Every morning homes, nay whole suburbs, ring out to the familiar chorus of mums and dads yelling: “Get in the car NOW! We’re late!”
I’ve done it – many, many times. I’ve yelled it in such a blood curdling manner that kids in towns far away have jumped to attention and waited for their parents to follow it up with the next line: “I SAID NOOOWWWW!!!!!!”
But I’ve found a few ways to rectify this. Every now and then we’re on time, sometimes even ridiculously early, but we are definitely less late. Here’s where I’ve managed to cut some corners and edge my band of time wasters closer to punctuality, writes Melinda Uys, of The United States of Mama.
Make lunches the night before
It took three terms before, at morning drop off (late) one mother looked at me incredulously and said: “What are you doing still making lunches in the morning? Do it at night you (insert derogatory name for a stupid person here)!” I took this charitable advice on board and it has changed my life! I realised my children don’t really care if their carrot has been peeled and sitting in the fridge for 14 hours before they eat it. Same goes for sandwiches and all the other stuff I chuck in there. And it is so much easier to simply reach into the fridge, grab their lunchbox and THEN yell: “Put this in your bag!! It’s time to GO!” rather than yell this AND frantically make their lunch…
Make batch lunch items
Depending on what your kid likes to eat, you’d be stupid not to invest the time to make some things you can freeze to cut down on day-to-day lunch prep even further. Depending on where you sit on the ‘Salt and Sugar Spectrum’ and where your kids like to laze about on the ‘Fussy About Food Scales’, there’s a tonne of stuff you can make. Quiche, savoury or sweet muffins, chopped up fruit, biscuits, sausage rolls, vegemite and cheese scrolls, mini pies (though if you’re making mini pies for your kids you’ve got too much time on your hands and I’m not really sure why you’re reading this post) … the list is endless. I know of someone who makes the week’s sandwiches and freezes them! Put a big batch of whatever straight in the freezer, then throw one in their lunch box night after night. If you’re a glutton for extreme punishment you could get your kids to help you make them. Obviously not on a school morning though.
I’m sorry to say it, but if you want to arrive at school in any kind of timely manner, you will have to ban screens of any kind in your house in the morning. If this seems totally unattainable, give a cut-off time, say at least 45 minutes (absolute minimum) before those kids need to leave. I know, I know, it’s hard to break the habit of TV first thing in the morning straight after a holiday full of unmetered screen time. Just put your battle gear on and do it. It works.
Outsource the work
If your kids are at school, then they are old enough to get dressed, make their beds, brush their teeth and organise themselves – you shouldn’t be running around doing that. You can even outsource mundane chores such as stacking the dishwasher, sweeping the floors and tidying the living area if you have the time to teach them and the stomach to watch them do a half-baked job of it. Besides, you went to the effort to have these kids, wipe their bums, feed them organic pureed vegetables and play with blocks with them for hours on end. Life is not a free ride, kids. It’s time for you to take on your rightful status as mum and dad’s minions!
I’m not suggesting you toss your kid into some stranger’s car, but rather that you source some poor shmuck you can car pool with. My kids drag the chain for me and have grown impervious to my screams of “HURRY UUUUUUUUUP!”, but should I mention that they’re getting a lift with the Foster’s this morning? Suddenly those children are sitting at the front door, dressed, organised and like perfect little punctuality angels. Plus, you get a few extra minutes at home without having to be in whatever drop off/pickup shlep you usually go through. WARNING: you WILL have to reciprocate by dropping their kids off at some point too. Parents have long memories. If you fail to deposit back into the Bank of Kiddie Related Shlep, you will be silently black-listed from things like carpooling, playdates and sleepovers etc. I’ve seen it happen. It’s not pretty.
The Vortex Factor
I refer to this in our house as The Fiela Factor, named after my husband who has the ability to suck time into some magical other worldly space where it is never seen again and results inevitably in our entire family being late for whatever we need to be on time for. I often refer to him as my third child since he seems to need the same level of care in leaving the house as a three-year-old. Anyway, it seems a bit mean to call it that outside of my house so The Vortex Factor is that 15 minutes you lost and never get back the moment those kids ‘popped’ out of your body. Everything takes 15 minutes longer (90 minutes if you’ve got a newborn).
Taking this on board, if you need to physically leave your house by 8:15am, you actually need to leave at 8:00am. If you aim for 8:00am, inevitably after someone has raced back for their hat or had a fight about who gets to get in the car first or change their shirt because it’s dirty (since it’s been on for a whole 30 minutes), then you leave at 8:15am. You might get to school early, but if the wind is blowing the right way you can toss them out at the front gate muttering something about an appointment and finally start your day. Go you.
If you get these down, you should get to school drop off on time at least 45% of the time. Good luck!