I'm habitually punctual. Even when I have the intention to arrive somewhere a few minutes late, I always arrive on time. Having four boys, a chocolate lab that moonlights as an escape artist and an easily distracted husband could understandably cause tardiness, but they don't.
I suppose it began when I was a child. My parents, who are the type that arrive at the airport five hours prior to departure, raised me. I grew up in a neighborhood that was at least 30-minute drive from everything, so we always left 45 minutes before we needed to arrive. Some days we would end up at school sitting in the car waiting for it to open, but we were never late.
Now I live in a centrally located neighborhood, and it takes us 7-10 minutes to arrive anywhere in town. But, and here is where you may want to take notes, we leave 30 minutes ahead of time. Or at least we plan to. Even if one of my son's right shoes is in a neighbor's tree house. And he will need to hop over to it, climb a ladder, take a zip line to reach it, we still won't be late. In the worst-case scenario, one or (all of my son's) has left his (backpack, lunch, instrument, pants) in the garage and realized this when we were already halfway to school. The 30-minute time window, allows for the extra time it takes to turn around, retrieve the forgotten item, and STILL arrive at school on time. Although, there have been days, except the missing pants, that I have made one of them go to school without his backpack or lunch.
My boys can rely on the fact that the mom bus is leaving at 7:45 a.m. and they will be on it, whether they are ready or not. It leaves at the same time every day in the fall and spring, while in the winter departure is set for 7:40 a.m. because of road conditions and the amount time it takes to put on coats, boots, snow pants, hats, and gloves.
I believe that arriving on time is a sign of respect to whoever is expecting you. Unless an unforeseen circumstance happens, like a tornado, flat tire or a possible alien invasion, I cannot understand why someone would be late for an event that starts the same time every single day.
You may be asking how this is even plausible, or what if the entire house sleeps through the alarm? With modern technology and a dog I don't even know how this is possible. If this is a genuine concern, set two alarms on every single electronic device in your home, and I guarantee it will sound like you live next door to Big Ben at 6:30 a.m. Set out you and your children's clothes the night before so should you miss the alarm, you won't waste time deciding what to wear.
Sure, my boys aren't picky, they could wear stripes and plaid and not give it a second thought, as long as they are dressed and clean they can go to school. “Clean” being subject to debate. Breakfast is available for those who make it downstairs to eat it. If not, there is a nice big bowl of fruit on the table and apples are a good old take and go option.
Backpacks are also sitting near the back door ready to grab with everything they need for the day already inside. If they forget it, then they will have to face the consequences. I am not going to be late for work, and their brothers are not going to be tardy because of one person's failure to prepare.
There you have it. Two steps. Leave 30 minutes prior to when you need to arrive and get your stuff ready ahead of time. There are no individual cubbies, no charts, no muffin-tin-omelets and no sticker boards. There is just an awareness that the world isn't going to stop just because you’re late. It will keep turning. Just arrive on time because you never know what you might miss.