failing at punctuality

On paper getting the kids out the door to school on time seems like a no brainer. You just have everything organised the night before, give yourself plenty of time, get in the car by a certain time, allow for traffic and deposit the children at the front gates and off you go. Or walk them in to class. Easy. That’s how it was for the first child. Never late. Never a late slip. Then the twins came along and I had 3 to get out the door and we did it. Occasionally late but a forgiving teacher since it was only kindergarten.

Well last week I got a big fat F for punctuality as one of the kids is a little late most mornings. I didn’t actually see it coming. I thought we were doing ok and kind of within a grace period . Turns out we’re not. And the lovely teacher who delivered the news was already prepping me warning me not to take it personally. You know when you know you’re going to hear something and they don’t want to upset you since you’ve already been discussing other stuff. Yes. That moment.

Thing is, it is hard work getting 6 kids out the door. One who has special needs, another who cries out every morning that she hates (insert day here) and doesn’t want to get up so leaves it to the last possible moment. Another who puts two legs into his undies and needs help getting dressed at every stage. A baby who needs a quick feed before we leave. Someone who can never find their shoes/sock/library book/bag/took the wrong lunchbox and leaves it to the last minute. Another who needs a quick trip to the toilet.

So I felt a bit down for the rest of the day. You think you’re doing so well and getting by and then boom. You failed at something. Thankfully my little girl had a birthday party and 2 hours talking to other mums about mum stuff including getting everyone to school on time and out the door lifted my spirits and made me feel better. A morning at mass (minus most of the kids) also made a world of difference as did baking 2 cakes, clearing out wardrobes and a trip to Spotlight. I also reminded myself that this is not the end of the world. This is not the HSC. This is primary school. And I took action…………….the kids have now been one of the first to school each morning! This morning we were there at 7.55am! I’ve turned it into a woman of extremes. We were so early I had to sit in the car until I could let the twins go in and then we were 20 minutes early to preschool and had to sit in the car again.

So I’m hoping to find some middle ground for the rest of the year. Why am I writing this post? Because I think people come here and think she’s got it all together. People always say I don’t know how you do it and I always reply that I don’t know how I do it either. Well turns out I really don’t. Late for school!!!


So my strategy for this week?????? We are leaving by a certain time whether you’re in your pjs, undies or fully dressed ready to go. I’m going to dress the preschoolers when I get home from the big school drop off and get them there later so that no matter what we are at school before the bell. And I’m going to start my crazy lady ‘get in the car’ screaming about 10 minutes earlier than I usually do. Tips? Strategies? Always late?


  1. This is the story of my life!! I find the key is me – if I’m up early and dressed to go before the kids wake up we usually make it early. Sometimes I also dress them (including the difficult 7 year old!!) straight out of bed. Takes 60 seconds as opposed to nagging them to get dressed for 30 minutes (although I concede it does nothing for their independence).

    • sometimes you’ve just got to do what you gotta do:) :)

    • A Christy Production says:

      When I was an Au Pair I used to dress the kids out of bed too!! I’d pick two clothing options out (that was my way of still allowing independence) and then as soon as I’d woken them I’d ask what they wanted to wear and dress them. Then they’d wander to the loo and downstairs for breakfast. But it doesn’t help with uniform situations. I Au Paired in the USA where there is no school uniforms.

  2. I think you’re still doing OK and your new thoughts on strategies is brilliant, doesn’t matter if the little ones are still in PJ’s on the school run. Keep your chin up.

  3. Cheryl Forward says:

    Hi Corrie been there done that, we started off good then decided not to get ready for school first, before, breakfast, shoes, lunches etc before TV ( my fault) so he wasn’t ready for school told him I was going! Son “I’m not dressed” me ” don’t care” going to school in pj ( I’d actually packed his clothes in bag, got to school get out no no , so put his clothes on in car, goes into school, next day and every other school day he got dressed first thing, everything was usually set on end of bed the night before. Thank goodness that worked!! Fun times with our kidlets 😀😀😀

  4. What about putting the preschoolers clothes in the car, and then dressing them in the car between drop offs? Save going home between?

