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Morning Rush Hour

Tips and advice for getting kids dressed and out the door

I spend a few minutes in the morning with my daughter, Kassia, doing very little (pictured left). Sometimes we just sit at the kitchen island and talk, or I read her the cartoons from the paper. While there are still mornings where we both yell and feel anything but grounded, for the most part the 10 minutes I devote to her more than pay for themselves.— Kelli Wallner, New Mexico

Instead of whispering "Time to get up, buddy" to my 3 1/2-year-old, I let his baby sister climb all over him to wake him up. He much prefers her coos to my begging, and smiles before he even opens his eyes. — Laura Monaghan, Massachusetts

My daughter Marielle has trouble getting started in the morning, so we set her alarm 20 minutes early. When the alarm goes off, her dad carries her to our bed, where we snuggle until we really need to get up. — Mary Gardner, New Jersey

On chilly mornings, I put my son Alexander's clothes in the dryer before bringing them to him. He is much easier to coax out of a warm bed if he knows he can slip into some toasty clothes. — Alissa Casey, Maryland

While my 3-year-old, Skylar, is still asleep, I take a cool washcloth and gently wipe her face: eyes, ears, nose, cheeks, etc. By the end of the process she's awake, giggling, and telling me where I missed. — Laurie Hazelwood, Pennsylvania

In the morning, our 4-year-old, Aiden, gets to climb into our bed for some snuggles. Then we tell him Mommy (or Daddy) is going to pick out his clothes for the day. He usually pops out of bed and runs to his room to pick them out before we do. — Christine Winchester, New York

We set out each item of clothing — diaper or undies first, then shirt, pants, etc. — in a row, starting from the bed and leading to the bathroom. Each kiddo has to land on the "stepping stones," in order, before proceeding to the next item. — Erin Berkey, Washington

My 2-year-old hates to get dressed in the morning. Rather than putting him in pajamas after his evening bath, I let him sleep in comfortable preschool clothes. I wake him up in the morning, feed him breakfast, put on his socks and shoes, and we leave without a battle. — Samantha Ward, Texas

I have Rafael cast himself as Clark Kent or Peter Parker, pretending that his outfit for the day is his superhero gear (which he must get into quickly). Or, we pretend I'm the pit crew and he's a race car, and we change his tires (a.k.a. clothes) and gas him up in 30 seconds flat. — Molly Phinney Baskette, Massachusetts

If you say "Let's put on our socks," our 1-year-old stretches out his little foot. It's not much, but it makes him feel like he has a job, rather than being this doll that's flipped around while we get him ready. — Laura Scott Wade, Illinois

I made a chart with my digital camera for Abby to follow while she's getting ready. The first picture is her clothing, the second shows her toothbrush, and so on. She also has to get downstairs before a timer goes off.— Jennifer Ivy, Arkansas

This year the first two weeks of school became "Morning Boot Camp." Claire, 5, and Ella, 3, were responsible for getting themselves ready (with the help of a sticker chart and a timer). For the first few days it actually took twice as long, but by the end of boot camp they were faster than before. — Robin Taylor, California

To keep our 2-year-old, Rainer, entertained while we feed our 9-month-old twins their morning bottles, I put Cheerios and raisins in a few plastic Easter eggs and hide them in the living room (where we feed the twins). Then he has something to munch on until I can make his breakfast. — Cheryl Michel, Florida

We have what we call the amazing race to the table. If everyone gets to the table dressed and ready to go with all of their school gear, I'll make them scrambled eggs or pancakes instead of giving them a breakfast bar on the go. I've seen some funky outfits, but we always manage to make it to school on time! — Cecilia Sayre, Florida

I make up tunes about getting ready ("Put on your boots, put on your boots, put on your boots, boots, boots"), and my 4-year-old daughter obliges. I'm not going to win any songwriting competitions, but it does the trick.— Astrid Lague, Vermont

"Brush your teeth/Brush your hair/Put on some clean underwear." — Jennifer Hattery, Ohio

My daughter and I sing the "Ants Go Marching" song in the morning, putting our socks on one by one, etc., and when we are ready to go, we march out the door. — Beth Piper, Maine

It's 2-year-old Emily's job to press the "magic button" to open the garage door. She knows that once she presses that button, she has to go straight to the car and get in her seat. — Jennifer Ishler, Pennsylvania

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