August 13 13

Confession: I am obnoxiously early.

It’s a sickness, I realize. But I hate to be late. HATE.

So, I always overestimate how long it’s going to take me to do anything, to get anywhere. Stopping for gas? A good twenty minutes! Picking up my neighbor? An extra ten, easily. Finding parking downtown? Fifteen minutes at least, especially with all of those one-way streets.

But, I figure with a good book, a charged phone, and a coffee shop on almost every corner, being early bugs no one (except for my children) and, in fact, means one very important thing: I understand the value of other people’s time.

Being early is not only good for the people who will never have to wait for me, the people to whom I will never have to say, “I am so sorry I am so late!” it’s also good for me. It means I can decompress before a meeting or an appointment, I can visit the bathroom, I can touch up my lip gloss, I can answer all the texts and emails I didn’t read because I was driving. No one will know that I spent the entire drive downtown twitching and sweating and worrying about finding parking.

I am always the early-to-on-time person who buys the movie tickets and waited—first patiently and then increasingly impatiently—outside for the late people to show up. I always hold the table. I always volunteer to drive.

And look—I GET IT. I get that things come up, babysitters are late, kids are, well, kids, traffic can be unpredictable. Things happen and not everyone can be obnoxiously early like I am. It’s really when people just have no concept of time that I get a little a lot annoyed. Someone who leaves 3 minutes to get gas when he knows it really, actually takes 20, the mom who knows her kids are slooooooooow in the morning but still doesn’t factor that time into her estimation of how long it’ll take her to get to my house to pick my ready-and-waiting kids up, the friend who simply mismanages her time.

“Oh, you said 8:00? I figured that 8:25 is a normal time to show up!”

Actually, no. It’s not. 8:00 means that I will be there at 8. 8:05 is normal, 8:10, even. I’ll even give you 8:15, if you text me to tell me that you are running late. But 8:25? No. That’s not normal. It means you don’t value that I will be standing somewhere, waiting for you for an extra 25 minutes. And chances are good that I was there at 7:45 and already had a coffee and caught up on Gawker and Buzzfeed and read three blog posts.

For this reason, this value of time reason, something sort of ate at me a tiny bit when I read that wonderful post about the mama who no longer tells her daughter to hurry up. I loved the article, I really did. The sentiment is absolutely lovely. For someone who is Type Triple A and always on the go, go, go, there’s something amazing about needing a simple and carefree child to teach us that sometimes we need to stop and smell the roses—or eat the sno-cone, as it were.

It’s important to do this. 1000%. To stop. To slow down. To not always be forcing ourselves to rush. To be less hurried, frazzled, frantic.

But, it’s also important to teach our children the value of other people’s time. 

When you have appointments and obligations and people are waiting for you, it’s okay to tell your children to hurry up. In fact, it’s IMPERATIVE to teach them that they can’t just mosey through life. Because you really don’t want your children to grow up to be the adults who keep other people waiting at movie theaters; you don’t want them to be the ones who are constantly apologizing—“I am so sorry I am so late!”—because they never really learned how to manage time properly, how to gauge how long something will actually take.

So, I think, truly, there needs to be balance.

We need to live in the moment sometimes, let our children lead the way, to lead the pace. Sometimes.


We also need to guide our children sometimes, to tell them to hurry up, to lead the pace. Sometimes.

She leads the way, I lead the way


And to make sure they always have a book handy. 

  1. Thanks for that Ali! I also read that post by the mom that no longer tells her kids to hurry up. I really enjoyed the sentiment and it made me feel guilty as I feel I am always hurrying my son! Thank you for posting the flip side!

    Comment by Joelle on August 13, 2013
  2. That’s the thing, really, THE GUILT. I don’t want parents to feel guilty for telling their kids to hurry up. it’s okay, it’s important.

    Comment by ali on August 13, 2013
  3. Ali! I am exactly like this too. I am always early or, at the very least, on time. I hate thinking someone is waiting for me.

    Comment by Nicole Boyhouse on August 13, 2013
  4. Indeed. I used to be one of those people who was always late, usually because I just couldn’t be bothered to be be ready on time. Then I realized I was being a jerk and that my actions actually affected others.

    Now lateness is one of my biggest pet peeves. Being on time is another way of showing someone respect, certainly a good lesson for kids.

    Comment by Danielle on August 13, 2013
  5. YES. YES. YES.

    I liked that post to a point, but I also disagreed with it in the same way you did. I have a smell-the-roses child, and yes, I need to make time to let her have her smell-the-roses moments, but she also needs to learn that she is not the centre of the universe. Thankfully, she hates being late for school, so I think we’re on the right track.

    Comment by Jen Wilson on August 13, 2013
  6. I could not agree more..I tell my kids this all the time…I am always early..If I am late be worried about me cus something has gone horribly wrong…

    I was always told it is better to be 30 minutes early than 1 minute late…It is a sign of respect for people.

