Tips for Being “On-Time” With Kids

posted by Andrea | 01/17/2012

ready to head out the door to yet ANOTHER holiday party!

I’ve always been a pretty punctual person — often arriving a bit early to meetings and appointments. I hate being late or feeling rushed, so thankfully it’s almost second nature for me to plan ahead, leave early, and arrive on time!

I had a feeling all of this might change after Nora was born — especially since everyone kept telling me how difficult it is to get anywhere “on time” once kids are thrown into the mix :)

Well I’m officially 8 weeks into motherhood and I have to agree with everything those people told me! It IS a lot more difficult to go places with a tiny baby {and I assume with small children as well}.

Sigh…

Thankfully, before Nora was born, I got a bunch of tips from experienced moms who also like to arrive on time. And since Nora arrived smack in the middle of the crazy holiday season, I was able to try out many of these tips within days of bringing her home to the hospital.

So many holiday parties, events, family functions, church functions, etc… These are a few of the tips that helped me in my quest to get out the door and arrive on time with Nora in tow!

1. Get the car/diaper bags/purse/etc. packed ahead of time.

If we need to go somewhere during the day, I’ll do my best to get the diaper bag, my purse, and the car fully packed during one of her naps. Then all I have to do is feed and change her… and we’re ready to go. Sometimes, if we’re really running late, I feed her with my coat on!

2. Plan to leave at least 15 minutes earlier than you have to.

I’ve always been good at estimating the amount of time it will take me to do something… however, EVERYTHING takes so much longer now. So thanks to another mom’s suggestion, I’ve been giving myself an extra 15 minutes or more to get out the door. That way, if I do start to run a bit late or if she sleeps longer than normal, we have a little wiggle room :)

3. Use “time frames”, not exact times.

This was probably the best tip I got… and I’ve already used it many, MANY times these past few weeks. Before Nora came along, if I said I would be somewhere at 2:45, I would be there at 2:45. Now, I say, I’ll be there some time before 3:00. Or, I’ll be there between 2:30 and 3:00pm.

That way, I have extra time in case she gets a dirty diaper right before we leave.

4. Realize that sometimes it’s easier just not to go.

We are currently in the stage where it is SO much easier just to stay home than to try to go anywhere… especially since Nora is not really on a great sleeping schedule quite yet.

So Dave and I have decided that if there is anything we need to do before noon, only one of us will go and the other will stay home so Nora can take her morning nap. It’s just not worth it to mess with her sleep and then have her be crabby for the rest of the day.

People will understand if you say “no”. You might have to miss a few fun things… but you might also get out of a few things you didn’t want to do anyway :)

5. Give yourself grace.

Obviously, there is no way we can predict everything our children are going to do — especially when they are babies. Life happens. Other people realize this and will most likely give you grace if you show up a little {or a lot} late.

So even if you’re like me and always try to be on time, there is something to be said for simply throwing your hands up in the air, acknowledging that you will NOT be there on time, and then trying not to worry about it! {yeah, that’s easier said than done… huh!}

Ok, just one more picture — because she is SO cute when she’s sleeping!

What are your best tips for being on-time with kids?

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22 comments

  1. Paulette

    01/17/2012

    Oh Andrea, she is BEAUTIFUL! She looks like you but I can also see Dave. :)

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  2. Julie

    01/17/2012

    I don’t have any other ideas to being on time. I have done all of these at one time or another. But, there were many times that my husband would go to a function without me after we had our twins. It is soooo much easier to just not go!!! I will still do that sometimes if I am totally overwhelmed. And mine are now older…10, 10, 8, 4. We start getting ready at least 15-20 minutes before we are supposed to leave the driveway. There is no such thing as spontenaity with our family. We are on a special diet and I always bring most of our food…so I need to plan ahead often staying up late to make sure they have food for the next days event if plans were made at the last minute. I try to have food for the kids to eat that closely resembles what we are having when we go out. Hang in there….things do get easier!!! Just remember, it’s just a phase and it will soon change. My twins never took a nap until after 18 months… they would fall asleep nursing and when I would try to move them to bed or someother safe sleeping are they would ALWAYS wake up. :)

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  3. Joanna

    01/17/2012

    I agree with all of these tips. I have 2 kiddos. One is 2 and one is 6 months. If I don’t plan ahead, I won’t get anywhere. Getting clothes ready the night before and getting the diaper bag ready as part of my nighttime routine helps so much. I think of my diaper bag in threes, so I don’t forget anything, or overpack. I pack everything to do with feeding (i.e.-nursing cover, bottles, snacks, sippy cups,etc), then I pack everything to do with diapers (i.e.- diapers, wipes, 1 extra outfit) and then everything else (i.e.-medicine, toys, etc.)

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  4. Monique

    01/17/2012

    All of these are good tips. I used all of them. Heck, I still use some variation of them and my kids are 8 & 10! :) It’s also important to continue considering her needs, even as she outgrows that morning nap one day. A tired, hungry, or frustrated toddler needs to be able to stay home, too. Also, don’t stress about the “sleeping” routine too much. Both of mine tended to fall into their own two-nap-a-day schedule by 12-14 weeks. From now on, life is a constantly changing experience, but so worth it. She is adorable!!

