I’m running late for school!

AGHHHHHH!!!

(podcast available at BeAwesome365, wherever you listen to yours)

“On time is late Nik!”   – Nikki’s dad

Main Point:   Time and how we scheduled “time” gives us anxiety and stress.

We just don’t need any more stress. So here is a suggestion to help.

The above is a quote I’ve heard Nikki’s dad and hundreds of coaches worldwide use.   I heard this, just as my wife Nikki had, nearly every weekend of our competitive life.

If you ever played any sort of organized Sports, especially through High School, you would hear your coaches say this as they talked to you and your parents about the bus leaving at 8 a.m. for the trip across the state. Indeed, as a sports-based chiropractor, nothing drives me crazier than people just automatically running 10 minutes behind. It screws up my schedule and makes the patient 3 hours from now and also run late because the entire schedule is pushed back.   Showing up to an appointment 40 minutes early?  Yeah, Also a stressor and screws up my day.  It’s simply not “on time.”

This is exponentiated for me as I live on an island. The people from this area of the country refer to the half-hour that envelopes both sides of “the actual scheduled time” as, “Island Time.”

 “Island Time”  is also commonly used throughout the Caribbean.  You will frequently hear this as a normality throughout the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Honduras and the Yucatan area of Mexico.   In fact, for many of the Caribbean, when you schedule work, such as a plumber, the time you will typically get as a response is, “I’ll be there Tuesday…in the afternoon sometime.”

But Island Time not how to run a family. And schools don’t really give a damn about Island time.

You must be 1) at school and 2) in your seat at a particular time.

If your family is anything like mine, despite 100 different trial and errors of what time to wake up, when to give them breakfast, Who gets in what shower first, second, third etc..  It seems that 4/5 days per week, my family is just running behind.

 The last 5 minutes prior to getting out of the house is a mad scramble that many of you probably recognize, 

“ Why don’t you have on your shoes? I told you 30 minutes ago to start putting on your shoes?”

“ You didn’t eat any breakfast, it is still sitting there.”

“ You’re not going to comb your hair today? I think you should, in fact you should have done it 20 minutes ago when I asked you to the second time.”

“Stop picking on your sister!” 

 Throughout the years, I have had “discussions” bordering on philosophical rants with an increased tempo in a slightly higher octave than my normal voice….

“ Why is it the same problem every single day?”

And, “Even as kids, you guys should have solved this Mystery by now.”

“Seriously dude, the shoes. It’s every single day with the shoes… fix this.”

And then I degrade into a vintage Parenting Methodology commonly referred to as  “Threats and Promises.” 

“You don’t want to be tardy, do you?  You don’t want to be that kid that walks in late, and everyone will look at you; make sure you’re not tardy. Let’s go.  Move it.”

And 

“If you can just find your lunchbox for me, I Promise this will be the last “Lunchables” I’ll pack you.” 

Despite the exemplary record of having only four or five tardy slips in 8 years of school, it is still a threat that can present itself every single day.  In the past. it stressed our family.  It caused anxiety.   

Maybe I have a solution.

I have no idea why it took me eight years to get to this point.   My suspicion is that I’m typically a 2 cups coffee kind of guy in the morning, so most likely, the caffeine is screwing up my thinking ability.    This hypothesis may hold some weight, as my caffeine level has significantly decreased in the last few weeks. Often I won’t even have a single coffee in the morning. It’s a work-in-progress experiment. I play with it, as stressing out before school each morning is a total bummer.  It’s not good for my kids, and I’m sick of it.  I have 10 more years of this to get it right. So I’m working on just becoming AWARE of when I’m building up anxiousness and then becasue I’m now aware, I can act differently than a previous day, that was a failure.

It’s the classic, “you never lose if you learn something.” cliche’ from the coaching world and grandma’s everywhere.

So today, despite  running 10 minutes behind our standard normal time where we should all be loaded up and on our way to school, I remained incredibly calm.

 My wife mentioned to me that I was running behind,  and I just replied, “I think we’ll be okay today.”

 3 out of 4 of the kids were already in the car when I arrived out there and got behind the wheel.

They each mentioned to me that we were behind as the kid in the front seat pointed at the clock.

Luckily, at that point, one of them realized that we were still 1 passenger short.    At the same time, I noticed my wife running out of the front door waving her hands like a football referee signals an incomplete pass.    She was telling us without actually using words that our youngest was still behind as he had a bathroom emergency.

