This is us.
We’re about to be 10 minutes late to our homeschool coop.
Actually, 11 minutes late now that I stopped to take a selfie.
And we’re celebrating it.
Why? Because we got through the morning with love and kindness in tact.
Backstory: I heart punctuality. Like, really love it. Everything within me craves timeliness. To arrive early is to arrive on time. To arrive on time is to arrive late, right?
Then I had kids. Then we started arriving late to things. I was mortified. All those people judging me. Why can’t that lady with the 2…3…4…no wait, 5 kids get here on time like everyone else? Sometimes we’d arrive on time, but the victory was short-lived because either way-late or timely-we always arrived the same way: STRESSED. Me mad at kids. Kids mad at me. Kids mad at each other….as we all smile, meet and greet. You get the picture.
Punctuality was becoming a key component to my ideal image and had to be upheld at all costs. This meant yelling, huffing, puffing, pressuring, coercing, threatening…whatever was needed to get those little hindrances to my image into the van and off to my t
riumphant procession engagement on time. After all, everyone’s watching, right?
Then one day I woke up and thought, this isn’t working. This is stressful for me. This is stressful for the kids. I’m focused on supporting my ideal image over nurturing the kids. Or myself. I’m trying to impress people who don’t care about my punctuality nearly as much as I do and are far more gracious than I am to myself and my family. I’m not being authentic. And I definitely don’t heart inauthenticity. Inauthenticity totally crushes encouragement and support among parents of little ones. It’s pretending and lying and I was teaching my kids to do it.
So I came up with a phrase 2 months ago and it’s really helping me.
I’d rather arrive in peace than on time.
Then the strangest thing started happening: getting out the door started becoming less stressful, and arriving started becoming less chaotic, and we all started becoming more peaceful. Oh, and we started arriving on time more frequently. I know, right? Go figure.
Here’s some small practical tips that have helped my family do the best we can to be punctual peacefully:
- Allow 2 hours- yes, 2 hours- from start to finish to get out the door. If we need to be in the van at 10 am, start getting ready at 8 am. For a long time I wanted to believe that this wasn’t my reality. I mean, 2 hours? Really?? But alas, tis true. So 2 hours it is.
- Brief kids the night before of the morning’s agenda. What needs to happen? When? What responsibility does each child have?
- Ask spouse for specific help. Don’t assume he’s a mindreader and knows what would help get everyone out the door.
- Pack as much as possible the night before. Lunches, diapers, water bottles…whatever can be done ahead of time. Your morning self will thank you when the inevitable diaper blow out and sibling blow up deters you from your timeline.
- Ask the kids for suggestions. What could make our mornings easier? What could we do better? They have some pretty clever ideas. Recently, my kids suggested they get into the van one at a time while the others wait in the garage as a way to mitigate fighting. And.It. Worked.
- Repeat over and over “I’d rather arrive in peace than on time.” I can’t tell you how much this has guided me when I feel tempted to spiral into frantic stress ball mode.
- When scheduling an appointment that must be met on time (doctor, dentist, etc.), pick a time that you know you can make. Preferably after 10 am.
- Reward your kids-and yourself- for your efforts! Just yesterday the kids and I had to be out the door by 9:30 to get to a Farmers Market to do a ton of shopping for a 17-person gathering I’m cooking for this weekend (stay tuned for that blog post!). I told the kids the night before what we were doing, who we would be cooking for, what these friends mean to me, what grocery items we will need, which child will be pushing the baby stroller, the shopping cart, the other shopping cart….It was a LOT of coordination and energy. So when we actually pulled it all off and checked out, we celebrated with cupcakes and cannolis. At 11 am.
So there you have it. My small, practical tips to arriving in peace and possibly even on time! If you have tips, victories or epic fails, I’d love to hear them!