As the last couple of days of the summer holidays rumble along, I wanted to address something which people regularly comment on with regards to my family. And that is that I always have my shit together. I can promise you that however it my look from the pretty squares in my grid, 99% of the time, i most certainly do not!
I work, I also do all of the housework, childcare, cooking, banking, etc etc and the most I can hope for is a loose sense of capability that everyone has been fed, arrived at school on time, and is clean. This is not always the case, we’re definitely late sometimes, clothes are plucked from the dirty laundry basket & reworn, and many a slice of toast has been consumed on the five minute drive to school. I think it’s a case of figuring out your priorities, and doing first what’s at the top of the list-what’s most important to you and your way of life. For me, I wouldn’t go out without make-up on, or making my bed. Other things lower down the list are making the kids beds, & picking up toys-i do of course pick up toys, but if Annie is really into Barbies & has ten of them strewn across the floor, i’ll pick them up so that i can hoover(hooving is at the top of my ‘must do’ list) but i’ll leave them for her to resume dressing them in their teeny tiny shoes as & when she wants to.
Living in a farmhouse isn’t like living in a ‘normal’ house-I won’t bore you with the details as i’ve mentioned it lots of times before, but it does mean that i’m at home a lot. Everything takes longer, and is messier, and dirtier. During the holidays we haven’t been on picnics, or made trips to the park or cinema daily, because everything would, quite literally turn to shit within days. I can’t just pop as wash load on now and again, the baskets are full daily, clean clothes need to be put away daily, and let’s not talk about how often the fridge needs topping up.
But i don’t think the kids suffer for it. We’re lucky enough to have a big garden, the dogs can be walked at home, we have a trampoline, toys, cousins next door, and every gadget imaginable.
I also think it’s worth mentioning that if you stay at home with your baby or toddler a few days a week, you won’t necessarily be climbing the walls in desperation for adult company. In my experience kids get a better quality of sleep in their own beds. They also enjoy rediscovering their old toys-i like to put a few away and rotate them, or use pinterest for inspirational activities i can set up in minutes.
And Teenagers NEED more sleep than the rest of us, it’s a fact, So maybe during the holidays, don’t drag them out for that leisurely 9am dog walk, leave them to snooze till lunchtime & perhaps they’ll be less grouchy/argumentative/vile?! They’ll tell you I’m ‘stressed’ all the time, & shout a lot. But if they did what I asked the first time, I probably wouldn’t need to shout, or get stressed. I’m only human, and some days, my patience is a lot thinner than on others!
Having said that, the older kids are expected to help out, whether that’s keeping Annie entertained whilst i cook tea, walking the dogs, or just changing the loo roll when they notice its empty(still working on that one!) every little thing helps, its one less job I need to add to my day. I try to make their lives a little easier in return ,we have separate washing baskets for whites & darks, they have sky tv in their room so they can escape the madness if needs be. We’re a pretty average houseful I think?
So how do I limit the craziness a little? I try to implement small things which add up to less stressful situations occurring. I like to have spares, extras of important things. Like loo rolls, or bread, and milk, plus ready meals in the freezer- for those days when we have been out for the day and got a mcDonalds on the way home. That way my farmer still gets a decent meal at the end of the day & I don’t have to cook late at night. Dishwasher tablets, washing detergent, dog food & bin liners are all really good things to have extra of, who wants to go out to the local shop for them and end up paying twice the price?! School clothes are another think I like to have spares of, the amount of times Will comes out of school minus his jumper/lunch box/a shoe(yep!) are too frequent to recall! I also make sure that every evening, I get him to leave a pile of clean uniform next to his bed, so he doesn’t have to scramble around in the morning looking for the heap he stepped out of the night before!
This might all seem like really obvious life ‘hacks’ but maybe they’re not, so i’m just going to share what i do, & if anything is useful for you, then great!
Other things i try to be strict about include meal planning-nothing extreme, just knowing i’m making a meal out of chicken on a monday, mincemeat on a tuesday, something quick for swimming on a weds etc, makes me feel a bit more in control. I’ll sit down on a sunday evening and loosely plan what we want to eat that week. Monday is usually my ‘get the house straight after the weekend’ day, so we’ll have freezer tapas that evening, then I do a food shop on a tuesday & we eat like kings that night, literally gorging ourselves on our newly stocked fridge full of treat food!
I hate being the parent who forgot it was ‘superhero/bring a bottle/wear stripes’ day at school, there seems to be so many things happening every week that once you have multiple children(or even if you have one!) it can be hard to keep up with it all! My system is that anything which immediately needs to be actioned-gets put on the fridge. So letters for trips and that sort of thing. Anything which is just for info, dates, times etc, I write in my diary straight away, it’s always nearby in the kitchen, so between emptying the lunchboxes and chopping carrots i’ll scribble things down, then throw the letter away if i don’t need to look at it again, or I file it. I have a lever arch file, with a section with plastic wallets for each child, so i can quickly locate that leaflet about the daylight robbery school library visit i’ll need to remember to take my purse to!
This year i’m definitely feeling the ‘less is more’ mantra creeping further & further into my daily life, so if i get five minutes to empty a drawer, I do it. If im looking for something and can’t find it straight it away i make a conscious effort to group those kinds of things together to save time in the future-batteries & permanent pens seem to be the current things on my hit list!
I wanted some really low hooks in the entrance porch, so that in September, Annie & Will can return from nursery & hang up their own bags & coats.
It’s too easy to spend ten, twenty minutes scrolling instagram when you could be replying to an important email or paying a bill online. I’d love to be one of those super organised people who gets things done instantly but i’m definitely not and I love my sleep, so getting up earlier to get more done is just NOT and option for me, but I do need to work on my time management, and often use the timer on my phone to set myself mini time challenges!!(I mean like, really mini, to put away a drawerful of washing, or to empty my car of rubbish whilst I wait at the petrol pump!)
I hope that this post has given you a better understanding of how we do things in our house. A lot of the time it’s not tidy, but i like to think its clean at least. Maybe you’re running yourself ragged because you’re just trying to do it ALL…try prioritising and see if it gives you a bit of breathing space at the end of a busy day/week/month??