To the humans wondering why I’m always late

by Janelle Hanchett

The other day a friend of mine and I were having a bit of friendly-text-banter about tardiness. She was like “Just start earlier” and I was like “talk to me when you have 4 kids” and she was like “I wouldn’t have 4 kids!”

And I told her she is a fucking smart woman, only I left out the f-bomb because I’m classy.

But it got me thinking about the whole late thing. Namely, that it happens with some regularity. I’m 90% sure my friends without kids tell me gatherings start 1-hour before they actually start because they know my, um, situation.

And I imagine repeated tardiness can get a little (ahem) annoying, so I thought I’d attempt to explain just for funsies what exactly happens when I’m trying to walk out the door with my 4 tiny dictators.

First, there’s the tween. She’s 12. She looks like she would be nothing but helpful. And often, she is. I mean she’s tall and mature and gets herself dressed and fed and stuff, but distributed throughout the crazy rad shit my tween is capable of doing is a mind-boggling penchant for snail-pace movement.

I don’t get it. She looks like she’s moving; I mean, her body is not actually stationary, but the tangible progress being made is AS IF she were standing still. It’s one of the great mysteries of humanity, I imagine.

She’s also, make no mistake, A KID. She’s not a do-it-all-for-me kid anymore, but she is for sure still a kid and as such, she sometimes gets way way way lost in her morning routine. Like one day she just forgets to set her alarm, or feed the dog, or make a lunch. Or homework. That’s due that day.

Yay fun!

Or she fights with her brother, who’s 9, over some profound injustice which, of course, WE NEVER ADDRESS because we’re always on her case instead of his. This is wholly not true because the “he” in question is hands-down the most annoying human to get ready with on the entire fucking planet.

I realize I haven’t tried getting ready with everybody on the entire fucking planet but it doesn’t matter. When you are relying on a human who literally forgets what he’s doing with the Tupperware he just removed from the dishwasher BY THE TIME HE GETS TO THE TUPPERWARE DRAWER and instead walks down the hall and opens the linen closet at which time he looks down at the Tupperware and thinks to himself “What am I doing here with this plastic at the linen closet?” then proceeds to put the Tupperware down and hold the kitten upside down because WHY THE HELL NOT PEOPLE?…

When you’re working with that, you’ve got nothing.

It’s all up in the air, folks.

Did you brush your teeth what about breakfast do you have a lunch why aren’t your shoes on did you feed the chickens where’s your homework OHMYGOD you didn’t do it DO IT NOW DO IT NOW eat a piece of toast get your backpack get in the car OHMYHELLDUDE your shoes still aren’t on?!

Every day, people. Every day. I mean it.

But you know what? Forget all this shit. There’s nobody worse than the Tiny Naked Insane Human. In fact, she’s so bad, only one of my handy helpful graphs will explain this nonsense.


You see what we’re dealing with here?

And then, there’s the baby. The baby. Oh, Arlo. Cute as a motherfucking bug’s ear. Doesn’t give a shit if we’re on time.

Possibly plans his bowel movements according to how late we are.

Always naps when we absolutely must leave.

Cries only when I really need him to be quiet.

Can’t walk.

So you see. All of this results in the following predicament:




NOBODY GETS BEHIND MY TIMELINESS EFFORTS except one kid. ONE. One out of 4, people.

Those are some bad odds, dude.


And yeah, I could wake up at 5am or better yet, 4:30am, to plan prepare and be AT THE READY for whatever nonsense may come up that day, but the truth is that would make me such an insane uptight pissed off mama I would need 13 Xanax to get through the morning and RECOVING ALCOHOLICS DON’T GET 13 XANAX.

Or at least this one doesn’t.

Plus, I usually don’t go to sleep until 11pm because the baby sleeps at 9:30pm and I need one point five hours to my SELF when nobody is touching talking yelling cuddling needing me, feeding off my nipple or otherwise using my body mind spirit emotions for the wellbeing of their overall persons.

Or, in short, leaving me the fuck alone.

But then I wake up at around 3 or 3:30 with the baby, at which time he spends the next hour or so making up for that big stretch of not-nursing (which he barely survived, apparently, because he now must nurse for ONE HOUR STRAIGHT), which makes me going back to sleep at 4:30 or 5.

So “just starting earlier” turns my 6 hours of sleep into 4 hours, which is, incidentally, the EXACT number of sleep hours that transforms me into an irritable insane overly emotional zombie.


So there you go, people who can’t figure out why I can’t seem to pull it together in the timeliness department.

It’s either tardiness or zombie.

Sometimes it’s tardiness AND zombie.

Or maybe I just suck.

Either way, I’m trying. God knows I’m trying. (BUT 3 out of my 4 kids aren’t!)

