Sunday, August 15, 2010

Weekly Column: Hurrying Will Get You Nowhere

Everything was going smoothly.

It was a school day, a day to be ready on time and out the door without hiccups, and we were all in good moods. Breakfasts were finished, clothes were on, and sack-lunches were ready. I wandered around the kitchen, putting dishes away in between checking emails and adding items to the grocery list. I got caught up in an online article (probably something about how to manage your time more effectively…) while the girls played, and before I knew it, it was time to go.

Only, we definitely weren’t ready any more.

My two-year-old had become displeased with her outfit and stripped herself out of it. My four-year-old was focused on a coloring page, still with peanut butter and honey smeared across her cheeks. My purse was missing and after a quick search, I found it upside down – emptied – on the living room floor. We were a collective disaster and we were now, officially, late.

Switching into high-gear, I hollered out orders and gathered spilled items along the way. I expected shoes found, faces wiped, dresses donned, and I expected it NOW.

As soon as a girl was found dawdling or being sidetracked by the fascinating world of dusty lint behind the rocking chair, she was hauled up and pointed onward. And as I would have foreseen had I been in a non-rushed state of mind, they rebelled. The coloring page was declared to be of highest importance, and the unwanted dress was dashed away into another room by a streaking toddler. My heart rate rose as the minutes clicked on and we became later and later.

I had to stop myself. Rushing my little ones usually gets me nowhere. Or, stated more truthfully, it usually moves me backwards. Two and four-year-olds are dawdlers by nature, and it’s appropriate – necessary, even – for them to be allowed more time than I think it takes to complete a task. To keep myself occupied up until the very last minute is fine, but they need plenty of time to transition from one activity to the next. How else will they be able to notice their surroundings fully enough to question the shape of a leaf? The color of a bug? The sound of a dog barking? The world is meant to be experienced, and to stop a little one from doing that by rushing them all over the place is to do them a disservice.

But at the same time, we needed to GO! It was fine to promise myself to be better prepared the next morning, but what could be done about this morning?

I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and thought about what exactly needed to be done. One thing at a time.

My big girl was told that she could either put her coloring away and finish it after school, or have it taken away to the trash can. She chose wisely.

My toddler was wrangled into her dress with the promise of a wardrobe change after school and she agreed, telling me exactly which dress she wanted.

Shoes were found, faces were wiped, and school was starting in 5 minutes. We would have to do better tomorrow: I had a plan to be completely ready 20 minutes early, and the rest would naturally fall into place.

We had almost made our getaway when my toddler declared, “Mama, I’m poopy!”

I clenched my jaw and revised my next-morning plan to allow 30 minutes of leeway. With these girls – and this scatterbrained-mama – time is SO easily lost in the shuffle.


[Online version here.]

4 comments:

  1. I feel like you just visited my house on...well...any morning! :)

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  2. Yes. Oh, yes. Next week real school starts, the kind that will kick my daughter out if we're late too much. And take me to court. Yikes. I'm planning for an extra 30 minutes, and we're starting tomorrow. To get used to it. Did I say yikes?

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  3. Oh no! I should've seen it coming, but somehow I didn't expect that twist at the end. Ack!

    I totally agree though. When I try to rush my girls, they seem to move even slower and I just get mad. My new strategy is: we leave the house when we're ready, no matter how early we may be! Otherwise those mama-distractions prove too great and I'm helpless!

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  4. We are never consistent with our arrival time!! If we start the out the door routine early enough, they are on the ball and we are twenty minutes early! If we are behind on our out the door routine, they turn into to deaf snails!! AAHHHHH!!!

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Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?