Running Late… Again: Eliminating ‘Hurry’ from my Vocabulary

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Before I had children I prided myself in the fact that I was never tardy. I would show up at work, functions, and dinner parties on time or early.

Then I had a child.

Three and a half years later, I had another child.

Suddenly I found myself in the midst of “tardy land”. I was late all the time and the thought of it created much anxiety. I never used to be this way! Why would two children throw me off my punctuality game?

The more I deliberated over this anomaly the more it stressed me out.

“Hurry up! We’re going to be late!”

I found myself uttering this phrase repeatedly to my children. Did they care? No.

Frustration built as I began to rack up late slips for myself.

“You girls always make me late.”

This phrase is often followed by my 3-year-old flopping on the ground like a fish while her sister sits and laughs hysterically at the spectacle. To make matters worse, my oldest daughter often doesn’t have her coat, hat, or boots on either.

“I guess we won’t go.”

Yes, I find myself saying this too.

I hate these words as soon as they come out of my mouth. I want to get out of the house. We have a commitment. Why would I make a threat that I, myself, don’t want to follow through on?

Fortunately they often want to leave the house just as much as me. However, on one occasion they asserted they didn’t want to go anywhere. I followed through with my threat and we stayed home. I was miserable all afternoon.

“I guess we won’t go….”

“No, no, no,” the girls scream in unison as they both scramble around bumping into each other and grabbing at each other’s articles of clothing. I swear if I could mute them and dub over some silent film piano music, it would be a comical scene.

However, in the midst of moments like these, I can’t laugh.

The anxiety climbs and I’m ready to cry.

Often getting to the car is another ordeal. Since we live in a townhouse we have to walk to the main parking lot to get to our car. The distractions along the way are unnerving.

They spot the same old neighbourhood cat but on the days we’re running late they have to stop and pet it or talk to it. It’s the same cat we see EVERY-SINGLE-DAY! Why do you have to give it so much attention today? I want to yell this at them but I have some control, so I just storm ahead to the car, calling over my shoulder, “Hurry girls! We’re late!”

Then there’s the distractions of pebbles, pinecones, and puddles… it’s the magic formula for a preschooler and a nightmare for a mom who’s running behind schedule. Then there’s frost on the windows of the car and my children just have to carve a masterpiece into the icy medium. I normally don’t mind but on a day that we’re late I start barking at them to stop drawing and get into the car.

I will stop here and say I’ve reflected on these situations and though I’m embarrassed to admit my shortcomings, I’m beyond the point of self-condemnation. After seven years of parenting I’ve concluded that I’m far from perfect, I will never be perfect, and most days I’m striving to be just enough.

However, being the deliberate mom that I am, I realize that something has to change.

That something is me.

I’m the one who sets the schedule.

I’m the one who times out the itinerary.

I know my children well and they are dawdlers. It’s my fault for not taking the time to teach them the importance of punctuality. Unfortunately, I’ve gotten into the habit of using their dawdling as an excuse for my own poor behaviour. I check my email one last time, I add one more coat of lipstick, or I begin to gather things which I should have packed hours earlier.

There was something else that I realized had to change and that’s my words.


As I type that word a shiver crawls up my spine. I’ve raised my children in an unhurried world. We homeschool, we explore things at our own pace, and we soak up the world around us. Yet somehow, I allowed that horrible word creep into my vocabulary.


If there’s one thing I want my children to feel is peaceful. I want them to know their home and their family as peaceful people. “Hurry” is robbing them of that peace.

Hurry means a mom who is barking orders, nagging them, and reprimanding them.

Hurry means a mom who’s telling them to stop enjoying moments and blow past the whimsy of childhood without any regard.

Hurry means stress, anxiety, and hurt relationships.

I’m making a change. I will be more thoughtful in my preparations to leave the house and I will remove the word ‘hurry’ from my vocabulary. My approach for teaching punctuality to my children needs intentional consideration and gentle direction.  It won’t be easy and it might mean we’ll be late on several occasions. However, I’ve decided that I would much rather be late than to bruise my children’s self-esteem.

Running Late... Again. Ever since I had kids, I'm always running late. To make matters worse, I'm constantly rushing my kids and telling them to hurry. It's time to get out of this parenting rut and eliminate hurry from my vocabulary.

