What other families do – planning ahead

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.

Today Amy shares how they manage their family with one child. I love seeing how Amy plans for as many things as she can in advance to make the day to day running of family life stress free, especially with her son adjusting to life in his first year of school. Thanks Amy for sharing what your family does!



A little bit about you and the family

I am a 40-year-old mother of one. I live with my husband and our five-year-old son in a beachside community near Wellington, New Zealand. I work mostly from home, as a freelance policy analyst and writer. Outside of work and family, I love to knit and crochet. I co-ordinate a charity craft group with over 600 members that make items for babies in need.

I’m passionate about letting women know it’s okay to slow down. I share my thoughts on slowing down and simplifying life on my blog moretimethanmoney.co.nz.

What key routines are currently working for your family?

Weekly meal planning – I started weekly meal planning around four years ago out of necessity, as we were on a very tight budget. I’ve kept it up as it cuts the mental load around meals drastically.

On a Monday afternoon I make a list of dinners for the week. I use a note on my phone that I update. We have two standing meals a week – my son’s favourite on Wednesday and my husband’s favourite on Friday. I find this way there aren’t any quibbles about what I plan for the rest of the week, plus I only have to come up with ideas for five nights. I love cooking and trying new recipes, but I keep everyday meals simple and mostly draw on a small rotation of go-to recipes. I usually try something new one night on the weekend. I also pick a lunch box snack to make and freezer and a big salad (summer) or soup (winter) for my lunch during the week.

From there I made a shopping list (another note on my phone), and either my husband or myself goes shopping on Monday night. I then don’t have to think much about meals for the rest of the week – phew.

Night before prep – I mostly work from home between school hours, but around once a week I need to commute and tend to do a full day. It’s a three hour round trip, so I leave early. I make sure I have everything ready the night before – clothes laid out (including socks/tights and undies), bag packed with laptop, chargers etc, breakfast and lunch made, ready to grab from the fridge in the morning. My husband’s not a morning person, so he’s usually sound asleep, but my son often wakes up when I’m getting ready and wants help with something random. I set my alarm 15 minutes early so the inevitable interruptions don’t mean I miss the bus.

How do you manage kids and after school activities?

I do most of the school pick-ups. My son has only been at school for six months and he’s usually totally beat by the end of the day. Often he has a meltdown when we reach the bottom of our driveway. I’ve learnt not to plan anything straight after school. Our routine is make it through the front door, at which point he’ll either want to shut himself off in his room to play quietly and decompress, or he’ll want to eat and eat. I don’t prepare afternoon tea, he’s so fickle at this time of day and it would be like a red rag to a bull. Instead, after he’s finished anything left in his lunchbox, I make him what he fancies.

While he’s playing or eating, I attend to any school admin. I sign any forms that have come home, put dates in our shared online calendar and login to the school shop to make any payments.

If you have a partner, how do you manage finding time together without the kids?

My husband and I both work from home, so we are together more than most couples. We’re usually pretty focused on our work during the day, if we want to just hang out we still have to make an effort. We do little things like stopping to eat our lunch together, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. When deadlines allow we take ourselves off for lunch together at a cafe. We also have a regular movie night at home, no phones or laptops allowed and I try not to fall asleep!

What is one change you have made recently to how the household runs that has had a positive impact?

My son is really into scootering. For my birthday, my husband got me a scooter and I got him one for Christmas. We can now scooter with our son to school, rather than walking or driving. It makes the school run a lot more fun and so much quicker. We can get from home to school in eight minutes when we need to, which is faster than taking the car, finding a park and then having to walk back to school. It’s also a lot faster for me to get back home, which puts less pressure on my morning.

Key challenges for your family at the moment?

The last six months has been a big transition for our family. My son started son and I’ve picked up a lot more paid work. Having a happy, but very tired, new school boy in the house is a challenge at the moment. We have to keep a lot of down time in our schedule. Running errands after school or having more than one thing on during the weekend doesn’t work, so I need to be organised and discriminating about what we do.

We are also still finding a new groove with me working more. I generally have flexibility around when I work, as does my husband, which is fantastic. However, every week is different, depending on what our clients need at the time, so it requires on-going co-ordination. When I commute, my husband subs in on the everyday tasks that, until now, I’ve mostly taken care of, like the washing and school lunches. I’m not sure what’s been more of a challenge – me letting go, or him finding his rhythm, but things are running more naturally now.

Amy has a great blog and I think readers of this blog would love these posts below and you can follow her on Instagram here:

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!

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash