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How to Survive the Morning with 3 kids ON YOUR OWN.

Most mornings are a nightmare. ‘A MAAAARE’ as my Australasian friends would say. If it’s not hard enough to drag yourself out of bed each and every morning, imagine doing it on your OWN with three smaaaaaall children? No guys really. It’s full-freaking-on.

So a few months back I had this on-going whats-app dialogue with my girlfriends about how UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE pull-your-hair-out I was finding ‘the mornings’. The hub (bless him) heads to work just after 5am which leaves me with no other option that to drag myself out of bed at the first whimper of any child. (He does return earlier than most and then ‘takes over’ so we can’t resent him too much).

We’ve been through the ringer – moaaaaaaaaaaaning about eveeeeeeeeeerything – from not wanting to put on shoes, to underpants, to rain coats and not wanting to eat breakfast and demanding the breakfast I don’t have in the cupboard. I understand getting out of a warm cuddly bed with your luscious down duvet (lucky kid!) is hard (TRUST ME), but let’s just mentally prepare ourselves to do this for.the.next.18.years.

I hold my breath, I bite my tongue. I scream, I whimper my pleas, I bribe, I convince, I threaten. It’s not great.

I’ve put music on (to lessen the moan), I’ve sent them to school with their pjs UNDER their clothes. I’ve even left them sleeping (so that my dear mother can manage the chaos) and I’ve raced off to work.

Throw in some wet beds, some breastfeeding, some vomiting, some screaming (by all involved – we each have our turn), a toddler whose Lego just.broke, a 5 year old who can’t put on his socks (because they’re about 17 sizes too small), a baby who needs 7 drops of probiotics 30 min before she has food (ha ha ha), and a stubborn 3 year old who boycotted his (now soggy) weetbix for mint vanilla toothpaste as their before-school snack. Shoes and socks, on and off, jackets and beanies, on and off. And then the nappy you never changed, explodes. Poo everywhere.

You name it, I’ve done it. I’m finished.

I hate screamy-mommy, so something needed to give. My options were to a) run away or b) tackle this head on. Obviously a) is not a real option. So somehow, I’ve managed to rise above it all (in glorious fashion) and here’s how I’ve done it:

  1. Get up early. This is the hardest thing you’ll do all morning – but it’ll be worth it. If not for anything other than allowing yourself the time to MAKE THAT COFFEE. Always make more than 1 cup. Have it on the ready. Because 1 is never enough.
  2. Hide your phone. Once you’ve switched your alarm off – hide it. While I’d much rather be chatting to my girlfriends about the upcoming 3rd royal baby, DON’T allow yourself to get distracted. This will be your downfall.
  3. Lunch boxes. No matter how many matchsticks you need to keep your peepers open at night – make those lunch boxes the night before. Kids don’t care about brown oxidized apples.
  4. Dress them at night. When times are tough, I dress my kids in their (play) school clothes the night before. No shame. You gotta do what you gotta do. Hopefully we’ll have this morning thing under control before we hit the school uniform stage. 
  5. Buy them the cereal they want. And I don’t mean cocoa pops/fruit loops. But pick your battles. I can’t handle the constant fight over oats or weetbix – so muesli it is. The cost is worth it. Trust me.
  6. Feed and nappy first. If there is a baby in the household, at first peep, get to them. Breastfeed/bottle feed and then change their nappy. In one swift motion. Don’t hesitate. Then hand them a Hip Organic Rice Cake – that’ll keep them happy and entertained for a good 3 minutes.
  7. Warning, warning, warning. We’re going in 10min, we’re going in 5 min, we’re going in 2 min. Boom. (Parenting 101)
  8. Chorus line: “What day is it today?” “Tuesday!”, “What do we need to remember on Tuesdays?” (Think think think think think: School t-shirt? Dress Up? Fruit for the bowl? Money for something-or-other? Show and Tell? FitKids t-shirt? Extra clothes in school bag? Extra murals? Play date? Grandparents for the afternoon? …( And together we think of the answer.)

And off we go to school. Tra la la. You might have noticed that we do not allow TV or iPad in the mornings. That’s just a no-go. Once we head down that path – we’ll never return.

And most mornings, we’re doing okay. Yes, we forget Show and Tell (often) and yes, there are still glares and talking through gritted teeth and raised voices and the usual parenting coping mechanisms. But we’re getting there… and we’re much, much happier.

