 just started school this year and us finding the cards very useful. Also we were finding that Miss 5 never knew what she wanted for breakfast so now on Sunday we write a breakfast menu for the week. That way when she gets up we just consult the menu and dish up whatever it says. It seems that if it’s written down she just accepts that’s what it is and eats it up:) It also means if the girls are sleeping in I can get the breakfast ready before they come out.

  18. I’m feeling like nothing is working with my Preppy. She’s tired in the mornings so usually sleeps a bit later than everyone else, but still has about an hour before we need to leave the house. We have the routine charts – she just doesn’t want to follow them! I say 10 minutes to go, 5 minutes to go, we do night before preparation, it doesn’t help. I’ve also tried offering rewards or removing privileges and that didn’t work either. I’ve tried natural consequences but I’m uncomfortable sending her off to school with no lunch or no water. Today she went without brushing her hair or teeth but that bothers me a lot more than it bothers her. I’m also contending with a 7 year old (who is pretty compliant) and two two year olds who just make the morning more interesting. I’m hoping it will get better as she gets older.

    1. My only suggestion would be to make it as easy as possible for her and you (simple breakfast that she likes to eat, lay out her clothes, etc. ), and try to do lots with her or all together – like all brush teeth at the same time together. I am sure she will get used to it over time and will be able to do more and more herself 🙂

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