My top tips on how I try to organise the chaos of our family life.
I don’t need to tell any parent about the chaos of family life. Time is precious, yet it flies by. I wish there were more hours in the day and more days to the weekend (but not the working week) so I can take my time to enjoy life and enjoy my children growing up, but as that’s a wish that isn’t going to come true anytime soon I have had to be clever and learn a few tricks to try to free up my time. Some of these you may have heard of or do already and that’s great and please if you have anymore great tips, then please share then with me. I need all the help I can get. I’m hoping this information will help other families in being able to spend more time together.
Tip 1. Using the Calender/Planner on your phone. I have a terrible memory so I let my phone remember for me. I put reminders in my phone for everything. Taking Emma’s earrings out for P.E, a reminder to put them back in at the end of the day, appointments, meetings, even for the tooth fairy to visit. I really would be lost with out this function on my phone. What did Mums do before technology?
Tip 2. Beep ‘n’ Go. How many of you have a purse full of reward cards, trying to get the best for your money? Well with this app you can upload copies of your reward cards onto your phone and have no need to carry them around it with you all the time. I have been using this app a few months now and only ever had a problem using it at the Sainsbury’s self-serve tills. I can use it everywhere else fine. A Tesco employee the other day said sometimes it doesn’t work on the iphones but she never had a problem scanning a Samsung phone. So the effectiveness of this app may depend on what type of phone you but it’s worth a go surely.
Tip 3. Meal Planning. Boring I know, but if I don’t meal plan then I tend to opt for the easy option of chicken nuggets. My kids would love to eat these everyday but as it’s not seen as a healthy option and the guilt of being a parent want let me feed these to them everyday, then I save them for emergencies and the safe option when friends are round for tea. Meal planning brings my shopping bill down and reduces the amount of food we waste too as I then only buy what we need for the week a head, rather than making sure we have everything and then throwing stuff out as it’s gone past its sell buy date.
Initially, this could take up a bit of your time while your planning meals for the week, but in the long run and as you get more used to doing it, it does get quicker and easier. I have a list of family favourites and I do ask everyone if there’s anything in particular they might want. I then take into account the days I work, any after school activities the kids do and any other plans we have each week. I also use this opportunity to try new recipes out too, by choosing to try one new ‘recipe’ out a week. Sometimes, we find new family favourites out by doing this and it stops the meal plans from becoming boring and samey.
Another rule I take into account when I’m meal planning is:- we all have the same meal. I don’t have the time to be mess around cooking 4 different dinners. If someone doesn’t like something then I adapt the meal to miss it out or be able to leave it out for the one that doesn’t like it. Sometimes they have to pick it out and leave it to the side of their plate. J and I recently did a low carb diet over the summer. The kids still had the same dinners as us, I just adapted it a little for them by adding rice or pasta and if anything, they benefited from having the extra healthy meals and got to try out new things. I’m lucky that my children are quite happy to try out new foods.
I have recently started to plan lunches too as the kids seemed to be having the same thing every day and were getting bored with it. Planning has helped to make their lunches more varied. I don’t follow the same rule of doing all the same lunches though as H doesn’t like sandwiches and E occasionally has school dinners when she chooses too.
Tip 4. Internet food shopping. I have many friends that don’t like the idea of this option but for me it fits really well into my family life. With me working while the kids are at school, J working away from home and the thought of trying to concerntrate on shopping while dragging the kids around with me complaining and wanting everything fills with dread. This is a by far, the better option for me. I can shop in the comfort of my sofa with a cup of tea. I tend to open my next internet shop just after one has been delivered and add things to it as I realise I need them. I also have the shop open when I’m meal planning. It helps me keep to budget and not impulse buy.
Tip 5.’Crap Basket’ system. I have 3 baskets that live on my stairs. One for each of the kids and one for J and I. Then as I come across things down stairs that have a home upstairs it goes in the appropriate ‘crap box’. Then when it’s full, whoever’s box it is, is responsible for empty it. Ths system has helped me keep on top of the clutter that accumilates down stairs.
Tip 6. Chores for the kids. Both the kids get a monthly pocket money allowance of £10. If they want anything they have to buy it for themselves out of their pocket money, we only occassionally buy something for them as well as their allowance as an extra reward for good school reports etc. If they want to buy something that costs more than than their £10 they either have to save it up or earn it through extra chores. Harsh to some but we feel it’s teaching our children about what is expected of them in the future and understanding the value of money. Most of the time the kids do want something that costs more than their allowance which means they want to do chores to earn the extra. They get 50p extra per chore and their chores involve dusting, washing and drying up and running the hoover around. By them doing these extra chores frees time for me to be able to spend it with them. It’s a win win.
Tip 7. Walking the Dog included in my daily exercise routine. To prevent behaviour issues, Dogs need to be walked everyday, come rain, wind, snow or shine. I have made sure I’m kitted out for what either the weather throws at us. I need exercise and having a dog makes me get that exercise. Killing 2 birds with 1 stone. At least once a week he comes running with me too, which in turn burns some of his bouncy energy.
Tip 8. Spend 30 minutes a week decluttering and clearing out 1 area in our home. In therory this should keep on top of it but it can sometimes feel like a never end task as, with 2 kids,’crap’, seems to build up faster than we clear it and tidy it. Another system I’m thinking of using is the 1 in 1 out, where for every new item you clear out 1 old item but this is a recent idea so remember to clear out can sometimes be forgotten.
There you go, my top tips on how I try to stay organised in our chaotic family life. Yes, it does fail occassionally but that’s life isn’t it? What works for your family? Please share it with us.