Mommy A to Z

Motherhood, Alphabetized.

H is for . . . Hurry Up!


For as long as I can remember, I’ve been late for everything. Late for class. Late for the surprise party. Late for my own rehearsal dinner. (Fortunately, that last one couldn’t start without me.) I used to just accept my lack of punctuality as a character flaw. But then I had kids, and there was no denying the truth: I suddenly lived in a world with clocks, and if I wanted to get by, I had to abide by them.

I’m not sure when exactly I discovered this phenomenon called “time.” Perhaps it was when I burst into the bounce-house birthday party, toddler in hand, just as the castles were deflating and the guests were moving on to pizza. Perhaps it was when I had to shell out cash for picking up my daughter five minutes late from daycare. Suddenly, I found myself constantly rushing to beat the clock.

And that’s when I discovered a sad truth: small children, as it turns out, do not understand the meaning of the word hurry. They do not do anything quickly, unless it involves chasing after the ice cream truck (at which point they suddenly go from extreme couch surfing to training for the Olympics). And so, every time I had to rush from the house, I found myself desperately trying to convince my kids that their coats were as interesting as the pots and pans they had scattered across the floor, attempting to grab their attention with that dreaded two-word command incessantly droned throughout the day: “HURRY UP!”

Hurry up, as in:

  • Hurry up, Mommy spent ten minutes looking for her wallet and now you’re late for school!
  • Hurry up, I forgot about your doctor’s appointment, and it started five minutes ago!
  • Hurry up, we need to squeeze in a trip to the grocery store, the bank, and the Himalayas before dinner!
  • Hurry up, we’re late for Mommy and Me Pinterest lessons!
  • Hurry up, we’re late for . . . something. . . right?

Gradually, I started to realize that it wasn’t my kids who had a problem with time. Their time was pretty much always spent the same way: stripping down Barbie dolls, eating everything in sight, dumping toy trucks on the floor, sleeping, dumping more toy trucks on the floor . . . Like gamblers at a casino, they had little clue what time it was, or even if was day or night; provided their drinks were constantly replenished, they would continue playing until stopped. Rather, I was the one with the problem. I was the one trying to squeeze thirty hours of activities into a twenty-four-hour day. I was the one checking my iPhone instead of the clock. I was the one who was overcommitted, overstretched, and overwhelmed.

As such, I decided to make some changes. And so, here are some time-management tips I’ve learned over the years, designed to restore sanity and banish the words “Hurry up!” from my vocabulary — for at least an hour or two.

  • Embrace the void. You may feel you have to fill every moment of your day that you’re not working or feeding children with activities — whether that means doing laundry or rushing to playdates. You don’t. Your kids will be just fine building a fort out of sofa cushions while you sit down and zone out (or even eat something from time to time). Loosening up your schedule doesn’t just create free time, it creates quality time, because you’re present, relaxed, and in the moment . . . instead of mentally folding the laundry. Live in the moment — especially if that moment is on your nice, comfortable couch.
  • Turn off your phone. I guarantee your smartphone is making you late at least 50 percent of the time — whether it’s because you absolutely must tweet that your baby just wiggled his left toe or you desperately have to check your score in Candy Crush. And yes, I know, you need your phone to see what time it is, making this quite the conundrum. However, clocks are also good for telling time — and they don’t buzz when someone urgently texts you “What’s up?”
  • You’re late. So what? OK, you can’t be late to pick up your child from the bus stop. But the world won’t end if you arrive at a party ten minutes late, even if the limbo contest is well underway. The reality is that last-minute diaper changes happen. Toddlers throw tantrums just as it’s time to leave. The soccer practice you thought started at 9:30 actually begins at 9. Stressing about being late will only add to your madness, and if you have kids, you already have enough things to drive you crazy. Take a deep breath. It’s all going to work out.  

What I’ve discovered is that it’s really about being present. When I’m focused on the moment at hand, I’m more likely to get things done in a reasonable manner — and less likely to rush out the door without one or both of my children. And when I am late, I try not to be too hard on myself. After all, somewhere in the world, I’m actually early.



  1. As a person who always suffers extreme guilt when late for anything, I wish I could live by your philosophy. Although it is probably too late for me to change, I am glad that it works for you.

  2. Very helpful tips. Better late than never!

  3. I’ve learned to do the things you listed, myself. It is more on us than our kids, especially at an early age. My daughter is 10, and even though she can tell time and watch the clock, everything flows much more smoothly when I am the one getting ready early and being more prepared. That way, even if she’s running late for school, I have her toast ready, and tell her to grab her shoes and eat in the car so we still make it on time. And, “Void” is a learned best friend of mine. I used to have to finish the dishes at night, make sure the laundry was all put away, etc, etc, or I’d feel guilty and overwhelmed. Now, I try to be in bed by 11, no ifs and or buts, and would rather get up early to finish the dishes or laundry before work after having a steady 7-8 hours of sleep. It’s all about balance. So glad you are getting it! :) XOXO-Kasey

    • I love that in bed by 11 rule! I wish I could follow it, but sadly I always seem to be working late at night. You make a great point about being prepared…definitely makes things run more smoothly when Mommy is on her game. Haven’t seen any new posts from you lately…looking forward to hearing what’s new with you :) – Meredith

      • Yes, I know I need to write….and soon….Should have a post out this week! I just started getting my rear in gear by 11…and I still have nights where I push it, but I’m reaping the benefits of more sleep, and thus it’s showing me how important it is! XOXO-Kasey

      • Looking forward to your next post! – Meredith

  4. This is so great! The problem lies with us. . . the mom who wanted to sleep in for ten extra minutes in the morning but then takes it out on the kindergartner by rushing him through breakfast and getting dressed and we’re late we’re late. I am that mom. But I need to not be. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. love this post!! i love the void, and often leave my phone off =) and yes i am late often as well =)
    thank you for a beautiful post!