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Jennifer Bly
Jennifer Bly
Author of My Kitchen, My Classroom: An Introduction to Homeschool, creator of The Deliberate Mom, Deliberate Homeschooling and regular contributor to The Huffington Post. Jennifer writes about parenting, her faith, and life with her husband and two girls. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Applied Human Service Administration Degree with a specialization in Early Learning in Child Care. 

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94 thoughts on “Running Late… Again: Eliminating ‘Hurry’ from my Vocabulary

  • Lisa @ The Golden Spoons

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    Oh, Jennifer, I so get this! I was the same before kids – always early. I despise the mad scramble to get everyone out the door in the mornings. It really is amazing how much just a small amount of prep can do. I used to pack lunches the night before, but, let’s face it – at night I’m tired and I don’t want to, so I had stopped. When January rolled around I resolved in my mine to at least partially pack my three girls’ lunches the right before. It has made such huge difference in the mornings. I had almost forgotten how helpful it was!
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  • Katie | The Surly Housewife

    I can relate to this so much. I swear I have said some of the same things. “Really?! We do this every day!” I hate being in a rush and despise being late to things. I blame Dr. Phil. What seems likes eons ago, he made the statement that people who are constantly late are selfish. Of course, this was before I had children and knew better ha! The statement just stuck with me. “Must be on time. I am not selfish person!” But like you I realized that if we are “hurrying” out the door isn’t my own problem. Whether I didn’t start getting ready early enough. I misplaced something. I forgot _____. I do my best to not rush the kids and give us plenty of time to leave the house. This being said, I am a basket case when we leave the house for a road trip. I drive my husband crazy. But at least I stay calm during our every day errands right?!
    Katie recently shared this amazing post…Weekly Wrap-Up: A Week of OutingsMy Profile

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

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      Why do I breathe a sigh of relief when someone says they can relate?!

      I heard that on Dr. Phil too! Maybe that’s what’s made me so obsessed with being on time.

      I definitely want to be more mindful of my actions and my words. This “hurry” thing has gotten out of control. I’ve been trying to cut it out of my vocabulary over the past week and I’m stunned by how often I say it.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this Katie.

  • Monica

    Twitter handle:
    This is insightful. I need to remove “hurry” from my vocabulary… All of my family and friend’s KNOW that I have little patience. I’ve been working on it for some time now. This is a good step. I wonder how long I could go through with avoiding “hurry”.
    Monica recently shared this amazing post…Spicy Veggie PizzaMy Profile

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

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      Monica, I never realized how MUCH I said ‘hurry’ until I tried to remove it from my vocabulary. This is going to take a lot of effort and focused attention. However, I know the effort will be worth it… as I’ll feel better about my role as mama!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this too.

  • Caroline Harries

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    I think about this a lot when we have kids, what it’s going to look like. I hate being late. HATE it. I know adding in little kiddos to the mixture will make it difficult to always be on time so I’m going to have to let go of that control some and like you said not always be in a ‘hurry’!!!
    Caroline Harries recently shared this amazing post…Memory Monday – Week 80My Profile

  • Shilo

    Jennifer, don’t short change yourself! You are always much more than enough!

    I feel the exact same way about being late! I cringe as I hear myself try and hurry my kids along. I find myself barking at the kids “just put your coat on! Hurry!” Ugh. I know I need to take more control in the mornings and plan for extra time it takes for the kids to dress themselves and for those great moments of discovery (my two love drawing on the car too!) I hope to have more peaceful departures. I know I’ll feel better about myself and the kids will start the outing on a positive note (rather than being herded like cattle sometimes).

  • Stephanie @ Mommyzoid

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    I feel your pain, even though my baby needs me to get him ready. It’s 100% my fault. He has absolutely no concept of time or needing to be anywhere. It’s up to me to plan it all out and to get where we need to go safely and calmly! I hate rushing. I will start practicing NOW with the language I use around encouraging my babes to get ready to go. Thanks for the ideas!!

    Stephanie @ Mommyzoid
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  • Sarah @ GlamGranolaGeek

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    I learned from some of my research into Waldorf education that hurrying kids usually has the opposite effect LOL Once I was alerted to this phenomenon I definitely noticed the effect in my home! Waldorf has some cute ways of reducing the need to hurry kids, mostly by sticking to a routine so that the kids just flow from one thing to the next because they know what they are to be doing by force of habit. I also use this sweet little song they used to sing to the kids while they were walking from one place to the next, it just goes “Follow, follow, follow, follow, follow, follow, follow me” it has the effect of hurrying them along but in a really sweet way! You could probably sing it to any tune you want. :) It works like a charm for us!
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  • Shecki @ Greatly Blessed

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    When you’re in the boot camp years of parenting, it’s just hard. I applaud you for changing the way you deal with the stress of trying to get everybody out the door on time.

