“Just leave earlier.”
This is advice I get a lot, mostly when I am venting or complaining that I just can’t ever seem to be on time for anything. Recently on the Pulse Facebook page, I was pretty much blasted by a mom who had raised three small children and was always early; her kids are now grown and continue to carry on the tradition of being “early”. (She also had some choice words for me about respect and how I’m raising my kids, but I won’t dwell on all of that.)
I can make excuses all I want, but yes there is an element of being unprepared. The issue isn’t that I’m lazy or undisciplined in getting out the door. There are a number of factors here. My main issues are distractions and over-commitment.
I get up plenty early and while in the past, a parent might have watched the news or flipped through the paper with their morning coffee and then moved on because – it’s over, parents today have an endless stream of information and entertainment. DISTRACTION. 20 years ago we couldn’t catch up on Orange is the New Black at 530 AM (nor at 1130 PM); we couldn’t research the latest on the flu shot; we couldn’t go check our children’s current progress report. There’s always something to catch up on, and generally while you’re going down one path, many other “Oh-yeah-I-forgot-about-that’s” come up, and before you know it you’re behind on lunches and someone can’t find their second rubber boot or their permission slip.
Over-commitment. Kids – and parents – are way busier today. One practice a week won’t do – we’ve got three. We’ve got fundraising and piano lessons and volunteering. Our commutes are longer and our email is always on. The line between work and home is blurred. We make trade-offs, leaving early one day or working from home means we have to overcompensate on other days. So sure, I could make lunches the night before, but I’m busy catching up on work because I drove my kids on a field trip.
We are not the only ones feeling this. Most schools and classrooms have a “soft start”. Meaning, there’s the welcome bell, then the starting bell, and for the first 10 minutes or so it’s reading time or a self-led activity while everyone gets themselves settled. And our office regularly runs out of late slips.
And honestly, there’s some weird gremlin that warps time between 7:30 AM and 8:30 AM. So when school starts at 8:25 and it’s a 6 minute walk, we get our shoes on at 8:10, but somehow don’t get out the door until 8:27. Weird, huh?!
When we’re already late, I refuse to stress about it. And maybe that’s teaching my kids something terrible, but mostly not to get yourself worked up about things that you can no longer control. There was a time when I would fuss, yell, turn into a demon, but I just couldn’t stand the feeling I had after rushing my kids to school and having all that stress build up a big black cloud around our morning. So while we aren’t late all the time, when we are, I just take a deep breath and remind myself to do better tomorrow.
The bright side is that my eldest rebels by being early to absolutely everything now that he goes places on his own. A real bad boy!