Back to School in Arizona. What Are Your Shortcuts to Get Out The Door?


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I crave routine and productivity.

So “Back to School” is fabulous because it means the kids get up, have breakfast, and get out the door. Well, and make a mess of the kitchen floor, create an art project or two, wiggle through sunscreen application, and show me three outfit changes before hauling their backpacks to the car. But then, voila, I have six uninterrupted hours to get my work done.  

After a summer spent transforming the living room into a play tent to avoid the 110 temps outside, this also means I have to retrain the kids – and myself – to get out the door on time with a minimum of hassle, while keeping us focused and happy until the weekend comes around again.  

Here are some shortcuts to get out the door as a relaxed family, and maintain your sanity through the week.

Lay Out Their Clothes.
I have girls. This is not to say that girls have more clothing choices than boys, but..  they do. Did Not Lay Out Clothes for SchoolDo they want to wear shorts and a t-shirt? Nah, probably a flouncy tutu and tank top. Or, how about that new dress that’s hanging in the closet? Spaghetti strap tank tops are against dress code. Maybe a layer of leggings in case they get a chance to go down a slide at morning recess and don’t want to burn their butts on the scalding plastic. And then which hair-band should they use, or wait, should it be a braid or a ponytail? Actually today they want to wear their hair down (mom side note: nope, it’s still 99 degrees!). To eliminate the hassle, I have my girls choose their clothes and lay them on the floor by their beds each night. No changes in the morning. Done.

Have an After-School Plan.  
I’m not aiming for a crammed schedule. However, it helps to have something exciting for the kids to look forward to after school or else I will listen to this whiny question on repeat: “Can’t we just watch one more TV show?!” Whether it’s an art project or a game of Go Fish or some new library books to read together, I have an activity set aside for me and the kids – and then, satisfied that they had their Mommy-time, they will happily scoot into the playroom for self-entertainment. For a few minutes, at least.

To coordinate the days, I might use an app like OmniFocus on my iPhone to make all of our activities – from swim lessons right down to emptying the dishwasher – available on the same platform for me, my husband, and eventually my kids to use.  

Make a Weekly Menu. 
One of my least favorite things to do is to prepare a packed lunch. We don’t do sandwiches – gluten free breadWeekly Food Menu Planner is just not made for that sort of thing – so it’s usually some sort of leftover from nights prior. One of my other least favorite things to do is to scramble for food when my hungry grumps emerge from the playroom running on empty. We end up with a mishmash of apple slices and gummy bears with a touch of yogurt on the side, and next thing you know, they’re not hungry for a proper dinner when I finally get it together. I printed out a list from The Organized Home and have been filling it out each weekend so I have the right foods in the fridge, with snack ideas tucked in between.  If I felt like paying $5 per month, I might even consider using a service like Emeals to create a customized meal plan and grocery list for me!  

Please share: what are some of your shortcuts?  


  1. I’m working on letting my boy/girl twins make their own choices so they’re empowered, and, I’m verbally pushing/pulling less. They helped me come up with a Morning and Evening list of To Do’s (I try not to say the word Chores since I wouldn’t want to do anything on that type of list either) where I’m more of a guide instead of their boss. I combined some to make it only 10 seemingly manageable items. We also guessed a range of time for each activity which helped us come up with a grand total, erring on each activity’s longest time to accomplish. Which is usually the case… It’s on the refrigerator.

    MORNING 6:45-7:45
    1 Dress
    2 Hair
    3 Shoes, Socks
    4 Breakfast, Table, Dishes
    5 Teeth, Floss
    6 Lunch
    7 C=Violin, B=Piano
    8 Vision Therapy
    9 Backpack with Homework
    10 Water bottle

    1 Dinner, Dishes
    2 Homework
    3 Allowance To Do’s
    4 C=Piano, Vision Therapy (if not in a.m.)
    7:30 Shower, teeth, pajamas
    8:00 Bedtime


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