What other families do – working together

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 Teri shares how her family all contributes in their own way to keeping family life organised so they can still fit in time for individual pursuits. Thanks Teri for sharing what your family does!



A little bit about you and the family

We have two kids at home (6 and 8 years) and a new puppy! Dad works full time and mum is a dietitian who runs her own nutrition consulting business. I do a lot of work at home but also visit clients regularly, no two days are the same. I run the house, project manage our new home we are building and also do a lot of exercise as training for a marathon.

What key routines are currently working for your family?

Kids have a list next to their bed of what they are expected to do in the morning. Mum cooks and dad cleans up and that works really well. Mums organises the day to day running of the house but dad has set jobs like taking out the garbage. Kids are expected to help – e.g. my son empties the dishwasher every morning, daughter cleans dog poo and clears table at night.

How do you manage kids and after school activities?

We fit most of this during the week to keep our weekends free. As I run my own business most days my work day finishes about 2:30pm when I leave to pick up the kids, but my office is my laptop so I work while waiting for kids to do their activities and in the school pick up area. I also share lifts with other mums where possible to minimise the time I am in and out the car.

How do you manage kids and technology?

Our kids can only have 20 minutes of a device at one time, cannot be in their room with door closed and they have tho ask permission. My 8 year old daughter has an iPad for school but it stays locked up at school during the week and only comes home on the weekend. We have a signed contract between parents, my daughter and the school about agreed and expected use of the iPad, this is great!

How do you manage kids and household tasks?

The kids have designated tasks. They don’t receive pocket money specifically for their tasks but at the end of the week if we feel they have been helpful overall, then they get pocket money. I am also very passionate about getting my kids involved in making their school lunch and helping prepare dinner from a young age. I have “kid safe” knives and they will often help chop vegetables for a salad and we chat while they are doing it. I try to make it fun so it is not seen as a chore. We have explained to them from a young age that we are a family that help each other and we don’t get “paid” (i.e. pocket money” to help, we do it because that is what families do.

How do you manage kids and their “stuff”?

It is getting easier as they get older. I find with LEGO once they have built it they often don’t want to play with it anymore. We sell some of the sets on eBay and then they can use the money to buy a new set. About twice a year we do a clean out of toys they don’t play with anymore and give to a charity. My kids currently share a room so they have limited space for “stuff”, I find this good as more space means more mess!

If you have a partner, how do you and your partner share the workload around the house?

I shop, menu plan, cook and my husband cleans up! This works well as I love cooking and am better at meal planning than he is.

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

Always a hard one! We recently did a six day hike in NZ to celebrate a wedding anniversary. We tried having a date night at home but this did not work for me as I still need to cook dinner and felt like there were still home chores to do.

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

On a Sunday I have a look at my diary to see what time restrictions I have for the week and I also check my freezer and pantry and plan my meals accordingly to minimise wastage and maximise efficiency.

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?

I have started a little bit to leave my phone at home when I take my puppy for a walk. I find it hard to do this and not doing it all of the time but makes such a difference having that proper time out.

What are you looking forward to in family life this year?

Keeping up our regular family dinners. My kids are good eaters (thanks to years of training) and eat what we eat. We make an effort to sit down together almost every night and just talk about our day. I think eating together is extremely important,

Do you have a regular exercise routine and if so how do you fit that in around family?

Yes, I wake up at 5am to do my exercise. My husband cycles so we share the week day mornings and take turns on the weekend. It is essential for me to fit this in while the rest of the family are sleeping so it doesn’t eat into my short working day during the week or family time on the weekend.

Key challenges for your family at the moment?

My daughter is struggling to share a bedroom with her younger brother and is at an age where she wants her own space and is quite frustrated. Its about 8 more months till we move into our new home so I am trying to find ways to give her some independence but in a small rental this is challenging. The other thing is feeling pretty tired on the weekend with marathon training so not feeling like I have much of a social life.

Anything else you would like to share?

I love being organised and know that this makes such a difference to my family life running smoothly.

Teri Lichtenstein is a dietitian and nutritionist and mum to a 6 and 8 year old. 4 years ago Teri left a high pressure corporate job to start her own business and has never looked back! She is the director of FoodBytes, a nutrition consulting agency. www.foodbytes.com.au. Teri documents her kids lives through video and photography at www.fairiesandmonkeys.com.au

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 rawpixel on Unsplash