  5. Love your pictures! 😀

  6. School run is always fun. I live 15 minutes drive from the school so we don’t have spare time to waste.

  7. Really Ive stopped the screaming and mainly because all is does is create anxious children, well it started to do that here. I get up earlier than them, its 20 mins in to their school with a major highway which can present any form of delay on any day. They know the option be ready or change schools which for them isn’t an option as they are really loving their present school. I do a last minute check, I have a little cheap notebook diary on the bench where I write library day, music lesson etc and I work 3 of the 5 days so I need to be out the door too. All lunches are prepared the night before and if you want some sort of gourmet pancakes or toast !! then you have to be up early LIKE ME! Ha , I was finding the ranting and raving only gave me high blood pressure and made for an unhappy trip in. You will get there and with a larger family I think you need the teacher to cut you some slack x

    • I am doing lunches the night before including the sandwiches and love it! it’s party of my nightly ritual and I only started a few weeks ago but definitely a time saver…I even wrap the one cheese sandwich differently to the vegemite:)

  8. In 7 years my kids have never ever been late for school. Honest truth. This is how I roll. Prepare everything the night before. Lunches in fridge ready to go, lay out clothes including socks and undies, pack bags with library books, notes, homework etc for next day. My kids do this as part of night time routine. I get up 10 mins before kids and get myself dressed and ready. Once kids get up, straight into breakfast, hair, brush teeth.
    Good luck

  9. I agree with all the comments here and on Facebook regarding this post, and having had 2 kids at school – one of whom was almost impossible to get ready and to school on time. But….then there’s a part of me that says it’s important for kids to be on time for school, for them to know that if they are meant to start school at 9 am then they have to be there before 9 am. There is also a part of me that sympathises with the teacher – imagine if she had 5 kids in the class coming in late every day? Even if she just had one coming in late, it’s disruptive and unsettling for the child that’s late and the other kids. My intention here is not to criticise nor to judge you Corrie – I do not, or I try not to, judge other parents, I’m not walking in their shoes; just expressing my thoughts. My only advice is that it does get easier as they get older.

    • you are so right, she loves being early and now that the teacher is on to it she’s making the effort. I always like to keep on the right side of the teacher:) it’s the teachers pet in me:) :)

  10. i get everything ready the afternoon before, lunches ready to go, school bags packed etc as I’m doing dinner or cleaning up from dinner. Kids do most of this themselves. I freeze lunches so in the morning I just chuck in a frozen sanga or roll as I’m having my coffee. I also make sure homework library books and all that other junk is in their bags the night before. This is because I’m not a morning person- not because I’m incredibly on the ball lol
    I have to be at work by 8 so my kids have no choice but to get their bums out that door!

  11. I love this post! I only have 2 and seem to be always late. All I can say is that I keep aiming to get places on time and keep trying.

  12. A Christy Production says:

    Maybe dress preschoolers in the car in preschool carpark… then no second trips! Anyone who thinks someone else has it together is a fool. NO one has it all together. And that is why you can’t compare yourself to others. The key is to make sure the important things are the things that are taken care of. That’s all that matters :) You’re doing well!

  13. Fashionista says:

    Fabulous re-organisation of routine! I’ve only got one left at high school now, but all those years ago in Daycare I instilled the “prepare the night before routine” to keep myself on track as I worked full-time. As the children got older they were able to pack their bags/gather all their library-sport-ALL the stuff/put their clothes out and MissAlmost17 still does all that every night. Although I think it is so that she can sleep in until the very last minute! She has her exit from the house to the bus very carefully timed.

  14. I have four to get out the door and people say to me how do you do it? My usual reply is equal parts rushing and yelling. I am sure there is some sort of twilight zone between the house and the car where precious minutes evaporate. We seem to be going ok and I say ok everyone let’s head off and bam next minute we are running late.

  15. Mmmmm – the morning rush….know it all too well.
    ATM I drop my little bro @ work at 7:28am, Eldest daughter at her but 7:40am, second daughter at school @ 8:40am…and still have 2 preschoolers.
    The only way I get through it is…. have everything ready the night before: bags packed with whatever is needed for the next day, lunches made and packed in the fridge, water bottles filled and in the fridge, uniforms on the end of their beds (including shoes), breakfast table set. I also pick my own clothes and get them out the night before. I get up about 20minutes before the kids…

    My second daughter was constantly late – she just goes off into dream world and no amount of hurry upping made any difference…..UNTIL I set a timer to go off 10mins before we had to leave, and if she was right ready by the time it went off she had help to make her bed, otherwise she has to do it herself before the next timer which is going out the door time. It works a treat…..and i have not had to raise my voice since I started it! (And her bed is always nicely made before school time now too!) Never been late since i started it 7mths ago 😀