  6. I am one of those people that is early to everything. I hate being late, so I would rather show up 30 minutes early than be even a minute late.

  7. I’m pretty much an early bird and occasionally late sometimes. But I do still need to work on my time management. Thanks for the awesome tips!

  8. Ahhhh – this post is hilarious. I could truly visualize all of your mishaps unfolding, like the bounce house scenario. lol @ “Hurry up, we’re late for Mommy and Me Pinterest lessons!”

    I also use my cell phone to check the time (even though I wear a watch on my wrist) and it’s my alarm clock too.

    I have the opposite problem though…I’m on time and everyone else is late or slow as molasses around me, and it drives me up a wall. I can’t stand being late to something or feeling like I’m missing out…I can’t stand missing 5 minutes of a movie because I always feel it was something really important that I didn’t see. I try to work on it, but I am like a drill sergeant when we have to go somewhere.

    • Thanks! It’s funny, movies are the one thing I’m not late for, probably because I lived in Manhattan for a while, where if you’re not 45 minutes early for a movie, you’re sitting in the front row fighting a neck cramp the entire flick. Maybe I can apply that punctuality to other parts of my life! Thanks for the comment!

  9. I laughed so much when you compared your little ones to players at a casino. I go to Vegas a lot for conferences and speaking engagements, and it is amazing how zombie-like they seem. :)

    • Thanks! I’m jealous that you get to go to Vegas a lot. I went once and loved it, but I guess it’s different now that we have kids. They should make a Sesame Street themed casino where the kids can hang out with Big Bird while Mommy plays blackjack. Actually, on second thought, that sounds pretty depressing… Anyway, thanks for stopping by!!

  10. I’m rarely late for anything! But that’s because I really don’t want to be late. It makes me crazy. So I get everywhere too early.

    • I’m sure your friends and family appreciate your being early more than mine appreciate waiting forever for me and my brood to show up! Thanks for stopping by!!

  11. Like the person who commented above, I quit wanting to get everything done at night and I just go to bed. I have four kids who are growing up quickly and sleep is more important!

    • You’ve got your priorities straight! For the first time in forever, I got eight hours of sleep last night, and I wasn’t a total zombie today. Will probably go back to zombie mode tomorrow…don’t want to confuse the kids :)

  12. I never had difficulty being on time until I became a mother. About a month ago, I wrote a piece about trying to slow down more and let my son set the pace. Toddlers do not like to hurry! Sometimes we can’t help though and I try to make it into a game.
    I found your blog through the Mommy Monday Blog Hop and I decided to follow you. And I’m really looking forward to reading more of your posts.

    • Thanks! I just hopped over to your blog and read your post on things you’ve learned from motherhood. The Inspector Gadget comparison made me laugh! Every time we go out to dinner, we have to move everything from the place mats to the butter dish to one side of the table, or else within 30 seconds my son is triumphantly waving a butter knife in the air. Thanks for stopping by! Following you too!

  13. I understand you for having some punctuality flaws but I still agreed with better late than never. Personally I have some moments in life where I have been late for an appointment and I know the feeling of all the people looking at you because you are the last one to arrive but when in college I remember I have been late to one subject where the professor believes in me so much then what she did is to recap all the moments that I missed and he told the whole class that it is more worth of having a class with me than without me but that incident never happens again because I don’t want my professor to lost faith in me.

  14. I realized a while ago that one of the gifts I could give my children was to take seriously their need to walk very, very, very slowly to the car when we were leaving someplace. It drives me nuts, but going slowly with them rather than hurrying them along is respecting their interests (in dirt, puddles, insects, or whatever else they happen to see).

    • That’s a great way of looking at it. I’m always so focused on getting from point A to point B, that I forget sometimes that my son is still learning about the world around him, and that a rock on the ground is both his journey and his destination! Thanks for stopping by!

  15. I am glad I came across this article. I have always been late because my last minute diaper change or one of my daughters throwing a fit but in reality it was my fault because I was wanting to finish a photo or article I was working on. It didn’t need to be done right then and there but I chose to do it then. I agree that we need to just sit back and chill sometimes and say it is ok to be late to some things and some things can wait. Great Article!

  16. So true! I work hard to be mindful, but honestly I am really terrible at it. Being in the present is hard when you have Overloaded Mommy Brain. But, it is so essential for the kiddos. Thanks for a great reminder. I really don’t need to hurry today!!

  17. From one “time challenged” person to another- love this post! Great insight and great advice! Thanks!

  18. I’m starting to become late for everything too. Having a toddler makes it hard to get from point A to B fast!

  19. I will be late to my own funeral!! A toddler just makes thing worse.

  20. Pingback: Let’s Get Personal! | Mommy A to Z

  21. Good post. I’m experiencing some of these issues as well..

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: