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Time Management

Eight thirty-five. I glance at clock on the stove. Church doesn’t start for twenty-five minutes. Surely we can make it on time today.

It’s a fifteen-minute drive to church from our house. We have been driving to this little church in the country every Sunday for the past three months and we have been late every. single. time. It’s the only place that we go where arriving on schedule matters and yet we can’t do it.

I’m an organized person. In the days of diaper bags and car carriers, I would lay the children’s clothes out the night before. Bibles and backpacks went out to the car on Saturday evening. Stuart and I rose early on Sunday morning and got ourselves ready. We fed the children in their pajamas because they always spilled and slopped and dribbled and then hustled them into their clothes. We held small hands, balanced a couple of little ones on our hips, buckled them in the car and arrived at church about ten minutes before the service. Those were the days.

The children are spreading their wings and testing the waters of independence. Diapers and bibs and sippy cups belong to the past. The car holds booster seats instead of infant carriers with 5-point harnesses. The children can get in the car and buckle themselves. They can put on their shoes and gather their things. And because they can do these things, we have to add many extra minutes to arrive somewhere in the vicinity of “on time.”

Showers and the laying out of church clothes are relegated to Saturday night. Children are tucked in at a decent hour. Stuart and I rise early on Sunday morning. Father Time has left his mark so these days, applying makeup has become more of an art than a lick and a promise. Stuart contends with the children while I work my makeup magic. They rise, they dress, they eat. Stuart sends two or three messengers into John’s room.

“Papa says it's time to get up."

"Papa says it's time to get up, now."

"John! Get out of bed!"

I make it out to the kitchen fifteen minutes before we need to leave. I wet a washcloth and scan faces, searching for traces of breakfast. Claire and Charlie could use a touch up. I notice that Faith still has not brushed her hair. “Brush your hair Faith.” She wanders down the hall.

Lauren holds out the hairbrush and a ponytail holder. I twist her hair into a braid. She goes to get her Bible.

John stumbles into the kitchen dressed in his church clothes a few minutes before our scheduled time of departure. “Are your teeth brushed? Do you have your contacts in?” No. And no. “Hurry up. It’s time to go!”

“Claire, help Charlie into his shoes.” Claire and Charlie disappear in search of shoes. They are still searching ten minutes later. Lauren joins the search party and soon finds Charlie’s sandals under the sofa.

Stuart goes out and starts the car. It purrs in the driveway, air conditioning running.

The house is quiet. Must be most of the children went out with Stuart. “Everybody’s out in the car!” I call down the hall.

Five children answer from all parts of the house.

“I’m just brushing my teeth.”

“I can’t find my Bible.”

“I just need to get something.” The “something” turns out to be a bluejay feather, three rocks and a magnet.

I rush to the other end of the house and start herding children ahead of me toward the car, scanning all the while. Clothes? Check. Shoes? “John, get your shoes on.” Hair? “Faith! You never brushed your hair!”

“I had to go to the bathroom.”

“For twenty minutes?!”

I push a hairbrush into her hand and look around for John. Good. He’s got shoes.

The kids scramble over each other to get in the car and now we have five minutes to make a fifteen-minute drive. We arrive after the announcements and the handshaking and before the children’s sermon. No one looks up. They have become accustomed to this interruption at ten minutes after nine. I look down the row after we have sorted ourselves into the pew. Oh, she never brushed her hair. And for a moment I long for the sippy cup days.


Alyson said…
I have to laugh because I know so many husbands and dads that get the car started and wait....while the wives are inside running around and trying to corale everyone. It would go so much easier if only they would HELP!!

Our Pastor actually preached on that one day...that the husbands need to help us :) so funny.

Alana said…
Oh no! We are doomed. We are always ten minutes late and we are still in the sippy cup days!

My friends and I often joke about what happens to those mysterious 10 minutes that we seem to lose between the house and the car. I leave the house on time, but by the time we are actually pulling out of the driveway 10+ minutes have lapsed. Gets me every time!
Faith said…
I LOVED reading this! I found your blog from Fruit in Season (Christine). This reminds me of our house...except I only have 2 daughtters. Your anecdote about Faith is so much like me with my 14 year old Courtney. And I have a Claire as well! (she is 8). Yup...sometimes I long for those sippy cup days too! :)

I'm with you on the ten mysterious minutes. Do they get eaten up by the dawdling out the door and the getting buckled and situated? I'm always surprised by how many minutes pass between the time we leave the house and the time we pull out of the driveway.


I guess this post doesn't give a very good impression of my husband. He wasn't actually in the car, he was putting the dog out and making sure doors were looked and other "man stuff". Then he was helping put the littlest one in the car.

But you are right. There are "Sunday Sdeline" husbands who wait in the car for their kids and their wife. I am thankful I'm not married to one of them.