So look, for nearly seven years, the first minute or two of our launch from the house was barely contained Hysteria. The kids are frantic; somebody is late so they are being picked on. The kids are nervous about being tardy despite a less than 1%  tardiness rate and emotions are running High.

 This was no different as we were already late and were still minus 1 passenger.

 The little girls from the back started shouting, “Oh my God,  Where is he?   We are going to be late!!”  in an Unbelievably accurate reproduction of my wife’s voice.   

 Usually,  I would feel the stress and up my hyperness level.  But today was different. As I scanned the neighborhood, watching other families go through the same desperate,  apocalyptic Exodus from their houses with kids running with one sleeve in a jacket and a backpack spilling out papers and pens, I just felt a tranquil calm and maintained relaxation.

It wasn’t my usually response.  It was like waking up from a dream.

I noticed my physical and emotional change as compared to nearly every other day of school since the first kindergarten drop-off nearly a decade ago.   I slowly told my kids, “ I think everything will be okay.   I think he’s just going to the bathroom, which you probably would be more comfortable doing at home than at school.   We’re nearly never late, and if we are, what does that mean?   What’s the worst that can happen?   I get a tardy slip and walk you into your class 3 minutes later?   That’s when most kids show up anyway.”

You know what’s really cool about just keeping calm.   It’s contagious.  Just as much so as frantic is.   

 That’s why they train law enforcement and first-responders to stay calm as they arrive on the scene of an accident.   Frantic and confusion breeds more of the same.    Calm spreads like a warm blanket on a cold winter day.  

My kids didn’t even have a response. They just sat there and waited an additional 60 Seconds.

My youngest ran out of the house with a huge smile on his face and loaded up.   As if nothing was different than any other day, we proceeded to school and started the day out wonderfully.

 And true to the way the universe works out 99% of the time, all the traffic lights that we needed to come through clutch for us, were green and we arrived at school at the exact same minute that we arrive every single day.

 It’s just the way the universe works.

The End.

 In an effort to share our parenting world and our philosophies of life through stories, my wife and I recently finished up our first book. It’s coming soon and has a lot of little ideas and experiments like this that really work for us. Hopefully, It’s loaded with a few ideas of something you can take with you. I hope you buy it.

I would just say,

the Moral of today’s story is just this:  If we can just step back a second and realize that everybody out there in the world has their own mini Universe going on; their own world with their own families, stressors and flow. Yet despite all of that separatism and crashing of worlds, the Earth keeps moving forward every day with barely a notice.

When you can see it like that, all of it, like a giant Google Earth Zoom out button- I think it becomes immediately apparent that we are creating our own stress, anxiety, and frantic-ness that we feel nearly every day.   Time and our view of it are ADDING to our anxiety despite our feeling that a structured and scheduled life is what we need to feel MORE in control.

 My theory would be; just try to keep calm.  Everything you need to happen today will play out precisely how it is supposed to happen and when it is supposed to happen.   

At the end of the day, it really doesn’t change anything.   When it goes wrong?  Well, everybody has been in this situation before, most likely daily, and still we get by.

My patient shows up early or late in the clinic?  Yeah, an inconvenience, but minor in perspective, and everyone still gets seen, and I still see my kids tear it up in hoops later that night.    

 You’re going to have days where the car won’t start, icy roads keep you from arriving on time or just some other poor bastard is having a tough day and their Universe impedes yours.

 This might happen while you are taking your kids to school, or it could happen on the most important interview for a new career at the most inopportune time in the world.

 And not to get too Deepak Chopra on you, but what if it truly does “just happen for a reason?” Or Butterfly effect or any other seemingly crazy theory of life.

What if your running 3 minutes behind is what actually keeps you from getting into a 16-car pile-up?   What if the world indeed runs on island time, and we just can’t see it?

What if the worst thing that can happen is a tardy slip?

I’m just saying, it’s not the clock that’s adding to the stress.   I know this because I’ve changed the clock 4 minutes forward and it still was chaos.     I’ve also run it back, still chaos.

It’s not your kid and her shoes, that’s just kids.   

It’s not whatever you think it is. 

It’s you.   The 120 mg of caffeine may be tweaking you, but it’s still you.  The kids zipper that won’t zip, yes it’s a a road block, but that zipper truly has NO control over how YOU feel.  You’re in charge.

It’s You, it’s your Universe, you control it. So take charge and start running your life your way, because whatever you’re feeling….It’s contagious and your kids are in its path.

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