How to Avoid the “Last Minute” Blues

Pocket watch, savonette-type.

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Mary glanced at the clock and felt her heart start racing…the doctor’s appointment was in 15 minutes and the doctor’s office was 10 minutes away.  The breakfast she had set out on the table was still uneaten and her 4-year old son was running around upstairs, searching for a missing shoe.  Hurrying up the stairs, she shouted, “We are going to be late because of you!”

Are you shaking your head up and down because you recognize this scenario?  I can replay in my mind several similar episodes that occurred when my children were young.  Anyone who says that keeping a family running smoothly (and on time) has obviously not been a parent. 

But, there are solutions to this problem!  Lack of planning and organization are the root causes…there is a saying that if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.  If you sometimes (or often) find yourself searching for that missing shoe or you would like to put in place a few simple routines for the New Year that will help de-stress your life, perhaps the following simple suggestions will help.

  1. Put a calendar near the phone for logging in appointments and other important dates and times.  You can even set up a calendar for your child to keep in his room (free ones are usually available at pharmacies and other stores at this time of year).  He will enjoy marking his own calendar with his own very important dates (his birthday, his friends’ birthdays, special outings, etc.).
  2. Before going to bed (maybe as part of his special bed-time ritual), help your child choose his clothes for the next day (or let him choose his own…just make sure that if it is winter, you have put the bathing suits away).  In addition, check the calendar to see what is scheduled for the next day and get ready any other items needed (i.e. library books that are due at the library).
  3. Attach a short clothesline (about 12 inches long and equipped with clothespins) or a store-bought or homemade rack with hooks or pegs on a wall near your exit door (front, back or side, wherever the family goes in and out) and have your child hang up his gloves, hat, scarf, etc. when he comes in.  If the items are damp, they will dry out much better this way than if left in coat pockets or stuffed in a book bag.  In addition, they will be ready at a moment’s notice when your child needs them and you will immediately be aware if one of the mittens or gloves is missing.
  4. Hang a key rack in a convenient place so that all family members who have keys (house, car, etc.) will automatically hang them up when they come in.  This will save many precious minutes (or hours) of time because no one will have to look for the keys when it is time to go out.  I can’t tell you how many times we searched our home looking for a set of keys that turned up to be “hiding” under a pile of papers on the dining room table.  How stressful….and what a waste of precious time!
  5. Try to avoid the pitfall of too much activity…although it is important for our children to be offered many different types of activities (karate class, dance class, nursery school, etc.), one-on-one quality time with YOU is the most important, whether it is reading a story or participating in a craft project or cooking activity or just sitting together watching cloud formations roll by.

For more great tips and tactics to help you simplify your family life, check out the blog carnival starting on January 8th at