Tuesday, January 31, 2012

10 Minutes Early - Week 4 "Finale"

Where Does Happiness Come From?
Happiness comes from being early. I've discovered a subtle difference in attitude between those that cram as many things as they can into a day and those who accomplish the most important things in each day. This difference can be almost imperceptible. But it's there just the same.

Not me. I've got way more children and don't look nearly as calm driving. Ha ha ha.
Success Defined.
My goal of being ten minutes early to at least one appointment per day was a success. Not because I was 100% perfect with it. I wasn't. But mainly because we went an entire month with no fighting in the car. And I didn't look like the mom in this photo even once.

The Usual Pre-Car Ride Shuffle:
I'm hurrying around the house to get everything ready to leave. Snacks? Check. Extra diapers? Check. Everyone has shoes on? Check. "Hurry! Hurry! Hurry," I call to my children as I prod them out the door. They just don't move fast enough. "I need a drink! I need to pee! He hit me," echos in response. Frustrated Mom (definitely me) raises her voice. JUST GET IN THE CAR! We're going to be late! What's that smell? Oh crap. Baby just messed her pants!

Fake Cry
There's always at least one kid crying by the time we get out the door. The shrill of fake crying grates on me. Please. Be. Quiet. My ears are ringing. I crank up the radio to drown out the other. Can't think. Must escape. Must get there. Keep driving. Hating life. And when we arrive, I'll put on my mask. It's a warm and happy face. It helps me pretend like I've got everything under control.

Enter in 10 minute early plan. 
This turned out to be more like an intervention. I actually had to prepare to leave 20 minutes earlier than usual since it takes ten minutes to get out the door. There's no yelling. Just calm talking. We're not late. And if we are running behind, it doesn't matter. We've got wiggle room.

Leave Stress At Home.
I am in control of my mood. My kids pick up on the positive vibe. When they buckle up before me, they earn the right to choose our in-car entertainment. (Would you believe a 7 year old sometimes wants to listen to the news? Yeah. Pretty interesting kid.) My vision increases when I'm not focused on the slow car in front of me. I have time to make positive decisions on the road. I see the mistakes of other drivers sooner and am more willing to forgive them.

Model Driving
I've discovered a better way. Perfecting my driving habits now plays a major roll in how my children will drive in the future. They will emulate me. Cool, calm and collected.

Every driver has room to improve. Ten minutes early has been good for me. And my family. Definitely a keeper.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

10 Minutes Early - Week Three

Week Three: Rain, freezing temps, ice, snow, rain, ice, snow. You get the pattern. When we finally did venture out for our one and only car ride, we found that so did the rest of the county. And they all wanted to go where we wanted to be: Costco. To stock up on everything we'd been missing all week.

Essentially, there's nothing to report on for week three. Except that we didn't have any issues with our children buckling up or sitting correctly in their seats. Somehow the sensation of sliding on the slushy roads taught them the importance of seatbelts and safety. That and a YouTube video of some car crashes due to snow and ice.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snowpocalypse 2012

I have never been so excited for rain before. Despite living in Washington, I am not a fan of rain. But, if it means no more snow, then I'm all for it. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a "snow day" here or there, but I've had enough of this "snow week." That being said, I loved taking my 18 month old out into the snow and watching him enjoy it, and I loved having my husband work from home for the past couple of days.

I'm with Bridget. When it snows, I avoid driving. I don't have a car with 4-wheel drive and I'd rather not take my chances with the inexperienced and over-confident drivers our there. In fact, I haven't driven anywhere myself in almost a week. Cabin fever set in a while ago. I cannot wait for the roads to clear so I can get out!

Apparantly, many people do not share my view of driving in the snow or they simply have to be somewhere. As of yesterday at 1:10 PM, the WSP had responded to 2317 incidents in a 24 hour period. In the same 24 hour period the year before, they responded to 626 incidents. The snow and poor weather conditions seem to have increased the amount of incidents this year by 4 times! Not surprising.

I think Trooper Guy Gill had it right when he tweeted (with a picture to go along):

"Another example of my proven equation...Snow+Ice+Speed=Crash."


I'm sure he's seen too much of this over the past few days.

I hope you were all safe and enjoyed the snow while it lasted!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

10 Minutes Early - Week Two

Good news! Being ten minutes early to just one appointment each day has been much more manageable for me and I've been successful with it. If I miss getting to Point A on time then I work harder to get to Point B early. I will admit though that I got to Point C one evening ten minutes early and there were only 4 cars in the parking lot. I didn't go in at first because I thought I might have gotten the meeting place wrong. Turns out it was the right place...just a crazy night for the many who came late.

I'm now halfway through Week Three of my challenge. This month is going by quite fast, but I'm not sure how effective it's been for me to make this smal change in my life permanent. I haven't had any practice this week getting anywhere, let alone being punctual. It's been snowing and roads have been lousy for the past 4 days. We haven't driven anywhere. On the bright side, this photo is the view from my back yard. I love it.

Some of you may want to make a comment about Seattlites being afraid to drive in the snow. Don't. Remember that where you come from the snow is fluffy and powdery. Not wet. Not icy. And most importantly, your a city or state probably wisely invested in snow plows, road de-icer and sand.

There. I said it. We don't invest in snow removal like other places. And no, I don't want to drive next to inexperienced snow drivers who don't have four wheel drive and leave their cars at the bottom of hills they can't get up. These are the drivers that slide into traffic and wreak havoc. No way do I want to drive with them. We're staying home. It's a snow day.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Teach Your Teen - Effective Coaching

I've never been a parent to my own teenager, but am lucky enough to be a teacher to many of them. Once, I even borrowed a teen for the school year. Please meet Jovana, my exchange student.