  16. Corrie, I can barely get one child to high school on time! We always make it by the bell, but it seems like a big struggle every morning, mainly because we’re a ‘sleep-in’ type family and then have to do the mad rush to get out the door. xx

  17. We live a two minutes drive from school and still manage to barely make it most mornings; it makes me laugh when the kids suggest walking in the morning, we’d never get there!!! But still, it’s not as bad as the time I fell asleep in the arvo with the two littlest last year and only woke up when the school called 15 minutes after the bell had gone to tell me they were waiting in the office ….. yep, mother of the year moment right there, folks!!!

  18. Oh man, people keep telling me to wait until the boys are at school to have more babies. But I keep thinking, when we have a crappy day, we can all just stay in our p.j’s and we don’t have to go anywhere. I guess preschool and school will roll around eventually and I’ll have to come up with strategies to get two or three or four {or more}out the door on time. I’ll be back for helpful words of encouragement when the time comes xox

  19. Juli Szasz says:

    I like to dress my 4 out of bed except then we end up with breakfast all over uniforms and having to change again 😒

  20. I was sick of nagging and shouting so I wrote out a list of the jobs I expect my kids to do in the morning (get out of bed when asked, brush teeth, get dressed, put their lunch in their bag etc). If they do their jobs without me having to nag then they get a tick for that day. At the end of the week I pull out an envelope that has a day of the week written on the front- if they got a tick that day they get the special reward inside the envelope (eg 30 minutes computer time, a lunch order, getting a special late bed time, $1 for their money box, a lollipop etc etc) there are also a couple of envelopes throughout the term where if they all got ticks every day that week then we all get an extra special treat like take-away for dinner. I got the idea from a friend and then tweaked it to suit us. It has been working really well.

  21. My son started kindy and I just gave birth and we were late practically every day! His teacher said they would take roll call up at 10am for his class so we wouldn’t have to go to the office to get a late slip. That was incredibly nice! The principal said that they have a newborn mother every year so they accommodate for them. You have a big family and should get a ‘get out of jail free card’ where every you go.

  22. Our strategy – only 3 kids – all school aged. Is you get no food in the morning until you are fully dressed and you bag is ready at the door. Their tummys often help push along their morning routine. Also no TV ever in the morning :) Good luck. I’m sure things will pick up for you.

  23. You’re amazing!
    20 minutes early! Wow! I have a little one who is terrified of being late and we are always just there by the skin of our teeth but it doesn’t stop her quizzing me en route “how late are we?” “Are we actually on time today?”

  24. We just became a family of four and even though bub is 6mths we still struggle to get out the door. Some days are better then others and to me 5min late I wouldn’t think was a big deal but my eldest daughters teacher always gives me this scornful look. I had a talk to the kids about what they need help with in the morning so they can be organised, they asked for a chart so I did one put in the pantry and they go to that for guidance (saves me repeating myself) once they have finished their chart (dress, teeth, breakfast, homework, ect depedning on day) once finished they ask me if I need help if not they get to sit on couch and play the iPad. Does this work for my 4yr old no but I let him go and once I am organised I tackle him one on one. Some days it works other days it doesn’t but that’s just life.

  25. My sister told me that her friend went to school in her pajamas one day because her mother got sick of yelling at her to get dressed so just chucked her in the car in her pjs. She didnt take her jumper off all day and guess what, she never complained about getting dressed again!

  26. Even with one kid the mummy voice gets a work out regularly between 7.45 and 7.59. With a 32k drive across town and through the CBD both ways(okay, so it’s Hobart and nothing like Sydney but still, there’s one road in and one road out and a whole lot of traffic lights…) if we leave after 7.45 we get stuck behind ALL the school buses, leave at 7.59 we get the road works (start at 8am) so slower speed zones. I think she knows she can get to school on time leaving later so pushes the boundaries. I regularly have ‘an 8.45 appointment I need to be back over our side of the bridge’ for to get her out of the house on time. Leaving earlier means I get back earlier and can actually do something productive with that time. I have noted our worst days and give her the wriggle on sooner. I worked out why they were our bad days, a bit of an eye opener. For the child that doesn’t want to go every day, find out who she’s sitting next to or not sitting next to, might make a difference…

