Getting out of the house with children is quite the feat. And if you’re anything like me, arriving late to events is more stressful than most other circumstances in life.
Since having kids, I’ve grown more relaxed on start times to certain things for others and myself. (Specifically, playdates and casual group hangouts.) However, I still really value showing up on time (ideally five-ish minutes early). I make it a point to order my day around time-specific activities.
So how do I do it?
This might just be my perfectionistic personality dysfunction (anyone else a type 1 on the Enneagram?), but if I am the reason my family is late, the added guilt and chaos on top of being late can be unnecessarily stressful.
Just like meal planning, getting places on time requires some foresight.
Example: On Saturday nights before church, I try to refill my diaper bag, find all of the kids’ shoes, check the weather, etc., so that when we are trying to get out of the house on Sunday mornings, I’m not frantically trying to find a missing shoe or misplaced jacket.
If I’m headed somewhere new, I make sure the address & location details are loaded into my calendar. Then I double-check the travel time depending on the traffic for that time of day. I figure out the parking situation (street or lot, paid or unpaid) and what not in advance as best as I can.
So consider what your “get-out-of-the-house” routine entails and create your mental (or physical) checklist catered to your household. For instance, I may or may not be the type to get gas before my tank hits the “1/2” mark because having low fuel causes anxiety. So checking my gas tank is not on my list. However, if you’re more of the type to live on the edge, maybe also make sure you have gas in your tank. But I digress.
Buffer, buffer, buffer.
You know it’s scientifically proven that there is no better time for a blowout poopy diaper that your child spread all over their crib or an epic projectile vomiting situation until it’s time to leave, right?
Everything takes longer with kids. We’re at the stage in our home where a ten-minute activity easily turns into an hour-long adventure. A “quick” to-do before getting on the road takes about eight times longer than it “should” because I have three sweet tiny humans who insist on trying to buckle their car seats on their own.
Adding buffer times throughout the day is important if you want to be timely and not feel rushed from one thing to the next all of the time. (I could write a whole post on adding buffer to your schedule in all of life. But let’s tackle buffering just for the sake of being on time for now!)
Take the “planning ahead” section and add in time for a worst-case scenario. As your kids get older, the battles change and the stressors look different. But thankfully as the parent or caregiver, you get to set the pace for your family. For instance, our biggest time-sucks right now are potty- and poop-related. We were late getting out the door just this week because I only planned for one or two, not all three, kids to use up that buffer.
This leads me to my last point.
Go with the flow.
On occasion, I may or may not sacrifice things like wearing makeup or making sure my kids’ clothes are matching in order to make it somewhere on time. I also may or may not have forgotten to feed them one time and given them Larabars for breakfast. Heavy on the “may.”
There are days where we end up so far ahead of schedule that I manage to put away some laundry and clean my car out before leaving the house. But then there are the other days. When all of the buffer time is used up, when the kids are melting before we even get shoes on, when everything is out of control, I have to remind myself that sometimes my response in the moment is the only thing I do have control over.
When it’s “go” time, go with the flow! If things are going according to plan, great. If things aren’t going to plan, try to think outside of the box and make sacrifices as needed.
At the end of the day, remember there’s only so much you can do. Sometimes the get-out-the-door routine just needs a bit of tweaking to get somewhere on time the next time. But other times accept you will be late. And know there is grace for that is the best thing you can do for your family!
If you have a routine or specific tip, share it in the comments. I’d love to learn from you, too!
Originally published July 2019