No, I’m not talking about leaving the lights on every time I come up from the basement, or chronically abandoning my empty travel mugs in the car. I’m not talking about taking off my jewelry at night and leaving it on the bathroom counter, or neglecting the mail for days.
I’m not even talking about answering my phone when it rings (Sorry, Mom).
My worst habit, the one I’m finally resolved to kick, is the habit of BEING LATE.
I’ve been a late arriver for as long as I can remember. I learned it honest (Sorry again, Mom). I’m not usually REALLY late. Two to five minutes tardy is when I tend to roll in.
For the last seven years, I’ve told myself and others that I was late because of the kids. And sometimes that’s the case. I mean, the kids DO pull shenanigans like waiting until we are going out the door to go take care of serious bathroom business, or spilling a glass of milk on the rug just as we’re about to leave.
Really, though, there’s a solid chance I’d be late despite those things.
For starters, I’m classically crummy at underestimating how long it takes me to get somewhere. When we go “to town,” we have a twenty minute drive. If I left thirty minutes before start time, I’d be golden. Instead, I head out to the car at the twenty ‘til mark, then rush my way there.
I’m also always tempted to accomplish just one more thing before setting out. I’ll just put these toys away real quick. I’ll just throw this roast in the slow cooker. I’ll just fold this basket of laundry before I go. That five or ten minutes of “I’ll just…” is the five or ten minutes that makes me LATE!
My husband despises this habit. He’s one of those people (Perhaps you are, too?) who feels that tardiness is incredibly rude – that showing up late says to everyone else, “I don’t care about your time.”
For us latecomers, though, this really isn’t the case. We DO care about other people. We DO value their time and efforts. We’ve just established some undesirable patterns that need to be replaced with planning and intention.
So here’s my attack plan on lateness in three (I wish I could say easy) steps:
Plan Ahead – This is especially important for parents who are getting multiple human beings ready to go somewhere. I can’t wait until the minute we’re supposed to leave to help three little boys wiggle into their stiff church shoes on Sundays. This alone takes five to ten minutes! Packing lunches, letting the dog out, gathering warm weather clothes – it all takes time. We truly need to be preparing to get out the door thirty minutes before departure time.
Build a Cushion – Factoring in EXTRA time allows those incidental things to occur without stress. If a kid has to use the restroom, or I have to run back in for my forgotten coffee mug, it’s no big deal, because we allowed a cushion of extra time for things just like these.
Go Time is Go Time – This one’s tough for me. This one means that when it’s time to go, we are getting in the car regardless of toys on the floor or crumbs on the counter. We are going no matter who has a dirty mouth and NO MATTER HOW my hair looks.
So far, the plan has worked. I’m ten days in, and I haven’t been late yet. There were a couple times I was EXACTLY on time, which still felt a bit stressful, but there were also times I was fifteen minutes early. I even took the back way to town twice and enjoyed the dawn scenery.
I can honestly say, even this early on in the pursuit, that the change is making life so much better — so much more PEACEFUL.
I don’t spend our departure moments hollering at my kids “HURRY UP! WE’RE GONNA BE LATE!” I don’t have to tornado through the house before we leave or push the speed limit on my way to town only to arrive with a stomach ulcer and sweaty pits.
The best part, though, is that instead of having all eyes on me as I ashamedly rush in late to events (an introvert’s nightmare), I arrive with time to settle in, relax, and chat with others as the room fills with people.
It’s pretty great.
I know I won’t be perfect at this new plan. I’m sure I will occasionally end up late, because STUFF happens, even to the best planners. But I’m pleased at the prospect of being able to look up from the speedometer and the dashboard clock to catch a morning moon — the prospect of less rushing and a greater sense of peace.
Tell me about you. Do you share the vice of tardiness? How does it affect you and your family? If you’ve kicked the habit, help a sister out by sharing your best tips!
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25 thoughts on “Kicking My Worst Habit”
This is great, I too share the tardiness doom, you have described this very well! Especially like the Go Time part, I could get up super early, but still arrive exactly the same lateness as always! You’re right, I do care about others, I am never thinking that other’s people’s time is lesser, I just have my own issue with being late. I have recently just accepted it, I apologize for not having any brilliant advice regarding the matter, unless you want to accept it. I was tired of worrying about it haha, probably not the right thing to do, but I figure at this point in my life, it’s more like a personality trait vs. a bad habit. My work, my family, and my friends are well aware of it, and they too accept it, as sad as that may sound. I do like to think I make up for it in many other ways. I use a line from an old mobster movie, I’ll be late to my own funeral, and plan for that to happen in hopes that attendees may find it to bring laughter, instead of sadness.