And I guess really that’s all any of us can do.

You with your one kid or no kid, me with the four I can barely handle (although let’s be honest. I was late when I only had one.)

We’re all fightin the fight, man.

All we can do, once again, is try not to be a dick, one bullshit morning at a time.



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She travels around the world, takes crazy ass trips to Antarctica, leads groups through Peru,

and does it all through her freelance work.

She’s willing to teach you how.

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She’s not just talking about it. She’s fucking doing it.

  • Annie

    My mom still blames us got her chronic tardiness even though the only I’ve left out of the 6 of us is the 12 year of. 🙂

  • Sam Pereira

    I used to be that person who was always early. Sometimes even half an hour or more early. I hated being late with a passion.
    Now, I’m always late. And I just have the one kid.

  • Rachel

    I love you so much I don’t know how to put it into words.

  • Chelsea

    I love you. I feel like this is my life. To anyone who wonders why I am late, I will send them a link to this post and say two words: twin toddlers.

  • Tara


    I’ll be posting this to every (asshole) person that has ever complained about us being late. It’s not my damn fault!

  • carrie

    I may have to plagiarize your pie graph. And I’m pregnant with number 5! And number 1 is only 8. Crazy life. I feel like you’re writing about my life much of the time.

  • Jenny

    Please include graphs in all of your posts!! You are a fucking rock star.

  • Rhonda

    You’re ridiculously funny and crazy. Hang in Sister.

  • Sandy

    I love this. Yes. I get three of them out the door and to school and daycare to arrive at my job teaching other people’s kids for the day at 7:30 am!!! Thank you for not making me feel like such an ass because the morning is terrible and sometimes I yell. My mom had four. Big ups girl.

  • itzybellababy

    I don’t mind the late with an apology but like if the rest of us with kids are there on time and waiting for 2 hours to eat…and the reason said party is late is because they didn’t bother telling anyone they were coming from a meal at another place.. well.. I get pissed.. especially the third and fourth time it happens..ugh.. don’t blame your kids on that.. which is what they did..

    Sorry, not ALL tardies are just because kids.. lol

  • Rose g

    I freaking love what you write. Had 4 kids within 3 years myself, and god I wish I had you to read/ follow when they were little. Keep on truckin sister!!!

  • Melanie Mullins

    Yesterday my new mom friend saw me and said, “I thought of you yesterday after an insanely crazy day while happily drinking a margarita. And I thought, oh god what does melanie do with a 4 week old while being a recovering alcoholic?!”

    So ya, I don’t get 13 Xanax either. And although I know I have lost the right to chemical piece of mind I’d kill for a benzodiazepine to take the edge off. Instead I read your blog and it helps. Thanks.

    • Jen

      Yup. With 13 years under my belt I hear the same…”how do you deal with all your stressors without a drink?” Oh, great…another stressor! Thanks.

  • Amanda

    BAHAHAHAHA! That is all.

  • laura rodriguez

    Dude. I 100% get this. I think we should write a book together, no joke. The 5 + 1 littles that have completely taken over are aged 15 (twins), 7, 5, and almost 3 (twins). Like I was saying, I get it. 🙂

    • Wendy

      Holy crap – that is all I can think!

  • Rachel

    Just had my 3rd, shes 15 days old. My other two are 4.5 and 1.5. I hear ya mamma, I hear ya mamma. Fuck everyone who doesn’t get it.

  • Jenny

    I read a lot of blogs. I rarely comment and I have never laughed out loud until just now. You are fab, I just wish I had found you when my children were younger!! My nearly 18 year old does exactly that thing of not appearing to move too…….. Thank you for keeping it real! Jenny

  • Jessica Dimas

    You make me giggle hardcore. I almost wake up my kids every time I read your blog! This part sent me into a silent giggling fit: “or otherwise using my body mind spirit emotions for the wellbeing of their overall persons.”


  • MomtoThree

    Awesome. As always …
    “Punctuality is the manner of kings.”
    Or something.
    I do try … Honestly, I do.
    What is it about the hiding shoes?

  • Jessica

    I can’t tell you how much I love your posts! Thank you for not sugar-coating things, for not participating in the mommy wars and for making me feel like it’s ok and normal to love and hate my kid all at the same time. You are amazing.

  • Lyndsy

    The chart nearly killed me!! Thank you for putting my life in words…..min of 4 girls, ages 7, 4, 2, and 5 months.
    You get me.

  • Lacey

    The shoes!!! She has 8 pairs and I can find one of each.