Like most teens, Jovana wanted to be able to give her parents a surprise when she returned home. When that something turned out to be a positive life skill, I happily turned into an accomplice. It's difficult for exchange students to get their driver's license. Not only are there legal document signing dilemmas that need to be worked out for those under 18, but most programs also prohibit driving with host families. The only exception is driving with a licensed driving instructor. Enter in me. A licensed driving instructor.

I decided to help Jovana get a license because she's a good kid and turned 18 while living with us. She earns straight "A"s, is active in extra-curricular activities and very helpful at home. Best of all, she loves to play with my children.

Usually, we went out driving on the weekends. Sometimes, we ran errands and other times we specifically worked on skills. The atmosphere in the car was relaxed for the most part. And a little tense other times. Jovana has high expectations for herself. She wants to know everything all at once. But we don't learn like that. Skills must build on one another. We must drive in a straight line before learning to turn a corner.

With regular driving students, I have a finite amount of time to teach as many things as they can handle. Teaching Jovana, I had all the time I wanted. Just like you do with your children. Shorter segments of time turned out to be more effective than longer ones. Learning a new skill can be high stress. An hour is a long time to have your brain engaged in a new task. Three twenty-minute driving sessions reduce stress and give a better opportunity to build consistent defensive driving habits.

Remember that there is a place for every coaching style, even within the same driving session. There are times when you want to observe and not say a word...like when  your spouse is driving. And other times when you may want to give very detailed instructions. Make each driving experience an effective learning opportunity by incorporating a handful of different coaching styles. It is also effective to teach your student how to judge their skills so that they can effectively provide their own feedback and turn into a lifelong learner.

Coaching Styles:
Our Defensive Driving School teachers employ the following while working with thousands of students each year.
  1. Focus: Instructor works with just a few concepts at a time.
  2. Discovery: Instructor questions student to help student recognize their driving know-how.
  3. Goal Oriented: Instructor gives student something to correct or improve upon in the next few minutes.
  4. Controlled: Instructor gives the student precise instructions as they are doing the maneuvers
  5. Example: Instructor trades places with the student for a minute or two to demonstrate a concept.
  6. In the future: Instructor prepares the student for situations in advance.
  7. Criticism: Instructor focuses on what not to do or tells them when they do something wrong. 
  8. Fine Tuning: Instructor helps student with more independent driving and decision making.
  9. Observation: Instructor watches student drive but gives no feedback or instruction on how they are doing or how to improve.
  10. Job is Completed: Instructor believes student is the best driver and offers no instruction or improvement strategies.
Jovana is back home now and driving on her own. It's been a few years and we continue to keep in contact every few days via email and Facebook. The best part that brings a smile to my face is that she still hears my voice in her mind as she drives. An effective coach stays in a student's heart and mind forever.

Monday, January 9, 2012

10 Minutes Early - Week One

It's time to re-evaluate my goal to be ten minutes early everywhere I go. I'm hit and miss and though I thought it was SMART, it turns out that it should be smartER.


I didn't realize what ten minutes actually meant when I made the goal. It means an entire attitude shift. The second day in and I was up and ready 30 minutes earlier than usual. So I decided to get a few things done because I had plenty of time. I ended up getting my daughter to school about the same time I usually get her there...half hour late. It's like my time clock is pulling me back to where I was. The next time I took her to school, it was similar, but not as bad. Ten minutes ahead of our usual schedule (read "only 20 minutes late" here).

I don't want to get too down on myself. I mean I have been ten minutes early to a few things. Okay twice. On day one, we were early to church and day five I was early picking up my daughter from school. Twice in a week is better than the previous week. Or month. Or year. See, I'm making progress!

There are two things that I think I can do to make my goal easier to attain. First, I think going to bed a little earlier will help me with getting out of bed in the morning. And second, I need to shrink my goal down to size. Being ten minutes early to everything is too big for me. I need to revise it to just once per day. Once I've made the goal each day then I can relax and be late to everything else...until the morrow.

My real goal though was to curb the fighting in my car by reducing the "we're going to be late" tension. I add to this stress when I try to get my kids to hurry and get ready and get in the car. So in this regard, we've been doing fantastic. I haven't been stressed and we haven't had any sibling squabbles while I was driving this week. Yes!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Would you drive with a skeleton to save a few minutes?

A Washington driver was recently busted for driving in the HOV lane with a plastic skeleton sitting in the passenger seat. The police officer found the boney passenger dressed in a hooded sweatshirt after pulling the car over for speeding and making unsafe lane changes.

The driver was slapped with a $454 ticket for the HOV lane violation, speeding, and unsafe lane changes. At least the skeleton was wearing his seatbelt, so there was no seatbelt violation.

Really? I enjoy driving in the HOV lanes, but driving next to a skeleton seems pretty creepy to me. I'm shocked at the lengths that this man went to drive in the HOV lanes. Is it really worth it to save a few minutes?

You can read the whole story here.

 Image source: Washington State Patrol

Sunday, January 1, 2012

10 Minutes Early - Day One

I got a good chuckle today when reading what Angus and Phil have to say about New Year resolutions.
Angus & Phil by Annie Taylor Lebel
Day one of arriving ten minutes was a success. Arriving ten minutes early and leaving ten minutes earlier are not the same thing. No, they definitely are not. I believe I was trying to leave 20 minutes earlier in order to actually do it.

So, just before we left for church this morning, when I discovered that I hadn't put our dinner in the crock pot, I actually had a few minutes extra to do it. Phew. That saved me from having to alter dinner prep later.

We did indeed arrive ten minutes early to church this morning and were by no means the first family to arrive. Would you believe that there were lots of other people there that early, too? Whoa. We didn't have to sneak in during the invocation or find a large enough pew in the back. Nope. Ten minutes early was stress-free. And a happy car ride with no arguing in the back seat. Love it.
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