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Family Drills

Maddie and Cora have become a bit, um slow
in getting ready to head out somewhere: shoes can never be located,
Silkies can never be found quickly, must have one more drink of
water, must finish game, and so on. I’ve been working on
finding a way to help them hustle a bit faster, and with a happy
heart. I’ve also been trying to plan a little more
spontaneity (hah!) into our daily lives, and I finally hit upon
something that seems to cover both bases.

“Listen up, folks, I’ve got a family
announcement,” I said at dinner last night. Everyone stared
at me apprehensively.

“We are going to start having a
series of unannounced family drills of all different kinds.
I’ll yell out what type of drill it is, and you’ll have
sixty seconds to get ready. For example, if I yell,
‘Yogurtville drill!’ you will have sixty seconds to get
on your shoes, get in the car, and get yourselves in your seats. If
I yell, ‘Movie night drill!’ then you have sixty
seconds to get upstairs and remove your clothes to get ready for
the bath you have to take before a family movie night. If I yell,
‘Candy drill!’ you have sixty seconds to drop whatever
you’re doing – no finishing a game- and arrive at the
cupboard, ready to reach into the grab bag of candy. And so on.
Failure to complete the drill before time is up means that you
don’t receive whatever’s at the end of the

I looked around, beaming.

Cora had quickly calculated that All Drills Lead To Goodness and
was busy counting her sugar highs, but Maddie looked quite stressed
out. “I’m not really sure about this,” she said.
“I don’t think I can handle it.”

Ok, back up, bad Mommy.

I reassured Maddie that it was meant to be fun, and not a source of
stress or competition. She still looked mighty unsure but quieted

Half an hour later, after dishes were done and both girls were
playing quietly, I yelled, “Yogurtville drill!”
Everyone scrambled to grab shoes and run out the door, and the
girls were strapped into their car seats in under thirty seconds. I
have never seen them get into their car seat so fast in their
lives, and a mild dose of frozen yogurt was a small price to pay
for such practice.

As we pulled away, the girls were breathless, laughing triumphantly
at beating the clock. Maddie looked around the mini-van.
“Mommy, where’s my silky?” she asked, in that
whiny, I’m-about-to-ask-you-to-go-back-and-get-it voice.
“It’s not in the car, babe – it didn’t make
the drill. I guess you just didn’t have time.”

Maddie thought. “That’s ok. I’ll get it when we
get back.”

I foresee lots of drills in our future.


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