Those of you with more than 3 kids – I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA how you do it. No idea. Nada. You’re super human. You must be.

What do you do to make mornings easier? Pray tell?

How to Remain Minimalist when all you want to do is buy more Scatter Cushions

So, almost 10 years after getting married, while pregnant with our third child and 1.5yrs after returning from overseas, we fiiiiiiiiiiinally have our own real grown up home (thanks hubby). And being pregnant, I’m in overdrive on the nesting and wanting to make our home, a HOME. Unpacking boxes from a) our childhoods, b) Durban living and c) Vancouver, we are surrounded by awesome stuff (and some not so awesome) and all I can think about is un-stippling the walls and buying scatter cushions.


This is our baby’s room. And that’s me 3rd trimester pregnant, not panicking at all. 

Hubby is a DIY one. Thank you God. Really. I’d happily choose DIY man over chef man. He is so handy I have lists FOR HIM, and sometimes get a little panicky if I imagine him dying… random but true. Because, well, he does a LOT. (Here is what is running through my head on an average day nowadays)…

  • We need a king size bed before baby arrives, which means we need the base from our 4 year olds’ room, which means we need bunks for the boys (hubby to make) so baby can have our toddlers cot. Reshuffling the whole family. No biggie.
  • We need to un-stipple the walls, pronto.
  • We need a headboard (hubby to make), with matchy matchy bedside tables (hubby to make as well).
  • Did I mention un-stippling the walls?
  • We need frames around all the mirrors in the house (hubby to make).
  • A complete re-haul of the kitchen (oh you know, as you do).
  • I need scatter cushions.
  • I’m desperate for a frame jewelry display (hubby to make).
  • Replace all lights switches and redo lighting throughout the house.
  • and and and and aaaaaaaaaaaand.

And allllll I can think about is how tiny our pillows look on our new king bed (which we now have – YAY) and how I need scatter cushions to make it look better. Never-mind the built in desk and shelves which have been ripped from the boys’ room, and the half un-stippled walls in the baby’s room and the double bed sitting in the family room waiting for it to be made into a murphy bed in the guest room (which is not yet fully unpacked) and and and aaaaaaaaaand. (Sounding familiar?) So often I just flop on the couch and watch Wimbledon with a bowl of pre-made cake icing and a spoon.

And while there are HUGE house projects on the go – I’m having a split personality moment between not buying unnecessary nonsense and ‘stuff’, and wanting to remain SO minimalist the rooms echo, and spending my retirement annuity on frames, new towels, pot plants, mason jars, fancy light fittings and the latest Breville coffee machine. So while I convince myself daily to NOT buy scatter cushions (and rugs and a new fireplace which is becoming more and more urgent), I’m enforcing – military style – many of fellow blogger Joshua Becker‘s thoughts surrounding keeping the home clutter and stress free. Think Zen.

So here they are. I feel like we’ve been given a clean slate with our new house so minimalist already, that building great habits (maintaining minimalism) can only better things. Even when I DO find the perfect scatter cushions.

joshuabeckerquote

15 Clutter Busting Routines for any Family: (Joshua Becker)

Disclaimer: for us non North ‘Mericans (not facing the most un-believ-able political circus), don’t be put off by words like junk-mail, garbage, coat closet and trash. You know what they mean.

1. Place junk mail immediately into a recycling bin. Take note of the natural flow of mail into your home. Placing a recycling container prior to your “mail drop-off zone” can catch most of that junk mail before it even reaches your counter. And as an added bonus, you’ll begin to look through less of it too (think advertisements).

2. Store kitchen appliances out of sight. Toasters, can openers, coffee makers… they all take up space. And while it may not seem like much space by looking at them, the first time you prepare dinner on a counter without them present, you’ll quickly notice the difference. If you think it’s going to be a hassle putting them away every morning, don’t. It takes less than 6 seconds to put each appliance away… once you’ve found a home for it that is.

3. Remove 10 articles of clothing from your closet today. Go ahead. If you are typical, it’ll take you roughly 5 minutes to grab 10 articles of clothing that you no longer wear and throw them in a box. Your remaining clothes will fit better in your closet. Your closet will be able to breathe again. And if you write “Goodwill” on the box when you are done, you’ll feel better about yourself as soon as you drop it off. Most likely, you’ll find yourself inspired to do it again.

