A friendly resource for women who want to lead better lives

How I Stopped Being Late

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?

– Olivia

8 Responses to “How I Stopped Being Late”

  1. Laura

    My thing is that when I’m running late, I want to send a text to the person to say I’ll be late, but that winds up taking up even more time. You’re right, Olivia, being late is a big stressor as much on the late person as on the person waiting. I try to time things out like getting ready time, and getting there time and add it together so I have an accurate “start getting ready time”. Adding time to the estimate is a great idea too.

    Reply
    • oliviascribe

      When I was late I always tried to let the person know, but at the end of the day, I was still late and they were still waiting! I always forget to add in “get ready” time, which is why I just do it in the mornings now and why my hair is rarely done and my make up is minimal.

      Reply
  2. My Perfect Breakdown

    I have always been early. To arrive on time, feels late to me. I have no idea where I learned to be punctual, I just always have been. Although, sometimes I end up so early that I am at a loss for what to do with myself as I have to kill 20 minutes before I can walk through the door to be a more acceptable 10 minutes.
    If I notice I start showing up late for appointments (although, that occurs very rarely), I’ve learned that it means I’m too busy and have over-committed myself and usually its the result of my inability to say no at work so I find myself taking on more then I can ever actually accomplish.

    Reply
    • oliviascribe

      That is a great observation! I’ll keep it in mind in case I fall off the punctuality wagon. Thank you for reading!

      Reply
  3. Jenna Bell

    I’m usually a pretty punctual person. I grew up in a military family and married a soldier as well. We tend to run on the philosophy that if you aren’t 15 minutes early then you are late. My parents taught me that is was better to wait where you are supposed to be. Now that I’ve added a second kiddo to the mix I’m not quite as good as I used to be. There will always be a blow-out before you walk out the door or a toddler meltdown. I always keep numbers handy and give a call to the office/person I’m headed to meet and that way they know that I’m trying. I’m getting the hang of things and I feel much better because of it. I find it stressful and embarrassing to be late and use the extra time (if I get there early) to settle down from the chaos of getting two kids out of the house!

    Reply
    • oliviascribe

      Having an infant and a toddler makes leaving the house on time a challenge, Jenna. I will keep in mind your idea that if you are not 15 minutes early then you are late. I have been enjoying the extra few minutes to settle. It is so much better than the stress it caused me to be late!

      Reply
  4. vrein11

    I have been a habitually late person also!! I have gotten better about it this past year because I no longer have the excuse that the kids have made me late. And yes, I have realized that is an excuse not a reason!!! Huge difference. Thanks for this article and thanks for teaching me that I need to be better about not being late!!

    Reply
    • oliviascribe

      Now that I am almost always on time, I realize that most people are late, at least sometimes. This is obviously OK and sometimes we all have reasons not just excuses to be late. I just hated this about myself and it stressed me out a lot. I don’t mind waiting for others, within reason of course, as it gives me time to settle and focus.

      Reply

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