This post is part of a series called “How do you do it?” I asked readers to share how they manage a typical day in their family life. Of course we all know there is really no such thing as a typical day in family life, but this gives us a sneak peak into how others are doing it and hopefully you will find some tips that can help you in your day. You can read other posts in the series by clicking here. Thank you so much to the women who generously shared their stories!
What is your name?
Where do you live?
Tell me a little bit about your family
Married, husband works full time, 5 kids, 2 in school. 8, 6, 3, 2 and 8 months. Not huge amounts of family support, but enough to get by! We live in regional Victoria and are about 5 mins from school/work by car.
What do your mornings look like?
As my baby still has me up a fair bit at night, I tend to not get up until about 7.30 – 8.00 am. My lovely husband gets the older kids up and gets their breakfast while I catch a few extra minutes rest.
We live close to school and work and my husband’s workplace is across the road from the school so he does the drop off in the morning and they don’t leave until about 8.30 am. We have a great morning routine, the older 2 kids have a list on the fridge they follow that includes all the main jobs (make beds, dress, brush teeth, hair, check bag/add lunch-box etc) and thought a bit of gentle prodding is still often needed they know what to do and they do it.
I make lunches when I get up and while everyone else is busy getting ready. I try and have a bank of ironed work shirts and the uniforms all ready before the start of the week so that makes things a bit easier too. I see the kids and husband off then get on with my morning at home with my 3 little ones.
What does your after school time look like? (eg 3.30pm – 5.30pm)
I pick the kids up from school and we’re home at about 3.45pm. We do have an afternoon routine that gets basically followed, including bags emptied of notes/lunch-boxes/clothes etc, snack and chat time, homework, play. Honestly, it’s a bit of a crazy mess after school as the little kids are often quite excited to see their older siblings and the older two are loud and a bit crazy after their school day!
Often my baby wants to nurse or get to bed around this time too, which adds another layer of stress until he’s happily settled in bed. We try and get the necessary done and often I will have to calm things down by getting the little kids into the bath at about 5.00pm.
I try and have dinner mostly made earlier in the day, as well as the kitchen back to clean, dishwasher “ready to receive” so that after dinner clean up is quick and easy. I find that this time of the day is generally always a bit mad, but my level of preparation and readiness is what either makes it harder or easier.
What does dinner time look like? (eg 5.30pm – 8.00pm)
We try and eat dinner together every night and while it is still a kind of a shambles we’re getting there with the whole table manners, sitting on a chair thing!! I try and have dinner prepped and/or ready as much as possible during the day so that really it is a case of finish cooking/re-heat, set table, corral kids, eat, then move on to the tidy up and bed time routine.
What does the kids’ bedtime process look like?
I really rely on my husband for help during these evening phases, and we have a great unspoken system of sharing the jobs. I’m pretty well maxed out on dealing with kids by the end of the day so he tends to supervise the teeth and bed preparations while I do the kitchen clean up.
Everyone pitches in to get the place tidy (toy pick up, wipe table, vacuum if necessary etc) and the older kids are responsible for putting their clothes either in the laundry or back to their rooms. They also must check they have all the necessary uniforms for the next school day (we have a little printed chart on the fridge that tells what day they have sport/library etc so they know what they need).
We get the teeth, pj’s, new nappies, any medications etc done hopefully done by about 7.00pm so that the kids can unwind (a kind of laughable notion for certain members of this family!) before bed at hopefully 7.30pm.
We are practising Catholic so our evening prayer time is also an important part of our routine and helps to wind everyone down. Our eldest is a big reader, so she’s allowed a bit of reading time in bed (she often reads aloud to her sister with whom she shares a room) but generally it’s just lights out.
What happens once the kids go to bed? (eg 8.00pm – 10.30pm)
I usually have to keep on parenting with the baby, getting his “routine” done too; dinner, bath and play then back to bed for bedtime. After that, I normally am totally exhausted so kind of crash out for a while with a cup of tea and perhaps catch up on some emails or read some blogs or something.
I try and have some quiet time to decompress from the day and then simply get to bed at as reasonable time as I can. In my dreams I’d have some more energy to do something creative or more grown-up intellectual stuff, but at the moment I am just too tired for much extra!
Do you do any preparation for the week on weekends and if so what?
Saturday is the day the entire load of uniforms get washed and prepped for the week ahead. Usually I will do the food shopping on the weekend too, because I dread the prospect of taking a 3, 2 and 8 month old to the shops (not sure why!). I would like to be better organised in many ways, and sadly, things fall down a bit over the weekend because there are so many people here but those two things do make a massive difference to the week.
I also try and make sure there are at least 5 ironed work shirts for my husband too, so that there is no last-minute ironing (though there often is despite my efforts!). We also try hard to really make Sunday our ‘Day of Rest’ so that we’ve had a chance to at least try and chill out and have a mental break.
Anything else you would like to share?
Since having my 5th baby, especially with him being so close to the next 2 up, it’s taken me ages to feel like I am getting any traction in my life and I still have a long way to go. At this point in my life the biggest things that help are making sure that the food and clothing are under control. To that end, menu planning (which I HATE doing but LOVE the results of) is really important and life is SO MUCH HARDER when I don’t do it. I also plan for all meals, snack and baking so that it’s all there.
Also, I must wash everyday, at least once. I should ideally fold and put clothes away each day too, but sometimes that slides a bit. I try and get the kids to put their own things away where possible. Little things like making the bed and keeping the floor vacuumed make me feel better in my head! I have a motto, “slow progress is still progress”, and that is pretty much all I can do at this point in my life!
I have a planner which I designed and made myself which is perfect to help me keep track of all the random junk going on and I, when I am functioning properly, have a weekly routine of particular jobs that get done each day. I also find that, aside from sleeping babies needing to be at home to sleep, it is better to remain generally at home so that I can keep things ticking along. Needless to say, getting out of the house is also a lovely break and can sometimes be the one thing that keeps me sane.
I just loved reading this from Ellen! Ellen has 5 under 8 and I had 5 under 10 so can relate quite closely to her day. I love the team work between her and her husband and like Ellen, there is no way I could achieve what I do, without the active support of my wonderful husband.