The Ryan Table

How To Get In the Car Without Yelling or Being Late

You have to be somewhere in an hour.

I can see it now,. Everything is going fine and you are sailing smooth – feeling pretty good about leaving on time. Then suddenly, Bam! You are late and yelling “Hurry! Hurry” and “Where are your shoes, I thought you put them on fifteen minutes ago!?” and “No, quickly, go use it again and don’t forget to flush!” A few more “Hurry!”s and you somehow go from early to ten minutes late in what feels like a few rushed seconds.

I can relate. My two year old points to our vehicle and says “Hurry”. I am pretty sure he thinks the name of our car is Hurry.

Let me introduce you to my good friend, the kitchen timer. I mean the Magic Timer. Now hear me out. It is a magic timer. It will solve all of your problems and keep you from rushing your children, fussing at your children, and from altogether losing your mind when it’s time to hit the pavement.


First step to not losing it when it’s time to go: Calculate How long it takes to go from “ready” to “in the vehicle.”

Here is a simple formula to calculate how long it actually takes to go from “shoes on ready to leave” to “buckled and pulling out of the driveway.”

First you need a basetime of 10 minutes for getting in the car and buckled with one kid. Then, depending on ages and number of children, you add more time, as follows:

  •  0-9 Months: 20 Minutes. Trust me. As soon as they hear that car door close they will poop up to their neck. This is not overkill for time. If the baby doesn’t gobble this time up upon entry of the car, they will on the way out of the car. They will be starving, or pooping, or will have mysteriously lost their passie while in a locked car. They can hide those things like nobody’s business. You need the whole 20 minutes to go from “ready” to backing out of the driveway.
  • 9-18 Months: 5 Minutes. This is pretty much the golden age for getting in the car. Poop explosions are kept to a minimum, they can go twenty minutes without eating. The babies will usually sit in their carrier once they are ready and buckled and watch you help the older kids. The toddlers are excited to be part of the action and run around waving their shoes in the air, ready to leave.
  • A Potty-Training Toddler: 10 Minutes. Between peeing in pants and having to go potty right after they buckle, even though they pottied right before they walked out of the house, you will need an extra ten minutes for this kid.
  • Any Other Kid: 5 Minutes per kid.  There are distractions, and lost shoes (even when both shoes were on both feet just five minutes ago!),  last minute meltdowns, and forgotten, very important, scraps of paper to be grabbed, and any possible number of kid-sized problems to be solved.

If you happen to have four children with one child in each category, based on my calculations, you would need about 45 minutes to get in the car. (10 minutes basetime for one kid, 20 more for the little baby, 10 for the potty trainer, and 5 more for the 4th kid.) And if you you think that is crazy, that is why you are always late. Because children are really good at noticing the world and it slows them down a lot. And babies are really good at eating and pooping, and it slows you down a lot. And your brain is really fried because you don’t remember the last time you slept through the night and that slows  you down a lot.

Step Two: Face Your Unreal Expectations

Despite the fact that we have an army of little people that we created slowing us down, we expect to move at the same pace we use to. And that just doesn’t work. The worst part of it, if you are anything like me, is that when you are surprised by the fact that it takes more than five minutes to hop in the car you get frustrated and you may even be impatient with your children. And that never feels good. The chaos and the “Hurry!” and the yelling, and the forgetting everything doesn’t feel good. It is not good.

Step Three: Use the Magic Timer

So here is what you do. You set the timer. You can use my calculation above, start there, and then adjust as needed. (If you think I exaggerate the amount of time you need, the worst that can happen is that you have time to pull through for a well-deserved coffee.) If you calculated needing forty-five minutes then you set the timer to go off forty-five minutes before you need to be driving away. When that timer beeps it’s all hands on deck, getting out the door.

In my case I have my base ten minutes for the first kid. Then an extra 5 minutes for the each of the other 4 kids (all in the golden era- no little babies, no potty training) so that is 30 minutes. That is how long it really takes to get in the car without wailing and gnashing of teeth. If I set the timer for 3o minutes before I need to be driving, and we start getting in the car when the timer goes off, we can do it without the running, and the forgetting, and the crying. Once everyone is in the car and buckled we roll out, even if that means we are going to be early because getting out of the car can also take more time than expected. (We can get in the car in about five minutes as long as I am okay with mismatched shoes or no shoes on the kids, snack-covered faces, and forgetting my cell phone or bra. This may be fine if you are simply pulling through the carpool line . . .  but you never know when you might actually need to exit the car. So fully clothed with everyone in matching shoes and clean faces is always a better bet.)

Obviously I have a long way to go or my two-year would not have named our car Hurry. However, if I am using the Magic Timer, then time is good to me, I am calm with my kids, and we look like respectable human beings with our feet in matching shoes.

Give it a try and if you can beat the time given in my calculations and if you do then celebrate with a cup of Joe, or tea, or whatever floats your boat.

The Magic Timer is your friend. Your kids will appreciate it. Your appointments will appreciate it. YOU will appreciate it.





It's easy to follow The Ryan Table: