This post has been contributed by a lovely reader of the blog as part of an ongoing series “What other families do”. You can find more posts in this series here.
A little bit about you and the family
A happy, creative family living in Sydney’s Upper North Shore. Bart works in banking in the city, I am editor at Mumlyfe, a Deputy Editor at SBS Food and freelance from home doing editing and writing. We have three kids, son aged 13, and daughters 12 and 9. They are into lots of different things, nothing even remotely ‘typical’. We quite like that.
Do you undertake paid work
Part time work outside the home + part time freelance work at home = full time work.
What key routines are currently working for your family?
I’ve always run the family life using small rituals to create routine. We have a little morning rhythm, afternoon rhythm and weekend rhythm to get us through. I think of a ‘ritual’ as being smaller and less structured than a ‘routine’. For example, we always set the table nicely for dinner, but dinner can be anywhere between 6.30 and 8pm. We always make breakfast together each morning, but may not necessarily eat together. I always bake at least three things for the week on the weekend, but when and what is completely open.
How do you manage kids and after school activities?
Each of our three have at least 3 extra-curricular activities and between them each week they do: hip-hop, drama, Scouts, bass guitar, band, writing, parkour, soccer training, soccer game, tennis, free running, acrobatics. At least one of the kids’ activities has to be something they can get themselves to each week: Lottie’s tennis is at school before school on Fridays; Max (13) can walk to and from drama; Arabella walks to soccer training. We car-pool with other parents for most of the other lifts.
How do you manage kids and technology?
This is a preoccupation of mine. I’m not anti-screen, but I am very much aware that kids on screens are not busy doing other creative, interesting, important hobbies. We have strict rules around screens and I enforce them harder than any other rule we have. Not following the rules gets a kid an instant week ban from any kind of screen. Currently, the kids have no screens at all on Mondays and Wednesdays, and screens after 5pm until dinner time on the other days. Weekends they can usually negotiate a bit more time in the mornings or afternoons.
How do you manage kids and household tasks?
I’m pretty slack with the chores, but the kids all pitch in for washing and drying up dishes, taking out the bins, folding the laundry and other household tasks. They have to keep their bedroom tidy – if their room isn’t tidy with the bed made in the morning, they don’t get screens that day.
How do you manage kids and their “stuff”?
We try not to buy a lot of excess stuff and stick to the ‘one thing in, one thing out’ rule. It’s up to my kids to sort their own stuff and I try to teach them to be really careful about what they spend their time picking up and putting away!!
If you have a partner, how do you and your partner share the workload around the house?
I manage all of the mental load (fairly typical, I think), but my husband is very hands-on and I’d say we have a good split for housework. It’s a split we are happy with, anyway. I’m careful to NOT do certain ‘traditionally male’ chores because it’s one way I can ensure that it’s not my responsibility – taking bins out, mowing lawns, fixing things…
If you have a partner, how do you manage finding time together without the kids?
Neither of us have interests that take us out of the house a lot, so we actually get a fair bit of time together. We try to go away for a weekend at least 3 x a year and we have nights out as regularly as we want to (both of us prefer being home). For a very long time we’ve had an arrangement with friends where we each give the other a weeknight out together. I’ll sit for my friend, she’ll sit for us. This gives us the opportunity to just go to the pub or a movie, do ‘everyday couple’ things that are so often lacking when babysitting costs a lot and you want to make the most of a night out together.
What is one change you have made recently to how the household runs that has had a positive impact?
Giving our daughters their own room! OMG, game-changer!
What is one change you would like to make, but just haven’t been able to do so yet? Why do you want to make this change and what do you think is stopping you?
We eat vegetarian 2 nights a week, but I’d love to do more. The fact that my son will barely eat vegetables is what holds me back there.
What are you looking forward to in family life this year?
We went to Woodford Festival last year and we are going back this year. It’s just the BEST time for a family.
Do you have a regular exercise routine and if so how do you fit that in around family?
I fit a walk in every day – either early morning before everyone is up, or sometime during the day. I’m lucky to work from home most days, so that works for me. I also do yoga everyday, usually late at night or after drop-off in the morning.
Key challenges for your family at the moment?
Screens! Always the screens. And the challenge of moving from parenting younger kids to parenting teens.
If you haven’t checked out Maxabella’s new site Mumlyfe, I can highly recommend doing so, especially if you have older kids. Here are a couple of articles I would recommend starting with:
- What it’s like when your daughter gets her first period
- A home alone checklist for parents leaving their kids unsupervised
- 13 of the best music festivals for families to groove to
Would you like to share your family story?
If you would like to share how your family organises the chaos of daily life, I would love to hear it. Please click here to complete the form and I will be in touch to let you know when it will be published – thanks!