Always On Time

I grew up in a house where being on time was a way of life. We were always around 15 minutes early to everything and anything. It was ingrained in our being. When I attended college, being early was something I couldn’t shake. I was that student usually waiting outside the classroom even before the teacher. Even the, um, hangover wouldn’t allow me to be late. I tried to be more relaxed, attempted to be there when the class started, but an anxiousness would creep up and force my body to get there early. Ten minutes, that was my compromise, and that was tough. I was told that things would change when I had children, that I would not still be early when I was juggling diapers and tantrums.

Well, I have been a mother for six-and-a-half years and never once have I been late to an appointment or event or play date. My mother’s ‘on time’ gene is still there. I have a method, a never-fail system to always be ready and out the door.

The night before any play date or appointment I start planning. My first order of business is letting the kids know what we have planned for the next day and when. Their involvement and knowledge sets the tone. I start by setting out outfits for each child. The ones that are old enough can do this by themselves. A bag is packed the night before, too. In it—depending on length of stay—are snacks, cups, extra clothing for the youngest, diapers, and wipes. Once packed, I either put it directly into my car or next to the door. Doing things at night makes the morning less complicated. On a side note, I keep a small bag with diapers, wipes, band aids, and a couple easy snacks ALWAYS in my car for emergency situations.

Another thing that I do at night is figure out where I’m going and how long it will take to get there. If my appointment is somewhere I haven’t been before, I look it up and set up the navigation on my phone. Before these wonderful smart phones I would print out directions and have them sitting on top of my diaper bag. My time of departure has an added 15-20 minutes to allow for any traffic on the way there.

The next day I allow for an hour-and-a-half to two hours of getting ready time. This does not include travel time, just the time we need to get all kids and me ready to leave. This seems like a lot of time but it allows for tantrums, refusal from children to behave, blow outs, spills on clothing, and even some time to read a story together. Leaving enough time for unexpected circumstances takes the pressure off and makes us have a more enjoyable time.

About fifteen minutes before our time to leave, we put on shoes and head out to the car. Fifteen minutes is a lot of time, but when you take into account buckling children, remembering blankets and stuffed animals, and the occasional smelly diaper that seems to always happen at the last minute, it’s not that much time. We pull out of the driveway always ready and most of the time in a good mood, not stressed about being late.

Prepare yourself for everything that children throw at you—this will make it easier to get out of the house and to your appointment on time. This method takes practice, but soon it will be second nature and you will have enough time to enjoy leaving the house with small children. You may even have enough time to apply mascara and some lip stick!

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