    I have people in my life that are ALWAYS late..and it drives me Up the fricken wall…

    This is a life lesson that we must teach our kids…How else will they learn the value of’s like learning the value of money…

    Comment by Dee Brun on August 13, 2013
  7. The sentiment behind refraining from incessantly saying ‘hurry up’ is that saying it, feeling it, stems from a habit, rather than a need to be on time. It’s a habit of rushing and scurrying that I’ve become too familiar with since my kids were young. Being punctual aside, which I insist on, most of the time when I say (or said) ‘hurry up’ I’m rushing to get places that require no rushing. My kids learn the value of time, theirs and others, and are taught to respect that, but that doesn’t mean I need to rush them through every moment. When we are away from our regular lives and immersed in a slower pace, or in another culture, it becomes flagrant that many of us hurry for the sake of hurrying. At least, I do. Did. I’m a work in progress.
    As you said, it’s about balance.

    Comment by Katja on August 13, 2013
  8. In high school, my band director taught us “early is on time. On time is late.” I think it was one of the best things he instilled in us.

    Ever since then I get twitchy when I’m running late too. Although I do run late far too frequently for my liking.

    Comment by Kristabella on August 13, 2013
  9. THIS. So much this! My mom is one of those perpetual-late people. To the point that it drives me up the freaking wall as an adult. It got so bad with her own mom (someone who was always on time), that she would tell my mom to meet her anywhere from a half an hour to an hour earlier, just to make sure she showed up at the right time. To this day, I do the same thing, because I know she’s always late. Granted, she has health issues that make it hard for her to move around quickly sometimes, so I try and give her the benefit of the doubt, but when it is also her getting distracted by email, or the phone, then it is an issue with her inability to multi-task, which is disrespectful of MY time.

    I used to be one of those always super early people, which drove my friends crazy, so now my goal is to get somewhere exactly on time (I get anxious waiting around too long), but I would always rather err on the side of early than late. For my BFF’s wedding in Key West several years ago, her wedding planner gave me a schedule that had the times different than everyone else’s — the times were all listed 15 minutes later than the actual events, so it meant I showed up exactly on time and couldn’t bitch at anyone else for running late! 🙂

    Comment by Darcey on August 13, 2013
  10. I am trying to teach my daughters that pre-planning for important things is the way ensure they are on time, and that will help them feel better and more in control which is a good thing to feel. For example, they are in charge of packing their lunches and backpacks the night before school, using a checklist and/or help from Mom and Dad. This gives them a sense of pride as they know they did it themselves and that they can be in control of the situation the next morning and not feel rushed to get out the door with unfinished tasks. Doesn’t always work, but it’s a start. It also teaches them the side benefit of being able to enjoy a slower, more enjoyable walk to school where they have the time to stop and pet the neighbors dog if they want 🙂

    Comment by Ilana on August 13, 2013
  11. I’m obnoxiously early too. my bff makes fun of my for it all the time, but I think it is rude to be constantly late.

    Comment by jodifur on August 13, 2013
  12. Being late drives me nuts. I cannot stand it, I am always on time or early or I am not well. My thought is what is the point of a start time if the intent is not to start at that time? It is always better to be a little early than arrive late. My spouse though, doesn’t fully grasp the concept. Starting to prepare to leave so that you can leave to be somewhere on time is a hard concept apparently. Also, 15 minutes is a fair window. Way back in my timecard punching days, you were given a 15 minute window to clock in before you were deemed late.

    Comment by Hockeymandad on August 13, 2013
  13. Well said! I hate being late and like you, I don’t mind people being a little bit late. But if I have to tell you that something starts earlier than it really does, just so you’re there on time, we have a problem! And if you repeatedly can’t show up for work on time – you have a problem! There’s definitely a happy medium.

    Comment by Katy on August 13, 2013
  14. Amazing post! Hear hear. It makes me cringe to hear about how you should never rush children. They need to learn time management, and that’s ok.

    Comment by Jess on August 13, 2013
  15. I don’t remember if my parents ever told me to hurry up when I was a kid, but I do remember them being late all of the time. I hated it. Now, I’m always on time if not early. I understand the value of people’s time. I too felt the guilt after reading the article and have actually watched the way I speak to my son but make sure he knows the reasons behind it if I do have to say it. I agree with your post whole heartedly.

    Comment by Debbie on August 13, 2013
  16. I was always taught to allow a half-hour for a flat tyre.

    Comment by jeanie on August 14, 2013
  17. My mom is late for everything. Every single thing. Always has been. It drives me insane. I try to always be early but it’s so tough with a toddler. It eats me up inside when I’m even a few minutes late for something. Of course, it also eats me up that I’m the jerkface hustling her 2-year old down the street. You can’t win, you know?

    Comment by hillary on August 15, 2013
  18. I ran across this blog & post. I am ALWAYS early and afraid of all the things that might happen that would make me late. Then, I get furious when someone is late. My husband (and kids) are more laid back. They are usually on time, but just don’t understand that we NEED to be 45 minutes early to a school program!

    It’s this whole back & forth thing that I need to find a middle ground in. Great post!

    Comment by Emily Fenicle on August 15, 2013
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