Honestly, if there’s one thing I’d really like to encourage the parents of littles to try to do more often, it might be this:
Try to leave earlier.
I realize that, for some families, getting out the door any sooner simply isn’t possible, and I’m definitely not trying to make someone feel bad for something that isn’t an option. But, for those of us who may have a touch more leeway in our schedules– even if it’s only on some days– I’m ready to sing the praises of leaving well before you think is even close to necessary.
Here’s the thing…
Let’s take speech therapy, for example. Even if I hit all the red lights, it takes me seventeen minutes to drive there. It starts at 9:30am. My goal for a “leave time”? Is ten to nine.
WHY?? you might wonder. (I know my husband does.) Well, the why is actually very simple. Though, theoretically, allowing 20 or 25 minutes should be plenty, any of the following* could take place during that time frame:
- someone can’t find a shoe
- someone bumps into someone else and the bumpee starts crying
- someone discovers there are items to put in the recycle bin
- someone– very suddenly– needs to go potty
- someone finds a captivating caterpillar on our porch
- someone gets distracted catching falling leaves
- someone starts an impromptu game of tag in the driveway
- someone decides to scale the hill instead of taking the stairs
- someone trips and winds up filthy
- someone decides that the time while strapping into a seat is the best time to open up and reveal all sorts of struggles and emotions
- someone realizes she forgot her keys or phone (<–oops)
- someone rips her tights
- someone sees a bunny and tries to follow it
- someone is having a long conversation with the dog across the street
- someone spies a complex spider web
- … and on and on and on
*note: every single one of these things happened at some point in the last week or so
Not surprisingly, if we have a fairly narrow margin of extra time, I need to get those kids hustling. I put out the small fires and hurry them along. Do I think anyone suffers a great deal? No. But, I’ll be honest– it’s not very fun. Plus, since I despise being late, I get all frazzled and stressed about it.
On the other hand, when I’ve allowed seemingly excessive extra time, I can just embrace the discoveries and smooth any and all bumps in the road. I can nurture their investigative spirits and listen to their big stories. I can sit down and just hold the injured child for a moment, instead of quickly cleaning and bandaging. I can breathe.
It’s not rocket science– I realize that. Nonetheless, since I still manage to forget my own advice on occasion, I think it’s worth talking about. I think it’s worth figuring out those tiny little changes we can make that help increase our daily joy. Let’s face it– it’s typically all those little things that make or break our days.
So today, let me encourage you– if you have somewhere you need to be and you’re taking little people with you, leave a good twenty minutes before you think you have to. I mean, really… what’s the worst thing that’ll happen? …
You’ll be early.