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How I Stopped Stressing About Getting My Kids Out The Door Every Morning

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How I Stopped Stressing About Getting My Kids Out The Door Every Morning

I have this thing about not liking to be late. I would rather be early and find a way to use my time when I get there than have the stress of running late. I find it comforting to be somewhere ahead of time. I was not like this at all when I was younger. I made a habit of always pushing things to the last minute and barely getting somewhere on time.

Currently, I know lots of people who like to use every last minute and then rush to their destination, but that is just not me. My family doesn’t always agree with me on this point. They don’t understand why I like to be early to everything.

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For years, I stressed about getting the kids out the door and to school on time. I would literally hover over them telling them every few minutes what time it was and that we needed to go. I was completely stressing myself out. Probably them, too.

I tried different things. I threatened that if they were not out the door by 7:45, they would walk. I was leaving at 7:45. No exceptions. Well, that didn’t work. One of them would come out at 7:45 saying the others were coming. Or, as I was driving away, one of the kids would be coming out the door. It felt horrible. Some days, the weather was crummy and I didn’t want them to have to walk in it. Also, I knew I would be the cause of them getting a tardy if I made them walk when I could have just driven them.

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I couldn’t get any peace at all about the situation. Then, one day I realized I really just needed to take care of myself and get in the car and wait. So I told them I would be in the car waiting. According to Jackie Gillard, who wrote Help Yourself! 8 tips for helping kids become more independent, her first tip is to “Give notice.” And, that is exactly what I did. I told them I knew they were responsible, independent young adults and they could handle getting themselves out the door on time.  

It was awesome to stop hovering over them and shouting aloud the time every few minutes. It was great having the car already pulled out. I also stopped worrying about what time they would come out. I had to face the fact that they might get a tardy. If they got a tardy it was on them, not me. I hoped they cared enough to not want to be late.

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I made sure they all understood what I was doing and that I would be doing it consistently — as in, every morning this would be our routine. I have three children, and at the time they were 11, 12, and 15. They all can tell time.

I decided to do what I could to lessen my own stress. I simplified my mornings. I made a decision that I could live with.

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So, how did it all turn out? Actually, very well. To my knowledge no one received a tardy that year. They didn’t always get to school as early as I would have liked, but it was their call, and I didn’t stress about it.

This year, my older daughter drives herself and her sister to the middle/high school. Most mornings, I watch them scrambling to get out the door, and I know it’s their choice how they go about their mornings. I tell my son I am heading out the door and I go and wait for him. He’s never been late to school.

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I have always told my children that when there is a problem, start looking for solutions. This was a solution for me. By giving them more independence and taking care of myself, I stopped stressing about mornings and getting them out the door.

Featured photo credit: Dannielle Blumenthal/Flickr via flickr.com

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Tomi Rues

Adjunct college teacher, notebook/journal designer, author

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