4. Fold clean clothes / Remove dirty clothes immediately. The way I handle clothes these days is one of the biggest clutter changes I have made in my life. Unfortunately, I used to be a “throw-them-on-the-floor” guy. But now I handle each one right when I take it off. Dirty clothes down the clothes chute. Clean clothes back to the hanger or drawer. That’s it. It’s really that simple. How do the dirty ones magically appear clean and folded in my closet you ask… I’m not sure. You’ll need to ask my wife.

5. Kids’ bedroom toys live in the closet. Not on the floor. Not on the dresser. But in the closet. And when the closet gets too full of toys, it’s time to make some room. Hint, it’s usually safe to remove the toys at the bottom of the pile.

6. Kids pick up their toys each evening. This has countless benefits: 1) It teaches responsibility. 2) It helps kids realize that more isn’t always better. 3) The home is clean for mom and dad when the kids are in bed. 4) It’s a clear indication that the day has come to an end. Gosh, you’d think with all these benefits it would be easier for us to get the kids to do it…

(I have to butt in here. Growing up, my hubby had what his family called ‘Tidy Up Time’ at 5pm every night. He was 1 of 4 so you can imagine the mess. This is one of his most scarring memories as a child and he HATED it. Now that we have noise-making mud balls of children ourselves, and we’re moving from big block Duplo to small block Lego, he is ready to reinforce it. Too funny.)

7. Fill your containers for the garbage man. Use every trash pick-up day as an excuse to fill your recycling containers and/or garbage cans. Grab a box of old junk from the attic… old toys from the toy room… old food from the pantry… old paperwork from the office. If once a week is too often, do this exercise every other week. You’ll get the hang of it. And may even begin to enjoy trash morning… okay, I won’t go that far.

8. Halve decorations. No seriously, I mean it. Grab a box and walk through your living room. Remove decorations from shelves, tables, and walls that aren’t absolutely beautiful or meaningful. You may like it better than you think. If not, you can always put them back. But I’d bet my wife’s old high school yearbooks that you won’t return all of them.

9. Wash dishes right away. Hand washing some dishes takes less time than putting them in the dishwasher. This applies to cups, breakfast bowls, dinner plates, and silverware. If hand washed right after eating, it takes hardly any time at all. If however, hand washing is just not an option for you, be sure to put used dishes in the dishwasher right away. Nobody likes walking into a kitchen with dishes piled up in the sink or on the counter… and it’s even less fun eating in there.

10. Unmix and match cups, bowls, plates, and silverware. Uniformity makes for better stacking, storing, and accessing. If there is a souvenir cup or mug that is so important to you that you can’t live without it, that’s perfectly fine. Just don’t keep 5 of them. Mom, any chance you are reading this?

11. Keep your desk clear and clean. Drawers can adequately house most of the things needed to keep your desk functional. And a simple filing system should keep it clear of paper clutter. The next person who sits down to use the desk will thank you.

12. Store your media out of sight. Make a home for dvd’s, cd’s, video games, and remote controls. They don’t need to be in eyesight, you use them less than you think. And if you remove them from your eyesight… maybe you’ll use them even less.

13. Always leave room in your coat closet. There are two reasons why coats, shoes, and outerwear keep ending up scattered throughout your home rather than in your closet. The first reason is because your coat closet is so full, it’s a hassle to put things away and retrieve them quickly. Leave room on the floor, on the hangers, and on the shelves for used items to be quickly put away and retrieved. The second reason is because you have kids… but you’re on your own with that one.

14. Keep flat surfaces clear. Kitchen counters, bathroom counters, bedroom dressers, tabletops… After you clear them the first time, keeping them clean takes daily effort. Receipts, coins, and paper clutter just keep coming and coming… it’s just easier the second time around.

15. Finish a magazine or newspaper. Process or recycle immediately. If you’ve finished the paper product, process it and rid yourself of its clutter immediately. Good recipe in there? Put it in your recipe box and recycle the rest. Good article that your husband will enjoy? Clip it and recycle.  Article that your friend will enjoy? Clip it, mail it, and recycle (or better yet, search for it online and send it that way). Coupon too good to pass up? Cut it out and recycle. Stacks of magazines and newspapers serve little purpose in life but to clutter a room.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh – are you feeling all light and breezy like me?

Featured Image credit: www.thedormyhouse.com