Around the time your child turns two, you stop getting anywhere on time. Showing up when you planned to becomes an exotic, unattainable concept – and all you see ahead of you is a future of being late.
The problem is, so many things cause delays. The simple feat of getting out the house lives in a Goldilocks zone where loads of things have to be just right. A knackered kid with no energy? You’re going to be late. An overexcited kid with too much energy? You’re going to be late.
You can be delayed by a child refusing to go to the toilet, by a child deciding to keep unnecessarily going to the toilet, or by a child going to the toilet somewhere that isn’t the toilet. You can put the telly on to give yourself a few minutes to run around getting things done, then find yourself spend longer negotiating turning it off without all hell breaking loose.
Apologising for being late just becomes part and parcel of daily life – so what can knackered, frazzled, perma-late parents do to get out of the house on time?
Productivity coach, Rashelle Isip, of The Order Expert, is a pro at getting people to take back control of their schedules – and she has some tips.
First, make a checklist of everything that needs to be done before going out – for yourself, your partner, and your child. You may create a general “getting ready for school” checklist, for example, that you use every morning – or a more specific one, for going out of an evening. Assign and prioritise the checklist and work out suitable deadlines for each one – “brush teeth before 8am”. Sticking to the system should keep people on track, says Isip.
“Turn your focus towards completing tasks that will help everyone get out the house and work on eliminating other activities,” she says. Understanding the difference between the two is important. Activities like bathing, getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, and putting on shoes should be the main focus. Other activities such as dealing with non-urgent household items, watching television, using social media, and email should be minimised or eliminated, she says.
“Turn your focus towards completing tasks that will help everyone get out of the house.”
Of course, even with the most well-meaning checklist, things can still go awry. Minimise this by using the time after your child has gone to sleep the night before to set up as many things as possible – doing outfit selection, bag packing, and packed lunches while Junior slumbers should streamline the process.
Isip also suggests limiting decisions in the morning, as much as you can. “Stick with one or two healthy and easy-to-prepare breakfast options during the weekday, for example, and save more complex breakfasts for the weekend,” she adds.
There’s always the chance something will crop up and make you late anyway – and there *is* evidence that people who are late all the time live longer – but taking on this advice could mean a little less chaos in the morning, and isn’t that what we all want?