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