Success can be measured in a variety of ways. One thing I have always prided myself on was my punctuality. Before I met my husband, I was typically awkwardly early tongatherings and events… But I was quite content to sit in my car and read until someone else showed up.
Then, I met my husband. He runs on “Timmy Time” (a play on his name, Tim -duh- and a cute clay-mation kids show about “a little lamb with a lot to learn”). Anyway, he was almost always at least 5 minutes late… If not more. He could be on time to work, but that was about it.
Enter children… And with each child, people seem more and more surprised when I make it anywhere on time, much less early, and even more surprised that I seem to be relatively put together.
How can I get 7 children out of the house, by myself, and rarely seem to be missing necessary items? Obviously, at least to me, this requires planning ahead. I have always loved this, from middle school days when I was issued a school student agenda book to now when my life is contained within the monthly and weekly calendar pages of my homeschool planner. (FYI, I love A Simple Plan from Mardel.com)
On the weekends, I look ahead in the week and see what we have coming up. Not too often do we go off schedule… Co-op on Mondays and piano lessons on Thursdays are about the extent of our travels. If I promise a zoo trip of a park play day, those often don’t get written in, but I plan them at least the night before.
Books/backpacks are gathered on Sunday for co-op on Monday. Snacks and/or lunches are packed both the evening before co-op and zoo/park trips.
But most importantly, I look up driving directions. I remember my pre-smartphone days. I’d get on MapQuest on the computer, and write down directions, and estimated driving time. Then I’d add 15-30 minutes to that. Pure and simple, I built in a fair amount of buffer time… To account for traffic or leaving a little later than planned or *ahem* missing a turn and getting lost or who knows what other unexpected surprises that could possibly crop up.
And there you have it. That’s it. With more and more children, I factor in 10 minutes van loading time plus 10 minutes *unloading* time at our destination. Plus about 15 minutes buffer time in addition to the estimated travel time.
So for co-op, I make lunches and prepare snacks Sunday night. Assembly line style… 6 lunch boxes plus my own as the baby still
eats drinks only a bottle during the day. Backpacks are assembles in a row, in birth order or I get confused, on the couch. So when I wake the kids up at 7, they get dressed, eat the breakfast I have already made (usually egg muffins… Scrambeled eggs with cheese and maybe bacon bits baked in a muffin tin) and we can just grab their stuff and get out the door around 8. Co-op starts at 9:15, and is about a 20-30 minute drive from home.
Last week, I had time to go to Tim Hortons (because we were out of eggs believe it or not) for 6 10 piece Tim-bits (and maybe a donut or two for me) and to Kroger to drop off a prescription I got the night before from an ER trip whem my oldest son got glass stuck in his leg by taking out the trash that had broken glass in it… Whoo, what a night.
But because we were otherwise already prepared for the day, I was only 5 minutes later than my normal arrival time (we got there around 8:50 rather than 8:45) so we could unload from the van, drop our lunch things in the cafeteria (only a bag of rag rugs to sit on today as the fourth Monday is the blesséd pizza day), drop the babies off in the nursery, my things in the mom lounge, and make it to the opening assembly on time.
Life with 7, soon to be 8, children can easily get crazy. It is entirely necessary to plan as much as possible to minimize the chaos. I once read a (fiction) book where a character explained why battle plans were made if everyone knew they went up in smoke as soon as actual battle started… plans WILL go awry. You make up a plan so you can get back on track and things don’t go as awry as they otherwise could.
That and I’ve been waking up at 5:30 every day except Saturday. 😴