Mobilizing with several young children can be overwhelming without a system.
Every family’s routine will be a little different, but I’ll share ours:
Beginning 15 minutes before our departure time, I begin nursing the baby. Next, I instruct the children to clean up toys and begin bathroom rotations.
When everything is ready the children arrive at the front door to don coats. I glance over them, making sure nothing is amiss, then send them zipping out to the van!
Then, the race is on! Their mission: Have everyone buckled into the van before I make it out to the garage. I make sure to give them a few minutes head start as I fill my water bottle or make a last minute bathroom run myself. After locking the house, I carry the baby out to the van where I’m greeted with cheers of, “We won!” The children are triumphant; they are all buckled and ready to go.
Several years ago, out of necessity, I spent a few sessions teaching the oldest two to fasten the seatbelts in the carseats, ensuring that their younger siblings are buckled tight. (I often do safety checks). (This was a huge advantage when I was pregnant and would have struggled to climb to the back of our long van!)
An additional thing that helps us streamline: We strive to have a place for everything and everything in its place. This eliminates last minute scrambling. The diaper bag stays in the van, coming in the house only for the occasional restocking. Shoes are conveniently kept on the children’s feet, and water bottles can be quickly retrieved from their cupboard.
For many, a leisurely departure works fine, but for us, it would probably mean my giving up before we even reached the garage. Because I’m not naturally a high energy, go-getter type person, efficiency is key to my having any productivity at all.
There will sometimes be the last minute diaper blow out, or some other delay. I like to pad our time, planning to leave 5-10 minutes early in case our usual 10 minute routine takes longer–it happens.
(Cross-posted from my Taming The Chaos column on the Homeschool Blogger Front Porch)