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  5. Debbie D

    01/17/2012

    I agree with all of your time saving tips listed above! It is SO hard to be anywhere on time with one baby, and especially with two. We setup 2 diaper bags. One contained all the non-parishables: extra sets of clothes, socks, diapers, blankets, pacifiers, hats and a couple toys. That bag stayed in the vehicle all the time- even while we were home. The other diaper bag contained all the perishables and doubled as my purse. This provided much peace of mind in knowing we didn’t need to pack everthing every time we left the house; that we had extra sets of everything only as far away as our vehicle; and we would only need to repack what we used.
    We only had to concentrate on packing food needs for the time we would be gone making it much easier to get out the door in a timely fashion. I think we were only late once. Amazing! Best of luck to you and your beautiful family!

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  6. Leigh

    01/17/2012

    My kids are 8 months and almost 3. What makes it easiest for us is to keep the bag packed at all times. When we get home I make sure to replace anything that is needed.
    I find the baby easy to get out the door, it is getting the two year old in the headspace to cooperate that is harder.

    Nora is so adorable and I love the sleeping shot. Please keep her safe and keep the chest clip on her car seat at arm pit level to keep her in the seat if she ever needs it.

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  7. Dawn

    01/17/2012

    Andrea,
    I am a huge advocate of keeping a regular morning nap time for kiddos! Even if it’s not at the same time everyday, I’ve found that morning nap to be key. As I am typing this, I have a tired 6 month old rolling around and jabbering {soon to be fussing, i’m sure} in her bed. We were gone this morning, and she slept for 1/2 hour in the van {normally sleeps 1 1/2 hours+}. And now her afternoon nap is not going well, and we may very well pay for it this evening too! It’s very hard not going places very often, or planning everything for when you think they will be awake. But, life at home is so much better!!! I will even admit that my church attendance is not at all regular when my girls are little. If one of the two services works with our eating & sleeping schedule, then I will make sure I go. But, I won’t wake up a sleeping baby to go to church.

    All the things you mentioned above are very helpful and good to remember. It sounds like you are doing a great job being realistic as you make this beg adjustment.

    Remember too, it’s only one stage, and it won’t last very long. I know it feels like forever while you are in the middle of it {I’m preaching to the choir, btw!}. But, it really is amazing how fast the time flies by!

    Blessings! Dawn

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Dawn — and yes, we’ve stopped doing a lot of things in the morning because it just makes for a really crabby rest of the day. We take turns going to church in the morning… because neither one of us can concentrate if we’re worried about Nora making too much noise!!

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  8. Ruth

    01/17/2012

    My kids are a bit older – 9,7,3,11 months and if we are going somewhere in the day I make sure everyone’s dressed from hair (they are all girls) to foot first thing in the morning. It makes it much easier to dash out the door at any time. If they are in good clothes they get to watch a movie and do quiet inside activities so they do not get their good clothes dirty or grass stained. On church mornings I will even put my baby back down for a quick 10-20 min nap decked out in her church clothes.

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  9. jerilyn

    01/17/2012

    I like to teach my children how to put on their shoes, jackets etc. as soon as possible. I use the method of this for their jackets: lay the jacket out on the floor, stand above the hood, put both arms into the jacket, lift it up and over the head. My 2 year old can put his own jacket on and it’s so helpful! He can’t do his shoes yet… but my four year old can get fully dressed, teeth brushed, shoes and jacket on waiting by the door all on his own without supervision. Very helpful when having other little ones.

    Also, keep diapers and wipes in the car :)

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    Andrea Reply:

    Wow, great tip Jerilyn! I’m definitely going to remember this — because I know it would probably be “easier” in the short run to just dress my kids, but so much better in the long run to simply teach them how to do it themselves. I have a friend who’s 4 year-old daughter can totally clean the bathroom on her own already — it’s amazing what kids can do if we let them!

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    jerilyn Reply:

    excellent idea! I haven’t taught my 4 year old to do the bathroom because my 2 year old likes to do EVERYTHING his brother does… and the 2 year old still thinks it’s fun to play in the toilet on occasion. :)

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  10. MelissaPete

    01/17/2012

    I watched the time one day and was surprised by how long it takes to get out the door, in the car, and then back out of the car to get in to wherever we were going. We started to set our deadline for departure at that 15 to 20 minutes prior to event time. We still do it to this day with a 9 and 12 year old. Someone always needs to get a sweater, or go to the bathroom or do some other last minute thing they didn’t prepare for. Good advice!

