Planning with Kids

Nicole Avery’s 2011 book Planning with Kids did more than deliver a guide to organising chaos and making time for family fun. Written by a mother of five with a penchant for spreadsheets and numbers, Avery has tackled her role as wife and mother with meticulous attention to detail. The book largely draws her ideas from her notable blog of the same name. Her readership has engaged with many of the key aspects of her planning regime which includes: organising your family routines, meals and finances,  and preparing for the different ages and stages of your children. There are some real gifts in between these pages, like cleaning using “the 15 minute block” rule or using her meal planner system ( I had a week’s worth of meals planned with a shopping list and all the recipes done in 5 minutes!). But for me Avery’s work is set apart by the fact that she doesn’t disguise the fact that life caring for a family is hard work and that every woman needs her own time and especially time with her partner.

You can read many guides and manuals about kid rearing, house cleaning and organisation in general. But rarely will someone tell you that time to build in your own rest is vital and an investment in your marriage is paramount. As women we need to do more than survive the daily challenges of planning life around kids, work and family life. We need to enjoy the life we have been given!

This is a book I would buy for my friends and a fun one to discuss with your girlfriends over coffee. I am open to using any new idea or tool that will give me more time with my husband and more fun with my kids. See my post about smarter shopping.How about you?

Glass half full …. glass half empty

The strange thing that besets our clan in the morning is the mystery of the half glass of orange juice.
We have juice for breakfast and we don’t indulge at any other time of the day, so thankfully I am not budgeting for cases of juice each week. But it amazes me and frustrates me too that at the end of breakfast I find all of these half glasses of juice on the table, bench and sink.

Should I toss it all?
Decant them into one glass and save it for later?
Provide the kids with less to start with?

It is all about waste isn’t it. Being goods stewards of what we have and being wise about how much we need. Do I need juice in the morning? No, but I like it.

So what should a mother do…. measure and monitor juice consumption or boycott it completely?
I need your help with this one.


Can you remember your prep year at school?

Today our new prep child said she had a ‘good day’ and had made two new friends. One name escapes her, but the other new friend happens to be the girl I introduced her to at the drawing table this morning. I didn’t know her either but I read her name badge and did the introductions around the table.

What I am learning in prep is how important names are.
As a teacher I used to pride myself in how quickly I learnt all the students names. Now, in the wake of baby brain and busyness I tend to remember a few key friends that the children have and sometimes the parent’s names. But usually the grown ups become “Sarah’s mummy” or “Riley’s Mum” and their real, adult name escapes me.

image by b_d_solis

Any good communication workshop will tell you that you need to say someone’s name at least 5-6 times upon meeting them.

“So Sarah, how is your son doing?”
“And what did he say after the first day Sarah?”
“Good to meet you Sarah.”
“We hope to catch up again Sarah.”
“Oh will you be staying for assembly Sarah.”

As you know this kind of conversation can sometimes feel awkward and forced. But when someone remembers your name it is such a gift.
Someone wants to communicate with me.

So as I encourage my kids to introduce themselves to new children and remember their names I am mindful that I need to put this very important communication tool into action as well. So as you plan your week with the kids the challenge is to remember as many new names as you can from your child’s class. Are you up for the challenge?

Let me know how you go!

Planning with kids

This is the week that four of our five kids start school. Three resume school and one will start for the very, very first time. We are holding our breath to see how the week will go as the anticipation to the big day builds. We have 4 more sleeps. Just 4 more days and then I will walk the little one to school and with a kiss and a hug and wave goodbye.

No more lazy “Mummy Days” which we had both grown to really love. Just the morning rush, packing bags, doing hair and readers. So how do we redeem the rush hour when there are 7 mouths to feed, bodies to dress, bags to pack, school/work belongings to organise.

Recently A and I had some quiet reflection about family life and time to really talk about each child and who they are and what they need. The discussion was a little overwhelming! Five children. Can we do it? How do we do it?

I guess the bottom line is that we do all that we are called to do, in Him. The successes and the joys are a true bonus because it is hard work caring for and loving so many. We make mistakes, seek forgiveness and try again the next day. But today and probably over the next few days there is a bit of planning that will take place. Uniforms that need adjusting or replacing, books to be covered and belongings to be named. We can help out kids by helping them get organised. Here are some goals for the week:

  1. Organise uniforms and name all items…again!
  2. Clear out pegs for the school bags and make room for one more – no. 4!
  3. Locate all drink bottles and lunch boxes
  4. Compile a favourite lunch/snack list with contributions from all 4 children
  5. Pray for each one – that they make friends and be a good friend, that they learn with enthusiasm and that they know God is with them when we are not.