In Defense of Teaching Toddlers to Hurry Up
There are times in life when it's OK for kids to stop and smell the roses, but other times, they need to understand the value of time.
Sure, some argue that us parents need to take our children’s lead and stop and smell the flowers. But I’m pregnant, I have a three-year-old, I work full-time and I ain’t got time for that! Well really, I only sometimes have time for that.
As I raise my daughter Abby, I feel it’s important to teach her to be a responsible, from cleaning up her toys to manners, and ultimately to respect. And being conscientious of other’s time, including my own, is an important facet of it all. And really, being conscientious of her own time goes along with that. As a result, there are times when, “Hurry up,” is in our vocabulary, including hers, which I’m not afraid to admit.
This is the deal, when we are getting ready in the morning during the workweek, and we’ve got to get out the door by 6am so that I can get her to preschool and me to work by 7am, I ain’t got time for a beach party on the bathroom floor. As a teacher, I have a time I have I need to be at work so students aren’t waiting outside my classroom as the tardy bell rings. Sure I could get up earlier to make time for her antics, but as a working parent, sleep is imperative and getting up at 5:30am is already difficult. And because of which I’m very grateful that most mornings my husband is able to take her. (PRO TIP: As a working parent with a super early wake-up time, I shower at night during the workweek, which gives me about 15 more minutes to slumber.)
There are other times when hurrying up is for her benefit. Dinner time for sure is one of them. I surely aint’ got time for her marathon meals when bath and bedtime is quickly approaching. You see, after dinner we like to have downtime to read books, play, or have our ritual family dance party time as the bathtub fills up. So when I tell her to hurry up and eat dinner, it’s not only for our benefit as parents to have a bit of down time with her, but also for hers as I know the top of a three-year-old’s agenda is to play. And because during the school year her bedtime is not that negotiable in my book, she needs to hurry up and eat. Yes, we do start her eating earlier, yet still, she likes to dawdle.
Another instance where I’m trying to teach her this concept of moving with haste is when she has a class to go to. Swim lessons, ballet, gymnastics (not all going on at the same time, because I ain’t got time for all that at once), are fun activities we make time for. Abby loves going to the Y and pursuing her interests, but class starts at a certain time, and end, regardless of what time she gets there. On these days we do try to start getting ready early, but with her insistence of dressing herself, at her own pace, eating breakfast while chatting it up (more chatting than bites of food), all my intentions of getting there early go out the window and hurry up begins.
It’s important to note, though, that I believe in a sense of balance. My family isn’t always rushing, especially on the weekends, during the summer months, and vacation times. We take our time with life. Naptimes are not set at strict times, nor is bedtime. We’ll chat more at dinner. Stay up late watching a movie. And while walking to the park, we stop for all the shiny objects. You know picking flowers, collecting rocks, inspecting the weird bug crawling across the sidewalk, and watching the ultimate patient creature, the slug, studying its slimy trail.
Ultimately, there is a time and a place for haste, and a time for relaxing. And I don’t feel guilty for the times I’m rushing my kid out the door. She needs to learn that respecting my time, her time, and others’ time is a valuable part of living in our world. And then there are those other moments in life when none of that matters. And I believe no kid is every too young to begin learning these two concepts.
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