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  11. sarah

    01/17/2012

    In the moment it can be very frustrating to loose 20mins between the back door and being in the car and down the driveway. Its even more frustrating when you have a limited amount of time before you have to be back for some kind of feeding or nap schedule. There are lots of times that its easier to stay home. Having that diaper bag packed and ready to grab and go by your exit door is key. After lots of meltdowns tantrums (not all from me some were actually from a little one sick of being rushed around) I decided that it was essential to build that 20min buffer into our exit time frame. FYI In the winter that buffer seems to double.
    Kids are like a mirror. Just today I overheard a couple of 4 year olds (one mine, one not) in their pretend play saying how “they don’t have time for play cause they had to go somewhere.” It was a crushing reminder that we need to slow down a bit and put more balance into our day. My point is babies, toddlers, preschoolers and even kindergarteners just don’t get the point of rushing around. They love routine but a SLOW routine. In the end every one is happier therefore Mum is happier and in the long run has more time for whatever.
    Despite what you might think in those frustrating moments your doing GREAT!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Sarah!
    I love your kid’s “pretend play story” — you are right, they pick up EVERYTHING so it’s important we model balance for them.

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  12. Crystal

    01/17/2012

    A car box. Organized with things you may need extras of- changes of clothes, diapers, wipes, even socks and shoes and blankies. When eating food, some appropriate food items. Makes packing up less of a hassle. I just used a large Sterilite tote. Great one day when I had a small fender bender and was stuck off the side of the road for an hour and a half!!

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  13. Suzanne

    01/18/2012

    All great pieces of advice, even as your child gets older too! One I learned right away as my son had to transition to formula, was to get dressed AFTER the last feeding and burping. I learned this the hard way when it all ended up on me, twice, dressed in my work clothes, ready to head out the door. I still do this to today, get myself ready last. I can ALWAYS rush if I have to, but there’s no rushing a 4-year-old with his own agenda.

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  14. Britni @ Our Eventual Homestead

    01/18/2012

    These are great tips! Yes, getting the diaper bag ready and planning to leave early helps a lot. I’ve also found that I need to be in communication with my husband. If I don’t tell him my plan to get out the door he’s not able to help the way I need him too. By simply saying, “we need to be out the door at 2:45 and here is what needs done before we leave…” I eliminate a lot of stress because we can work as a team! It took me a while to realize he couldn’t read my mind :)

    We have a 3 year old and a 1 week old so this post was very helpful :)

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  15. Stacey

    01/18/2012

    As a mom of 2 year old twins, and as many have said, pre-planning prep is key. Keep bottles handy in the frig, sippy cups and snack cups are packed and stay in the car (regular refilling required); keep to-go snack options in the car as well. Diaper bag is always refilled after the previous usage so if leaving quickly, rest assured, it’s ready to go.

    Love the idea of a time frame (for a previously punctual person, being late is added stress however the time frame negates that stress).

    Lastly, I make sure to be ready (make-up on, hair done, handbag in the car, etc. except for changing my clothes) before everyone else. Once everyone is ready to go, I quickly change my clothes, thus avoiding spit-ups, hand rubs, etc. May sound counter-productive but it works.

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  16. Beth

    03/07/2012

    Ditto on car box… Extras of essentials, non-perishable snacks, a few toys and books, sunscreen, etc. The box changes as they grow/change. And our time to leave for a destination/appointment is now an “out the door” time. Again, as they grow and change, assess how long it takes for everyone to get in the car, belted, etc and adjust accordingly. This means bags, socks, shoes, etc must be found and already on by “out the door” time. I’ve known some moms to set alarms on their phone to give them a 10 minute warning prior to the “out the door” time. Works to motivate older kids too! :)

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  17. J. Shields

    06/24/2012

    I have two children ages 3 and 1. Sometimes at places I go to frequently such as my relatives, I keep extra diapers, wipes, clothes and food there for backup. Since I am absent-minded there is a high probability of forgetting something. I find it is helpful in the summertime to keep a bag packed for outdoor activities such as swimming in the car in advance. That way I am not rushed and know they will have everything they need. Also if there is something I need to bring to or from the car I put it in a bag ahead of time so I don’t forget. I can bring everything conveniently back and forth so my car doesn’t look like a natural disaster hit it.

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  18. Julia Knock

    09/22/2013

    It is the start of spring time here in Australia and, here in Queensland it’s already warm enough for swimming. I have two 28L boxes in my car. One is the “Beach Box” which contains beach towels, cossies (bathing suits), goggles, hats, sunscreen and insect repellent. The other is the “BBQ Box” which contains plastic plates and cups, paper towel, a tea towel, BBQ tongs and spatula, a sharp knife, cooking oil spray, a butter knife, tomato sauce (ketchup), BBQ sauce, a scourer and some detergent. The boxes “live” in the car, and the items are washed and repacked in the car after use. It’s great that we can go for an impromptu swim or picnic at any time. It’s so easy to pick up a bag of bread rolls and some sausages and a bottle of soft drink (soda) and we can instantly stop somewhere for a swim and a quick (and inexpensive) dinner. Having 4 kids makes it really expensive to dine out on the hop – this way we can feed everyone without breaking the budget. I used to fuss with picnics with salads, and various condiments – but the reality is – simpler is SO much better !

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