I’m a chronically late person. My family jokes about it. They even tell me we need to be places 30 minutes before we actually need to be there so I don’t make them late.

It’s a bad habit and something I’ve been working on for years, but the final straw came when my kids started getting tardies at school.


So I started trying all sorts of tips and tricks to be on time.

We tried getting up earlier, setting everything out the night before and I even resorted to lying to myself and saying they needed to be there 15 minutes early.

None of that worked. We kept getting tardies.

But this year I stumbled on something that actually has been helpful. The secret to our success started by realizing where I was failing.

No matter how early we got up or how many things we laid out the night before, we always used every last second we had. Somehow five or ten crucial minutes would slip away right before it was time to walk out the door, and we’d be late again.

It was the mysterious disappearance of those five or ten precious minutes that made the difference.

Out of desperation, one night before bed, I set my alarm to go off every 15 minutes from the time we woke up until the time we walked out the door. The next morning I was amazed how well it worked to keep us moving. It stopped those crucial minutes from slipping away unnoticed.

Since then, each bell has developed into a sort of “mile marker” for our morning.

The first bell tells me it’s time to get up; the second reminds me it’s time to switch from praying to journaling; the third bell tells me it’s time to get the kids up and the fourth bell says we better get downstairs and start eating breakfast.

It’s a simple, admittedly slightly insane plan, but it works for our family — at least, most of the time.


Jenni DeWitt is married and has two sons, the youngest of whom battled childhood leukemia — and won. Jenni writes weekly for Momaha.com. She is the author of “Forty Days” and “Why Won’t God Talk to Me?” You can read more about Jenni here.

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