Leaving the house with a 2-year-old, or 25 reasons why we’re always late

May 1, 2014

The 25 stages of leaving the house with a toddler, why we're always late

Wall clock

Feet in pram

OK, I admit it. I’m frequently late. It’s a really unappealing habit*, I know. but I’m not quite sure how it happens. One minute there’s hours to go, and the next I’m sprinting down the road, hoping that time itself is incorrect. And it never is.

Add a child into the mix and things get infinitely more complicated. When you go anywhere with a newborn, it generally takes ages (“Is ten nappies enough? Do we need five blankets? Why are they crying? Why am I crying? How do I work the pram again?”) But try leaving the house quickly with a toddler; it’s an entirely different kind of countdown.

They say the days are long but the years are short when you’re a parent, which is very true. However, the time it takes between starting to get ready and actually shutting the front door behind you seems to go at light speed.

Here’s all the reasons it takes so long to go anywhere, and why we’re nearly always late. It’s the 25 stages of leaving the house with a toddler. Please tell me some of it is vaguely familiar…?

1) Attempt to get toddler dressed. Fail

2) Chase toddler – who is now running round the house shouting ‘Can’t catch meeeeeeee!’ – and wrestle her into some clothes

3) Try to locate the changing bag. It’s always in the other place.

4) Find spare nappies, bags, wipes, change of clothes. Forget one of them. Promise myself that next time, I will pack the change bag ahead of time (I won’t)

5) Put clothes back on toddler, who is now running round shouting ‘”Nakedy!” at the top of her voice

6) Try to get myself dressed, but I’m in that in-between stage where I hate all my clothes. Remember the only clothes I like are in the laundry basket, awaiting the wash I’ve not yet put on

7) Repack the changing bag that toddler has helpfully rearranged all over the floor while I was getting dressed

8) Make enough snacks to feed a miniature army. There is never enough

9) Deal with some sort of curveball (recent ones have included – toddler helpfully emptying a whole box of cornflakes in the kitchen, me sneezing and my whole back seizing up)

10) “No, the TV remote does not belong in the washing machine”

11) Have a discussion about why Guppo the giant Gruffalo really doesn’t want to come out with us

12) Have a discussion about why big Buzz Lightyear really doesn’t want to come out with us

12) Suggest that little Buzz Lightyear comes out with us instead. But where is he? (Clue: in the cupboard with Kate Middleton)

13) Emergency nappy change

14) Get out the pram. Have a discussion about how the toddler doesn’t want to  take it, but little Buzz really does

15) Revert to some sort of biscuit-based pram-related ‘encouragement’

16) Fail to locate keys, fail to locate Oyster card

17) “Mummy, why can’t we go to the beach and build sand castles?”

18) Survey the toddler mess all over the house and think about putting everything away so it’s tidy when we get back. Don’t

19) Realise, too late, that my jeans really shouldn’t have stretched to one more pre-wash wear

20) Blueberries

21) Have fleeting thoughts that we’re too late now and should just stay at home

22) Fail to locate recently located keys (usually: in my hand)

23) Leave the house. Return three seconds later to check a) straighteners are off b) door is locked

24) Actually leave the house

25) Get to where we’re going, find it’s shut. Go home via the cake shop instead.

* Just for the sake of balance, I asked my husband what my other bad habits were. He laughed and said “how long have you got?” Oh dear.


  • Kim Carberry

    May 1, 2014 at 11:47 am

    hahaha! That does sound so familiar…..I was never on time for anything when my girls were little….lol

  • Rachel

    May 1, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Very familiar! x

  • Polly

    May 1, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    haha!! great post 🙂 I’m weirdly hardly ever late, even with three kids :/ not sure how I do it!

  • Fiona

    May 1, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Nakedy! Uch, trying to get the toddler dressed is the absolute worst part of my day. She just wants to always, always be nakedy. x

  • lori

    May 1, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    haha love this post and it’s oh so true. I can honestly say it doesn’t get any easier at three. You might not have the changing bag situation but instead the ‘I can put my own shoes on’ cue 30 minutes of not putting shoes on or the classic ‘i need a poo just as we are finally ready to leave the house’ I am always late! x

  • Thursday’s Girl (@ThursdaysGirl1)

    May 1, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    YES to number 22 – but not just key related – EVERYTHING related.
    Yesterday I couldn’t find the kitchen foil that I had just picked up off the shelf in the supermarket to put into the trolley, after lots of looking around and head scratching, I found it… in my hand!
    I SWEAR I was intelligent before I had a baby!

  • mummyShire

    May 1, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    This made me laugh and cry as we had one of those kind of days today, Little Mister was running thru the house with one muddy welly on the wrong foot shouting ” no, no, no, no mummy do it” and the more I chased the more dried mud was left on the carpet. And we had 10 mins to collect at the school gate. Its so good to hear that its not just me who has difficulty leaving the house!!

  • Daniela

    May 1, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    What is Kate Middleton.doing on your cupboard!?!!

  • Eleanor (thebristolparent)

    May 2, 2014 at 6:42 am

    The newborn paragraph had me snorting into my morning coffee Gill. Bravo!

  • abigail

    May 2, 2014 at 8:18 am

    haha I love this, I think I could agree with every single one of these! T thinks getting dressed is a fun game that involves being chased around the house, and don’t get me started with putting on the shoes!

  • Jess @ Along Came Cherry

    May 2, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Haha so true! Although I think because I am so aware of being late I overcompensate and end up being early instead!! x

  • shirley

    May 2, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    you have always been late but never this bad – dont blame on Eliza but on new pregnancy brain.at least you have an excuse

  • fritha

    May 2, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    ha so true about the rearranging on the bag, Wilf does that! he often takes things out when I’ve turned my back, luckily I’ve noticed each time so far! x

  • Vickie

    May 4, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Great post and oh so true! No matter how early I start preparing to go out we always end up leaving in a mad rush. We’re getting a lot of tantrums over the putting on of a coat/cardigan/shoes lately so I’ll be very glad when summer comes.

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