  • alice

    I have 5 kids, the oldest is about to be 10. No one understands. Everyone says they understand but they don’t. It’s really comforting in a twisted kind of way that someone out there gets it. Sleep deprivation sucks, but finding time to listen to the noise in my own head makes it worth losing an hour or two of sleep for the sake of my own sanity. Everyday is a challenge, the most simple and basic shit feels impossible to accomplish some days and most of the time we do it without any assistance whatsoever. This too shall pass. Someday the children will be grown and then what the hell am I gonna do with all my time???

  • Nel

    I buy several pairs of the same kind of shoes….
    Craping on the way out the door is universal and timeless.
    All the clocks in our world are set 15minutes fast and we are still late. Our school has even gone to the extreme of sending home a note with each child offering to “help with some strategies” to “improve attendance”.
    Needless to say I didn’t give the response I would have liked to.

  • anne

    Awesome as always. I have just 2 measly kids and it’s a circus too. As long as no small children were injured in the process of getting to needed destination then it is all good!

  • Kari

    This is why I stopped at two, not that I was ever on time. Every trip felt like I was going on maneuvers with the 7th Infantry. I think after it was all said and done the two I had turned out o.k., don’t completely hate me despite the fact that Doritos were sometimes the breakfast of champions at my house as long as mommy had a gal. of coffee and a couple of cigarettes first. Keep up the good work.

  • Mimi

    Most people in our culture recently only have one, maybe two. Many are putting offf having kids alltogether. What that gets you is a culture where having 4 kids puts you in the minority and people have a hard time relating. Man I have a hard time with 2 kids, I cant even imagine having 4. Do what you gotta do for YOU. Try and remember that if somebody is giving you crap, its THEIR problem. You got 4 humans that need you to worry about. I’m sure that nobody is trying to be a “dick” but you dont need to feel guilty for doing what you need to do. Honestly I had to drop a few friends BC they just didnt get it. We werent in the same place. Frankly I get enough crap from the humans I am trying to raise and dont need more crap from humans that can take care of themselves. So dont feel guilty if somebody doesnt get what you are going thru and wants you to change. You have enough going on to take on their expectaions too. Forget that! Do you and let them do them. Love youuuuuu!!!

    • Nel

      We have 10, you can imagine how outside the norm that is around here. I think mobilising groups to Afghanistan would be easier…
      But it doesn’t matter if you have one or 20.

      You’re never going to find that other shoe.

      And someone will always need to go to the toilet when you’re stuck in traffic.

  • krisztina

    I love you! And I have only 2 and it is the same story.

  • Tammy

    I love you beyond words. You say everything I feel or think in the most honest and hilarious way.

  • Tina

    Hear, fucking hear. I’m so done with this shit. And I have only two. Georgia sounds like my almost 5-year-old, so doing swapsies would help noone.

  • Jenny

    I love this because it describes my life perfectly- except I don’t even have a tween working “with” me. It’s just 4 against one at my house. I will say there are times we get out the door and arrive somewhere only slightly late. If and when this happens, as my 4 kids are piling out of the van, I usually have a “what the fuck are you wearing!” moment. Of course I don’t say “fuck” to my kids, but really- shorts that are way too small, a t-shirt that could double as a tent and is stained all over with God only knows what and two different shoes. How did I miss that going out the door? Lucky for me, and thanks to my kids, my van is packed full of “emergency supplies”- some people think this is dirt and clutter, but I always have extra clothes, shoes, diapers, wipes, water, blankets, and probably enough food to survive a day or two in an emergency situation!

    • Also Jenny

      Wait… How have I already posted this? 🙂

  • Rita Arens

    You had me at the piechart.

  • heather krcha

    i love you.

    that is all.

    oh! and can i get a poster of your pie chart for my wall? i have four kids…all under the age of six. it drives me nuts when my husband says “i can meet you there”…dude! that’s the shitty part- gettig ready, getting in the car, ALL THE CARSEATS 8-/


    you still haven’t gotten dressed yourself 😉

  • Nicole

    I hear ya mama! I only have two and it’s a struggle – you get sainthood in my book just making it out the door AT ANY FUCKING TIME! I am married to a “You’re late if you’re not 10 minutes early” guy. I want to punch him in the face most days…but settle for a mumbled (or probably fairly audible) ‘prick’ as I’m hauling out the door.

  • Asleif

    I only have the one 3.5 year old (for another three months), but that toddler graph is right on the money. We are ok with shoes but everything else?? OH YEAH. Just spent 10 minutes being ignored telling her to brush her teeth before bed about 50 times.

  • Matt

    Full time daddio checking in.

    Your chart of toddler behavior was so right the fuck on. I’m hanging it on my wall… No, wait, said 4 year old can read and will ask me about *some of the words*. Maybe I’ll just save a copy to my phone.

    Anyway, rock on!

