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Conquering the Hurry-Up Monster

Not too long ago, I caught myself ranting and raving as I rushed my kids out the door to get somewhere on time. Feeling really angry and impatient, I knew my "hurry-up's" were getting louder and louder and I could feel my teeth clenching as I became more and more frustrated. As my littlest one scurried through the door, he looked up at me and what I saw stopped me cold. My child's eyes were filled with fear. You'd have thought he'd seen a monster. And I was that monster!

The very next morning, I decided to try something new. I promised myself that I would not say the words "hurry-up" for an entire day. My husband was out of town so I was on my own. But I was determined to conquer the hurry-up monster once and for all. Here's what happened:

6:30 a.m. In preparation for the battle ahead, I memorize Proverbs 10:19, "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise."

6:45 a.m. Time to wake the kids. Singing and smiling, I pull their covers down and tempt them with talk of Fruit Loops and cinnamon toast.

7:00 a.m. I head back to check the kids' progress. They're playing with toys and still in their pajamas. Fruit Loops are soggy and soaking in a sea of pink milk. Toast is cold. Already, I have to bite my tongue as the words "hurry-up" try to escape my lips.

7:45 a.m. Time to head out the door. All three boys are fed and mostly dressed. The little ones don't have their shoes on, but I decide to come home after dropping the 8-year-old at school instead of running our usual errands, so bare feet will be okay. I think I can win this battle if I do as little as possible today. Using my sweetest tone of voice, I tell the boys, "I'm getting in the car."

7:55 a.m. I'm sitting in the car waiting for the kids to join me. The temptation to holler "hurry-up" is growing greater by the minute. Instead, I put one hand over my mouth and honk the horn with my other.

8:15 a.m. Back at home, I clean up the breakfast dishes and pick up the house. It's awfully nice to be home and have these tasks done so early in the day!

8:45 a.m. I put shoes on the two youngest boys and we take a walk to the creek near our home.

9:20 a.m. I'm expecting company at 10 and I know how slow my 3- and 5-year-old can be. I decide to start the short walk home now.

9:48 a.m. Still walking! In 28 minutes, we've only made it about one block. The boys stop to pick up every stick and look at every bug that crosses our path. The 5-year-old's pants are slipping down because his pockets are weighted down with all the rocks he's gathered. It takes a lot of patience and discipline for me not to hurry them along, but I'm beginning to see the rewards of winning this battle. The boys are completely relaxed and thoroughly enjoying themselves, and I've slowed down enough to enjoy watching them play. I start to wonder how many precious moments I've missed because I was rushing too much to notice.

11:30 a.m. Time for lunch. It's amazing how long it takes a kid to eat a peanut butter sandwich when he isn't being told to hurry.

12:30 p.m. I drop off my youngest child at a friend's house so I can go to my 5-year-old's preschool party. With only one child to contend with, I figure not hurrying should be a breeze.

12:45 p.m. We leave the house 15 minutes early to return a movie to the video store. I let my son put the movie in the drop box. Normally, I would tell him to run to the box and jump quickly back in the car. This time I don't rush him, and we barely make it to the party on time. I realize, however, that no one would have even noticed if we'd showed up at preschool a few minutes late.

2:30 p.m. After the party, I wait to see how long it takes for my son to put his seat belt on without being rushed.

2:34 p.m. Finally, I hear the seatbelt click. A 5-year-old can't do two things at once, and he was busy telling me about a game he and his friend had played. Normally, I might have interrupted his story and reminded him to get his seatbelt on so we could leave. But I actually enjoy sitting in the car listening to his story. Once again, I think back to the times I was too hurried to really listen to something important my kids wanted to tell me?more moments I won't ever get back.

2:45 p.m. We pick up my 8-year-old from school and head over to pick up the youngest. I let the kids play while I visit with my friend. Getting them back into the car without saying "hurry-up" is painful. I'm sure my friend thinks I'm crazy as I pinch my tongue between my thumb and forefinger and mumble, "He who holds his tongue is wise." Then, as gently as possible, I pick up each child and put him in the car.

3:30 p.m. Time for homework. The younger boys watch "Arthur" so they don't distract their brother from his task, and so I don't cave in and lose the battle that so far I seem to be winning.

4:30 p.m. I decide on frozen pizza for dinner. I want something simple because we've got to make it to my oldest son's baseball game by 5:15. I begin to gear myself up mentally for the challenge of not saying "hurry-up" and still attempting to make it to the park on time.

5:00 p.m. As we drive to the baseball game, my oldest son hollers from the backseat, "Mom, pass that slow car; we're going to be late!" He's already learned the virtue of impatience and rushing through life. The truth hits me hard. I've taught my kids to be stressed-out.

7:30 p.m. Time for bed. This, by far, is the hardest part of my day. Not saying "hurry-up" to three boys getting ready for bed is like not saying "ouch" when you stub your toe. The boys put on their pajamas while I put toothpaste on their toothbrushes and set them next to the sink.

8:00 p.m. Toothpaste starting to harden on toothbrushes.

8:15 p.m. I decide to forget about brushing teeth and begin to read some books. Overcoming my natural tendencies, I vow not to read too fast, not to skip any pages and not to shorten any of Dr. Seuss's long tongue twisters.

8:30 p.m. Middle son reminds everyone they haven't brushed their teeth.

8:40 p.m. Pray (hard).

8:45 p.m. Forty-five minutes later than usual, all the boys are tucked peacefully in bed.

8:50 p.m. My 3-year-old complains that we forgot to pray he wouldn't have that dream about the bad pirate taking his Beanie Babies away from him.

8:51 p.m. Pray that the bad pirate doesn't take my son's Beanie Babies from him.

9:00 p.m. Exhausted, I tuck myself into bed.

As I lay down, I reflect on the lessons I've learned today. Patience is not one of my virtues. I get frustrated with slow drivers, slow sales clerks, slow decision-makers, slow employees at fast food restaurants, and especially slow kids!

But for one day I practiced God's wisdom and held my tongue. Not only did I not say "hurry-up," I made extra efforts not to rush my children at all. I experienced special moments I would have normally missed and I was able to really hear their hearts. We also enjoyed a more peaceful home environment. It was hard not to say those two words (duct tape on my mouth might have helped), and I did think them, but the calm we all felt as the day went on is something I want to recreate tomorrow and the next day and the next.

From now on, I'll ask God to help me use those words sparingly, and continue to practice the discipline of not rushing my children. With God's help, I think it will be harder for the hurry-up monster to haunt our home again.

Jean Blackmer is a writer living in Colorado with her husband and three very relaxed sons.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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