Life Recipe 05: Getting out the door in winter

We hope to use the force to get our children dressed and out the door. “This is your jacket. Put on your shoes. And now let’s leave.” But we’re not jedi knights and its rarely that easy.

It’s more like this: Calvin gets one boot on and suddenly his other boot transforms into a lightsaber. He’s a star wars knight fighting off his coat. I’m getting the baby into her tauntaun like full-body bunting. She starts starts wailing because she can’t move with it on. I dream of putting my older children in gear that they can’t get out of but realize that would never work. Instead I enter Calvin’s imaginative universe becoming a knight myself for the sake of getting us out the door. We’re almost there when I see Lucy Leia has managed to get her hat, coat and boots on herself—and taken them all off. Somehow we make it out, into our millennium falcon, and off to school. And we do this everyday, at least twice.

Now I don’t really even know star wars. I thought it was a life saver until Dan corrected me with the proper terminology. But I’ve learned we have get on our children’s level at times, think like they do. When we’re thinking about the clock ticking and hurriedly force their gear on, they resist. When I am present and thinking with love, they respond. And we make it to school on time because I’m not against them. I’m with them. Here’s a life recipe for getting out the door as practically and happily as possible:

Life Recipe 04: Getting out the door in winter


  • Prepare – set out all the winter gear and give yourself some extra time
  • Patience – children do not understand “hurry”
  • Imagination – everything is more fun when we talk like a robot


Start the process at least 15 minutes before we actually have to leave. Make sure everyone’s gear is accessible and ready to put on. Encourage everyone who is capable to put their own gear on and positively reinforce anyone who does – with stickers or whatever works in your house. This is where giving ourselves some extra time helps because children don’t really resonate with “we’re running late.”Everybody’s coats on first, then boots, then all the hats and mittens. When we do all the gear for one person then move on to the next, the first person inevitably has taken all their gear off. So piece by piece seems to work better. Mittens last, they are always the first to come right back off.

Be present and be patient. They feel whatever we are feeling and when we are feeling stressed, they will feel that and the whole process will take longer. Listen to what they are saying and try to join with them in whatever they are imagining—get to their level. Star wars today, robots tomorrow. Just go with it. Set a timer and make it a game. Whatever you can think of. And keep at it—keep heading outside as impossible as it seems. Children love consistency and routine—the more we do something, the easier it always becomes.

We can’t control exactly how its going to turn out. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

We have to accept that children bring the unexpected. They aren’t planners. Children are in the moment and there is a lot of joy there. We have to accept that things won’t turn out exactly as we envisioned. Its still important to have a routine and teach them consistency and importance of listening. But being open to the unexpected is important too. Our children aren’t here to teach us efficiency. They are here to show us how to slow down. How to make a light saber out of a boot. How to love more, fear less and make even the mundane things—like getting snow gear on—a little more fun.

When we approach life with lightheartedness—as our children do—we open ourselves to more joy.

When we are experiencing more joyful moments, our days become more meaningful, and so our lives. And of course we can still dream about the day when we say “put on your shoes and now let’s leave” and it actually works.

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