    @sahg33kgad on Twitter

  • Laura

    One day I recorded my four-year-old son walking to the car because I didn’t think anyone would believe how long it takes. What should have been about eight toddler steps took a full 30 seconds to complete. He defies all laws of space and time.

  • Erin D

    I’m Always late. I completely understand where you’re coming from. I feel like I should get a fucking trophy when I’m on time, or may I say, early. Fuck yeah.

  • Jessica Singer

    Yup. Totally get it. First time I tried to get somewhere with the twins by myself, we were 2 hours late! Blew my mind ‘cuz I’m the punctual type. I’ve since given up. I don’t even wear a watch anymore because then I just feel more guilty for being tardy.

  • J

    I have four, 10,8,6 and 18 mo. I manage to get my kids on the bus on time every single school day. They must talk Pokemon talk with the other bus kids, and flip out if they have to be car riders. Pretty much any other time, we are late, even if it is by only 5 mins. Infact I consider 5 minutes late to now be on time. Really on time just doesn’t happen often!

  • LaToya

    If there was a President of Moms, I’d nominate you.

  • R

    I’m a lightweight, I only have 2 and leaving the house is soo stressful and we’re usually late. When they were little and in a double pushchair (they’re 18 months apart) quite often they’d both be crying by the time we left. At preschoolage my son developed the special power of needing a 20 minute sit on the toilet when we were about to leave the door only 5 minutes late.
    Nowadays he’s 8, is suspected of having Aspergers, and when having one of THOSE days he can take an hour and a half to get dressed (despite the fact he could get clothes out of his drawers and dress himself before waking me when he was 2). If left to his own devices, he gets distracted (finds something on the floor to play with, forgets what he’s doing, starts dancing etc) and if I stay there and remind him to stay on task has a tantrum at me for telling him what to do and shouts and yells instead of getting dressed. I’m amazed we ever make it out of the house. I’m in awe of anyone who manages to leave the house with 4 kids, however late they may be.

  • K

    I was laughing so hard reading this that I started crying, and my husband came to check on me. Thank you! Thank you! This is exactly what I need to point people to when I am late. Your graphs kick a$$!

  • Jessi

    Seriously and for real, that pie chart though! My partner and I have 6 minions; 14, 11, 10, 8, 6, & 2. There may have been an unsubstantiated rumor regarding me as a shoe nazi because I am so mean as to have them put their shoes into the over-the-door shoe thingie AS SOON AS THEY COME OFF THEIR FEET, but does the 2 year old ever listen to this solid parenting demand? Nope, never. Those bad boys are mofo-zoned; lost between the mini-van and the house, sometimes missing for weeks at a time until we cave and buy a new pair, only for said missing pair to reappear and then the new pair goes missing…
    Vicious cycle.
    And the getting ready part?
    In my house, no one can ever find pants. Even though I manage to find a dozen pairs to be washed at any given moment, even ones that look suspiciously clean EVEN SOMETIMES FOLDED AND THROWN IN FRONT OF THE WASHING MACHINE, when they have to put pants on, they turn into the Lego movie guy “Honey, where are my PAAAANNNNTSSSSSS”. Or someone is wearing the only pair of pants they want ever in this lifetime and no other pair of pants is good enough and why god why didn’t I buy at least 10 pairs of that one type of pants?
    Because clearly I fail at pants.
    And people wonder why I don’t care if they’ve been wearing the same pair of pants all week. I washed that one pair of pants like 8 million times alone this week; they are ultra-clean!!!!
    Preach on, Mama, and bring with you more charts 😉

  • Ashley

    I’m literally laughing like a hyena here at my desk when I should be working. Like snorting laughing. This is so true and I will reference your pie chart when ever anyone asks why I’m late!! I’ve got a 12 year old girl, 3 year old buy and 2 year old girl. I haven’t been on time in almost 12 years.

  • Bridget Yeatts

    so I have ONE just ONE tween and that is it and we can’t make it on time to shit!
    I mean if it was a life or death thing we would be dead because my tween feels the morning is when we take a fucking shower with the dogs or when we decide to cook breakfast for ourselves and turn the fucking microwave on 60 mins instead of seconds and we almost burn the fucking house down! Needless to say we are late and I apologize daily for our assholeness!!!

  • NIX

    WOW. spot on. Mind you, if you have a one year old and a young three year old, most of the time it’s the last minute poos that get me even later than I already am at the time. Like literally, heading out the door with a shit load of stuff to take to the car and my daughter says to me, “mummy I need go toilet”. arrgh. So I have to wait for her, wipe her ass and then round them up to the car. Because a one year old is faster than you think, getting him to the car without carrying him is a bit of a mish. And if it’s not my daughter, it’s my son who leaves a nasty surprise before departing the house. OH the joys of being a working mother.

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