How to get out the door on time when you have children

 mum and boy HR_Photo credit Cathy YeuletBy Professor Matt Sanders, founder of the Triple P — Positive Parenting Program

 For many working parents with children at home, getting out of the door in order to get to the office or an important meeting can be both exhausting and time consuming.

The key is organisation.

Get yourself ready first, before your child. To avoid last minute rushing prepare some things the night before and go to bed at a reasonable hour so you’ll wake early enough.

I also recommend against having the television on in the morning. Better to make sure the children are dressed before breakfast. Perhaps when they are fully ready you can turn the television on then.


Let your child know ahead of time that you’ll be going out and explain exactly what the day’s activities will be and their time requirements.

Younger children can learn the importance of organisation by doing things for themselves. Teaching children to get dressed by themselves is a chance to practise independent skills – and it also saves you time.

You may like to try the “beat the clock” game. Your child’s goal is to be ready before the alarm clock sounds off. If your child wins, he earns a small treat or reward, such as a favourite snack in his lunch box.

Tell your child exactly what tasks he must do to be ready to leave and thus win the reward. Make sure you set the timer for a reasonable amount of time and avoid giving repeated instructions or nagging your child to hurry up.

Often it will only take a two-week period of beating the clock before the rewards and the clock are phased out. Remember to always praise your child’s achievements in learning better organisation.


Allow some extra time so your child can adjust to feeling comfortable with the person who’ll be looking after them while you’re gone. If you’re obviously stressed and rushing about, this may add to their anxiety. Comments such as “don’t be silly” can also make the problem worse, so try to remain calm and positive. For younger children, you should always use the same phrase when you need to leave your child, such as “Bye bye for now”. This will help them learn that you are going away, but that you will return. Similarly, a regular greeting such as “Here I am again”, indicates to your child that the separation is over.

Of course it’s not always possible for parents to prevent their child protesting when being left in the care of others, but if you allow time for them to become familiar with a responsible caregiver, and you are sure yourself that they’ll be well looked after in a safe environment, your child will eventually develop more confidence to mix with others.

Parents can learn more about achieving work-life balance, including evidence-based knowledge, skills and strategies to handle various parenting challenges, at

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