Twelve Simple Steps to Getting Your Kids in the Car – A Wry Parent’s Guide

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Twelve Simple Steps to Getting Your Kids in the Car

60 minutes before leaving

Figure out now if it’s really worth it/necessary to go through the painful process of getting everyone into the vehicle to achieve whatever you were planning to do. These are usually A/B situations. For example, A) We need groceries but we can probably wing it for three more meals if we get creative. Or B) We need groceries yesterday, the kids all ate tortilla shells filled with cream cheese for breakfast. 

Unfortunately, in the event it’s a true B situation, people will need to be packed up. Important note: Do NOT skip step one! You do not want to go through the whole process without just cause!

45 Minutes before leaving

Personal hygiene decisions will need to be evaluated. Do I need a shower? Should my clothes match? Do I need to change the kids out of their pajamas? If the answer to any or all of those questions is an emphatic yes, do yourself a favor and start getting that out of the way at least 45 minutes before you leave.

Not kidding.

That might not even be enough time if you need a shower and you plan on fighting with any of your kids to get ready. Shower quickly. They will take advantage of any time left alone, which is precisely why you’ve saved your shower until this exact moment.

30 Minutes before leaving

If you haven’t already told your kids that you do indeed have to leave the house today, now is the time to do so. Do not tell them any earlier than this, it only allows for outrageous outbursts, and gives your children much too long to come up with reasons that they are not going anywhere. Today. Tomorrow. Ever.

Don’t give them that chance. Thirty minutes is probably still getting too long, but you also need to let it marinate for a while that they will have to stop watching Puppy Dog Pals at some point in the very near future, and “BUT IT’S NOT OVER YET, MOM!” will not be reason enough to not get into the vehicle.

If you can manage it, turn off Puppy Dog Pals now so the general meltdown can begin in earnest. Also, insist that they try to go use the bathroom so they don’t have to go once you get in the car.

25 Minutes before leaving

Start getting a little irritated at this point and practice saying things like, “Hey, how many times do I have to tell you to put some pants on?”

20 Minutes before leaving

Begin nursing the starving infant, who in fact just ate 45 minutes ago, but if you don’t feed her RIGHT now, she will scream her adorable face off the entire time you are driving. The entire time.

Don’t let the sweetness fool you. I’m a hangry, grunty, pooping machine that will use sleep deprivation to break you.

15 Minutes before leaving

Your two-year-old may or may not come over to you to offer a bouquet of poop flowers that he just dug out of his diaper. His new favorite pastime. Now things are starting to go downhill.  

You’re in charge here, mama, YOU’RE IN CHARGE!

You will have to put down the infant, whose face will immediately turn bright red as she becomes hysterical that you have removed the food source from her tiny adorable pink mouth.  

Her hysterical wails will only be matched by you yelling at your three-year-old: “FOR THE LAST TIME CHILD, PUT YOUR PANTS ON RIGHT NOW!” and he may or may not respond with “I love you, mommy, you’re pretty”. 

Obviously, this an actual image of me while loading up the kids.

10 Minutes before leaving

Find every single child clothing, because even if you tell them exactly what basket to find it in, they will undoubtedly not be able to find anything to wear.  

Also, they may loudly ask you why they have no matched socks. Except, instead of a polite question it sounds more like, “MOM, Why haven’t YOU matched our socks yet? UGH!”

Yeah, match your own socks, boy child.

Naturally, his pair of socks is now one black sock belonging to you, and one white sock belonging to his younger brother.  No worries though, the people at church already think you’re weirdos.

3.5 Minutes before leaving

Find that one kid who is still not wearing any clothes. You gave him his clothes five minutes ago. WHY DON’T YOU HAVE ANY CLOTHES ON?!

Also, at the same time buckle your infant into her car seat and wrangle clothes onto the toddler.

Convince all the children (that are actually ready) to get into their seats. NOW. Make sure you give them very explicit instructions on keeping their clothes clean and getting their butts immediately into their seats with no dilly-dallying.

If they look just a little afraid, they should

3 Minutes before leaving

Discover three out of six children playing in the mud puddle in the middle of the driveway.

Proceed to lose your mind.

2 Minutes before leaving

The three-year-old can’t find his shoe. He just had it on, how on Earth did he lose his shoe in the last two minutes.

None of this makes any sense.

Your ears may feel like they are burning, and your rage-o-meter is probably starting to peg out.

Don’t worry, these are all normal reactions to your current level of domestic stress.

