by Helena Tosello
I fully admit that if given the chance I would choose not to do most of the everyday tasks that come with being a mother. You know the things I mean. Craft. Helping with science projects. Keeping track of everyone’s vaccinations, eye and dental check-ups. Easter hat parades. Book week costumes. Other kids’ birthday parties. Craft.
These tasks are never ending and come around again with monotonous regularity. By the time you have the hang of it with one child, the school changes it for the second child. Or they leave primary school and you don’t know what to do with all the egg cartons and yoghurt containers you have been collecting.
So to help you out here are a few things I’ve learnt along the way to save you a bit of time, money and sanity. Some people call it cutting corners. I call it a mum’s version of efficiency: “mum-ficiency”.
Easter hat parades – the only person who really cares about the hat is you.
Keep and re-use as much of a hat as possible for the next year/child. If you have to make a new hat use Easter-themed gift bags – cut off the handles and the bottom then tape to fit child’s head. Easily folded and stored for the next year/child.
Pre-school/Day care bag – the one with the spare clothes. Does not have to come home and go back every single day.
Only bring it home if child had to get changed and clothes need to be changed over. Otherwise leave it there.
Lunches – can be the same. Every day.
We all want them to eat something healthy most days and ideally it’s a nutritionally balanced meal. But the main thing is they eat something. And you’re not wasting money and time and effort. So if a Vegemite sandwich on white bread is eaten every day with a piece of fruit and that’s it, then that’s it. My youngest is in high school and has been taking the same lunch to school every day for the last four years.
Sandwich cutting – triangles or rectangles, crust on or crusts off. It doesn’t matter.
Many parents rightly feel they are running a restaurant when catering to children’s whims over food. They may also feel that giving in to a child’s demands about something seemingly petty such as how a sandwich is cut, means the child will grow into a domineering ogre. But you really have to pick your battles. If your child eats because it’s in triangles and not rectangles, isn’t that better than not eating at all? I knew a child who claimed he could only eat two triangles of a sandwich and not four. His mum cut his sandwich in half instead of quarters. Sandwich stayed the same size and was eaten. Child happy, Mum happy. Choose another situation as a teaching opportunity.
Dinner – a glass of milk and a banana is a good enough meal for a toddler sometimes
Library books/bags – leave the book in the bag near the school bag.
Let’s face it, unless your child is a voracious reader they probably don’t get to read the book they borrowed from the library when every day they have home readers and/or books for classwork. Depending on the school, some want the books changed over every week and kids start to struggle with finishing their chapter books in time. Don’t bother with them. Leave them in the library bag so they don’t get lost and view them as extra weight-bearing exercise for the kids once a week.
School uniforms – kids can wear them all afternoon until bath/bed time.
Kids in primary school don’t need to change into plain clothes for just mucking about after school. Why dirty (and wash and dry) more clothes?
Children’s clothes – don’t need to be folded or ironed.
Unless your child is wearing an expensive school uniform or has to meet dress standards set by others, their clothes do not need to be ironed or folded. Special occasion clothes would be another exception. But their day to day clothes and their school uniform can be thrown in a drawer or on a shelf. If you have your kids helping to put laundry away you’ll find this is what they do anyway. And it’s especially soul-destroying if you’ve folded or ironed everything for them. My tip is have them sort and put away their own clothes and don’t look in their drawers or wardrobes.
Making bed – doesn’t have to happen every day. Or at all.
I know there are all sorts of motivational and productivity articles doing the rounds about how awesome your life will be if you make the bed every morning. And as an adult I can see the point. But fighting with your kids on this is not worth it. Let them read the motivational articles when their older. If an unmade bed offends your senses, just don’t go in their room after they go to school.
Babies – only need to be changed if actually dirty.
Little babies do not need to change from a clean wondersuit into another clean wondersuit just because the sun has come up.
Bath time- They don’t need a bath every day!! If they have dirty feet – just put socks on or a sleeping bag – much easier to wash than a child.
Glitter is not necessary in life. Your child will not die if they don’t do messy craft or any craft at home. That’s what preschool/daycare/school is for.
There you have it. Life hacked the Mum-ficient way.
Helena Tosello is a mum in the middle of everything trying to regain the centre stage of her own life. She lives in inner west Sydney with two boys and a fly in-fly out husband. She enjoys coffee with friends, being organised, researching, sharing, and working on her fledging blog. You can follow her at schoolsavvymum.wordpress.com www.facebook.com/SchoolSavvyMum.