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Leaving the House With Toddlers And The Demise Of Punctuality

Leaving the house with toddlers verges on my undoing on the best of days. This day in particular, I was under siege.

Leaving the house with toddlers verges on my undoing on the best of days. This day in particular, I was under siege.


It always starts with the best-laid plans. It really does. The morning marked a fresh start. The prospect of getting out of the house was promising. We were meeting at a friend’s who just had a baby. One girlfriend was bringing Starbucks. I had offered to bring lunch.

All we had to do was get out of the house in a timely fashion and get food. The kids would be out of each other’s space and playing with friends. It would be so nice. Leaving the house with toddlers verges on my undoing on the best of days. This day in particular, I was under siege.

[bctt tweet=”Leaving the house with toddlers verges on my undoing on the best of days #parentingproblems”]

With a final click of the mouse, I was finished my work for the morning. I pushed my laptop away and taunted the kids with a race to motivate them to get undressed and in the bath. Once clean, the naturists sprung loose from their towels and ran off in separate ways. Negotiations for their prompt returned failed as I tackled the bum-bum closest to me. My attempts at subduing the trashing with rationale got me a whole lot of nowhere as I grabbed still-damp limbs, attempting to “gently” shove them into sleeves and pant legs. One down. One to go. Both sets of teeth took WWE style body holds to get clean.


Then it was my turn.


Getting myself ready always feels so dichotomous. Caught between relief and trepidation, I’m so grateful to finally make myself look and feel half human. Trepidation comes for fear of what my two terrors may undo or do while I’m preoccupied in the shower and getting dressed. Nevertheless, I made my way upstairs while forewarning the kids with a singsongy voice, “We cannot leave until everything is cleaned up. If you start now, we can leave sooner!”


I didn’t have my hopes up.


Trying to do hair and makeup while refereeing sibling rivalry makes self-care seem oxymoronic. But I try anyways. I like to feel somewhat normal despite all of the ridiculousness. As I made my way downstairs feeling as coiffed as I could considering the circumstances, it became evident that the toy eruption had taken an even greater hold of the main floor. I wrangled my wild children, crouched down, and looked them both dead in the eye, “We need to clean up before we leave.” This was all they needed to go totally rogue, giggling with laughter. The window for being close-to-punctual was shortening faster with every expression of willfulness. A countdown, coupled with an ultimatum “inspired” my youngest to pick up his toys and then promptly run off. As soon as I had shot a text to the host apologizing for my inevitable tardiness, I was off to face my oldest head-on.

Down to her level once more, I meant business, “Are you wanting to go to your friend’s house today?” Her eyes sparkled with impish willfulness, “Yes!” “I’ve asked you twice. It’s time to clean-up” Her face in a full on grin now, her previously flighty feet stood firm. “I’m too tired,” she whined. The bounce in her voice and her escapes prior revealed the opposite to be true.


I could just pick these up and have it over with.


If I had picked these up when I first came down, I would have saved myself a substantial chunk of time and would have had a temporary break from wrangling 30-pound humans.


Why am I even choosing to have the toys cleaned up before I go?


If her feet weren’t still planted, if her stare wasn’t egging me on, and if her brother hadn’t conceded victory, perhaps I would have let punctuality trump my own stubbornness and desire to see things through.


Instead, hand over hand, I dragged her to those first few toys. “I don’t want you to help me,” she forcefully asserted. As I backed off, she stood proud in her perceived triumph.


Shoes were another endeavour. Spontaneously and conveniently “forgetting” how to do daily tasks when Mama is parenting from the brink of insanity seems to be a card my kids like to play.


In the car, it was as if it never happened. Polite, docile, and appreciative words were all that came from their little mouths.


“It’s such a beautiful day!”

“Thank you so much for bringing us, Mama!”


Gritted teeth, sweating, my previously straightened hair now looking like I’d been hiking through the tropics, I parked to pick up the lunch I’d promised. I smiled and sent a final text.

“We’re finally on our way. When I get there, please make sure my coffee has vodka.”



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  1. That sounds like every morning getting the boys ready and out the door to daycare for us. Our boys at 2yrs and 4yrs have their own idea of time! Haha!

  2. So right there with you!! Getting my three kids into the car is like an Olympic event. I keep trying to brainstorm how to make it go more smoothly, but it really all depends on the kind of mood my kids are in. My daughter used to sprint down the street the second the garage opened. I finally learned to put her in first before opening the garage, lol. Punctuality is not my friend.

  3. Oh man! I feel your pain! I felt as if I was right there with you. The only difference is I rarely try to make sure the house is tidy before we leave. Something I should certainly try. Yesterday, Z and I were late for preschool and we still had to pick up the snack, then I got pulled over for a break light that was out. Ugh!! At least I didn’t lose it and cry! Lol!

    1. The only reason I REALLY was trying is this was when we were staying at my parents’ lol. Oh no about the break light, etc!!!! That’s NO fun!!!

  4. Oh man I feel like I’ve been there so many times! I’ve somehow kind of given up on them cleaning before we leave to go somewhere, it’s just too much stress for me to handle lol.

  5. It’s so hard, I know what you mean! My older daughter finally is starting to understand that I’m more likely to take her out of the house if she acts good.

  6. This is what I feel like as I attempt to get ready for work while also getting the kids ready for school/daycare! ha!

  7. Leaving the house isn’t so bad but my gosh… are we there yet asked 1525 times gets really old! And how many more minutes, Mommy?

  8. Such a great post, Alanna! I find it’s challenging enough to get one toddler out of the house, with the inevitable mini tantrums when it’s time to get ready to go to asking me 1,000 questions when I’m trying to get myself ready, but going out with more than one takes it to a whole other level! I remember a few years ago running into a stay-at-home dad I know who was taking his three kids to school, ages 1, 3, and 5 at the time. He said “It’s like herding cats!”

  9. Oh yes. In order to make it to the gym for a class on time, I have to start at least an hour prior or I’ll never make it. I’m not sure how they manage to make such a mess in such little time. And getting them all dressed is the worst. Sometimes, I just want to say forget it and stay home.

  10. Hehehe I can’t leave my house without picking up first!!! It drives me insane to walk in the door to a disaster. Unfortunately this cleaning habit of mine makes us late once in awhile and Ughh… I don’t know which one I hate more, coming home t a messy house or being late since I’ve always been known as a very punctual person -_- lol

  11. My clocks are set to about 10 minutes fast so that I have some hope of getting out the door on time. I also prep as much stuff as possible the night before… but why is it something always happens and I end up running late?

  12. Oh my gosh I am right there with you! It can be awful to try and getting my little guy out of the house. He’s stubborn and I have to chase him around the house with a coat.

  13. I feel you Alana, we have this same routine with my kids everytime we leave home. We always start with the best plans, but something always takes us off track. Thanks for sharing this great post Alana.

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