A minute before leaving

You found the shoe, everyone is in the car, and without fail, at least two people will have to pee, because 29 minutes ago you told them to go, and of course, no one did.

If you are really unlucky, one of them will actually have to go #2, and they’ll be the slowest pooper of the bunch.  

Now you’re ten minutes late. Minimum.

Every. Time. Not naming names, but he knows. He knows.

-1 Minute from when you were supposed to leave

Your hair will be matted to your forehead, sweat trickling down your face, even in the middle of winter. Body parts hurt because you, like a champion, have hoisted car seats above your head, and contorted your body into various positions to buckle in kids.

You will get into your own seat, buckle up, and realize you didn’t lock the door.

At this point it’s okay to admit you don’t even care if someone comes to burgle your house, you got everyone into the car.

If that’s the only accomplishment of your day, it’s somehow enough.

See that one lost duckling? There’s always one in the bunch.


There you have it. It’s really that simple to get them all ready to go!

For more Wry Parenting check out Wry Parents Guide: Taking Your Children to Church

Click HERE for 14 FREE printable “Unconventional Milestones of Childhood.”

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  1. Jade Joseph says:

    Your sense of humor in your writing is a hoot!! Plus you’re so spot-on realistic about the chaos of getting everyone in the car–I love your tips for doing it! Keep up the great work 🙂

    1. dirtnoisejoys says:

      Thank you! The chaos is real 🙂

  2. Traci says:

    You. Are. Freaking. Hilarious. Tears running down my face!

    1. dirtnoisejoys says:

      I will lend you tissues the next time we see each other, I’m so glad you are enjoying it, Traci !! 💖

  3. Cynthia says:

    Ha! Someone always has to poop! Sort of my life! Such a great post.

    1. dirtnoisejoys says:

      Right? Always with the poop. Glad you enjoyed it – I am sure in lots of ways you can relate 😂

  4. Samantha of Mother Haggard says:

    You had me at: “The kids all ate tortilla shells filled with cream cheese for breakfast.”

    I am LOVING the debut of this new series and am eagerly awaiting more! And I have to tell you, my husband desperately wants to trade our Jeep for a 12 seater cargo van (although we currently have but one child and NO driveway or parking spot in a very large city?!?!) so this helped sway me a bit on his side.

    As for future topics, I would basically like for you to cover every single aspect of your life. Mornings. Nap time. Bed time. Bath time. Grocery Shopping. COOKING. How you ever manage to have a moment of free time in order to write. I need to steal your secrets because I struggle with all of these with just one child. Chaos Parenting, here I come!

    1. dirtnoisejoys says:

      Can’t wait to dig into some of these topics! Hopefully I will meet your high expectations for information and humor. I’m a little worried.

  5. spoonie-mama says:

    Loved this! I only have two kids and I can barely manage. You’re a superwoman!

    1. dirtnoisejoys says:

      I don’t wear a cape often, but I do feel pretty super ;). Thank you for reading and commenting!

  6. Amy says:

    hehehe! I TOTALLY feel you on this. I wrangle 4 kids 8 and under into the car and it can feel like a 4 ring circus. Ironically, I just wrote a post about a seriously game-changing parenting hack that we’ve implemented at car time that you might really actually enjoy. It doesn’t make it perfect, but WAY easier and WAY more fun. Would love it if you checked it out and then shared with people you also might think could use it! Hope you enjoy!

    1. dirtnoisejoys says:

      Thank you for reading, Amy! I will definitely check out your parenting hack. It might just save me a future gray hair. Or help me survive the summer of travel. Can’t wait to read it!

  7. Hillary says:

    You have way more than one reader! You are doing FABULOUS! I absolutely loved reading this. I don’t have kids (but I was a kindergarten teacher in my past life remember?), and this sounded like my every day of getting the kids to lunch or somewhere on the school campus. HILARIOUS!

    I also think this series is awesome! WAY TO GO.
    I want to see how you feed them all (minus the baby- I know how you feed her) haha. Loved it!

    Keep up the great work girl!

    1. dirtnoisejoys says:

      You’ve got it! I will definitely cover mealtime. For added context, I’ve considered making a video for that gritty, real life experience. I imagine it’s a lot like lunch time with kindergartners. Except ruder, because they’re my kids and my annoyed mom voice doesn’t work the same as annoyed teacher voice.

      Thank you for reading! <3

I love reading your comments you beautiful people

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