“Getting to Church on Time,” Ensign, Mar. 1985, 72–73
Getting to Church on Time
Mormon standard time is a pretty common joke among members of the Church. In the New Jersey suburb I live in, nearly everyone has to drive half an hour or more to church. If we have to stop and pick up someone else as well, it will take even longer. No wonder many of us are so often late, right?
But lateness isn’t confined to areas like ours where distance is a problem. Many members who live within sight of the chapel regularly leave their homes when they hear the first lines of the opening song—or just slightly before. Habitual tardiness seems to be a problem all over the Church. It’s disruptive, and it’s annoying to others. So what should we do about it?
To begin with, we can stop rationalizing that it isn’t important to be on time. Let’s face it—being late is inconsiderate. It also detracts from the reverence in our meetings.
If you really want to be on time, you need to organize yourself. Sunday morning with its many duties—getting children diapered and dressed and fed, getting yourself dressed, making beds, starting dinner, and gathering materials for a lesson—can become hectic. Patience seems to disappear, and the children begin to dread Sunday morning.
To lessen the confusion, take a long analytical look at your usual agenda. Decide how much of it absolutely must be done on Sunday morning and how much can be done ahead of time. Obviously you can’t dress your children or give them breakfast Saturday night before you put them to bed, but you can do just about everything else.
—You can polish shoes and press hair ribbons.
—You can decide what everyone is going to wear and lay it all out.
—You can fix the baby’s bottle and put it in the refrigerator and pack his diaper bag.
—You can put together your toddler’s collections of coloring books and cereal and put them in the car.
—You can round up coats, hats, and mittens and put them by the front door.
—You can locate the car keys.
—You can load the car with anything else you need to remember to bring—the book you’re returning to Sister Norton, the duplicating master for the ward newsletter, or the twenty-eight styrofoam balls for the Relief Society homemaking leader.
—You can decide what you’re going to wear and lay it out. This may sound overorganized, but if you get everything out beforehand, and you notice a run in your nylons, a missing button, or that your dress is in the wash and hasn’t made it to the dryer yet, there’s still time to do something about it.
—You can make any necessary phone calls to determine who you are picking up and when.
—You can completely prepare a lesson, talk, or musical number, and have your books and visual aids (and tape, scissors, and crayons) waiting. There may be time for a final review Sunday morning, but it is usually a mistake to plan on it. You end up leaving not quite prepared—and quite possibly late as well.
—You can clean the house on Saturday. That way, you have only to make beds and hang up pajamas and still be able to leave the house neat and orderly.
—You can plan meals that can be prepared on Saturday.
This is beginning to sound like a lot of work for Mom. Actually, the problem is a family-sized one. Husbands can help in all these plans, and so can children who are old enough to assume some of the responsibility.
A family arriving in plenty of time is more likely to be in a frame of mind to enjoy the meeting and benefit from being there than one hustling in minutes late and out of breath. Why not see what you can do about Mormon standard time in your home? Becky Worthen Kagel, East Windsor, New Jersey