There are many things that I love about toddlerhood. I love the imagination. I love the growing independence. I love the funny things they say. I love the unbridled enthusiasm about life. I love the wide range of interests. What I don't love? How LONG it takes us to get out the door.
This morning I was contemplating this as I was trying to get the girls out the door for music class. According to the clock, we should have had plenty of time to get ready, but each step of the process takes so much longer with a toddler. And as we were inevitably rushing out the door five minutes late once again, I thought back to our morning, to see if I could pinpoint what kept us from walking out the door on time. And that's when I realized that, as much as I would like us to be moving along on my time line, we now operate in toddler time.
1. Staley has to pick out her own outfit. She has to shoot down the first 2 or 3 outfits I offer, look through her closet and drawers, inevitably choose something inappropriate for the weather or the situation, and then start again. She also has to take her time choosing the perfect pair of undies, socks, and shoes. It's exhausting.
2. Once the outfit is chosen, Staley often wants to get dressed by herself. She is able to do it. And although it takes longer, she is able to get herself dressed in a relatively timely manner. (We do need to factor in the time for a few both-legs-in-the-same-hole, undies-on-backward, arm-through-the-neck hole situations.) But the real problem? She gets side tracked so easily. If I leave her to get dressed while I get Adelie up or get myself dressed, I often return to my daughter with her pants half on, no shirt, reading a book. If I stay to supervise, there are stories to tell, requests to be made, a baby sister to play with. I can't really win.
3. If getting dressed were the only slow thing about our morning, we could still make it places on time. Unfortunately, we also have to do hair. And although it takes a little while for Staley to decide how she wants her hair done and to pick out her bows, the real lull in the action comes when Staley insists on doing my hair first (using a pick, brush, comb, and bow) and when she needs to 'help' do her own hair.
4. Once dressed with hair done, we have to eat breakfast. Once I can get Staley to the table (again with the easily side tracked problem) and a decision on what to eat, breakfast is generally pretty smooth. And I'll admit, depending on how long getting dressed takes, sometimes I just give her a fruit squeeze and some dry cereal in the car.
5. Two final hurdles before getting out the door: 1.) The good ole potty try, inevitably dealing with the arguments about why she doesn't want to try or how she doesn't need to go OR when she realizes that she really needs to poop before leaving the house. There's no rushing that. 2.)We also have to pack up what we 'need'. "Where is Yellow Bear?" "Can I bring a blanket?" "I want to take this movie, this book, this train, this mermaid, these twist ties in the car." (Yes, this morning we did take a handful of twist ties in the car.)
6. When we're finally out the door, you'd think the hard part is over. Quick and easy now, right? Oh no. Staley has to climb into the van, getting side tracked again by leaves in the yard, toys in the garage, or just playing with whatever it is that was necessary to bring on this given outing. She has to put Yellow Bear and any other specific toy she brought into their respective seats. Yellow Bear always sits in the center console between the driver and passenger seats. Other bears, books, toys, or blankets have to be put in the back seat with a seat belt on. Then and only then is Staley ready to climb into her carseat and, of course, buckle herself in.
If any of these above steps are skipped or rushed along, then there is often the emotional fall-out to deal with. And so, my friends, the next time we tell you that we will be somewhere to meet you at a certain time and we are inevitably late, at least you'll know why. It can't be helped. We're operating on toddler time.