Carving out an hour a week to plan ahead means you’re getting your head into an organised headspace (which ultimately means a calm headspace!). Some women swear by an excel spreadsheet whereas others are happy to jot down notes in their diaries. Regardless of the method, write down everything from appointments to school activities, bills that need to be paid and phone calls that need to be made. Tick them off as you do them (a sense of completion is enlivening!).
This is one thing that most big families swear by and since adopting the habit I can tell why. Meal planning saves so much time - at the grocery shop, in the kitchen and in your head (there’s no more 'what are we going to have for dinner tonight?' dilemmas). One thing I have noticed is that many women are planning meals for an entire month at a time. At the start of the month they write down a detailed list of every dinner for the month, factoring in pizza nights, upcoming birthday celebrations and family get togethers. The benefit of this system is plentiful; you can buy in bulk when you’re at the supermarket, you can freeze meat ready for the meals later in the month, you can plan dinners around leftovers and cook double to account for days when you know you’ll be busy.
Start here: How to Meal Plan Like a Ninja
The mere thought of a schedule for cleaning has me curling up in a ball but... I get it. With an increasing amount of dishes and washing, I’m fast learning that doing a little bit each day is far more beneficial than leaving it all until I feel inspired (ha!). While I do little things every day without question, I tend to focus a good 20-30 minutes on a room per day. This means that Monday’s are designated to the bathroom, Tuesdays to the main bedroom etc.
Try this: 10 Best Cleaning Hacks for the Home
Set your alarm (ouch) and get out of bed before the kids (even if it’s only 20 minutes earlier). Time without questions or demands is great for your headspace and you’ll find that you’re incredibly productive when there’s no distractions. If you can get a few chores ticked off the list before the breakfast requests begin, you’ll be on a roll for the rest of the day.
Bonus points: 10 Ways to Speed Up Your Morning Beauty Routine
Before you do anything else in the morning, get the washing in the machine! This means that if time is on your side, you can have a load done and hung on the line before you leave the house for the school run. A daily washing/drying/folding routine is absolutely essential for big families. Alternatively, put the washing on the night before and schedule the machine to start an hour before you get out of bed.
Save some extra time with these ideas: 10 Ways to Take Charge of Your Laundry
Chatting about the running of the house, what your expectations are as a parent and talking about the week ahead are essential for keeping everyone in the family involved (even the littlest members!). Family meetings to discuss your expectations of the older kids is a great way of listening to their concerns and making sure they understand how important and valued their input is.
Helping your kids understand the importance of being responsible for their belongings is the key to establishing great household habits. It’s also really important for everyone to contribute to the running of the house, even if it does take a little longer than if you did it yourself. Child-friendly chores include making the bed, putting clothes in the wardrobe, unpacking school bags, stacking and unpacking the dishwasher.
More inspiration here: How to Get the Kids to Help Around the House
A big family means a lot of stuff! Creating designated areas for the items you use every day is essential in establishing a smooth morning and afternoon routine. The entrance way is a great place for creating what some would call a “dumping ground” - school bags, shoes, hats, umbrellas and other school-related paraphernalia. Once the kids are home from school the bags go straight to their allocated area and are unpacked, ready to be repacked the following day.
Get sorted: 16 School Bag Storage Ideas
A regular night routine promises a smooth and stress-free morning. Organising uniforms is definitely something your children can do (although you may want to check that everything is there!) and placing notes in school bags before the dinner/bath/bed routine ensures you’re all set for the next day.
More ways to take charge of your mornings: 10 Things I Do the Night Before to Make the Mornings Hurt Less
There’s much to love about making your own lunch box treats - it saves you money, you know exactly what ingredients your kids are eating and, when you bake on a weekend, you can rest assured that lunchbox items are done for the week ahead.
Here are 5 lunch box recipes you can freeze:
Once the kids are in bed do a quick tidy up of the house; stray toys back in boxes, lunch boxes ready to be packed for the next day (or in the fridge already packed), washing machine loaded, dishes dried, calendar checked and to-do list written for the next day. You'll sleep well tonight!