It is not uncommon for parents to be rushing daily from one chore, event, person, deadline, or expectation to the next. For me, it starts as soon as the alarm goes off and I slink out of bed and try to get the dog outside without waking everyone up. I need time to myself in order to get ready as quickly as possible, before the little guy wakes up. He has spidey-sense and knows when I am awake and doesn’t want me to be alone! Once he is awake, he wants a sippy cup and snuggles and is asking if it is a “half day, full day, or stay at home day.” (Hmmmm….. I need to work on that. We don’t “stay at home” on every day off, but I will admit, I am kind of a homebody and sometimes I have to get stuff done and I don’t want to get dressed or brush my hair!) Anyway, things go most smoothly if lunches are ready before I have two more that are asking for breakfast. If I am on dinner duty and planned well, dinner could be prepped and maybe even in the crock-pot before we leave the house at 7:35 am. If a load of laundry gets thrown in, it could qualify as a certifiable rock star day. The day continues like this, rushing from one meeting to the next, onsite and offsite, and then onto the “second shift” of chauffering, lessons, homework, dinner, and housework. I am fortunate to have another ringmaster to facilitate our circus. Every day is different, therefore we meticulously choreograph everything.
“Mom you’re late”, was my regular greeting from my kids. I felt bad about it, I really did. No one wants to be the last kid picked up. No one wants to stare out the school door window watching car, after SUV, after minivan go by, waiting for their parent’s vehicle, and they definitely don’t want to wait outside in the northwest rain. Isn’t it already bad enough that I made him stay for Homework Club? Thank goodness for homework club!
Here are a few tips to stop being late. I could call them tips for being on time, but at this moment, my frame of reference is about trying to not be late.
1. Set an alarm
This is #1 because it is the most important. I have alarms in my iPhone with built in reminders (15 minute warning and/or drive time) before everything! That does mean that you have to have your phone/computer by you to receive the alarm. This isn’t foolproof, but ideally it will give you the regular kick in the pants to not be late to wherever you are trying to go. I also suggest that you give your regular alarms special names, so they don’t become invisible to you. Some of mine include a lovely message to myself like “Good Morning Sunshine” or other positive/encouraging notes. I also indicate the specific kid and pick up location and/or destination. Don’t think these details can’t fall out of your brain on a particularly hectic day.
2. Be realistic
Sometimes you have to say no to a meeting time, pick up time, or expectation. We can’t accomplish our strategic priorities if we are booked back to back to back with a competing agenda.
3. Don’t procrastinate
My life and the lives around me are much happier if I don’t have to pull an unexpected late-nighter writing a grant or finishing a presentation. I know the deadline in advance, just get it done! Plus, if I wait until the last minute, inevitably- there will be 5 other priorities that will stop me. It also isn’t cool to have to run into the mall 20 minutes before an orchestra concert to buy a growing boy his third pair of black pants for the year. I’ll also end up buying whatever fits, which you know darn well will be the most expensive pair. FYI- Definitely don’t procrastinate helping your kid with their science fair project. You can’t accurately conduct a 30-day experiment in 10 days. Ahem…..
The cost of procrastination can be peace, money, opportunity, or happiness.
4. Prepare as much as possible in advance
Mondays are usually the easiest in this regard, since we take the time on Sunday night to prep (or think about) lunches, breakfasts, dinners, school bags, music stuff, etc…Laundry is usually done on the weekend, so ideally everyone has a dresser and closet full of clean clothes to choose from too. Maybe this is why I don’t mind Mondays too much, and I love new beginnings, and I love the work I do. Other things you can prep are making sure your alarms are set and your to-do list is complete and prioritized. I have my work priorities listed and my personal/home life priorities listed (sign up for camps, make ortho appointment. That kind of thing.)
5. show time vs. call time
In my world, we have “Show Time” and “Call Time”. If the show starts at 7:30, call time might be at 6:30. So build in time to get ready for where you are going. Especially on Saturday mornings, which are way mellower at our house, I give warning of how much time is left before we depart. This is the equivalent to flashing the lights in the theater. We get ready a bit earlier than what seems necessary. If there is extra time before we have to leave, great- they can do something else, but we will all be ready when it is time to go.
6. Build in a buffer.
If you have a meeting until 3:00, you aren’t going to be at school for a 3:00 pick up! Unless you work AT THE SCHOOL, this is an impossible scenario. I do not, however, recommend the snooze alarm, I have often used that, only to realize, I didn’t actually have an extra 18 minutes (that is 2 snooze cycles). Seriously, put in an extra 15 minutes, because they inevitable vanish into thin air and you’ll be late again. I also dream of putting in “GSD” time in between meetings so that I can follow up with stuff right away. I know I am always impressed when other people do that immediately following a meeting, but if you are off to your next one, there is no time for follow-up. It is better when it is freshy in your brain anyway.
7. Put stuff away!
This one is huge! We waste so much time looking for stuff. Typically I only misplace my keys and phone (thank goodness for the “find my iphone” app). Keys should go in the same place every day. There are no alternatives to this one. Trust me. I am still working on training everyone else to put their stuff away, but alas, I only have so much fight in me.
8. Reduce expectations
Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Prep those kiddos so they know what time you’ll be there (and/or add 5 minutes) so when you are early, you look like a Super Mom.
There you have it. Eight ideas to keep you running on time and to avoid being late. I would love to hear your strategies, please comment below.