As a mother of 6, I’m often asked how I stay organised with a big family. Throw in that we homeschool and people usually assume I’m hiding a cape somewhere in the car.
I admit it would be nice to be supermum, but it’s not the case. I just have lots of little strategies that I implement to help me thrive and I’ve gathered some of them here today. I hope you find them helpful in managing your home and family.
Back in the early days of my motherhood, I was very reluctant to ask for or accept help. I’m not sure why exactly, although I suspect pride played a large part. As our family grew and I found myself struggling to keep up with everything that was being demanded of me, I came to accept that I simply couldn’t do it all.
I had to get help.
And so I do – with all sorts of things, from bookkeeping for my business to cleaning for my home. It lightens my load, gives me more time for what I really love to do and in the case of my VA and housekeeper, helps to support other small businesses.
YOUR TURN: Get help. Ask for it. Find it. Trade it. Pay for it. Whatever it takes. Just don’t struggle alone.
Less is More
I’m one of those mothers that is somewhat bothered by mess. Not to the point of having everything perfect all the time, but I do get frustrated if I suddenly realise I’ve picked up or fixed up the same thing more than three times in the same day!
In my early days of motherhood, I acquired a lot of “stuff”. You know, how-to books and tools to make weaning easier, beautiful toys and educational aids, matching outfits and sensory gadgets, craft supplies and all manner of randomness that I thought would enhance my motherhood and benefit my children.
After a while though, it all just became more stuff to clean, organise or maintain.
Then one day it dawned on me… every single item in my home requires cleaning, maintenance, organising, repair, replacement – no item just sits there requiring nothing from me. So I got rid of everything that I didn’t need or didn’t love. It was a long process and is definitely ongoing, as somehow we still manage to acquire so much stuff over time, but it has been one of the most liberating journeys.
This doesn’t mean I’m an all-out minimalist (although I’d like to be!), and it doesn’t mean my children can’t collect special things or that my husband is expected to part with his adventure training gear – it simply means that everything that belongs in the home or yard and that isn’t owned by a particular person, MUST justify it’s existence.
Because I refuse to clean around a chair that sits in the corner looking lovely, but is never sat upon, or to dust around a pile of outdated street directories and travel guides.
YOUR TURN: Think about decluttering to create more space in your home for the things that you love, and more time in your schedule for doing what you love. Remember, this doesn’t just have to apply to physical possessions. It can include habits, mindsets, subscriptions, eBooks, even specific routines or schedules that no longer fit well.
Adjust Your Expectations
When we enter motherhood, we usually do so with a bunch of pre-conceived ideas, goals and expectations.
Some of mine were that my kids wouldn’t need a dummy, I’d be able to breastfeed at least until 12 months and that they wouldn’t eat frozen chicken nuggets. Ever.
Well, life has a funny way of blowing our ideas out of the water. We didn’t leave hospital without a dummy in the mouth of my firstborn (and in the mouth of three babies after her). My first baby weaned herself at 6 months, as did the three after her. Only my fifth fed for almost 10 months.
And I keep a packet of frozen chicken nuggets in the freezer for “those” days.
When you become a mother – for the first, second, third, fourth time – you’re initiating a major life change.
YOUR TURN: Accept it, own it and adjust your expectations accordingly.
Cut the Noise
One of the quickest ways to disturb the flow of a calm, organised hour is a random phone call or text. And kids catch on very quickly when they realise we aren’t “all there”.
The easiest way to reduce the tech noise that often hums in the background of our day is to implement total switch-off times. During our dedicated homeschooling hours, I just don’t answer the phone. It’s that simple. If it’s an emergency, the person will likely try calling back consecutively two or three times and in that case, I’ll probably answer! But 99.9% of the time – phone calls aren’t urgent. Neither are texts. So the phone remains in another room and is ignored.
To reduce noise when you are using technology, you can go through and ditch any social media platforms you don’t really like, quietly let yourself out of groups that don’t fit or make you feel like less of a person and unlike pages or accounts or people that no longer give you joy.
Additionally, you can implement specific spaces in your home that are tech-free; spaces such as the dining table or bedroom.
Often we jump on to social media to catch up with friends or upload a photo of something adorable our baby has just done, and find ourselves spiraling into a vortex of links and shares and comments.
But this isn’t conducive to simple, peaceful daily living with small children, so I find it a lot easier to have set times for using technology. In addition, I can enjoy my tech time more when I know my kids aren’t trying to compete with it.
YOUR TURN: Create spaces and times that are tech-free and times that are set aside to enjoy all that technology has to offer.
Much of the time we’re run down and overscheduled because we haven’t had the courage to say no.
But let’s be completely honest here. Do you really WANT to say yes to that new project? Yes to that new job? Yes to that extra curricula activity that will just stress you out and exhaust your child?
Saying no takes practice and courage. Sometimes you might even really want to take on that new project/job/activity, but it’s just not the right time.
Sometimes, the opportunity seems too good to be true. How can you possibly say no when the perceived benefit is so great?
It’s important to take a step back and evaluate the trade.
For every new commitment you make, something has to be given up or traded.
Sometimes, the trade will be worth it. Other times, it might be your mental health and the peace and simplicity of your family and lifestyle that is demanded in return.
YOUR TURN: Learn to stop and evaluate the trade before you commit to something new. Practice saying no.
PS. If you’re keen to conquer the chaos and add warmth, love and laughter to your life and home, check out my free 14 day challenge, Simplicity Kickstart.