Five tricks to avoid being late

How are you at time management? Perfectly punctual or terribly tardy? For some reason I have always been in the perfectly punctual camp, and have never understood those people that turn up to playgroup half an hour before it finishes, or leave you waiting for 20 minutes for a lunch date.

Ask my friends and they might tell you I’m a bit smug about it. Keep pressing some of them and they might share that I make them feel a bit crappy when they show up late, again. But as far as I’m concerned, being late tells people you don’t value their time. That your needs are greater than theirs. And nobody’s needs are greater than mine.

Once you have kids, of course, the challenges are much greater. We all know there is no way you can ever just grab your purse and keys and hit the road. Before you go anywhere, you need to ensure you pack wet wipes, 17 changes of clothes, antiseptic everything, nappies, a Vegemite sandwich and a pair of tweezers.

But won’t somebody think of the poor children! When you schlep about at an island pace, you are passing this inclination on to them. And you’re pissing people off on their behalf. Late for school, late for play dates, late for everything – and so the cycle continues.

Want to save your children from all the terrible things people say about you behind your back when you’re late (hey, if you were on time it wouldn’t  have to be this way)?

Here are some tips to help you get on top of things:

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare. I know it’s dull and not very sexy, but lay out your clothes, your accessories, and your shoes the night before. Then make sure your kids have clothes for tomorrow and that their ju jitsu/soccer/netball uniform isn’t in the wash. Pack their lunches if required. Better yet, get them to pack their own lunches. Ensure bags are packed for school/kindy. Ensure your bag is packed for work. Where is your purse? Put it in your bag! Are you taking lunch? Make it now. You get the picture, right?
  2. If you have kids that dawdle, set up races to get ready. Have them race to get dressed – the winner gets a small prize. You probably shouldn’t get them to race to have breakfast, but if they take too long or faff about, take it from them after a certain period of time. I promise, they won’t faff more than twice if they are losing food they want. If your kids are a bit older, set a schedule of when they should be getting dressed, eating, getting lunch from fridge and packing in bag, etc. They can follow along and learn to be disciplined with time.
  3. If you are still in the nappy bag phase, restock it as soon as you get home.  Keep it full of nappies, wipes, snacks, cups, etc. That way you are always ready to go.
  4. Shower/bath the night before. Most of us do this with our filthy kids but if you do it as well, that cuts a crucial few minutes off your prep time in the morning. A quick wash of your face will ensure you’re fresh and ready to go.
  5. Optional: set your alarm to wake up before the kids so you can get ready in peace. Then you can be around to help them get ready too. This is an advanced manoeuvre for those whose kids don’t wake them up before dawn.

And please, please, please don’t set your clock forward. You will just know you have set your clock forward, allow for that, and sleep in later than ever.

What do you think? Any tips I missed?

Or am I being too hard on the tardy? State your case here!

Written By

Carolyn is the editorial director of Champagne Cartel and a freelance writer. In her spare time she is a long-distance runner, peanut butter enthusiast, and single mum to three incredible humans.


  • Love it! I too am a stickler for being on time. HOWEVER I must say my on time reputation has been somewhat tarnished of late due to a certain little person. Now surely you could excuse a certain level of tardiness when a newborn in in tow??? The little buggers are mighty unpredictable…..

  • Yes, have to say I am stickler for being on time too. My kids are a bit older, and the couple of times that I have gotten out of bed before them in the morning has been such a lovely and relaxed way to start the day. However, I struggle to make myself get out of bed early!

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