My kids have many strengths, but speed is not one of them. This is particularly true in the winter, when it’s time to put on snow pants and boots, along with a jacket, hat and mittens. They… are… slow.

You may have experienced a similar push-and-pull dilemma on a hectic morning. It’s tempting to simply push the boots onto your child’s feet and pull them out the door with you. On the other hand, we know that as parents, we’re supposed to be empowering them to be self-sufficient.

So, how do you promote independence but still get out the door on time? Here are some kid-tested tactics to add to your daily routine.

How to organize kids’ winter gear

Organization is key to manage kids’ winter apparel and accessories. Think like a kindergarten teacher and apply these strategies:

  • Put it in its place. Whether you use hooks, cubbies, drawers or baskets, have a system to keep each kid’s outerwear in a specific, easy-to-reach spot.
  • Make siblings distinctive. Where possible, choose a different color scheme for each of your kids. It’s inconvenient and time-consuming to be matching up multiple pairs of identical-looking mittens.
  • Label, label, label. Anyone with a preschool-age child knows the mystifying phenomenon where they don’t know what their own boots look like. Apply Mabel’s Tag Mates to every item so there’s no confusion at home or at school. Personalized Household Labels are also handy to label bins and containers.
How to get kids ready quickly

Time is of the essence, especially in the mornings. See if you can introduce any of these time-saving techniques:

  • Pile it on. It’s important to be “hands-off” and let the kids put everything on themselves, but you can facilitate the process by placing the various pieces on the floor in front of them.
  • Beat the time. For kids who love numbers, time them with your phone’s stopwatch and create a daily tracking chart. Imagine their glee (and yours) when they set a new personal best time!
  • Build zipper skills. Mabel’s mini tags are a brilliant “life hack” for zipper beginners. They provide a larger zipper pull that is easier to grab and help prevent coat mix-ups.
  • Cut the chatter. Somehow, the request “please get ready to go” triggers my kids to begin a steady stream of silly jokes and random My new approach is to politely but firmly say: “I will answer all your questions once you are fully dressed.”
How to motivate your kids to move faster

If your kids (like mine) move at a snail’s pace (and sometimes slower), try inspiring them in these clever ways:

  • Turn up the heat. I love this one: pre-warm their winter outerwear in the dryer. Throw everything in on a low setting for a couple of minutes, then present it with comments like “Ooo, this feels so cozy!” and “See if you can put it on while it’s still warm!”
  • Buy cool gear. The added expense of a winter hat emblazoned with a favorite character or sports team logo is worth every penny if the kid eagerly puts it on.
  • Recruit a role model. One day, we were babysitting my niece, who is a few years older than my son. When it was time to go outside to play in the snow, his jaw dropped as he witnessed how swiftly she got dressed. It was like it hadn’t ever occurred to him that this task could be completed more quickly than his usual turtle-like pace.

Interestingly, the all-time best tactic with my kids was a local radio station’s “bag of cash” contest where callers could win money from a robotic-sounding bank machine. Luckily, this entertaining feature happened every day at the exact time we needed to be getting into the car. My kids leapt into their jackets and flew out the door so they wouldn’t miss it. It was reassuring proof that my little tortoises can be hares, when they want to be.


Kristi York is a freelance writer and mom of two sports-loving boys. Her work has been published by ParentsCanada, Running Room, ParticipACTION and The Costco Connection.

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