Every other Sunday we have the kids, and getting to church on time can be a real nightmare when you have four younguns glued to the TV half-dressed. Keep the Sabbath as holy as possible by implementing a few tactics to make getting out the door on Sunday on time as easy as you possibly can.
Get the youngest kids in the tub or shower on Saturday night before bed. This way, you have less kids fighting to get into the shower or bath on Sunday morning, while the older kids are trying to get ready. This is particularly important when you have teenagers who hog the bathroom all morning long. When the little ones are bathed the night prior, all they need is to be hounded to get dressed and get their hair done come Sunday before church.
Tell the kids at breakfast what time they need to be ready by, using a term they can understand. We need to be out the door at 9:45 AM, so we tell the kids they need to be ready when the clock on the stove says 9:45- we don’t say they need to get ready by “quarter to ten”, since they don’t all know what that means. They know when the digital clock on the stove has 9 as the first number, they need to be out of their pajamas and getting into church clothes.
Have your snack bags and church items (bibles, class books, etc) all prepared prior to getting ready. We have a bag we keep full of books, stuffed animals, snacks, and pens for the kids during Sacrament meeting packed and by the door so it can be picked up on the way out to the car. Preparing the essentials before getting ready for church minimizes the last-minute items that the kids “suddenly” need.
Have the older kids hit the shower as soon as they eat, since they typically eat faster than the younger kids and will need the bathroom longer than the younger kids. While the younger kids are playing with their food, your teenage daughter can be showering, so by the time the little kids need in the bathroom to do their hair, your teenager will be hopefully doing their hair as well.
Have church clothes laid out and ready to be put on the night before. This way, shoes, tights, ties, shirts, skirts, and dresses can be just put on, rather than searched for and matched. The kids have all their church clothes hanging in a clothing bag to prevent wrinkling in the hallway so all they have to do is unzip it and grab their own clothes.
Keep calling out time intervals. As the unofficial time keeper, I will holler out every 15 minutes the time allowance left to get ready, particularly the last hour we are getting ready. This helps keep the kids in line, especially when used in terms the younger kids can understand. “We have 45 minutes left- get your church clothes on!” “We have 30 minutes- get your hair combed!” Hollering out time with a requirement to get ready along with it helps to get their butts in gear.
Be out the door with 15 minutes to spare. At the 20 minute mark, call out for bathroom breaks, so you don’t get to church with kids holding their crotches, having to pee. Start the car- this warms up the vehicle and gets the kids in gear that they need to be leaving quickly.
Have seating arrangements set out beforehand. Who gets window seats, shotgun, the back seats, etc should be made clear prior to hitting the car. This minimizes car seating fights and gets the kids in the car with no issues.
Turn off the TV! I cannot stress this enough. When the TV is on, it doesn’t matter how much you holler out the time left to get ready, all you will get is blank stares from kids zoned out on the Disney Channel. If you must have the TV on, turn it to a religious station, to get the mood of going to church going and to keep the kids from focusing to much on the boob tube.
Once you’re in the car- leave. If the kids forgot something, unless it’s pertinent to church, don’t let them go in and get it. If they have to pee, tough. They can pee at church. Once they’re in the car, you’re gone. Do this more than once, and the kids won’t be forgetting their fruit chews or favorite stuffed animal next time.
Above all, keep your calm and your own focus. With a close monitor of the clock and plenty of patient multi-tasking, you can easily get out of the door with 15 minutes until church starts, leaving you with breathing room to get to church on time with the least stress possible.