"Managing expectations" is a skill that comes in handy when you're raising children.
Your child put a Macbook Pro on his wishlist to Santa? Time for a little elf to manage those expectations.
My son believes that hearing the chimes of an ice cream truck constitutes a binding contract. "No ice cream, bub, we're heading home for dinner." "But mama, I CAN HEAR THE TRUCK! That means I get ice cream!" Yep, time to manage my little negotiator's expectations.
And like many other parenting concepts, this is one that deserves to be turned around on us sometimes. (Like Time Outs. I firmly believe in putting myself in Time Out occasionally, until I can calm down and rejoin the family.)
The secret to getting out the door without losing your sanity = Managing Expectations. Your own.
Assume it will take you five hours to leave the house. From the moment you decide to leave the house with small children to the moment you walk away from the door (NOT returning 30 seconds later for backup binkies, sippy cups or one of the ten bags you packed for a one-hour outing), figure on about five hours.
Sound extreme? Perhaps it is. Perhaps you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that it only takes you an hour to get out the door. Look at all the time you saved! You're a marvel of parenting efficiency!
But some days, it will take you five hours to get out the door. Or it will feel like five hours. Those are the days when shoes mysteriously disappear from feet, the toddler unpacks the bags the moment you turn your back, you discover a concrete-like mix of milk and crushed Cheerios at the bottom of your backpack, no one is listening to you, the baby has a diaper blowout requiring total outfit change TWICE as you are heading out the door, and your keys end up hidden under the cow in a Fisher-Price play barn.
This is when the rage can hit, if you're not careful. The rage will have you screaming things like "EVERYBODY GET YOUR @*$%^#! SHOES ON NOW!" You'll sound like a drill sergeant trying to get new recruits over the wall: "I do not care what your damage is, soldier! Now MOVE! Go go go go!" You'll even yell at the dog, who will look at you with approximately the same level of comprehension as your children. "Shoes, mother?" their innocent expressions ask. "What are these things you speak of called 'shoes,' pray tell? Why are you screaming? Are there snacks in that bag?" They will ask the last question out loud.
Take a deep breath. Five hours. That's how long it takes the average person to get out of the house with small children. It's a real statistic, one that I just made up, but still, it has a number in it so you know it's true. If you simply manage your expectations and give in to the reality of the time-sucking vortex that is preparing to leave the house with children, you'll be in no hurry, and thus have no stress. And if your children end up leaving the house without shoes? What the heck, it's summer. Tell people you've got a "Hobbit" theme going on. Then put yourself in a time out.