How I Stopped Making My Family Late for Everything

I’d like to blame it on my kids, but the truth is, I’m the one that always made us late. Until I planned my back up outfit, that is.

This post could also be titled: “That Time I Nagged My Family About WHAT TIME WE HAVE TO LEAVE THE HOUSE for Four Hours, and Then Made Them Late.”

In it, you’ll find a quick system I now use to get dressed and out of the house on time, no matter what ridiculous series of obstacles are in my way.

It’s all about having an “Emergency Outfit.”

Why I need an emergency outfit

It begins with a one-year-old’s birthday party. I pick out a vintage polka dot skirt and white top, and it’s all ready-to-go, in the closet.

I get my toddler ready first. This is a mistake. He is a methodical procrastinator.

The toddler system

Step 1: Denial

Me: We have to leave soon.

Him: No.

Step 2: Rationalization

Me: Why don’t you want to go to the party?

Him: ’Cause I’m playing with my cars.

Step 3: Distraction

Me: Can you stop?

Him: No. ’Cause Blue Race Car needs a tow truck.

Me: (intrigued by the storyline) Oh, did he get in a crash?

Him: Yes! Mommy, come see!

Step 4: Betrayal

My husband: Why aren’t you two dressed yet?

Him: Mommy wanted to play cars.

Together, we get him ready. I race into my room, breathless at the thought of my lovely outfit, but as soon as I see it, I know. Something in the stars has shifted. I put it on dutifully anyway, and there it is: The skirt is too poofy. How did I miss this before? The skirt is WAY too poofy.

Plus, the white shirt seems risky in a cake-and-toddlers setting. This outfit is all wrong.

I pull on jeans reflexively and realize all my clean tees, besides the white one, are wrinkled. I start steaming a blue one, when I spot my coral tee looking pretty decent on top of the hamper. I ditch the steaming project and lunge for it. Now I need a camisole for underneath.

When I emerge, we’re running 20 minutes late.

The lesson: Sometimes having your outfit pre-chosen is just not enough. Your moon will move into the sign of Gemini…or you’ll feel bloated, or it will rain, and what you picked out will become a terrible idea.

This will happen. You can’t plan your way out of it.

You need a backup. The backup has to be SPECIAL and versatile. It has to be something you can turn to in any “I hate this, and I hate everything” scenario without question and with confidence.

After the party incident, I find such a backup. It is my go-to outfit, always standing by, unwrinkled and hanging up at all times, for just these situations.

Here are the rules for finding your “Emergency Outfit.”

Emergency Outfit requirements

1 | It must be versatile

It has to be something I can wear to work or out on the weekend with just an accessories change.

2 | It must be neutral

I should be able to wear this up to twice-a-week without anyone noticing. Hopefully, I won’t need to, but it can’t stand out too much just in case.

3 | It must be comfortable

Most of my outfit meltdowns happen around how I feel, not how I look. I mainly feel bloated and restricted in these situations.

4 | It must be elevated

What I mean by this is it can’t be my reflex move, which is jeans and a tee. First of all, I NEED all of my jeans and t-shirts during the week, so keeping any aside is nonsense.
Secondly, the Emergency Outfit is supposed to make me feel confident and special in any regular situation – even, let’s say, a meeting or presentation.

So what am I left with? You’d be surprised.

I pulled comfy basic black pants (Hello, elastic waistband!), a plain black tank top, and a few accessory variations including a bright cardigan, a neutral shawl cardigan, and a dressy satin scarf.

Take a look through your clothes with these four requirements in mind. I bet you have a lot more options than you think.