Are you ever late? I was. All the time. I was late for play dates, and business meetings. I was late for work (although I also stayed late) and late to parties.
I joked that I was chronically late because I grew up in Southern Europe, but being late is not funny. It is actually very disrespectful. I’ve been wanting to change this for a while, but it became a necessity when I became a mother. Suddenly my 10 minute delay turned into being constantly half and hour late, which meant that I was almost always missing most or all of the 30-minute toddler programs.
When you have children it is easy to think that your excuse for being late is more valid than others, after all kids are unpredictable. Kids are often on their own time, and they seem to always need yet another diaper change when you are just about to leave. However, to the person who is waiting for you for more than 5 minutes every time you get together your excuse, no matter how good or real, is still an excuse.
I had no idea how to change my constant tardiness, mostly because I thought being late was innate to me, but I knew I needed to do something.
With a couple of changes in my routine that were easy enough to accomplish, I am on my way to becoming a punctual person, as I can honestly say that in the last three months I’ve been late three times. I call that success.
Here is how I am doing it, if you want to try it. This does come with a warning, though. Suddenly you will be the one waiting for others to show up.
– I nailed down my morning routine so that once I leave the bathroom in the morning I don’t have to go back to apply makeup or brush my hair. I am in the bathroom a bit longer than before, but I actually spend less time getting ready.
– I overestimate how long it will take me to get places. Because I’ve always had a hard time estimating time, this is a special challenge for me. I have learned to override my first instinct, which always tells me that I have plenty of time. I usually add an extra 15 minutes. The extra padding also takes care of the time it takes me to get kids in and out of their car seats.
– It is either on time or not at all. I have made the decision that if I am late for a class or activity with the kids I won’t go to it. Entering a room late is always disruptive, but with kids it is even more so. If I enter a room late, I am also teaching my kids that this is acceptable, when it is not. I have missed a couple of classes, but it has been worth it.
Being on time shows respect for the person you are meeting. Being late gives the appearance that you don’t have it together, even when you do. It is also very stressful.
I like to think that am in a constant state of improvement. I am not trying to be perfect by any means- I leave that to others- but there are certain things that I want to change. I am so happy that this is done, I think I can move on to the next on my list- being more organized.
Are you a punctual person? How do you do it?