Leaving The House On (Toddler) Time

Having trouble leaving the house on time with your toddler?

Here are 7 things to consider:

1.  Give The Gift Of Extra Time

How long is it taking to leave the house now?  This is the amount of extra time you will need to begin with.  You may need to carve this time out of your schedule if you have too much on your plate. Chances are that once you and your toddler have a routine down you won’t need as much time as you did in the beginning.

2.  Your Toddler’s Brain

Toddler brains are different than adult brains.  It takes longer for a toddler to process information.  It also takes longer for a toddler to learn the physical skills necessary to complete that task.  If you have watched your child put on their shoes you will know what I’m talking about.  By the way – toddlers are capable of putting on their own shoes.  I’ll write about that in a separate post.

3.  Design a Space That Encourages Their Independence

In terms of the environment you will want to provide a place in your mudroom/entryway that has all of your child’s outside gear accessible to them.  (I refer to this area as a “transition area” because it is the space where adults and children transition from the outdoors to the indoors.) Most toddlers want to do things all by themselves.  If they have to seek an adult’s help it becomes frustrating for them.
Toddler Transition Area

Toddler Transition Area at Joyful Day Montessori. This is just an example. You don’t have to buy a cubby for your child. You could use a small area rug under a low hook on the wall. The rug defines the space (see picture below).

Little Chairs

These chairs are near the front door. I bought them at Ikea and had them cut down so they’re now 6″ tall – perfect for a toddler to sit in when changing their shoes.  Note:  The rug defines the space.

4.  Limit Their Choices

It is very overwhelming for a 2 year-old to pick 1 coat out of a closet full of coats.  If you give only 2 choices the decision is made easier.  If you state the two options as a matter of fact children are usually very receptive.  You might have to reiterate the options if they try to negotiate.  I have never met a child that was not a master negotiator.

5.  Natural Consequences Are Your Friend

If your child doesn’t get to do something (like read a story before leaving the house) because it took too long to get ready that is incentive for them to stay focused the next time.  There will be plenty of learning opportunities in the future.

6.  State The Obvious Then Redirect

At first you might feel ridiculous doing this but keep in mind your audience (see #2).  Here are some examples of stating the obvious and then redirecting:
  • “I see that you only have one shoe on.  After you put on your other shoe we will go outside.”
  • “Your coat is on the floor.  Your coat needs to be on your body before you can go outside.”
Stating the obvious removes your emotion from the equation and draws your child’s attention to what’s happening around them.  Chances are they are not thinking about having only one shoe on.  Once their attention focuses on the issue at hand redirecting provides a remedy for the situation.

How long will it take to learn all this?!

As with most things there is a learning curve when you implement a new routine with your child (regardless of their age).  How long will it take to get an efficient routine down?  That depends on how large the shift is from the current behavior to the desired behavior coupled with your consistency.

Parent/Care Giver homework for the week:

  1. Set up a child-sized transition area.
  2. Practice slowing down to your child’s pace.
  3. Limit your child’s choices.
  4. State the obvious then redirect when your child loses focus.

Let me know how it goes in the comments below.

You are also welcome to email me via the contact page.  Know anyone else living with a toddler that could benefit from this post? Share the love via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

As always, thanks for reading and have a Joyful Day!

xo Whitney
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  • 0 thoughts on “Leaving The House On (Toddler) Time

    1. Ann Holman

      I do something similar with my son! He’s 6, so he “handles” himself now, but when I wake him up (with a cheerful good morning!) and start cheerfully giving him the morning script!