    Our family has been carpooling with the neighbors across the street, so I haven’t had to leave the house in the morning for school. But they’re MOVING this weekend (sob!) so I’ll be needing to remind *myself* of these things next week, as I try to get everybody out the door at 7:30 to drop off at 2 different schools.
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  • Ceil

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    Hi Jennifer! I had to smile when you wrote that you are the ‘deliberate mom’. I think it’s wonderful to connect to well to your calling as a mom with intention.

    And to see a teaching moment here too. Letting your children know that being on time is a good thing, a respectful thing. That’s really great, and I hope I can turn my thoughts from irritation to growth as well you did here.
    Aways an inspiration :)
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    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

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      Yay! Someone got my humour! You’re the first one who mentioned it Susan and I was beginning to wonder if this was me laughing at my own jokes again!

      I’m really focused on slowing down and not rushing my children. It will take some time to break this bad habit but it will be worth it!

  • christin

    What a nice post. I think you such a wonderful mom~ eventhough i didnt have a kids, but i know how do you feel. I hate late but i hate too hurry. If too hurry i feel my life like a robot and no peaceful. Anyway thanks for sharing with us~ #ibabloggers

  • Sanz @ From The Mrs.

    Wonderful thoughts, Jennifer! I HATE being late and have found that planning well ahead helps me not fall into the “hurry up”/anxiousness! Shoes and socks, jackets, bags loaded in the van well before we are planning to leave, it all helps so much!

  • Amanda

    Twitter handle:
    I also hate being late! And I have also found myself saying “We just won’t go,” even when I really, really want to GO. I try to give them time…sometimes it seems the earlier I start getting them ready, the more they fight getting ready! It’s crazy! One thing that I have found that helps is I sneakily get them ready…acting like it’s no big deal…just brush your teeth…nothing’s going on here…Hey, let’s change your clothes…and then, when all they need is shoes and coats I say, “HEY! Let’s go to the ________!” I think the excitement of getting to go somewhere (because we rarely leave the house since I do daycare at home) gets them so excited they go nuts – so I don’t tell them. Also, I’ve made my peace (most days) with the fact that kids don’t see into the future very well. Getting ready to leave in 2 mins is a much shorter goal than getting ready for an activity you’ll do in 20 min. And I do my best not to plan doctor appointments or important things you can’t be late for at times when my husband isn’t around to help wrangle!
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    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

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      LOL– wrangle… that’s a term my husband frequently uses.

      I like the idea of making it seem like it’s no big deal. Maybe I’ll try that too. I find my oldest daughter drills me about where we’re going and if it’s a place she doesn’t like, she’ll REALLY drag her feet. SO maybe I should try your method… hmmmm. Thanks for the suggestion!

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

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      My hubby is ALWAYS waiting for me. I feel bad for the poor guy. He’ll even joke around and say that he’s putting up a tent in the front entrance because I’m taking so long LOL. However, when the kids are involved, it’s the kids (and my fault because I’m dragging my feet).

  • Bernadyn

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    I love this post, often we as parents do rush our kids every day and that’s the last thing I want to do is make them feel like they have to rush through things. Enjoying the moment is important and I need to keep that in mind. If it means starting to get ready earlier but not feeling rushed then I would rather do that. Thanks for this, pinning and tweeting! #ibabloggers

  • Amanda @ Dwelling in Happiness

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    You are SO not alone!! My daughter is only 15 months old. I am a fast-doer of EVERYTHING. I walk fast, talk fast, and we have to get places quickly. However, my sweet daughter has only learned to walk a few months ago, and loves to explore and look at the world around her. I may not say “hurry up” yet, but I find myself saying “come on” in a sweet voice to her just because mom wants to get somewhere quicker. Which, I’m now realizing translates into “hurry!” Thanks for the reminder to stop and slow down and stop rushing. Especially when they are children and love to take everything in!
    Amanda recently shared this amazing post…Motivational Monday 21My Profile

  • Lysa

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    Hi Jennifer,

    I have struggled with this for almost 26 years now, yes my oldest will be that old next month, and it is not a battle I have won but unlike you I never really took the time to acknowledge my responsibility in the whole tardiness situation. I, sadly, just kept saying hurry. Reading your post made me adore you even more because you always make yourself accountable for the problems that occur. Something I have only just begun learning to do. I guess it’s better late than never right?

