Combating the lack of urgency to get to school on time

It’s Monday! The first day of the work and school week, the to-do list, the planning and scheduling…but most importantly:

The return of the complete lack of urgency to get to school on time.

Let me ask you something:

When does the reminding, ushering, herding stop? I realize when they’re in the lower grades, this is part of it. I realize that some parents drive their kids to school on the way to work and often have expectations to not just get the kids ready but to get themselves ready.

I realize a lot of things, but mostly I realize that I’m the one who’s enabling them to be completely unconcerned about the ticking of the many, many clocks in this house on a school morning.

How does anyone do it over the many school years without losing their mind?

I finally decided that something had to change.

So, I changed my ways.

I changed my own morning routine by taking some steps back, away, from their morning routine. Basically I handed over the responsibility. Like this:

Instead of talking (too much), reminding them of the clock ticking, getting anxious or stressed that they will be late, I simply perform my tasks and then disappear into the shower.

Their job is to eat the breakfast I make, dress and brush teeth, take their lunches I prepare, pack up and get out in time for the bus. They have clocks, phones, apps to help them along.

They don’t need to hear my voice.

I don’t need to hear my voice. I don’t want to hear my voice…

Here is what I miss though: I miss sending them out the door and waving to them.

Perhaps that is one thing I can get back, later, when the ‘new and improved’ morning routine has returned. Because right now, watching them ‘not get ready’ while peripherally noticing all our clocks giving me the evil eye, that is causing me stress.

As I type this out though, I realize something about myself. Because I did not stick around after completing my tasks, escaping into the shower instead, I emerged calm and focused to start my own day. I’m at my desk typing and preparing my writing day without feeling flustered, or hyped up.

I didn’t hear whether they had stress getting ready. I didn’t worry that one kid was missing gloves and another forgot to have a form signed. I don’t know what happened, because I wasn’t present.

I feel secure that I have done my job to prepare them over the many years they’ve been in school already. I have faith in my kids to manage just fine, without me helicoptering around them.

Whether they managed on their own or whether their dad was there to steer them out,  I don’t know. The point is, it was not me that was there to direct and supervise.

It was good for me. I think I’ll keep it up.

Does this ‘let them do their thing’ mentality work during the tween and teen years? Some kids hate arriving late to school, others don’t seem to care one way or the other.

My hope is that my kids will hate disrupting others the same was it bothers me, and that it will breed a more pronounced sense of responsibility and, yes, urgency to get somewhere on time.

Especially to school on a Monday. 🙂

How does it work in your house? Do you have any tips to share?

23 thoughts on “Combating the lack of urgency to get to school on time

  1. I’m with Jonathan – we’re also like a well oiled machine from 7.00am – 8.15am….okay more than a slight exaggeration, wheels fall off frequently – it’s the only way I can keep my sanity, whatever that may be!
    I had a friend who operated your strategy of leave them be to get ready on their own – he made it very clear he was leaving the house at 7.45am and they would be in the car, regardless of their state of dress. His eldest daughter was doing a particularly fine impression of a sloth one morning – he took her to school in her pyjamas (aged 12) – she knew the rules after all. Needless to say, she was always first down and dressed after that. Valuable life lessons!

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    1. I still struggle occasionally but take a step back more often now. I explained that late is rude and unacceptable to me and there will be consequences. I haven’t had to dish those out yet, but they know I will if forced. 🙂

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  2. Yes! I think this is the answer. At our house, I am on lunch-making duty, and my husband has always been the one to wake the kids up and get them moving. But lately our middle daughter, especially, has been resisting getting up and tries to leave as few minutes (seconds???) as possible to get ready before rushing out the door.

    It’s been driving my husband nuts and he gets more and more stressed about it, and yelly about it, and then talks about how much he hates the whole thing. I feel strongly that the answer is to just leave her be – put it on her, let go of the responsibility, make peace and get away from it all. I’ll have to tell him about how it is working for you – hope you will be able to stick with it :).

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  3. Our house runs on a rails most mornings – between 7am and 8am its like a scene from a situation comedy. It did strike me the other day – seeing all the cars blocking the roads up around town while it was raining – that most parents seem to think their children will dissolve if they get wet.

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  4. I will need to keep all of this in mind. They have alarms that go off periodically to remind them of when they need to perk up and pay attention-not my voice so that saves some aggravation. I don’t rush because if they are late that’s their problem. The 11yo would love to be walking to school on her own already. It’s nor overly far but no one else is walking the same way so it’s a bit lonely.

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    1. I love that statement: “I don’t rush if they are late, that’s their problem.” 🙂

      And yes, I get that walking with friends is easier and more fun. My 10yo has been trained to take the bus as you know but if she’s on her own, i.e. her friends are not there for whatever reason, she pesters me over text to come get her. We are still in the ‘by the time I de-ice and shovel out the car you’ll be half way home’ conversation, but you know kids, it takes a while to sink in sometimes… 🙂

      The walking will come when everyone is ready. Also, with a puppy, walking the dog to school and back gives everyone, especially the pup,some much needed exercise and training!

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  5. I have one child – 14. I drive her to school each day and drop her off on my way to work. She does not like running late. I am chronically running at least a teensy bit behind. However, she has never had a tardy – She’s just a bit rushed when she gets to the school.

    One morning, recently, she copped an attitude worthy of an after-school tv special, and gave me the 3rd degree about being tired of running so late.

    Like you, I adjusted my routine. We now arrive at the school with 25 full minutes for her to take her sweet time.

    She, if course, was aghast at the plan. And really hates getting there so darn early.

    I finally took a little step back and have been getting her there at a more reasonable time. And we did run a tad late one day last week. And I didn’t hear a single peep out of her nor catch the slightest bit of attitude. Guess all those super early dropoffs gave her plenty of time to think.

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  6. I don’t have any kids, Claudette, so can’t give you any help from that perspective. I did, however, teach tweens and teens for many years, and can tell you that your way of handling the situation is perfect. They will figure it out and you will have calm days. What’s not to love about that?
    I do have one book recommendation for you. When you need laughter, not just calmness, and you need that sense that you’re are very much not alone in all of this nonsense, read I Wanna Be Sedated, an absolutely wonderful book written by two moms of teenagers.

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    1. I love book recommendations! I will put this on my list and start looking for it tomorrow. Thank you. (I know I sound weary, but I also know that it’s probably just another phase)… 🙂

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  7. As you know I have exactly the same problem as this. I am taking notes! The thing is, there are other times when you can be with your children – morning is not a great time to bond when you’re under pressure. The question I want to ask is what do you do if they don’t get ready?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Blah. That is my answer. Lol

      Really the point is that they DO leave and if they get there a few minutes late and have to deal with consequences of that, to maybe let it be a lesson for them. I know last week after a fight the girl got there just as the bell rang and she felt rushed and flustered all morning because of arriving without enough time to deal with changing from boots to indoor shoes, her lunch and all her stuff from her back pack.

      I’ll still be available, I’m just taking some small steps back for a bit. Hope it works out….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m going to give it a try. It seemed to work with Daughter today – I just said we are leaving at 10 to whether you are ready or not. It took a lot to grit my teeth and go into the other room (to scream into a pillow) as she spent 20 minutes combing the hair out of her brush (it had to be done before she got dressed obvs) but she was ready at 10 to!

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