Punctuality is not my friend. I never had a punctuality problem until I became an adult with a job and home of my own. But, what I found will surprise you. I learned that there were only specific situations where I was late. And, when I realized my tardiness was rubbing off on my children, it was time to make a significant change. I needed to teach them to be punctual.
Parents oversee the children’s events, whether inside or outside of the home. Time management comes easily for some, but not for me. I always thought I had more time than I did. Fast forward into motherhood, and I had a host of additional problems, namely more children. There was nothing my children could not lose right before we had to leave, whether it was a shoe or a carefully packed backpack to take to an event the following day. And, rarely did I take any of this into consideration. No wonder I was frazzled and upset the day of any event outside of the home.
Punctuality as a character trait:
Punctuality is a character trait that speaks primarily to the quality of relationships. If you have any of my Character Study Planners, you know that I teach that “character is foundational to relationships, especially within the dynamics of the family.” Well, it is foundational in relationships outside of the family as well. Those of us who struggle with punctuality show a lack of esteem for other people and their time. Harsh? Think about this, if we keep others waiting, that means we don’t care. I was shocked when I realized this and knew I wanted to make a big change in my life.
That meant I needed to look at the times I was not late; I like to start with the positive. I was never late for church, for meetings, or when younger, my job outside the home. But, I tended to be late when meeting friends or going to field trips of all things! Can you imagine keeping a group of people waiting, especially when we had to enter as a group?
Our kids will be on time if we are on time, and they will be late if we are late. It was time to create a game plan. If we want to raise kids who love each other and raise each other up with encouragement, confidence, and enthusiasm, then being late will not help. A stressed mom trying to get out the door is one way to sabotage all of those things! I came up with a carefully crafted list with about fifteen different aspects of what it takes to get out the door, and I found that only five pertained to my children. Once I could drill down to the top five, we were rarely, if ever late.
5 Top Tips to Teach Your Kids to be Punctual:
1. Tell the children ahead of time what you expect.
Do you want them to bring something? Be dressed in a certain way? Have teeth brushed, hair combed, and wearing clean clothes? What shoes do you expect them to wear: tennis shoes, flip-flops, or nice shoes, etc.
2. Plan the evening before.
In this way, if there is a specific outfit or item you need packed or placed out in a common area for easy access, it will be ready to go.
3. Leave enough time plus fifteen minutes or more.
First, how long does it take to get ready? How long does it take to get to the appointment? Now add fifteen, thirty or even sixty minutes. If you need thirty minutes to get prepared and thirty minutes to reach your destination, you want to begin fifteen or thirty minutes earlier.
4. Designated Child.
Select one child to oversee the process. This child can take a turn on a rotating basis if you want to teach responsibility, or you have older children that can help. The designated child must prepare ahead, either the night before or an additional fifteen minutes earlier. Even if you have one child, this works because your child can help you leave on time!
5. Check off list: Create a list of items to be completed along with a countdown time.
For example, if you are leaving home at 10:00 am, you need to begin at 8:30 am. What are the steps to prepare, and when does it need to be completed? If you have several plans in place and a list of what needs to be done, this helps the child. One list for adults, and one for the children. Different children may need different lists. The older children may have an item, such as having the backpacks ready to go or helping mom make lunch. You can use marker board lists or have the lists on a computer or phone that can be saved and quickly changed for each child. Later, you may not need checklists once everyone learns the drill, for example, a weekly event like piano lessons, sports activities, or church.
How it worked for our family:
Overall this five-step plan worked well in our family, and it rarely, if ever, needed changing. The children rotated who helped as the designated child, and the job descriptions changed as the child got older. Little ones might only be in charge of getting their shoes, and someone else helps them with everything else. Even the younger children love to participate, and giving them a job allows them to be responsible. I also provide all of us with a pass. There are times when we are late, and it is unavoidable—use these situations as a learning tool to analyze what went wrong.
Additional Bonus Tip:
Field Trip and Church Bags/Backpacks:
These were packed ahead of time and ready to go. The field trip backpack had binoculars, pads of paper, pencils/pens, and nature field-guide books. The church backpack had a children’s Bible, a cloth book for the little ones, and other quiet toys the children could use in the car or church. We also had drinks packed. You can make mini-backpacks for almost any event ahead of time and have this hanging on a nail or peg in a closet ready to go.
Add to the list, subtract from it, and make it your own. Get the kids to help you with the items they think are important. Whatever you do, remember that you are always making memories with your children. And, parents, you’ve got this, and you are not alone.
I create a themed Character Counts Planner each month with a new theme. These character studies are completely open and go with a plan for you to teach your children about the character trait. It comes with free printables and studies on that character trait, perfect to use with the whole family. It will be delivered to your inbox each month when you sign up for our email newsletter.
You can sign up HERE to receive the Character Counts: Punctuality Study and a new trait each month!