ValleyGirl said…
Sounds like our house a couple of years ago -- and we only have two kids!! Amazingly, after 'discussing' the issue with my husband (several times!), our Sunday mornings have completely changed. It took him a while to get the routine through his head (you know, stuff like the girls' hair has to get brushed, snacks need to get packed and put into my purse, etc.), but our Sunday mornings actually run quite smoothly now. However, we've only got the 2 girls and they're kind of in between the independent and sippy-cup stages, so we'll see what it's like in a couple of years -- when they're teenagers trying to share one teeny little bathroom with mom!! Ah, I can hardly wait.

Great story-telling!
Sarah Markley said…
I love this! Its so funny, because I am usually a very on time person (even a pinch early), and even with my two little ones, I usually am not late to things. But SUNDAYS, everything changes in my house...I don't know why. I think WITH my husband there, its harder. We dawdle, he says things like, "we have time..."...and we always end up scrambling like crazy the last ten minutes, then aruging on the way to church. I hear you. I'm very thankful that he isn't the sit-in-the-car-running type (his father is, though). And, btw, I am still in the sippy cup days and will be for some time...and I only have 2! So, it doesn't get easier???
Oh boy can I relate to this one and we only have two girls!! Lately, we change our wardrobe several times before "departure" time! Even when we lay out our clothes the night before!

If I said I know how you'd feel, I wouldn't be quite truthful since CJ is an only child. Our time management issue is mainly me. If I look @ the clock & see I'm ahead of the game, I decide I can accomplish something else in those few minutes (and the accomplishment always takes longer than I thought).

Hubby is able to go to church every other week (work schedule), and we're always on time. When it's just me & CJ, I'm invariably late. Not good when I'm the Sunday School teacher!

And I'm with Alana on the 10-minutes. Since I don't have to buckle anyone in, I think the steps leading out of the house into the garage are a secret time warp. ;-)
Xandra said…
We do the same thing on Sunday morning! Weekdays run smoothly and efficiently and everyone gets to school/work on time. I fall into the trap of feeling like Sunday morning is part of the weekend, so it should be more leisurely or something.

Of course, that couldn't be further from the truth. Maybe Sunday's are an anomaly in the space-time continuum....
Janelle said…
That sounds just like our Sunday mornings, minus a few kids.

Our church-family laughs at us coming in the door late every time. One Sunday we got there early and they all wondered what was wrong.
Carol said…
This is SO my family. I am also an organized one, but I just can't seem to be on time anywhere!! And we are still in the sippy cup stage! Great post! :)
Anonymous said…
So funny, Kate. I make the mistake of not wanting to be too early, AS IF I ever have to worry about that! And, as usual, I'm also multi-tasking... "what can I get done in 3 minutes?" And yes, there is the case of the disappearing 10 minutes. But I have no excuse - my oldest is 12, I should know enough to plan for those 10 minutes, for goodness' sake! And, oh, how the kids hate being late. Add this to my ongoing list of things to work on! :)

Oh, and I love the feather and rocks... "check."

Hey,someone up there had a 12 year old Courtney, and a Claire, too... how weird!
It's good to know I'm normal, at least!
Cheryl said…
This sounds so familiar! I used to start planning for Sunday on Saturday morning. The worst thing was always finding the kids' shoes. Even when I laid them out last thing on Saturday night, they were not to be found on Sunday morning. I was pretty sure the devil was hiding those shoes every week so we would be late for church! :)
Faith said…
Uh-oh. This sounds like DH and me ... and we don't even have kids yet! (The blame is mostly mine, I'll admit it.) Every single Sunday I am determined to get to church on time ... but I am in that "10 minutes from the house to the car" club! Such a mystery, isn't it?
And I noticed you now have another Faith commenting on your blog! :)
Kate said…
I laughed as I read this. I can't say I have these issues 'cause...well, I have neither husband nor kids. I do however recall my teen years. parents were the pastors!!! You painted a perfect picture of our house on a Sunday was run on teen time until my dad got another car. :) Uhhh, that's not to say your children won't grow out of it...hee hee hee...just that I'll be praying for you. ;)
Mary@notbefore7 said…
Oh no Kate...we are frequently late and we are still in the days of little ones. I just can't seem to get myself and each of them ready on time most mornings. It never fails that someone has to use the potty, someone spits up all over me, or a tantrum is thrown just as we head out the door.

I have actually thought to myself, "well at least this will be easier in a few years..." Hmmm...maybe easier in some ways, but perhaps no faster.
Christy said…
Those last 10 minutes always get me, too! Today we completely missed Bible Study. We had spilled syrup resulting in a bath and then a baby pushed face-first into a cabinet!

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