There’s something strange that happens when you have your second child – all of a sudden you have no time – ever! This is true whether you’re working, a stay at home mom, working part-time, whatever! All my friends have noticed the same phenomenon. Having your first child is a big leap and obviously takes up a lot of time but for some reason, the jump from one to two children makes everything so much harder!
I’ve heard going from two to three children is even more of a challenge but I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it, haha :p
Anyway, we’re in the enviable position of being able to live off my husband’s salary, meaning I can stay at home with the children (although one is now at school for most of the day). I’m extremely grateful for this but soon after I had my second child I realised that if I didn’t start to plan my time better, things were going to get out of control fast.
I’m not one of those people who’s always creating schedules and to-do lists – I prefer spontaneity and the freedom to go out to the zoo if it’s a nice day or let the kids stay up late for a movie night. HOWEVER, things have got so much simpler since I introduced a rhythm to our days.
I first read about a daily family rhythm when I read a book about Waldorf education. This type of educational philosophy focuses on letting children play (with open-ended toys and natural materials), a lot of outdoor time, activities based on the seasons and letting the kids help with cooking and baking. I don’t agree with everything that a Waldorf school, for example, would have in place, but a lot of what I read made sense to me.
Now, Waldorf schools are not strictly timetabled, rather they follow a rhythm based around the start and end times of the day and events like circle time and meals. Once I started implementing this type of system, my kids knew what to expect each day and things got much smoother.
For example my kids know that we have breakfast at 8, drop my eldest off at school and then have an hour of outside play. I’m flexible about what we do up until lunchtime but we’ll always reconnect at midday for a healthy lunch. I then put my youngest straight down for a nap (she’s expecting it so no complaints) while I enjoy a coffee and a bit of alone time. After she wakes up it’s time to pick up her brother from school and then we all go back home and enjoy a snack. we have a set bedtime but dinner can vary depending on what time my husband gets back. The kids are free to do what they like until an hour before bed when we start the wind down ritual with a bath.
Following this pattern every day makes it so much easier for me to plan our days but we still have a lot of flexibility.
If you don’t have any sort of routine for your day or set mealtimes or bedtimes, I’d definitely recommend trying out a rhythm like this and seeing how it works for your for a few weeks.
The other thing that has saved me countless hours of time is meal planning and cooking ahead. I know, I know, meal planning is super boring – I put it off for ages, but as soon as I actually got over myself and had a go, I could have kicked myself for not starting years ago.
I plan meals a week ahead and I’m not super strict about it – I will swap the meals around depending on what we fancy that night. I also plan in a “no-cook” night where we either eat leftovers or order in.
I stick to the same simple meals that are healthy but I know my family love. We like spagetti, chicken enchiladas, beef casserole, fried chicken with vegetables and other quick simple meals – I save the fancy stuff for the holidays or when we have a rare guest.
As well as meal planning, once a month I set aside a whole day for cooking and freezing meals. These work great for when somebody’s sick, I’m too tired to cook, we’ve got back to late etc. I do like to cook from fresh as much as possible but it’s a real lifesaver having a freezer full of healthy meals and as I said, it has saved me SO much time. Sometimes I keep these meals for our “no cook” days and sometimes we just eat them when we’re in the mood.
Well that’s about all I have for now. Like I said, I’m not one for to-do lists and schedules. But if you do have any other amazing tips, please let me in on your secrets!