Stop being late to everything

Don’t want to be lazy and disrespectful? Show up on time!

I grew up in a family that believed if you weren’t five minutes early, you were late. I also grew up in a family with seven kids. My mom was very good at getting all of us kids out the door in a timely manner, without a minimum of fussing and yelling.

My personality was much the same as a teen and student in college. I hated being late to anything, so I typically arrived early. Enter the boyfriend; he grew up in a South American country as the son of missionaries. I don’t know a lot about South Americans, but I do know that they are typically very laid back. Because my husband had lived there for ten years, from 8-18, he was much the same. To say we had different views on arriving somewhere on time is putting it mildly.

We made it through those years, got married, and started having children. I should have known when I had to be induced early with all five of them that my “never late to anything, even my child’s births” attitude was going to stand firm. Even now, when we live at least 30-45 minutes away from everywhere we typically go (my parents, church, friends’ houses) we are almost always a few minutes early.

Vince Lombardi, famed Green Bay Packers head coach and winner of the first two Super Bowls, is quoted as saying “If you are five minutes early, you are already ten minutes late.” Honestly, I think he’s on to something.

Stop being late to everything; it's rude and disrespectul, not to mention the things you are teaching your kids about respecting other's time.

I feel like being habitually late is lazy, disrespectful and a sign of a disorganized life. I’m not saying I’m perfect (have you seen my kitchen floors lately?!?) but being on time to something isn’t that difficult. Barring an unforseen circumstance that is out of your control like a traffic accident, yours or someone else’s, you should be able to pull off being early most days. Here are a few tips to help you achieve that goal.

  1. Plan out your day the night before.

    When I know that I have to go somewhere, I make sure to note it the day before. I actually have a huge wall sticker calendar on the side of my fridge that I write everything down on. This helps my kids know what’s going on, and doesn’t require me to pull out my phone calendar or anything. Of course, I have all the info on my phone as well, but this way I can see at a quick glance what’s going on this week and month. I make sure to have snacks or other food on hand to take with us, and I’ll often gather it all together the night before. If we have to leave super early, I’ll even lay out clothing and shoes the day before. (I’ve been known to thrown the shoes in a bag and put them in the car at night so we don’t have ANY mentions of “Where are my shoes?” in the morning.)

  2. Enlist the help of your children.

    Kids can be slow at somethings¬†everything, but sometimes they can still be a big help. I enlist my big kids to help my twins get dressed in the morning, or pour their cereal. My big kids can also make their own lunches, which saves me a lot of time (and grief because they don’t like what I’ve made them! “Sorry kid, you made that yourself!”) The fewer things you have to do for everyone before you leave the house, the better.

  3. Understand your time constraints.

    Some people aren’t morning people; my husband is one of them, although he’s gotten much better since being married to me. I AM a morning person, so I know that I have no problems making doctor appointments for 8:00 in the morning. If you aren’t a morning person, grab that first appointment after lunch; you know it’s the best afternoon appointment to have! Also understand give yourself plenty of extra time if you have kids; allow an extra five minutes AT LEAST per child that you are trying to get out the door.

  4. Leave with plenty of time.

    This one seems like a no-brainer, but it’s what trips me up still sometimes. My husband always figures in ‘lost time’ when he’s going somewhere new; he’s pretty terrible at directions, even with GPS on his phone, so he adds in about ten minutes to get lost each time. I don’t usually have to do that, but I will map my route even if I know where I’m going. Sometimes there’s a big accident on the interstate and I know I’ll be late if I go that way; I just use the map to make a different route. I also know that if it typically takes me 40 minutes to get somewhere, I try to leave with 45 minutes so I have time for any little traffic snags.

  5. Don’t let it be OK to be late.

    This one’s a funny one, but once you get used to being late, it doesn’t bother you as much. You start to laugh about how you’re always late and people expect it of you, in a laughing manner. It’s not really funny, though. It shows the people you are meeting that you didn’t care to try harder to be on time or to put a little effort into leaving on time.¬†I’m teaching my children that other people deserve your respect, and that extends to being on time for things. I’m teaching my children that they have to be on time for school and a job; they can’t just roll in 15 minutes late all the time and expect people to laugh it off.

This post is not in any way meant to put down people that are late, or run late often. I understand that there are extenuating circumstances in many situations. I also know that a lot of people don’t try really hard to be on time; they’ll just text their friend a message saying “Running a little behind!” with an emoji and it’ll all be forgiven.


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