Tag Archives: parenting

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?

R3000 Grocery Challenge – (HOW) WE DID IT!

So last month, we spent under R3000 on groceries – all food. All food. How did we do it?

Let me keep this simple. In essence, you spend on food what you want to spend, or what you allow yourself to spend. It really is that simple. If I had R1000 budget, then it would have been pap, for 30 days, for each meal. Perspective.

I’d love to share my biggest takeaways:

My preface: It is GOOD to love, enjoy, find healthy value in, be filled by, be inspired by, create, and bring community together with FOOD.

So bearing that in mind – here’s how we did it:

1. Quality vs Price. Don’t get me wrong guys – I’m all about quality. Our Good Food Club allows me to get good quality (hormone-free, antibiotic-free, free-range, grass-fed, natural etc.) at a reasonable price – so I’m not sacrificing quality. This is not always possible though. You have to pick your battles. I chose to downgrade on coffee beans (from Organic to Italian Dark Roast and saved R40) and brown bread (from Superior to, well, regular – and saved around R3 a loaf).

2. Don’t buy more than you need: The more you have the more you eat. If you have 2L of milk, you’ll go through it faster than if you had only one. I’m such an automatic ‘stock-upper’ when it comes to basics that we end up consuming (and buying) way more than we need. Do you need 5 cans of tomatoes? Probably not.

3. Shop the sales: Food Lovers on a Wednesday, PnP discounted goods/bulk packs, Woolies sales even. Buy from the factory shops, such as Elgin. You can save tens, if not hundreds of Rands, by keeping your eyes on the numbers.

4. Meal plan: I know, I know, who has time for this? But really! Meal planning not only takes away that frustrating ‘Gah, what are we eating tonight’ thought around 4pm each day, but it removes the spontaneous buying… and it doesn’t need to be complicated or in-depth – just jot down some meal ideas and shuffle it as you go through the week…

5. Convenience shopping: Engen One Stop at 9pm is SO convenient, but will always (okay, 99% of the time) be more expensive. You PAY for convenience, don’t forget that. Ready-made meals are always more expensive, unless it is a $1 mac and cheese box my best friend and I lived on in the states in our early 20’s, which resembled very little of real mac and cheese. I shudder to think what was in there…

6. Buying take away lunches: Hubby and I felt this one, but I’m proud to say we did not buy ANY take away lunches, and the greasy take away joint in our business park makes GOOD ‘slap chips’. It was a rule – NO bought lunches. And when it’s a legit rule – it simply isn’t an option to break it.

7. Eat when you’re hungry – not bored: A good old Michael Pollan Food Rule.

8. Grow ‘extras’ in your garden: coriander, cherry toms, basil, spinach/rocket, spring onion. Those items cost money and OFTEN go off in your fridge. Garden herbs and greens are fresh, organic and ‘free’ in essence.

9. DONT WASTE FOOD: If my kids didn’t finish their school lunches, the lunch boxes were opened and the food was finished before any more was on offer. Darling child, eat your crusts/remaining apple/orange segment you left in there because it still had ‘the pip in’. You’ll honestly save an extra sarmie or piece of fruit you could use in the next days’ lunch box. Also, give your pantry a good clear out – spices, pasta, cans, almost-finished-packets of random stuff – it is all most likely (ermmm…) usable – so get your spring cleaning on and eat what has been neglected for too long (like 2 year old fondant, for example).

10. Simplify: Eat simply and drink simply. Water. Kombucha. Coffee. Easy meals, few ingredients – you can make something taste delish with less than you think. This way of eating is less stressful to prepare and lighter on the wallet. Save your gourmet meals for a special occasion.

11. Cook in bulk, stretch and freeze: I did this with mince and soup. I streeetched the meals (added lentils to mince and doubled the soup) and froze many portions. Not only does it make for quick dinners, but filling lunches at work.

12. Don’t get sucked into consumer culture: This is something a friend noticed she was doing, and honestly, I hadn’t even made the comparison. We walk around with our shiny, smooth (tired) credit cards and nonchalantly swipe swipe swipe. Put R3000 in an envelope labelled GROCERIES and you will avoid the shops like the plague. We are SO accustomed to buying WHAT WE WANT, WHEN WE WANT IT. For eg: we only use a salt grinder at home. But ours finished, so hubby suggested I use the table salt instead (WHAT? NO WAYS). But we did, and we survived.

We are a culture that doesn’t like to sacrifice. We don’t enjoy not having what we want. And we do this with food too.

Does that help? Can you relate? What did you learn? Do you know how much you spend every month?

As far as how this has transpired for us? I’m implementing what we’ve learnt, but I’m also going easy on myself. But no doubt, there will be times coming, when we need to tighten up again (I’m desperate to redo our floors, so R3k might be our ‘new normal’ for a while :)), and I’m happy to do that, aware that for MANY PEOPLE R3k is their average monthly income; they don’t have the luxury of having that much for food alone. That has been eye opening for me.

So give it a go – and let me know how you do. Good luck. xxx