Monday, February 24, 2014

on being on time

Being on time? Who writes a blog post on that? Sounds kind of lame... But hey hear me out :) 

I am a procrastinator by nature. I believe in the inspiration of the moment. And I have more free-spirited tendencies in me than some it seems... I was the girl who was up painting the huge project for school that was due the next day and didn't finished til 3:00 a.m. and it was not even quite dry yet when I turned it in... (true story) I'd get all inspired and go all out and be a last minute perfectionist and it would come out amazing but it would cost me. I was perpetually late. It was a regular occurrence to be taking out my hot rollers and doing my make up on the drive to my highschool. Fast forward to college.... I was always sleeping til the last minute and would end up not having enough time to drive to the designated parking lot and wait for the shuttle, so I'd find street parking somewhere and have to run out between classes to move to another parallel parking spot down the road to avoid the ticket. (But... sometimes I got tickets anyway.) I was the girl who my friends bet on would be the last one to their wedding. I was late to church. I did the bare-minimum-of-makeup-to-look-awake while sitting at the red lights on my drive to work in the mornings. I was always swiping my badge at the time clock with just seconds to spare. I think I planned on being at least 15 minutes late to non-work related things and thought that was excusable. But if you plan on 15 minutes late, you're usually 30... or more... I told myself this was who I was, and I didn't even try to change. But something inside me just didn't feel right when every time I showed up somewhere I had to start with an apology.

Probably about two or three years ago I finally realized this is not ok. And I didn't have to be that person forever.

The more kids I had, the more it became SUPER obvious that life required more planning than I had done in the past. I couldn't count on things always going smoothly and taking the bare minimum of time anymore. I needed to give myself some cushion. I started making it to things just barely on time, instead of being late, but it still felt stressful. (My goal these days is to remove as much stress from life as I can.) It was at a Bible study called the Christian Home Study that I really got the kick in the pants I needed. 

I don't remember what context it was in, but somewhere in one of our lessons it talked about how being late shows a disrespect for other people's time. When you are late to an event, it is like you are saying "My time is more important than yours, therefore it is ok to make you wait for me." And it all clicked for me... OF COURSE! That's why it doesn't feel good to be late. That's why I even felt guilty at times. And that should be my motive when planning how much time I need to get ready to leave my house, not that I am some impressive mom that can get my kids all out the door in record time, or even that my reputation is someone who is on time, but to show others that I respect their time. Lightbulb Moment for sure. 

So here are some things that help me to make sure I am on time: 

1. Allow myself extra time. 
I can't accentuate this enough. If I know it takes me an hour to shower, dry my hair and do my make-up, I leave an hour and a half. Especially in this season of breastfeeding on demand. I know I need to allow time to feed Mr. Jaden. In this season of life, I know that if I need to be somewhere by ten then I need to be up and starting the "getting ready" routine at 7:30 at the latest in order to have enough time to get everyone dressed, fed, bags packed and in the car by our target time. Know how long things take you on a regular basis, and then add some extra time for a cushion. I never plan to do my makeup in the car. That is only a last ditch effort in case something really crazy happens that morning and I have to sacrifice my "make up time." (I also don't ever do my makeup in the car if I'm driving anymore..... maybe cause it's dangerous.... don't know what I was thinking back in my younger years... ahem. )

2. Try to combine tasks for maximum time management. 
To make my "getting ready" routine more streamlined, I will often do my make up in a little hand mirror while sitting on our bed and nursing Jaden at the same time. I also don't dry my hair until after this, because it can start to air dry while I nurse him and won't take as long then when I'm done. That's just one example.

3. Prepare for the next day the night before. 
My mom always told me my whole life to lay out my clothes for the next day before I went to bed. It took me til now to finally take her advice. I don't do this every day, but definitely on Saturday nights it helps a ton. I lay out outfits for all three boys and myself so that when getting ready for church the next morning if Shaun has time to help me dress them the clothes are already there and ready for him, and so that Drew knows where his clothes are to dress himself. I can also make sure everything I need is clean ahead of time then too. Other ways to do this would be packing a lunch the night before, having the diaper bag packed and ready to go, getting the meat for the next night's dinner out of the freezer, etc. 

4. Put clocks in the places you need them most. 
I know it's not really traditional to have a clock in the bathroom, but if that's where you spend most of your time getting ready in the morning it would be awfully helpful to be able to make sure you're on track. Get yourself one of those cute little Pottery Barn clocks pictured above if that helps :) If you have a regular routine in the morning and need to be at work at the same time each day you could even set alarms on your cell phone that let you know when you should be getting to the next task while getting ready. 

5. Aim to be five minutes early. 
If you set your goal ahead of time it is so much less stressful. A nice relaxing drive where red lights and stop signs aren't cause for anxiety is so nice!!! You have control of your time then rather than feeling like you are racing the clock to see who will win. 

Now, there are still times when I run late to things. But it is very infrequent and usually because something completely out of my control happened. In all this I'm not talking about not giving yourself grace or making things more stressful for yourself. I'm just talking about having a plan, a strategy, and ultimately, showing other people that you respect their time. I've found that doing things this way I am now early to church without even trying, even on the mornings when Shaun goes ahead of time for worship team and I get all three boys ready and there by myself. (It helps that my husband has become a time management fanatic.) I also feel really good when I show up to meet someone somewhere and I am on time or early. It's a really fun thing to greet someone with a smile instead of an apology :) 

Hope maybe these little things it took me so long to learn can help someone else too!

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