Melissa Sibul, with Louis and Mischka
I work full-time, so I see the kids off to school at 7am, then leave for work straight after. It’s a long day; when you walk in at the end of it your energy is already zapped. Hence, we have a lot
of systems in place to make life easier.
From experience, I’m a great believer in sorting things in advance. I’ve put my order in for name labels in April, otherwise they may not arrive on time, and I buy the kids’ school uniforms at the end of the previous term (I once went to a start-of-term uniform sale, and there were more than 200 parents there and most of the sizes had already sold out).
I sent the kids to school on a public holiday once, and I really learned my lesson after that. As soon as the school calendar arrives, I print it out for the year and add the important dates to my diary to stay on top of things. Plus, I make sure I keep a copy at work, along with emergency contact numbers and the class mum family tree.
We have a family planner on the fridge for all the kids’ school activities, and everything is prepared the night before, from lunches to PE kit.
We’ve also created our own sticker reward chart. It has things like ‘I got out of bed without being grumpy’, ‘I dressed myself’. I let the kids choose the stickers themselves, it really motivates them, sometimes they’re ready by 6.15am!
Sarah Wills, mum to twin boys, Thomas and Samuel
For me, it’s all about the planning and the routine – for both the boys and me.
I currently work part-time, but when I was working full-time, I never felt I had enough time in the day – hence my love of planning and lists!
Our morning routine consists of me getting up, washed and ready first, so I can then concentrate on getting them washed and dressed. We then eat breakfast together, before leaving for nursery and work. For meal times, I’ll generally do a big cook on the weekends and freeze batches in advance. This saves time when it is so limited at the end of the day, so I don’t have to worry about cooking and can concentrate on having fun with the kids.
I usually plan some sort of activity for before or after dinner, even if it’s just making the pizza they’re about to eat. If they’re painting, then we try to do it somewhere where it doesn’t matter if they make a mess so I can clear it up later. I also try to make everything an ‘adventure’. They’ve only just turned three, so even going on the bus or the Metro for a picnic is lots of fun.
Even though they’re still young, I’m trying to make the boys as responsible for themselves as possible. They dress themselves, do their own teeth in the morning, carry their own school bags and clear up after themselves too.
But my one golden rule? If it all goes horribly wrong (and often it will!), be prepared flexible and ready to improvise.
Therese Sequeira, mum to Simeon, Dominic and Anton
Don’t overcomplicate things. Parenting can be such a joyful experience, it’s a shame to miss out on the good parts. In our house, it’s all about making life easy. It’s the boys’ responsibility to organise themselves.
Luckily, we’re morning people, so getting up isn’t an issue, but from that point, it’s up to the boys to make sure they have everything they need for the day ahead. I don’t pack their school bags, they do it themselves – we have a place where we hang all their school bags and kit, and I’ll make their lunch, but they do the rest on their own. The hardest part is when they come home at the end of a day and just want to dump their stuff and rest, but they have a number of jobs they have to do before food and fun. They have to pick things up, put the lunchboxes in the sink, and kit in the laundry.
We make life easier with a little chart of all their activities at school – each activity has its own colour, so that even Anton, who’s four, knows what’s going on. It took a little prompting at first, but this has got less and less as they’ve built their independence. They even asked for a copy of the planner to keep in their bedroom!
It has actually made my life pretty simple. I even have time to sit down every morning with a cup of coffee while the kids get themselves ready. They don’t view it as ‘helping mum’, but that they’re doing things for themselves.