Thinking about Lent, Part 3 (The Last): Change

Happy Ash Wednesday.  I did not get the chance to write this yesterday.

Besides extra prayers and developing fortitude, Lent would not be complete without an attempt to change something undesirable about myself.

I’ve got plenty to work with.

Naturally, as sainthood should be our goal, no bad behavior should be intentional.  There are plenty of things we all do as easily as we breathe: complaining, nagging, wasting time, buying things we don’t need.  It is too much to expect near perfection, even for the relatively short duration of Lent.  If I target just one thing, perhaps by establishing good patterns in my life, that change will continue on well past Easter Sunday.

I’m going to work on tardiness.

I used to be really good at being on time, all the time.  Most of the time.  In the last year especially, I’ve noticed a huge decrease in my punctuality.  I seem to be surrounded by people who do not begin things on time.  It is frustrating to be on time and then have to wait.

Oh, well.  This is not about them.  It’s about me.  Punctuality is a habit.  If I allow myself to develop a bad habit (as I have), then at some point, I will be the one making others wait.  Besides, if I am running late, the mood in my home, my car, and my family is not good.  Anger, frustration and impatience dominate as I hurry hurry hurry the children along.

There are techniques to be on time.  It doesn’t just “happen.”  I know what they are; I just need to do them.

How to be on Time Almost all the Time

1.  Set the most of the clocks in your house to the correct time.  Use your computer or cell phone for an accurate time.  Don’t try to set them forward to fool yourself into being on time.  You will only say, “Oh, that clock is 10 minutes fast,” and quickly learn to ignore it.

2.  Set one or two key clocks 2 minutes fast.  For me, this is the clock in my bathroom.  Two, or perhaps three minutes, is just fast enough to hurry you up, but not fast enough to make you start to ignore it.

3.  Set the clock in your car 2 minutes fast.  This is just enough for you to say, “No, I DON’T have time to run that side errand along the way.”

4. Know the time.  Not paying attention will make you late.  Have clocks predominant in your home.  Use your kitchen timer if you are working and may get distracted.  Wear a watch, especially one that has a timer or an alarm.

5.  Know how long it takes to get somewhere, and add 20%.  It’s easy to think, “Oh, it only takes 5 minutes to get to church,” when it actually takes 6 or 7.  The 20% fudge time will help account for unexpected traffic or other things that come up.

6. Add time to get yourself and your children in and out of the car.  Depending on the age of your children, this could be as many as 5 minutes on both ends.  Even if you have helpers to carry out the library books or buckle younger siblings, some ages are prone to dawdle and other ages have a tendency to daydream.  And if it’s you and 4 children under the age of 5, the whole process of traveling, even for a short drive, is quite a production.  Account for it.

7. Be ready to go.  Shoes on, hair combed, clean shirt.  Then check the kids.  Have things you need to take piled at the door.  Put the 3 year olds’ shoes at the door and not on her feet or they will be lost by the time you leave.  I won’t let my children watch videos on Sunday mornings until they are ready for Mass.  I can do the breakfast dishes, in my apron, until my kitchen timer goes off knowing that when I say, “GO!”, everybody can go.

8.  Keep things in the car.  I have a bag in the car with some extra sweaters and a change of clothes for the youngest one.  It used to hold diapers and wipes.  In summer, it will have sunscreen and bug spray.  Not having to assemble the same basic supplies before every trip saves time.  I also keep a crossword puzzle book in the car to make the waiting go faster.

9.  Store your purse and keys in the same place all the time.  I am bad at this, and it makes me run late.  Searching for necessary items at the last minute is never fun.

10. Plan to be early.  My husband says, “Five minutes early is ten minutes late.”  It’s an Army thing.  I’d be happy if everybody were 5 minutes early; I think 15 is excessive. 

Be sure to bring something to occupy yourself while you wait for everybody else.  Perhaps spend the time praying for a terrorist.

3 thoughts on “Thinking about Lent, Part 3 (The Last): Change

  1. I plan to be 10 minutes early to everything and I plan travel time in fifteen minute intervals, rounded up, so that if it takes 20 minutes to get somewhere, I plan for thirty. I also have a pda and I have an alarm go off a few minutes before I have to leave so we have time to get ready and go. I do not like being late and I do not like waiting for people who are late. 🙂

  2. I HATE being late also. Your list was great – my worst thing is not accounting for how long it takes the children to get out to the car, so I really try and add an extra 10 minutes to the time I “think” we need to head out the door. I also do the Sunday morning rule about no doing anything after breakfast until you are completely ready for Mass.

  3. This is a great list. I am going to incorporate these “tools” into my life. My husband and I are late to everything. Before we started dating, I was rarely late to anything. Now that we have a child, we are that much later. It's nuts. I think the only things we are ever on time for are Dr appointments, and sometimes not even those.

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