Originally this post was specific to ‘how to get it done in the kitchen with little ones’ in answer to a commenter’s question as to how I managed to do 1/2 a month’s cooking in one day with a 3 1/2 and a 1 1/2 year old in the house. As I have mulled over this question and jotted down the hints and ideas I’ve come up with for how this works in my house, I realized it’s not just about cooking, but how to manage to get anything done with a handful of toddlers in tow! I admit that this has been one of the biggest challenges I have faced in my life! That’s why I want to share whatever I’ve learned with you, and hope you’ll do the same – we can use all the help we can get, yes? Today is the first post in a series, the beginning of a dialogue – I hope you’ll join in, and I plan to use your tips in future posts!
On Getting it Done with Little Ones…
Get up before the kids.
Oh, just the very idea makes you wanna roll over and snooze for just a bit longer, doesn’t it? Trust me, I know! Shall I make a confession? When I am pregnant, Jeremy doesn’t get breakfast more than once a week. This is because I rarely get up in time to fix him something before he leaves for work – I am usually up by then, but I’m using my limited time and energy to heat up the oatmeal the kids and I exist on – and daddy doesn’t do oatmeal. There are many mornings where he and I both agree that becoming a coffee drinker may be my only hope. Somehow we get through it (Jeremy’s never been a big breakfast person), but I long for the days when I can be an early bird again!
I have a girlfriend who has three kids 4 and under, including an 8 month old. When we got together for lunch last month, I was impressed with her cute, tidy house, and her bright countenance. She did not seem as overwhelmed as I had been imagining myself being with 3 kids. When I asked her her secret, she said she usually gets up at 4:30am. OH. I see. Hmm. Yeah, that would do it!
4:30? Seriously? Here’s encouragement for you if you’re in a season (like me) where every ounce of sleep is precious, and you really can’t get up early. Try to just get up a little earlier. Even five minutes can make a difference. Let me tell you how it works for me….
My husband’s alarm goes off at 7, we’re usually up by 7:30, the kids get up shortly after us, and he’s out the door by 8. That dictates our weekday morning routine. I savour those 30 min. of snoozing in the morning before I absolutely have to get up, and half the time fall asleep again before 7:30. BUT if I treat that 7am alarm seriously, and drag myself out of bed before the rest of the house is up, here’s what I can get done…
- – I can get myself dressed, hair done (quick ponytail), and even a short devotional while the house is quiet
- – I have the joy of making my husband his coffee and maybe even a piece of toast before he leaves for work.
- – I can start breakfast for me and the kids so that it’s ready when they are (instead of hungry kids waiting for breakfast to be ready half hour after they get up)
- – I have a chance to wipe down the kitchen (if I haven’t left it clean the night before), and/or empty the dishwasher so the kitchen is ready for the day’s work right after we finish breakfast.
- – I greet the kids and their daddy with smiles, ’cause I LOVE feeling on top of things first thing in the morning!
Now, 7 am is not that early. Getting up 20 min. before your kids is not that hard (unless your kids get up as soon as they hear movement, in and that case I would consider training them to stay in their rooms until a set time in the morning). If 7 does seem early to you, just take your normal rise time and subtract half an hour. Set an alarm and get yourself up at that time for a week. It’ll be rough, but by the end of the week you’ll be addicted to starting your day with such a head start!
Now, as a mother of young children, there are very few moments in our day when we are entirely alone, so the rest of my posts will have to do with including your children in what you’re doing, and strategies for working together. But I wanted to begin with the advice to start your day on the right foot – a little, teensy, tiny time to greet the day in quiet, to collect your thoughts, have a few moments with God, and feel a bit more in control before you hear the pitter-patter of little feet. Try it tomorrow and let me know how it goes!
Part #2 – The Why and How of training your children to help around the house.
Part #3 – How it works at our house – a bad day turned sunny with my 4 year old’s help
Part #4 – Creating an atmosphere that makes kids LOVE to help
Part #5 – Tips for working with multiple kids in the kitchen