Getting Out the Door with Young Children
Sep 25, 2015 08:31AM ● Published by Tyler Hicks
By Leah Spina
We have a Fort Worth Zoo membership. I love to meet friends for a non-crowded weekday morning for a zoo playdate, followed by lunch in the shade. I was preparing for one of these zoo trips the night before in the kitchen, after my children dozed off. My preggo feet were swollen as I lassoed lunch boxes, sunscreen, clothes and hoisted our gigantic double BOB stroller into the back of my car. I purposely set my alarm for the crack of dawn so I could peacefully get myself ready, breakfast prepared and be that shining, beautiful mother I always dream about as I got the kids up and out the door.
But somehow, somewhere, getting out the door with young children often GETS THE BETTER OF ME. By the end of the morning the next day, I was almost in tears at the interruptions, delays, disobedience and unbelievable amount of time it took to get everyone in the car. 10 full minutes later than I had planned. I FINALLY jumped in the driver's seat, after everyone was buckled in, and smashed on my black sunglasses. I was furious at myself for getting upset while getting out the door. Again.
Five minutes into our drive, I turned around and apologized to my sweetie pies for my unkind tones. "It is never right for mama to raise her voice, would you forgive me?" My five-year-old, white-haired Samson, who often has been the main culprit, moaned with little tears in his blue eyes, "Yeah, that WEALLY hurts my heart, Mama!"
Before children, I was always on time. But the more young children I had, the harder it got. Despite immense planning, preparation and allotting plenty of time for delays. (Privately, I am still in utter shock at how long it takes - ha!) I do not like being late. I like to be an "on time" type of girl and I feel it can be rude to make others wait. I try hard to be on time.
HOWEVER, in the big scheme of life, being a kind mother is truly more important to me than being on time. Here are some things I try to remember in the stress of being somewhere on time with little ones - maybe it will help you!
- NOTHING is worth raising my voice at my children, even being late. My family and little ones come first.
- Young children NATURALLY cause delays, interruptions, messes and need constant help. I cannot get frustrated or resent normal, childlike behavior. They're just young children!
- I do my very best to plan ahead and prepare for getting out the door with night-before preparation, a simple breakfast and plenty of time for delays. BUT, if my beautiful, happy morning begins to unravel, I try to keep a "big picture" perspective so I don't get swallowed up in the stress. Yes, maybe we are going to be five or ten minutes late. IT'S NOT WORTH DESTROYING OUR MORNING OVER.
- If a child needs some extra training for disobedience or attitude that causes us to be late, I need to remember that is one of the most important things I am doing right now as a mother. I cannot resent child or behavior because it's "making us all late" - although I am utterly ashamed I have actually said that phrase to Samson after multiple disobedience acts on a busy morning trying to get out the door. I need to STOP my on-time agenda, address the situation with a cool head. Patient mothering is more important than my mental time goal.
If you can't tell, (ha!) this is an area I constantly struggle with: WHY DOES IT TAKE SO LONG TO GET OUT THE DOOR!?! WHY CAN'T YOU GUYS QUICKLY GET DRESSED AND BRUSH YOUR TEETH? AREN'T YOU DONE EATING BREAKFAST YET? YOU HAVE TO GO THE BATHROOM AGAIN? PLEASE JUST CONCENTRATE AND PUT THESE SHORTS ON! WHERE ARE YOU SHOES!?!?!?
But I am determined to keep trying to remember the big picture and improve. It's never worth getting upset at my little darlings.
(PS and if you are my friend, and we are a few minutes late to meet you, please know I tried, REALLY TRIED, to be on time. Ha!)
Leah Spina is a former journalist of a national newsweekly turned stay-at-home mom to three children, age five and under. She lives in the Dallas area with her husband, David, and is a speaker to mom groups and conferences. Her book Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years helps parents to enjoy, not just endure, the little years by changing their parenting perspective. It launches in October and is available for preorder now on Amazon. Visit leahspina.com to subscribe to Leah’s blog, and follow her on Instagram (leahthespina) and Facebook. When Leah is not burning macaroni and cheese, she enjoys singing Italian opera, riding horses and drinking inordinate amounts of Starbucks coffee.