Wednesday, June 5, 2013

5 Tips To Make Your Life More Simple {being a punctual parent}

Oh man, this is something I struggle with on a regular basis. I come from a family where 10 minutes late is considered "on time."  My mom really functions best under pressure so procrastination suits her.  She may always be the late one but somehow it's never really been a problem for her. I think it's because it is such a consistent part of who she is that people have just accepted it and possibly even embraced it as an endearing part of what makes her her.

They say that children learn best through what is modeled for them and that philosophy definitely applies here. Growing up, I was that kid who was late to school and always had to call my mom to bring my permission slips so I could go on field trips. We would *just* miss the bus almost every day and would have to follow it so I could get on at the next stop. Etc, etc, etc. So, since the apple doesn't usually fall far from the tree, I grew into a habitually late person myself. When I got my driver's license and very own car, I was always walking in the door to school just as the tardy bell was ringing. You'd think that i could just tell myself, "Sarah, if you are late every single day, perhaps something needs to change. Wake up 15 minutes earlier perhaps?" So I'd set my alarm and in the morning would "get" to snooze 15 minutes longer than usual. Being late really is a habit that is hard to break.

Lucky for me, I had a first block teacher who was more into actually helping his teenage students grow and mature, rather than just constantly reprimanding and punishing us. When I had gotten enough tardies for Saturday school, he decided to strike a deal with me. If I could be on time for 10 days in a row, he'd wipe my slate clean and pretend that the tardies never happened. I took him up on his offer and was on time for the rest of my senior year and all through college. I rose to the challenge and was able to make the change I so desperately wanted to make. I really hated being late but I needed help getting out of the rut. 

David's parents were the total opposite of mine. He was always 15 minutes early to everything and had all of his needed paperwork signed and in a labeled file folder so, as a couple, we were able to find a happy medium. Until we had Ayden... When he was a newborn, I think we were an hour late to our first outing. It has slowly gotten better and we are on time to the majority of events these days but we have to be realistic and intentional when gearing up to leave the house. All along the way on this post-baby punctuality journey, we have gathered advice from other parents and have compiled list to share with you!!  I hope you find these tips as helpful as I do:

1) Get yourself ready first. Parents, especially moms, have a tendency to put their family's needs before their own. They are the ones who have to throw their dirty hair into an "up do" (that's what we'll call it...) and put their makeup on during the bumpy car ride. If you get yourself ready first, your stress level will be lower and you'll be more efficient, and will therefore be better equipped to deal with that stressful last minute diaper explosion or food spill. On good days, I even take this one as far as getting ready for an evening event in the morning and just touching up or quickly changing clothes before we leave. 

2) Work backwards. Make a *realistic,* if not generous, timeline and stick to it. Start with what time you have to be there and work backwards, remembering every step on your routine and how long each takes, until you get to when you need to start getting ready. Don't forget to add time for feedings/meals, naps and travel time. 

3) Lie To Yourself (or whoever makes you late).  Some mothers recommend adding extra time just for being late. Tell yourself you have to be out of the house at least 20 minutes before you actually do. That way you have a cushion for the unexpected. 

4) Prep and pack the night before. Take some time to sit down and really think about your upcoming event or trip. What kinds of snacks will you need?  How many diapers? Any returns you need to make that will require you to round up receipts and the items themselves? Library books? Your grocery list and reusable bags? Before our errand day I do what I call errand day prep. We have a 20 minute drive to our weekly story time at 11 am on Thursdays.  We usually sleep until 8:30 or 9 giving us around 2 hours from wake up to leaving the driveway. To make sure we are on time, I make a list of my errands on a post it to stick on my dash board, gather everything I need and go ahead and put it all in the car (including the fully stocked diaper bag). I also lay out our outfits so we can get up, get dressed, walk Mav, eat breakfast, grab snacks and water bottles from the fridge and hop in the car. Since I've been implementing this one we've been getting to the book store 10 minutes early. Sometimes we even leave early enough to knock out an errand before story time.  That is success!!

5) Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Kids are unpredictable and so is life itself. Sometimes you are just going to be late and honestly, in the grand scheme of it all, it's really not that big of a deal. People are typically understanding and if they are not, they probably will be someday when they have kids of their own. *Try* to be on time, if that is what will make you experience a happier life, but give yourself some grace when you aren't able to pull it off. 

What is your top tip for being a punctual parent?


Click here for more tips from the "Make Your Life Simple" series!

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  1. Love the new layout! And I'm always horribly late :/ I think it runs in my family too.

    I think I underestimated the amount of time that something will take... and in the end it makes me late. I'm not really sure. I hope people don't take offense to my tardiness.

  2. I think I must be like your Mom! I'm habitually late and I've been that way for so long that it doesn't even really bother me anymore. Isn't that sad? With 3 kids though it's a miracle that we even make it much less on time :)

  3. I love the new layout too! I think all of your tips are great1 My favorite is prep the night before. I always do this (not to say I'm ALWAYS on time). I actually prep the kids' diaper bag every night. Even if we have no plans to leave the next day. There was a time I didn't do this and I was caught off guard! Also, I prep things like my son's sippy cups for the next day. He always wants milk first thing in the morning and having to stop to serve him used to get me completely side tracked. Now I can say, "Mommy got it ready for you, it's in the 'fridge" and he can help himself. This helps keep me from running behind before work in the morning!

  4. I used to pride myself on being on time everywhere and it was fine when my son was a newborn and would sleep anywhere. Now he must be in bed to nap (13 months) and does not have a consistant sleep schedule, so when I need to be somewhere at 4, he might go down for a nap at 3:30, cause otherwise he'd be a complete mess wherever we needed to be. Sometimes I can get away with him sleeping in the Ergo but other times I want him to be able to play and have a good time and that involves a nap. Now I pretty much go with it and others deal with it cause otherwise we wouldn't be able to come or they'd have to deal with a crabby toddler too.