It’s taken me a while to get this family of 5 into some kind of efficient working routine. Teddy is seven months old now and time is flying fast.. It’s no secret being out numbered has got me beat. A little tip from me for those of you about to go from 2 kids to 3 is: “Divide and conquer.”
It’s true the more kids you have the less you care about how clean your house is and spend your time prioritizing what you actually want to spend your time on and who you want to spend your time with. My organising skills went out the window with baby number 3 and I knew it was really unacceptable when I ended up forgetting what day it was and turning up to dance practice for Lucy a day too early and then forgetting dance the next day. Yep. That’s me. When I had to tell my only daughter that not only had I forgotten what day it was, that I was not only early to dance but I had forgotten to take her the next day – THAT WAS MY WAKE UP CALL!
Here is my list of my Top 8 Parent Efficient Things With A Baby
1. THE CHARLIE CHAIR
I had 3 caesareans so anything to do with bending and holding was excruciatingly painful for weeks while I healed. When I showered with Teddy I used the Charlie Chair. It sits your little one up with straps and holds them while I could wash him and I could also have a shower hands free on my side of the shower while I sing nursery rhymes to Teddy.
We have always washed our babies in the shower and while Lloyd is dealing with the older two at meal time I could be showering the baby without holding him the whole time or vice versa. So glad I invested in a Charlie Chair and I wish I had of known these were around with baby number 1 & 2. It can be used for newborn up to 17kg and its only 3kg heavy. Costs around $170 depending on where you get it. It’s adjustable in height and has an attachment that can make it a bath but we preferred the shower water to run out through the holes.
2. NUBY E-Z SQUEE-Z SILICONE FOOD FEEDER
I found the Nuby E-Z Squee-Z Food Feeders better than the net mesh feeders when starting solids with babies. The Nuby E-Z Squee-Z washes a lot easier and holds more food. I’m not constantly adding fruit into it and it’s also a lot easier for Teddy to hold himself. They cost about $7 each and my advice: Grab 2 when you buy them so you’re not waiting on one to get washed up and dried and don’t put them through the dishwasher – my bad for not reading instructions carefully.
3. PRAM GARLAND
This is probably something I would have bought my first baby but I thought it was a little unnecessary. One of those things that isn’t really needed and I could save my money and spend it on something I needed but I am so glad I decided to get one this time around. Whenever we go anywhere Teddy isn’t fussing because he’s chomping on his pram garland.
I used to hang toys on the pram for my other kids but this doesn’t fall out of the pram, it just ties on and off. He lets me shop when I need to spend brain power thinking about clothes for the other kids or spend a while chillin in Kmart – he actually lets me because his teeth are occupied. This set from a local business call Love, Charlie xo. It has both silicone and wooden textures. I bought the pram garland and dummy clip set for $57.95 https://www.lovecharliexo.com.au/
4. COLES ONLINE ORDER CLICK N COLLECT
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.. I’m not wasting my time taking kids up and down the aisles of a grocery store, rushing home to get the food in the fridge, lunch and then before you know it its nap time. That used to take up a whole morning every week and I was losing my mind. Now we write on the blackboard our shopping list and I usually do an online order on the Sunday ready to collect Monday morning after school drop off or Monday afternoon if I wasn’t organised enough.
The best thing about grocery shopping online is that our meals don’t really change much so Pasta Monday, Taco Tuesday, Meat and 3 vegetables Wednesday, and by then we need to shop again sometimes as a top up on Thursdays for Bible Study shared dinner. There is a ‘bought before’ button on the website that I can click and pretty much add everything again for the next wee. It makes ordering relatively quick (about 15 minutes) and I usually do this while I’m breastfeeding. Then I call about 5 minutes before I collect. I park outside the door (perks of being in a small town) and put the groceries in the car.
5. TEACH YOUR KIDS TO FOLD WASHING
I took the job that I absolutely hated 100% out of all the jobs I have to do each week and asked myself how can I make this happen. My kids would constantly ask me: “Where’s my undies?” or “I can’t find a shirt?” I don’t know why I hate folding so so much but I think we all have a household chore that we loathe with every part of our soul.
Weekly folding is my nemesis and then comes cooking dinner. every. single. night. So I decided I would teach the kids to fold their own washing. It took about 3 weeks and I’m not kidding it has pretty much halved my folding pile AND its done and put away neatly! I’m not a huge fan of Marie Kondo but I will say she has awesome tips for cleaning WITH TODDLERS!
6. HIRE A CLEANER
How good is that clean floor feeling!! It’s just that I can’t get to cleaning the floors myself. We don’t make a huge amount of money so the reason I can afford to pay for a cleaner is to sell things on the local buy sell swap pages. The cash is kept for the cleaner who comes every 3-4 weeks and she vacuums and mops the floors, cleans the bathroom, ensuite and toilets, dusts surfaces and wipes the glass doors.
