Getting out the door with young children

Remember the big picture when things get hairy!

IMG_3228We have a Fort Worth Zoo membership. I love to meet friends for a non-crowded weekday zoo morning, followed by lunch in the shade.

I was preparing for a zoo trip the night before in the kitchen, after the children dozed off. I lassoed lunch boxes, sunscreen, clothes and hoisted our gigantic double BOB stroller into the back of my car. I purposely set my alarm for the crack of dawn so I could *peacefully* get myself ready, breakfast prepared and be that shining, beautiful, calm mother, I always dream about, as I got the kids up and out the door.

But by the end of the morning, I was almost in tears at the interruptions, delays, disobedience and unbelievable amount of time it took to get everyone in the car. I had yelled at my darlings, and one was still crying in the car. We were a full 15 minutes later than I had planned. Now we were going to be late, even though I had purposely allotted extra time in case things got hairy! I couldn’t believe it.

I FINALLY jumped in the driver’s seat, after buckling everyone in and slapping out the thousand fires that is small children caretaking. And I smashed on my black sunglasses, furious at myself for getting upset while getting out the door. Again.

Five minutes into our drive, I turned around and apologized to my sweetie pies for my unkind tones and told them I was wrong. I soberly apologized, “It is never right for mama to raise her voice, would you forgive me?” My white-haired Samson, the main culprit for all the delays and disobedience, piped up with little tears in his blue eyes, “Yeah, that WEALLY hurts my heart, Mama!”

I felt terrible.

Before children, I was always on time. But the more young children I had, the harder it got. Despite immense planning, preparation and allotting plenty of time for delays, being somewhere on time is always a challenge.

(Privately, I am still in utter shock at how long it takes – ha!.)

I do not like being late! I like to be an “on time” type of girl! HOWEVER, in the big scheme of life, being a kind mother is truly more important to me than being on time. Here are some things I try to remember in the stress of being somewhere on time with little ones – maybe it will help you. J

– NOTHING is worth raising my voice at my children, even being late. My family and little ones come first.

Young children NATURALLY cause delays, interruptions, messes and need constant help. I cannot get frustrated or resent normal, childlike behavior. They’re just young children!

– I do my very best to plan ahead and prepare for getting out the door with night-before preparation, a simple breakfast and plenty of time for delays. BUT, if my beautiful, happy morning begins to unravel, I try to keep a “big picture” perspective so I don’t get swallowed up in the stress. Yes, maybe we are going to be five or ten minutes late. IT’S NOT WORTH LOSING IT WITH MY DARLINGS.

If a child needs some extra training or discipline for disobedience or attitude that causes us to be late, I need to remember that is one of the most important things I am doing right now as a mother. I cannot resent that disobedient child or wrong behavior because it’s “making us all late”. (I am utterly ashamed that I have actually said that phrase – “You’re making us all late!” – to Samson after multiple disobedience acts on a busy morning trying to get out the door.) I need to STOP my on-time agenda, address the situation with a cool head and remember the big picture: patient mothering to help my children develop lifelong character is more important than my mental time goal.

Keeping my cool when leaving the house with little ones is a big challenge for me. I’m a fast-moving, on-time type A mama with slow, distracted little ones. These are my typical thoughts: WHY IN THE WORLD DOES IT TAKE SO LONG TO GET OUT THE DOOR!?! WHY CAN’T YOU GUYS JUST GET DRESSED AND BRUSH YOUR TEETH? IT’S SO EASY AND SIMPLE! AREN’T YOU DONE EATING BREAKFAST YET? YOU HAVE TO GO THE BATHROOM AGAIN? PLEASE JUST CONCENTRATE AND PUT THESE PANTS ON! WHERE ARE YOU SHOES!?!?!?

Ha! But I am determined to keep trying to remember the big picture and improve. It’s never worth getting upset at my little darlings.

(PS and if you are my friend, and we are a few minutes late to meet you, please know I tried, REALLY TRIED, to be on time.)

Stop and Smell: How are you getting out the door? How do you prepare to avoid stress? How do you react when you are trying to be on time and a child causes a delay with a spill or an attitude? How would you like to react? These are questions we can all ask ourselves periodically to help us improve. And remember, someday we will leave our empty, quiet houses with no stress at all. But we will also be missing our slow-moving babies. Let’s keep the big picture in mind when we leave the house!

Want more stories like this? Order my new book Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years now on Amazon here or on my site here.

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