Lateness drives me batty. I live in a state that is notorious for lateness, it’s practically the standard here that if you say you are to be somewhere at 6:00pm, everyone translates that to “6:00-ish and heavy on the ‘ish’ “. However, if you are working with clients, going to work, showing up for meetings, or even arriving for parent/teacher conference (and they have back to back 15 minute windows scheduled with each parent, for the love be on time!!) Holy hell, this drives me nuts. But, I realize there are always reasons why someone is late (slept too long, couldn’t find keys, traffic, kids are like hurding cats, yadda yadda. I also realize that THERE IS ALWAYS A REASON, and I am not immune to these lateness obstacles, I just plan for them.
So, how can you start changing your lateness habit once and for all? Work backwards…..
Arrive at 6:00pm
5:40pm – It takes 20 minutes to drive to your location (without any traffic or problems)
5:10pm – I need 30 minutes to get myself ready (45 if washing hair)
4:55pm – I need 15 minutes to keep kids focused and be sure they are ready to get out the door
4:40pm – Add 10-15 minutes for the always unexpected traffic (Really? You were surprised there was slow traffic? Really?)
4:35pm – Add 5 minutes for that kids that always, ALWAYS, needs to poop right as we are walking out the door
4:30pm – Add 5 minutes to gather what you need – keys, notebooks, forms, shoes, sunglasses, whatever you usually scramble to find
So, the time that you stop what your doing, and start getting ready to be at your 6:00pm location? 4:30pm. Surprised? This is why you’re late. Habits take focus to change, to replace with a new habit of working backwards.
Being on time shows respect and creates so much less stress! I’m a fan of doing anything to reduce stress.
Working a backwards timeline becomes second nature when you are conscious about doing it initally. I talk through this process out loud around my kids all the time, so they know we don’t live in a world where teleporting is a real thing yet (although when it is, I’m sure lateness will still happen!) and we need to give ourselves time to be on time.
This ninja move can work for everyday events, but you can also use it to create a long term action plan. This long term version is discussed in another post, so for now, practice this now and get in the habit of being on time! You’ll thank me later.
Well here we are. Another day, another Christmas. Another viewing of The Christmas Story. Another day filled with sugar, jammies, and love.
I’ve learned a few things in my 4th year as a single parent. If you’re not a fan of life lessons, stop reading now, it’s ok (squirrel!).
1. Kids just want to feel loved. They don’t care where they are, what house they are in, as long as they feel it. Of course they miss the other parent, whether they voice that or not. Our job as parents is to create a world of love, even if that world doesn’t look exactly like your neighbors world.
2. I miss my kids when they aren’t with me, especially on a holiday. If I didn’t, well…. that’s just not human, & I’m a pretty good human.
3. I know he misses his kids when they are with me. Our families miss each other. There are simply a whole lot of people missing each other in this scenario. This is the nature of divorce.
4. I get to create new traditions, for me AND for my kids. This is the cool part. It’s not a competition, it’s not a loss of childhood memories, it’s an opportunity to find something fun and new. What will my kids look forward to, & then remember when they are adults? I hope that they remember that both their Mom and Dad loved them immensely. That we didn’t need to spend more money to prove it, they simply got to experience the magic of Christmas. They learned that giving is better than getting, and experiences are where the real memories are made.
5. As crappy as it is to have to “share” your kids, I now get to take care of me. I know we didn’t give birth to children with the thought “I hope one day I’ll have the chance to alternate weekends & holidays!”… Who does it hurt to be angry? Me. Who does it hurt to be sad? Me. What does it change to wallow in these negative feelings? Nothing. I get that grief is real, and you have to go through it to grow. It’s taken me a while, but I can tell you, growth is good.
Single Parents, I know Christmas (or any other holiday you celebrate) probably include a lot of up and down emotions for you. Know that your kids love you, no matter where they are. You get to choose to enjoy your time here, please don’t waste it by being sad (easier said than done, I know, but it is possible). If your kids are safe and happy, then all is well, you’ll see them soon.
This is my 4th year in this single parent life that I didn’t expect to be living. I’m a slow learner, but I eventually get there. Happiness is better than sadness. If this is your first year at this, I promise it gets easier, if you let it. I didn’t say “it’s easy”, I said “it gets easier”.
I’m grateful for so many things, it’d take another week just to list them all. This is already the longest post ever, so I’ll spare you the details.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!