One of the questions we are often asked with regards to our family is “How do you do it?!”. The “it” can refer to something specific like cooking for so many people, getting through the laundry, or even with regards to our food bill.
I’ve mentioned before how the change from a small family to a large one has been gradual so it’s not at all like we’ve been thrown into a situation where we’ve suddenly been expected to cope with running a large family household.
All parents take part in a learning curve no matter how many children they have. If you have older children, or several children you may find that you do things differently now than you used to do. This is certainly the case for me and not just with regards to parenting but with life in general!
Over the years I’ve had to become more organised as my family has grown. I’ve listened and taken advice and ideas from people who have already “been there, done that” and I’m still learning and adapting and finding methods or tips that work for us. Every family is different and everyone is an individual. What works for one family or person may not work for another. That’s the beauty of living in such a world. We’re all different. It makes the world an interesting place!
One thing many people wish for is more hours in the day. There sometimes doesn’t seem enough time to fit everything we need to do in. And then there’s all the stuff we’d like to do too. Wouldn’t it be great if life were a holiday and we could spend our days doing just what we wanted without having any of the chores? Or would it? If we lived like that what would we do when the laundry hadn’t been done and we had run out of clothes, or the food had run out, or the bills hadn’t been paid because we had something fun to do instead. It just wouldn’t work.
I have never been an early morning person. I’ve never been one to sleep in till late either but mornings and me never got on. I’d need a cup of coffee before I could even begin to think about speaking, a list in my head of things to do and when you’ve got a couple of small children hammering your ear-drums with their instant wants and needs it wouldn’t lift my mood much and would only serve to make me a grumpier mummy each morning.
A couple of years ago spring had sprung and the days had begun to get longer. Mornings were becoming lighter and brighter and disturbing my peaceful slumber as our bedroom curtains were light in colour and light in weight. I tried ignoring it to begin with but that would only make things worse. The more I tried to hide my head under the pillow or screw my eyes shut to block out the light and go back to sleep, the less sleep was prepared to come back to me and I’d get more and more uptight.
After a short while of this I decided to do something radical. I’d get up! As soon as it got light enough to wake me up I’d get straight up out of bed. It wasn’t actually that painful, I found! I did this day after day after day. I wouldn’t allow myself the extra five minutes but would make myself get up. The more I did it, the easier it became.
After a very short time, within a couple of weeks I think, my body clock had begun setting itself to a regular wake up time of 5am. A 5am start would have filled me with horror just a matter of weeks before but having made the decision and stuck to it I actually came to enjoy it.
A 5am start for me meant that I got time to wake up in a peaceful way, without demands placed on me by others. I had an hour or so before the children would start waking and I managed to get so much accomplished during this time. I now have an established morning routine every day of the week (yes, even weekends), and find it helps set me up for the day. Instead of the “ugh” feeling of having to get up in the mornings, I now look at it positively as I’ve realised the benefits of training myself and disciplining myself in this way.
An early start means that I now come downstairs and get myself dressed, made up and ready for the day. I unload the nappies put on to wash the previous night and hang them or put them in the drier. I’ll fold another load of laundry hanging overnight and have it all in a basket ready for me to take upstairs and put away once the younger ones are awake. I’ll then put the first of many laundry loads of the day on to wash. I’ll empty the dishwasher which had run overnight, and say goodbye to Michael who leaves for work by 6. I’ll then have a coffee and my breakfast in peace at the computer while I check the online banking and emails. I’ll guarantee that within the first ten minutes of doing this the troops will start waking and coming downstairs, although Paddy also seems to be quite the early riser and has been up from 5.15 many mornings! He’s a great help with the chores though – or at least as much as a two year old can be!
As the younger ones come down I’ll prepare their breakfasts (unless it’s something like French Toast, which will be put in the oven at around 5.30am so it’ll be ready for them when they wake), and get on with cleaning and dusting downstairs while they eat. I’ll then clean up the kitchen, clean the downstairs bathroom, get the younger ones dressed and ready and finish off by vacuuming the downstairs, the hallway and the stairs. By this time it’s normally about 8am, the first load of washing has ended and is ready to be hung, the second is in the washing machine and we’re ready to set up for school. Having done most of the chores I don’t have anything huge hanging over me waiting to be done and I can focus on teaching.
I appreciate the vast amount of things I manage to fit in by sacrificing an hours lie in. I appreciate more having some quiet time to wake up gently with a coffee. I don’t even mind the jobs I have to do as I can do them without interruption.
Is getting up before the kids something you might consider trying? If you do I’d be interested to hear what you think.