Leave Early



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. :)

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15 comments to Leave Early

  • I hate hate hate being late, and am usually early everywhere I go because of this. So I totally agree with you- I try to leave 30min (or more) before I know I have to be somewhere so I make it on time (or early!) This helps out immensely now that I have an almost 11mo old at home- we are usually on time when I implement the 30min ahead of time rule!

  • My mother is British and taught me to be at appointments 15 minutes early…my husband is the type to walk in the door right as it starts. We definitely have the “captivating caterpillar” scenario regularly and there are many times I’m grateful to have allowed us a little extra time, because it really does make a huge difference :)

  • You’re speaking directly to me this morning… I arrived at work at 9 minutes after 8, for the umpteenth time this month.
    I could give all the excuses, but I know that I need to be have Cade’s lunch made and out of the shower by 6AM to be on time to work, and yet, I usually crawl out of bed between 6 and 6:15… I KNOW.

    Fussing at my kids because *I* overslept- ON PURPOSE- is ridiculous.

    So, thanks for this reminder… Tomorrow, I won’t snooze my alarms.

  • Katie

    As a mom to a 11 month old, I have slowly been learning this over the last year. If something is going to happen, it seems to happen right as we are getting ready to walk out the door. I’m sure that is the case for everyone! I feel so much less stressed when I give myself extra time, I need to make it a habit.

  • earleyml

    Pre-kids I could get up around 6-6:15 in order to be leaving the house by 6:40. Now I’m up at 5:45 in order to pack their bfast, my lunch and get everyone ready to get out the door. Days when we accidently oversleep are torture! Of course those are also the mornings when my almost 2 yr old throws a tantrum or my 4 yr old can’t decide what she wants to wear.

  • Erica

    This is a great post, I’ve been there! I’m still there with a 7 year old daughter. She has to be to school by 7:45am, I don’t have to be to work until 9am but I still want her to be on time for school. Last year was rough we were frequently late and like Sidnie it was because I got up at 6:15 and left myself unable to direct her because I was still trying to get myself ready. This year I get up at 5:45, (6 on an “I don’t want to get up morning”) and things run a lot smoother. I can better direct her when she gets distracted or let her have 2 minutes of distraction without getting upset because I am already set to go.

  • Susan

    You are so right but you should add that rule is not just for littles. I left for school this morning at 6:30 so we could have a meeting at the “computer hospital” before school started at 8AM. Yes, it was pitch black outside but the computer got fixed by 7:20 and everyone was happy.

  • Heather

    We lose about 15 minutes walking from the kitchen to the door. It’s just sucked into some time vortex with no explanation. Every single time we go.

    • Carol B.

      Mine does that too! Where is that time hiding, I’d like to know! :)

      I am one of those horrible, awful, late people. I swear I don’t mean to be and it stresses me out to no end, so I am trying to be better about getting things as ready as possible the night before, and allowing an additional 10-15 minutes to what I *think* it will take me to get anywhere.

      Funny thing is, my dad’s mother was like this too. And we both lose stuff. (Well she did, she passed when I was 13.) She lost her keys so many times that my grandfather made her a long necklace with a huge metal tag that said “MAMA’S KEYS” It hung by their kitchen door for as long as I can remember, and even after she died.

  • Katherine

    I totally relate and do the same thing and my younger friends think I am crazy but it is the only thing that works. My daughter had a appointment at 9:30 this morning and it takes about 15 minutes to bet there so we left at 8:50 which made us 10 minutes early which was awesome and allowed for my little one to find her purse at the last minute. Every time it happens, a purse or an action figure, something always is lost at the last minute. LOL

  • I have been blessed with one of the slowest children on earth. Which is nice when, say, I’m trying to catch him as he runs out into the road. Not as nice when we are trying to scale the steps out of our apartment or back down 12 times a day.

    I HATE fussing at him and herding him like cattle. You’re right – I am the one who needs to make sure we’re leaving five or ten minutes earlier so I can let him stop and smell the roses. (Or the germs on the stair rail … jut hopefully he’s not “smelling” them with his mouth …)

  • Yes! This is very true, and a good reminder. It’s why we’ve started eating breakfast (muffins & bananas) in the car on the way to our weekly homeschool co-op. Much less fussing and stress for all involved. Love your “any of the following could take place” list. :-)

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