I once read a very simple piece of advice to help with tardiness: simply figure out what time you need to leave to be at your destination and then add 15 minutes to cover any unforeseen circumstances that might arise: traffic, misplaced keys, etc etc.
So I decided to apply this principle to our Sunday mornings to help us get to church on time.
Our church starts at 9:30 and it takes us 8 minutes to get to there. Add 15 minutes and that makes 23. So we need to leave at 9:07. So far so good.
I need about 30 minutes to get myself ready, start to finish (including, shower, hair, makeup and clothes). So I should begin getting ready at around 8:30.
Only the baby woke up just as I was getting ready to get in the shower so I’ve got to add 5 minutes to change his diaper and put his clothes on.
Except he had a blowout in his crib so add an additional 30 minutes to clean up the mess and give him a bath.
Now my three year old is awake. Add 30 minutes to help him with breakfast and teeth brushing and help him change his clothes.
Luckily, I laid out his clothes the night before so everything was ready. Only now one of the shoes is mysteriously missing. Add in an extra 20 minutes to do a fruitless search for it, only to have him put on his snow boots instead.
The baby also needs breakfast so I feed him oatmeal, to keep him from getting dirty and needing another bath. Only he grabs the spoon while I’m trying to feed him and gets oatmeal in his hair, behind his ear, on his shirt and, mysteriously, in his belly button. Add 7 minutes to give him a mini sponge bath with a washcloth while he squirms to get away from the washcloth every time I come near his face. An additional 10 minutes to change his shirt, most of that time being spent trying to button the 473 buttons on his shirt before he crawls off the changing table. (Take 1 minute to make a note in my phone to never ever buy button down shirts for a baby ever again).
Gratefully, my 9 and 7 year olds are capable of dressing themselves and getting their own breakfasts. But add in an extra 5 minutes to do their hair. And then an extra 5 minutes to redo my daughter’s ponytail because it was “too bumpy”.
Finally, time for me to shower and get ready. Add 10 minutes to clean up the foundation the baby squirted on the floor when I was blow drying my hair. Additional 10 minutes because it takes longer to get ready with a baby hanging on your leg. Ten more minutes to find new clothes and change his outfit again after the makeup spill.
At this point everyone is fed and clothed and should be ready to leave. Only my youngest daughter can’t find her Bible, even after being encouraged an hour ago to locate it and lay it on the desk by the door. Add 15 minutes to do a fruitless search for it, only to give her her 3 year old brother’s Bible which she holds between two fingers stating it has “germs” on it and “it’s blue”.
Break up fight after three year old son sneaks into oldest daughter’s room and uses markers in her art kit to color on her bedspread and break head off a Barbie. Five minutes.
Strap the baby in his car seat so he’s ready to go and also so he’s immobilized, only to smell a suspicious aroma emanating from the seat of his pants. Hand baby to Dave to change – add 10 minutes – then turn to find the three year old standing in a puddle on the driveway – only it hasn’t rained. Add 5 minutes to change his pants and an additional 10 minutes when I realize that all his nice clothes are dirty. Do a fruitless search for unstained, non-smelly church pants in the hamper, only to finally put on his grey sweat pants instead. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart, amiright?
Break up fight between daughters over whose hair clip is sparklier. 2 minutes.
Dave puts the baby and the toddler in the car then comes back in for his Bible. I instruct the girls to put on their shoes and coats and get buckled in the car, then I go to grab the keys, only they aren’t hanging on the hook. Add 20 minutes for a frantic search. Look in trash can and find three year old’s lost shoe but no keys.
Grab the spare key and go outside only to find that my daughters interpreted my “get your shoes on and get in the car” instructions to mean “practice your ballet moves barefoot in the driveway.” Add 5 minutes for them to get their shoes on.
Add an additional 5 minutes to help my daughter search for her other shoe that has become mysteriously lost in the last 30 minutes even though “no one touched it.” Find keys at the bottom of the shoe bin, but no shoe. Contemplate sending her to church barefoot, then have her squeeze into last year’s shoes. Add 10 minutes to get those from the basement storage room.
Break up fight over which daughter gets to sit next to the baby in the car. 2 minutes.
Finally, get everyone buckled in the car. *Deep sigh*
Now, just add all those numbers up and plan to start getting ready for church at around 3 o’clock in the morning.
This article originally appeared At House of Grace.