How I Finally Got My Children to Leave the House On Time


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photo: Matt Bauer via flickr

Getting out of the house without yelling at times requires some divine intervention…

A while back, it didn’t matter WHERE we were headed, there would be “incidents” that prevented us from being there on time, without major hassle and yelling and/or crying.

Even if we arrived on time somewhere, everyone was frazzled and I was a mess.

The old “just leave a few (or many) minutes earlier” just wasn’t working.

Packing everything the night before helped some, but did not eliminate the dragging and what they resent me calling “dilly-dallying” just before leaving.

“Did you brush your teeth?”

“Why are you still staring in the mirror?”

“Where is your jacket?”

“Are those the right books you’re supposed to return to the library?”

“What else should be packed to take with you today?”

“What do you mean, you can’t find it?”

“Why are you reading a book?”

“And why don’t you have any shoes on??????????”

“We are late! Get in the caaaaaaaarrrrrrrrr!”

We would manage to pull out of the garage, tires shrieking, and nerves wrecked.

Talk about total chaos.

I’ve tried explaining the plan-ahead concept, I’ve used simple analogies, I’ve drawn pictures, I’ve made charts, I’ve set multiple timers, programmed alarms, on and on and on.

I also tried letting them be late so that they would suffer the consequences, but really I couldn’t let that happen more than a couple of times because not only was it reflecting poorly on my own time management (I want to be invited to the cool mom shindigs), but the fact was that I was not equipping them with the right tools to achieve success or master that skill!

We just couldn’t carry on that way anymore.

It was time for a new start.

One night after many bouts of preparation failure all week, I came up with a new system.

It was what I hoped would help me connect with them through the daily chaos, reach each one in a way that would be effective and bring an end to the tardy struggle — ALL WITHOUT YELLING!

My Secret Weapon:

The Golden Ticket.


The kids were thrilled when I handed these out the next day.

YOU GUYS, believe me on this: not only do I no longer have to yell, but I don’t even need to TALK!

I simply (and calmly — what????) hand out the Golden Tickets!!! They each get one and start the routine, mostly all on their own! BOOM.

No dilly-dallying, they now have a purpose, a plan, a ticket that gets punched only once we are ALL in the car (I keep my hole puncher in the car’s center compartment – this part is key to getting them IN the car with their Golden Ticket IN HAND) and that is a huge accomplishment!

They proudly keep their collection of completed Golden Tickets in the car and once EACH kid has 10 perfectly punched-out tickets, we head out to get a treat! Sometimes it’s frozen yogurt, other times it’s a family movie from the red kiosk. It’s always something simple and inexpensive, but offers a major impact when we are able to connect through the chaos with no yelling and reinforce the positive outcome with a simple reward!

The Golden Ticket has eliminated the stress and the tardiness, and created a FUN way to be on time!  The design is simple with picture icons that even the littlest non-reading kids can follow.

Yes, start them early. This can be a successful discipline strategy starting at those early ages!

I won’t pretend like we don’t have days when a certain child makes it to the car with his shirt on inside-out (can I get an Amen from those Moms who know my pain?) but I’ll tell you that despite the wardrobe malfunction, his Golden Ticket is ready to be punched out completely because he’s completed all of the steps!

And that’s a really great day in our book!

Lover of laughter, bacon, and kale. Mom to two wonderfully unique boys,grateful & blessed to raise them,homeschool them and keep the house from burning down. Hubs of almost 25 yrs wants my job when I retire -yes, the mom gig, I can't remember the one prior to this, but it was somewhere in Silicon Valley. I love my faith, my family and my friends. 

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