Mo­ti­va­tor and au­thor LISA O’NEILL re­veals the se­cret to a calmer, hap­pier house­hold

Little Treasures - - CONTENTS -

Lisa O’neill on manag­ing your fam­ily

My se­cret weapon in par­ent­ing is plan­ning. It got me through the early days and it is the only thing that keeps me sane now. There is so much that you cannot plan for when it comes to par­ent­ing. Ear in­fec­tions, chicken pox and nits have all up­set my plans. I had plans to be the per­fect par­ent. I bought a craft box, I made car­rots into pen­guins. No one cared. I ex­hausted my­self show­ing the world that ‘I had this’. I used to stay up all night mak­ing spe­cial party food and the lit­tle bug­gers didn’t eat it! They didn’t care. They cared that I was there. They cared that I blew rasp­ber­ries on their tum­mies. I have found that kids of­ten don’t care about the stuff we think is so im­por­tant. I wasted so much time do­ing things that weren’t im­por­tant. It’s a great ques­tion to ask your­self be­fore start­ing any new phase – who is this im­por­tant to? Hav­ing four chil­dren is a con­stant learn­ing ex­per­i­ment. The stuff I messed up with num­ber one I have nailed with num­ber four. While each kid is dif­fer­ent you def­i­nitely get bet­ter at the jug­gle with years of ex­pe­ri­ence. For the ben­e­fit of you all who do not want to have four chil­dren just to work out what works, here are my plan­ning tips. Plan what you can, pre­tend every­thing else is the plan!

1 PLAN YOUR MEALS I made all my meals one day ahead when my kids were lit­tle. Know­ing that I had din­ner done made my whole day eas­ier. I start by plan­ning ‘easy din­ners’ on tough nights. The nights when ev­ery­one has some­thing on. Go easy on your­self - there is so much pres­sure to pro­duce per­fect nutri­tion these days. A chicken drum­stick and a blob of broc­coli and some peas will work.

2 PLAN YOUR­SELF SOME CHILD­FREE TIME Get­ting an hour at home alone is the great­est gift for a mum. Swap kids with friends. Phone Grandma. Give oth­ers the op­por­tu­nity to help you.

3 PLAN A NIGHT OUT WITH YOUR FRIENDS You are the only per­son who can give your kid a happy mother. A night out laugh­ing with some friends will give you re­newed en­ergy.

4 PLAN YOUR MORN­INGS A bad morn­ing usu­ally starts a bad day. Get up ear­lier. I know you are tired. I have been tired for the past 20 years. Feel­ing tired is bad but tired and un­or­gan­ised is a killer. Half an hour less in bed can be a to­tal game changer for your day ahead.

5 PLAN YOUR SLEEP Set an alarm clock to go to bed. Turn your de­vices off. Sleep is the sin­gle great­est thing you can do for your­self.

6 WRITE UP YOUR PLAN Teach your kids to read a plan, to see what is hap­pen­ing on each day. Tell them in ad­vance.

7 PLAN ONE-ON-ONE TIME WITH EACH IN­DI­VID­UAL CHILD Spend­ing time com­pletely fo­cused on one child is a gift, es­pe­cially if you have sev­eral kids on the go.

8 PLAN SOME TIME WITH YOUR PART­NER It’s so easy to lose touch when ev­ery­one else is so de­mand­ing. Par­ent­ing is tough. It’s eas­ier with another adult in your team. 

Lisa O’neill is a mo­ti­va­tor, stylist and au­thor of Jug­gling in High Heels: How to Or­gan­ise Chaos, pub­lished by Ran­dom House NZ, RRP $45. Avail­able in all good book stores through­out New Zealand.

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