Modern Parenting

The New Parent’s Guide to Being on Time

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Have you ever thought that punctuality went out the door the day your child was born?  I used to think that, but then I noticed that other moms around me were on time or early, and they didn’t seem half as frazzled as I was!  I had to figure out how to do just that–how to be on time, even with a baby—because being late adds unneeded stress.

You know the mom I am talking about… she is always 15 minutes early to Mommy and Me, looking like she just walked off a yacht.  There isn’t a single sign of stress on her face.  Cut to me running in the door, baby (wearing only one sock) on my hip, sweat across my forehead, and the diaper bag swinging into everything as I try to hustle inside.  How does that other mom do it?

Well, she is a Type A mama, and she has honed her time management skills.  Not all of us are naturally like this, but we can steal her tricks so that we are able to finally arrive somewhere without any extra stress.  This is the method that I have been using with great success to get to wherever I am going on time, with everything I need, and without any hassle.

To leave on time, always have the diaper bag ready.

If you want to get out the door on time, your diaper bag needs to be ready to go.  You always need the same stuff, so why not pack it ahead?   If it helps, write a list of what needs to be in your diaper bag, and slide it into one of the pockets so there is no confusion.

My husband and I have a great system where we unpack and repack the diaper bag as soon as we get home.  We clean any bottles that were used, repack them, toss any trash, and put the dirty clothes in the hamper.  Then we repack, making sure we have enough of everything.  This takes about 5 minutes, but it is well worth it because you can just grab the bag and go next time you need to leave.

To leave on time, you need to know when to leave.

Seriously, don’t guess—look it up! 

Put the address into Waze or Google Maps and find out exactly how long it will take you to get to your destination.

If you are leaving during rush hour or happen to live in the DC Metro area—or anywhere else where traffic is insane—look at how long it will take you to get somewhere at the time you want to leave.   The best way to do this is to look up your ETA (estimated time of arrival) the day before at about the same time—it will give you a ballpark idea.

Now, add 30 minutes to that time.

If you have an appointment at 9 am at a doctor’s office that is 28 minutes away, your “leave at” time should be 8:02 am.

Once you have your “leave at” time, set an alarm on your phone for one hour before.

I have this horrible habit of forgetting about appointments, and then rushing to try to get there.  If you forget, you will be late or miss it entirely.  Not only does it mess up the whole system, it also adds a whole boatload of stress.

So I set an alarm on my phone to go off an hour before my “leave at” time.   This is enough time for a quick shower and to get the baby dressed, changed, and fed.  If you need more time, add more.

At the “leave at” time, leave the house.

Put the diaper bag over your shoulder, baby in the car seat, and head to the car.  This sounds simple, but it can take me anywhere from 5-15 minutes to get into the car and turn on the ignition—and that is without any incident.   Keep in mind that this is also the prime time for diaper blow-outs, lost toys, and all sorts of other stuff to happen, and that is exactly why I recommend building in an extra 30 minutes.

It’s not difficult to be on time when you have a baby, but it does take some extra planning.   If you always have the diaper bag ready and you have a reasonable “leave at” time with extra time built in, you should be good to go.   It is a habit you can start building immediately, so you can be that cool-as-a-cucumber mama or papa by your next outing.

What do you do to get out the door on time?  Let me know in the comments!

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