It’s so good to hear that others relate to my plight! I have definitely made big improvements since stating my intentions, but am by no means on time EVERY time! Will be interesting to see how/if things change in the future when I only have to ready myself, and not all these small human beings! Thanks for relating, and making me smile with your “late to my own funeral” plan 🙂 Best, Stacy
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I have to kick out quite a lot. Tons! An awakening! 🙂
Don’t we all? It’s been about 2 months now since my resolution, and I have been late three times. Two times were beyond my control, so overall, it’s going pretty good! I definitely have more peace than in my harried past. Thanks for visiting my blog today, and best wishes to you on whatever habits you hope to improve upon! Cheers, Stacy
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Absolutely! Good job on ur progress and good luck with sustaining the same in the way forward. My pleasure. Cheers, Karmughil. 🙂
I seriously loved reading this article on your blog I seriously can relate to all your situations and trust me it’s so hard to be on time alot and the whole getting ready it’s just some times we all dredd to get ready and just don’t want to literally do anything I can relate to your posting on this topic alot anyways good luck with your new habit! You should follow me on my blog
Hope you had a good day
It IS hard! Today is three weeks and three days of punctuality. I didn’t think I’d make it this long. Hope I can keep the train rollin’!
Thanks for stopping by and for the kind comment. I’ll definitely check out your blog too!
It is never too late to realise that you are late. Just like you mentioned, being early does improve your lifestyle. At least, it reduces certain level of frustrations at times. Good luck and I’m sure you will be early or on time most of the time! Good read!
I so agree! Today is two weeks of being on time, and I’m definitely enjoying more peaceful mornings. Thanks so much for stopping by, and for the thoughtful comment. Stacy
I am notoriously early, my husband is perpetually late. Between the two of us our children’s sense of timeliness is completely distorted!
Ha! Am I correct to imagine there have been some disputes in your home over this topic? 🙂 It’s a tricky one!
Enjoyed the read, especially from the perspective of someone who hates tardiness 😉
Good luck with your endeavour, I only wish my own friends who are constantly late would try the same as you. I’ve spent far too much time looking lonely in coffee shops awaiting their arrival.
Thanks for the input! I do hope the folks in my life will appreciate my intention to be more considerate of their time and efforts. It’s a tough habit to break, but today marks two weeks of punctuality 🙂
I was never late until I had Naomi (blame it on the kids). I’m the pastor’s wife that rolls in, coats and bags flying, 5 minutes after the doors close. oops. Grace, right?
That is me exactly, Erin! One of my reasons (or excuses) for often arriving late to church is that when your husband is on staff there, you’re solo in the getting-everyone-ready endeavor! It’s a doozy.
I will say, arriving on time to unhurriedly check my kids into their programs was a nice change last week. Hope I can keep this train going…
Thanks for reading and relating!
Good points, Stacy. Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Nice work…and I’m happy you’re succeeding
Two weeks today, Momma! You can do it if you’re willing to retrain your brain! xoxo
Generally, I’ve always gone more with your husband’s point of view that people who are chronically late are being rude to the person with whom they are to meet. But as you explain, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are *purposely* being rude. I think intellectually I know this. My problem is that I’m hyper-sensitive to time and deadlines to the extent that I’ve always marked it as a personal failing if I arrive late somewhere. Of course, this also means that I’m usually the *first* person to arrive at a dinner party or event, which can also be most awkward. You end up standing alone or making small talk with a host who really is too busy to “BE” a host at that point.
Thank you for acknowledging that the late folks aren’t intentionally being rude or careless. It is truly a long-lived habit that is tough to break!
I appreciate your point about the flip side as well — that arriving too early can also be perceived as awkward or inconsiderate. There must be a happy middle ground here. Perhaps 5-10 minutes early?
This post came right on time. Well done dear and keep up the good work.
Thanks for the encouragement! I know that you, of all people, will appreciate my new habit 🙂
One thing I have discovered about being late is that it makes people to lose out on important things and it portrays the person as unserious. I love the tips you gave and wish I can really but can’t find any icon for that
What a great point that the tardy person misses out on important things. The moments of settling in with others or lending a hand to the host are precious, aren’t they?
Thanks for reading and sharing these insights, Mary!
Great read.. 😉
I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for letting me know!