    I also got a really cheap weekly blackboard from Ikea and we have the Sport/Bassoon/Swimming on the appropriate days, it helps as a quick glance. I have done hair in the car park more than once. She has put shoes and socks on in the car more than once. And even eaten her breakfast in the car… I-Pad is banned in the mornings as are books and ‘we didn’t pay for morning TV’ so it doesn’t work in our house! Breakfast options are very limited – cereal or toast or if we are awake early she might get an egg. I hated night before made lunches and it doesn’t take long to make one, I do 12 minute eggs in thermi for my brekky and in that 12 mins I feed the dogs, make her lunch, pack her bag and make my toast and coffee. We always have cooked sausages in the fridge, a bag of dried apples and apricots for when the fruit bowl is looking a bit bare and wraps – a sausage, a squeeze of sauce, roll and done. A carrot, some cheese and crackers for morning tea and a muesli bar or bag of popcorn, easy.

    Keep up the good work Mumma, you ARE doing an amazing job.

  27. Hi Corrie, I burst out laughing at your last comment about the crazy screaming lady! I think you’re awesome and doing a great job. I’ll leave it to others to give you some tips as I’m well past that stage. Take care and make sure you get some ‘Corrie’ time xx

  28. Dear Corrie I have read your blog for some years now and have never commented. You are doing a great job! Your children are beautiful, well loved and well fed. You have a child that needs extra special care and you give it to her. She is lucky to have you for her mother. I understand because of my grandsons special needs the extra time and energy this requires. So, there is a punctuality problem. I was an early riser and this did help in getting my 4 off to school but there was always the slow one who dragged their heels. You will find a way but dont be too hard on yourself. Regards Marilyn

  29. Michelle Luck says:

    I have always wondered how you get out of the house at all! I hope you haven’t let yourself feel too bad about it – you clearly do such an amazing job. We have one school kid and have a ten minute walk to school, and while it’s usually smooth and easy, we have ‘those days’. Sometimes my big girl is ready for kindy too early, so she and her sister start to play, and then don’t want to stop the game, or pack up the toys. Sometimes the baby wants a feed at 8:20am, sometimes our almost-3-year-old refuses to get dressed (I’ve walked her up in t-shirt and knickers, or pjs and gumboots – by this point I’m beyond being judged!) or refuses to walk and I have to carry her AND the baby…..I hate to think what will happen when all of them need to be somewhere of a morning – I go back to work in Term 4 so will need to add the daycare run!

  30. I stress getting three out the door so feel completely unable to comment on getting 7 out of the door! So instead I want to gush about how gorgeous all your children are looking! The big kids are beginning to look so grown up and sooo gorgeous!

  31. You are doing just fine Corrie! Here in New York, it is utter chaos at the best of times so I just do the best I can. I have a 2 yr old at home, and a 5, 7, 9 and 10 yr old to get to the bus stop every morning. I have no tips other than try not to get too stressed out yourself, as soon as I feel my scream coming on I know I lost the battle! My lips are very well bitten at this point, and my big inhales are a clear sign an explosion is upon them! Be well x

  32. buy a plastic storage unit with 5 drawers, every night put kids next day clothes/uniform in a drawer each inc socks pants and shoes, put drawers in same room as u so u can offer help assistance to smaller kids and theres no running or faffing about! also leaves packed school bags at back door or front door b4 kids go to bed. thats wat i do and it works great, it also saes them going through their own clothes and wrecking them x

  33. Yes I know the rush all too well but Kindy isn’t so strict with time but school will be next year!

  34. We have gone with the storage drawers for our youngest four as well. I keep the homework, readers and sight words, library books, school diary and PE shirt in that drawer. I have another place in their wardrobe for uniforms. Unfortunately our uniforms need ironing so I keep a list of the six school aged boys and how many uniforms I have ironed in their cupboards. Making lunches the night before is an awesome time saver in the mornings but it can’t always be done. I also have a weekly planner set up with the six school aged children colour coded for what they need each day like library, P.E., home reader or before after school activities. I set this up so I would know what they have but it kept the kids organised and accountable too. My preppie is wonderful at knowing what he needs each day. We try our best and most days are good although sometimes that one child can hold up everyone else who was ready on time. I’m still open to any hints or tips and I’ve been doing it for many years now.

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