I’ve timed myself vacuuming, mopping, cleaning toilets and bathrooms around child routines and it has taken me roughly 2-2.5 DAYS!!! To get all these things done in between breastfeeding, kids meals and nap times. It costs me $60 for two hours and you could almost substitute that as 12 x $5 coffees or 2 x $30 family take away meals in the month.
A lot of people say they couldn’t be bothered to clean before the cleaner comes but I what I’ve figured out is that if I can get the kids to pick up toys in the playroom and lounge room the afternoon before, then all I have to do is start on their rooms that Thursday morning and pick up any bigger items to go on their beds. In the laundry, I put what needs to be washed out on the deck so that floor can be mopped. Lloyd puts the stools and chairs up and I put anything up off the floor that I can.
I make time for pre-cleaning an hour before school drop off during times when the kids are eating breakfast and getting ready for school. Pre-cleaning means the cleaner doesn’t have to waste her time picking up toys and not knowing where to put them. It doesn’t waste my money asking her to do unnecessary jobs. The cleaning day is usually every second or third Thursday, which is a night we host weekly dinner for Bible Study. It’s already a day allocated for general cleaning.
7. INVEST IN A THERMOMIX
I’m not suggesting you rush out and spend 2k but if you are thinking of starting a family then yes it’s a ‘time’ investment. I can have 3 days worth of lunch and dinner for Teddy prepped and cooked in 25 minutes. I didn’t have one with the other two babies and I had to make baby food with almost every pot and pan and then mash it or mix it and use so many pieces to clean up. Now it’s a whole lot less time prepping, cooking and cleaning.
8. START A COMMAND CENTRE
Now I’m still working on this, but I had never even heard of a ‘Command Centre’ till my third baby was 4 months old. I was a pretty organised person till I had Teddy and then the wheels fell off! All of a sudden I was forgetting what day it was and I felt like I was overwhelmed by what preparation needed to happen leading up to different days.
So I had to get this family efficient and organised and find what worked for us. I asked a lot of large families for their advice. I looked on Pinterest and Instagram for ideas and I think from what I can gather it’s very different for everyone but I’m treating it as more of a ‘Communication Hub.’
It’s where their school notes go, invitations, dance performance reminders, calendar, weekly meals menu, reminder notices, cleaning roster and Birthday reminders all go into one spot. Each person has a different colour. Purple: Me, Green: Lloyd, Blue: Tom, Pink: Lucy and Yellow: Teddy. Eventually I’ll make an area for School/Kindy bags, lunch boxes, water bottles, hats and shoes but for now the priority is getting to appointments on time.
Things I do differently weekly:
Rather than have a set day for cleaning the bathroom or rotating toys in the play room, I just write it up on the black board for the month when I notice it needs to be done and if I get to it I will cross it off. If I don’t then I add it to a day on the calendar – usually a Wednesday or Friday. Daily jobs still continue like unpack/repack dishwasher twice daily and unload/reload washing machine every morning and night time.
In Summer, I only peg out washing in the early morning or once the kids are in bed at night. Weekends I relax more so Mondays are hectic trying to recover and start the clean up process and extra washing piles. Tuesdays are Story Time for Toddlers at the Local Library which I’ve been trying to take Lucy and Teddy too if we aren’t sick. Then folding most of the large washing pile.
By Wednesday I’m making time to do an activity with Lucy one-on-one while Teddy naps and then something with Teddy later during the day. Thursdays are always another large washing pile day and a general clean day for Bible Study and early to bed for the kids. Friday is usually a social catch up with friends day and/or Kindergym at the local PCYC that I don’t always get to but I try (again when we aren’t sick). It wears Lucy out so that I can get them both home and having nap time while I do work in our other business Lloyd Courtney Pest Control (www.lloydcourtney.com.au) on Fridays from midday onwards.
Everyone does their efficient family routine differently. Every family has different personalities and meals and chores and home businesses! Find what works for you and be okay with changing it every few weeks to suit your family. Treat the Command Centre like it’s another business that needs to work efficiently. I’ve asked for a ‘Daily Orders Command Centre’ from https://www.dailyorders.com.au/products/command-centre?variant=12217826934853 for Christmas.
If you’re wondering how to stop getting so overwhelmed by life with kids, first off ask yourself: “How much is my time worth?” and also: Instead of mopping the floors or folding the washing “What would I rather be doing?”
I hope some of the products and ideas have sparked an idea for you. Comment Below if you have any more ideas I can try.
By Sarah Courtney
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