    Thanks for sharing this you have helped me to realize, even though my girls are teens now, that hurrying them along is not the kind of parent I ever wanted to be and it’s not too late for me to change my ways!

    Lysa recently shared this amazing post…Just Like Uncle Sam, I Want You… But For a Completely Different Reason!My Profile

  • Jessica Dimas

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    You always have a way of helping me see an alternative to a situation…as I was reading this I thought about how my two year old lives to see the toys in the garage, but as soon as we head out the door, I insist that he get in the car RIGHT AWAY, instead of changing my expectations and letting him satiate his curiosity, which is so much more important than being somewhere on time. AND I do the same thing…I use their dawdling as an excuse for me to check my phone again, always. I’m always doing that!! Great perspective you’ve pointed out, very helpful Jennifer!
    Jessica Dimas recently shared this amazing post…The Stages of Night Weaning a Boob-Obsessed ToddlerMy Profile

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

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      I’m glad you enjoyed this Kristy. I didn’t realize how often I was rushing my girls until I actively tried to cut the word from my vocabulary. I was rushing them through bathroom routines, clean up, play time, getting dressed… oh the list goes on and on. I’m so thankful I caught onto it!

  • Debbie

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    Hi Jennifer, if there is one Mum out there who does not relate to this post, I would like to meet that lady! I can imagine Mums everywhere nodding as can relate to everything you’ve written…But I will hold my hands up and say that I am often the one who gets sidetracked by a bug, a flower or a bird on the way to the car, which is parked just outside our house!…(I can’t help it, I take pleasure in the simplest things in life!).

    I must say that the Greek attitude to life is rather unhurried (unless you see them behind the wheel of a car, then for some reason that attitude changes totally). In some ways it’s a good thing, why not take time to smell the roses?..But it can have it’s down side.

    I hope you manage to find a happy medium, where you can eliminate the word hurry from your vocabulary and manage to find a positive way to encourage your children to be ready on time!…Now that post would go viral!…xx
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      • Debbie

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        I don’t miss the pressure of living in a rush culture one bit, but sometimes the laid back attitude can be taken to extremes here. One thing that does amuse me thought is that it takes me a full 15 – 20 minutes to drive into town , but in the summer that time doubles and it feels like forever (we are so spoiled here!). I don’t know how people commute for hours to work each day, I couldn’t do it now…xx
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  • [email protected]

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    I love this Jennifer! In this hustle and bustle world, giving our children a peaceful place is so important. I like to be on time and try really hard to do so. Sometimes I am late and it’s because life happened. When that happens I always try to remember my mantra “the most important things in life aren’t things (or events) it’s people”

    Have a wonderful day my sweet friend!
    Jen recently shared this amazing post…Talking TutusMy Profile

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

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      As a Christian, I long for my children to have peace in their lives and especially in their home. It means so much to me. It was hard to see that I was upsetting the peace because of my own oversights. I’m so glad I caught onto it though… I’m making progress, day by day.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this Jen.

  • Sarah Nenni Daher

    Twitter handle:
    Oh, I’ve so been here and with only one little girl in tow! I noticed this about myself, too, and saw that it was adding anxiety so I also began adding time on the front end.

    It takes her 15 minutes to pick out and put on her shoes, but I know the independence it gives her is valuable so I adjusted and stopped asking her to do so.

    Love reading your posts, Jennifer. It’s like I’m taking to a friend over coffee. Have a wonderful day!
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    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

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      I’m naturally an anxious person and I hate that my actions could be creating anxiety for my children. Fortunately I recognized I have been doing this and I have been working really hard to try to break myself of the “hurry” habit.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this Sarah. I’m so glad it feels like we’re talking over coffee– that’s exactly how I want you to feel when you’re visiting here!

  • Kerry

    I was constantly late before I had children. Now I just try not to schedule so much. My two-year-old has a mind of his own. And if he doesn’t want to sit in the carseat to go somewhere, he just won’t. It often takes me several minutes to coax and bribe him into acceptance. And I tell my tween son that we just have to be patient with little brother–and allow ourselves plenty of time to get where we need to go.

