Elisha and I were pretty “on time” before kids, but as soon as Leon came along, we started showing up chronically late. Like, 30 minutes late.
Or, we’d be on time with my hair still wet from the shower, Leon’s bottle missing from the diaper bag, and Elisha still showing signs of stress.
It got so bad, Elisha and I actually had to run up on stage during an award ceremony after it already started . . . awkward.
As my belly neared the popping point with baby #2, my head swam with nightmares of 2x more baby-paraphaneila, breastfeeding, and emotions piled on top the stress of getting out the door.
It was time for a system. A simple system.
Prep: Set up the System
Next time you get ready, time how long it takes you to do your make-up, shower, blow-dry your hair, and get your clothes on. How long does it take to get your kiddos ready? How long does it take to double check your diaper bag?
Heck, I even secretly timed how long it took Elisha to get ready on average.
Write it down on a quick note pad on your phone as you go.
I left 30 minutes to get myself ready for Elisha’s Christmas concert series . . . turns out, simply showering, blowdrying my hair, putting on my make-up and getting dressed (even when I went as fast as I could) took longer than 30 minutes! It’s no wonder I was late getting Leon ready, packing our bag, and loading up in the car.
Some things, we simply CANNOT hurry. Like blow-drying our hair, or shaving. Having accurate time-frames is the foundation of timeliness.
Step 1. Work Backwards
I keep a list of all my “times” inside the kitchen cupboard. Then, before we get ready to go somewhere it’s a simple matter of mathematics.
If I don’t need to shower or curl my hair, I skip those time blocks, and add together the times for the steps I need to do.
I like to leave a 10 minute buffer time for unexpected dirty diapers, or lost items.
Today, for instance, I need to be ready to leave by 2:30pm. I subtract my 10 minute buffer . . . 2:20pm. I subtract the amount of time it’s going to take me to get Leon and I ready and out the door . . . 1:45pm.
1:45pm is my start time to get ready.
I don’t need to rush, stress, or worry about getting ready before my start time. I can work right up to it.
I also don’t need to worry about unexpected issues . . . because I factored in a buffer for those.
Worse case scenario, I’ll be early!
Step 2: Develop a Flow
Having a flow to getting ready is important. If you prioritize an order that works for you, it eliminates confusion, stress and leaving stuff undone.
a. Get out your clothes and your kiddos clothes first.
That way, if there’s a stain, you can throw it in the laundry real quick. If there’s a missing shoe, they can start looking for it. And if you feel fat in that outfit you were planning on wearing, you can adjust.
b. Get YOURSELF ready before anyone else.
I used to always get ready last. However, that means I was often putting makeup on in the car or showing up with wet hair. Trust me, if you and your hubby look good, no one is going to notice Suzi didn’t have time to find her hairbow, or Johnny had to wear his tennis shoes because he couldn’t find his boots. (Also, your husband can’t help you with this part . . . )
c. Get your kiddos ready second (and remind your husband when he should start getting ready based off your secret research)
If we were going to a wedding or something fancy, my parents let us watch a movie as soon as we were ready. This cut down on whining and made everyone work together. Yet another benefit of rationing media. 😉
d. Save the diaper bag, snacks, tidying the house etc. for last
If you’re running way behind, your husband can help out with this part (especially if you have a super simple diaper bag system. 😉 Your kiddos can help out as well.
Get the things that only you can do out of the way first, so you can recruit help if needed!
There you have it! The two-step Simple System that allows us to be on time, every time. As our life changes with the advent of a new baby, I’ll need to add more time slots for breastfeeding, and more diapers.
It’s a simple matter of mathematics.
But in all seriousness, it’s 1:46pm, so I gotta go.