  • Rebecca

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    It wasn’t until I read this post that I realized how much I dislike the word “hurry” too. Oh I can’t stand it! I hate feeling rushed. I’m like you, always on time (early). But kids definitely force us out of our comfort zone. I feel so uncomfortable and quite honestly, like a failure (i know I’m petty) when I show up late. UGDJKHFDJKHF! But the real issue is my husband. He doesn’t believe in clocks, hours, minutes, nothing. He’s a “when I’m done, it’s over” kind of guy. I cannot tell you how many days a week he comes home late from work, how many times he’s been late to events, or made me late to things because he doesn’t live by the clock. And yet he has 4857345 watches. Psh. Ironic
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    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

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      I almost wish I could have a mentality like your husband’s. I’ve been working so hard to slow down and to remove ‘hurry’ from my vocabulary. I don’t want to be the source of anxiety for my girls. It’s going to take some time but the peace I’m sure we’ll reap from the change will be worth it.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this too!

  • Alycia Lowe

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    I caught myself saying this today, and we weren’t even in a hurry. We were going on a trip to Walmart…because I wanted to get out of the house. We too were dawdling…she had to pick out her shoes, and her had, and her coat…which is fine, but as we all know, it takes more than 2 minutes to do.

    Thanks for such a great reminder!

    And thanks for linking up with us for the Saturday Spotlight! :)
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  • Shan, Ms. Naturally Random

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    I had a “tardy” problem before my daughter was born and now it’s improved….well somewhat. I’ve become much more conscious of the time it takes me to get ready that I’ve cut that down drastically to accommodate for the extra things I have to do to prep her for our trips out as well. Doesn’t always work. Last minute poops just happen sometimes! lol
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  • Lauren

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    I am always working on this with my kids… I try to be calm and give them enough ‘wiggle room’ in the morning so we arent rushed… but I def have those mornings where I am the crazy, screaming mommy trying to get my kids out the door so they wont be late for school! (in fact, this morning was like that… yikes!)
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  • Donna

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    Oh boy, can I relate. It’s so difficult to lay down my plans and wait on people. All my people are easily distracted, slow and plodding. My husband’s entire family is like that. I was raised by a mom who always ‘had a plan’ and dinner was five o’clock every single day. It’s rough, even now, for me to slow down and adjust my expectations of myself and others. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I could not slow down until I had the fourth child. I missed too much, trying to hurry and push and get stuff done.
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  • Stephanie

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    It’s like you have been watching me try to get my girls out of the house! We have the same scenarios and I am always frustrated with myself as I am yelling at them to hurry. Now it is winter and for some reason they always have to walk through the deep snow on the way out to the car :) This post was a fantastic eye-opener for me. I had never stopped and thought about that I was robbing them of their peace by forcing them to hurry when I am the one that controls when we get ready to go. Thank you!

    • Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom Post author

      Twitter handle:
      I swear I haven’t been spying on you! It’s reassuring to know others are encountering similar obstacles though. Winter is particularly challenging, isn’t it?!

      I’m really working on breaking the “hurry” habit. I have a feeling it will take a lot of time and effort but I’ll feel better about not rushing my girls along.

  • Tawnya

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    Jennifer, I love love love this post. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately myself as I enter the two year old phase. I’ve been hearing myself utter the word “hurry” more times than I would like now and you’re right, we set the schedule. So why not plan to be out the door ten minutes earlier, so you can be just on time :) and if you’re early, no one ever complains about someone who arrives early!
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  • Tamara

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    Once again you are as timely as ever. Today was our first day back to school, just for Scarlet, and I had to bite my tongue because I wanted so badly to say, “Hurry!”
    Every morning is the same, it seems, and I can’t expect the kids to change. Unfortunately we really do have to get to school before the bell rings, or suffer the consequences, so empty threats won’t work. (not that they would anyway)
    It breaks my heart that every morning, I’m rushing her along. Lately she’s been asking for Cassidy to take her to school and I know it’s because of me.
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  • Steph @MisplacedBrit

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    Oh wow! That whole hallway experience describes mine on pretty much every school day!!
    I don’t want the start of their school and nursery days to be stressed. For them to have heard ‘HURRY UP’ 15 times before we even get in the car.

    I have a breakfast schedule on the fridge now… Not quite your usual one perhaps(!) it specifies the latest minute that breakfast needs to start, and if it hasn’t started by then we’re taking takeaway breakfast in the car instead! The point of this being that if it’s already too late to sit down and have a proper breakfast I’ve decided it’s better for us to in a ‘slightly calmer’ fashion get straight into the car instead – I don’t want to be stressing them when they’re eating – and have a car picnic!! It doesn’t happen too often but the kids love it.
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