Friday, 29 August 2014

Time Saving Tips For Busy Mums - How To Make The Most Of Your Time Each Day

*This is a sponsored post on behalf of Eat Now.

There never seems to be enough time in the day to achieve all it is we set out to do in the demanding role that is Motherhood does there?

Routinely, things we intend to do are invariably forgotten, overlooked because we're running late for a million reasons or done haphazardly because we can simply manage no more.

Chasing time is one thing we're all guaranteed to be doing as Mums no matter how many kids we have. It's part of our job description and industry and no-one would even consider disputing that.

Motherhood is, after all, a marathon of doing stuff in an endless round.

I am always trying to squeeze so much into each day. Sometimes I have to stop myself when my logical brain tells me that all I want to do in a few, short, 24 hours is just plain undoable.

Like everyone, I too want the clean home, the shopping done, meals organised, the laundry and cleaning taken care of and time to relax with my kids and Husband and some me time too.


Honestly, I'm worn out just reading it all in a sentence let alone trying to achieve it!

The following are some of my time saving tips I regularly use to get me through my hectic days and weeks with six demanding children in my life:

Start your day earlier: Yep, get up sooner, even if it's just 10 minutes earlier. If you rise before your children with a clear mind in the peace of the morning, it's quite amazing what you can achieve. It's my most productive timeslot in my day.

Ten minutes is time to enjoy an uninterrupted shower or unpack the dishwasher; throw on a load of washing and eat a decent breakfast. (Not all at once mind you but pick your priorities and go with them first.) I rise 30 minutes each working day before the kids and do some or all of these tasks if I can manage it. It's part of my me time (believe it or not) and it's also a great time to get paperwork filed, bills taken care of, school notices sorted and kids clothing organised for their day. (Great to blog at this time of day too!)

Tell the kids to stay in bed until a reasonable time each day. This one won't work for everyone but my kids stay in their rooms on a school morning until 7.30am. This gives me 30 minutes each day to prepare their lunches in a kitchen free of their busy presence and distraction. There is no extra mess, fighting or missing bench space as I get the day underway. My kids have learned to sleep in, play quietly or read until I call them. It took a while to arrange but this method is golden!

Roster and rotate your housework: Make Monday a floors day, Tuesday a washing day, Wednesday a shopping / errands day etc. Work out roughly what type of plan seems to be happening in your life around your daily duties right now and write it down. Try to incorporate how it's working into a new routine. Chip away at housework a little at a time - let's remember it's endless!
It's great to have a clean, organised house but it doesn't have to happen all in one day. Be kind to yourself and spread the work out. No one is judging you except yourself.

Keep treats in the house. Treats are an amazing motivator for children to get them on their feet and doing what you want fast. Have lollies and chocolates ready to hand out in exchange for quick chores. Never hand out treats unless you can get something in return! Have a child bring in the washing, vacuum their bedroom or pick up their toys in exchange for the prize. Modify your tasks to suit the age of each child and treat them all to equal praise. Chores with treats are a regular thing on a Sunday evening at our house. The kids all enthusiastically help to restore our home to an acceptable standard in time for the Monday morning rush.

In line with the above, try lowering your standards. One thing I have absolutely had to do with the arrival of each new family member is lower my expectations of how and when things should be done and what to expect as a result. I used to stress at the mess in the house on weekends especially when everyone was home but now I let it slide (it's hard!) before calling everyone up on it prior to dinner (or after) when we all throw an effort in to restore some order.

Enjoy takeout once in a while and bank the time saving benefits. Every Friday night is takeout night at our house. This is not only something that we all look forward to but the time I save by not having to organise a meal once a week is very much appreciated and put to good use in other ways. Try an online restaurant ordering service such as Eat Now with a selection of local restaurants available to you all in the one place, who will deliver at your designated dinner time. On our takeout nights, my extra hour gained is spent relaxing in front of the television, doing other household tasks in preparation for the weekend or even listening to my prep child read.

Shop online as much as possible. Buy your groceries online in one big shop once a week, fortnight or month depending on your family's needs. Saving your favourite shopping list online is an option with many large supermarket websites which means you can fill your cart in under 10 minutes and have it paid for and a delivery scheduled within a small quarter of an hour. Compare that to actually going shopping which can take an hour or more and you've saved yourself loads of time. Shop for everything online unless you are able to visit a local shopping centre which meets your needs and you really love shopping in person!

Children's activities: If your kids want to learn something new or join a club, try to avoid signing them up for weeknight attendances. Squeezing more into your already 'bursting at the seams' day will just become stressful and impact on you in other detrimental ways. If you can find a Saturday alternative, take it up instead. There's nothing like enjoying a casual class on a Saturday morning after a good night's sleep for all involved. Incorporate exercise into it too by walking to and from your child's activity if practical. Make it work for everyone so that it doesn't become a chore.

Prioritise paperwork: File every bill and important document as soon as it arrives so that you are always on top of payments and duties to be done. Invest in a filing cabinet, desktop document trays or tubs and sort out your important documents immediately. Being organised will save you so much time and stress. Find a good App for your mobile or use your phone's calendar to stay on top of things at the top of your to-do list daily.

Invest in a chalkboard for your kitchen. I popped one of these up after I grew exhausted by the same questions from my kids day in, day out. I regularly write messages, meals and shopping onto the board and invite other family members to do the same. This takes some of the pressure off to be central to so many all the time and involves others in decision making and participation in household tasks. Run out of milk or toilet paper? Don't tell Mum, write it on the board where it will be seen when it matters. Kids like blackboards and chalk and need little prompting in order to keep the system going!

Finally, make time for rest and relaxation every day. When baby's sleeping, kids are at school or in care, take the time to have a break. Take a nap, go for a walk, use the treadmill, watch television or read a book; whatever it is that makes you happy. An unhappy Mum is unable to carry out her important role effectively so be sure to remember yourself in the rush of the day to day that defines Motherhood.

Recent posts on Six Little Hearts:
Do you have any brilliant time saving tips?
How do you make time for yourself each day?
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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

In The Memories of Mums - Mother's Choice and A Special 40th Anniversary Offer

*This post is brought to you in collaboration with Mother's Choice.

It's laughable now but way back when we were on the cusp of becoming first time parents, we visited a local baby store with absolutely no idea of what we needed to acquire in order to equip ourselves for our new arrival.

As clear as day, I can recall the face of the middle aged woman in that store who smiled a sympathetic smile at us as we explained that we needed a cot and some other 'things.'
Vague glances were exchanged between us as we stammered over just what those things might be for exactly what we needed was a little beyond us at the time.

Being the youngest in my own family, baby knowledge was an altogether absent skill and I had only ever held a baby once, at the age of 12, which hardly qualified me or prepared me for Motherhood at all.

There were no two ways about it. In this most exciting of human endeavours, we were clueless.
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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Hot Desserts For Cold Days - Lemon Currant Pudding

I have a confession to make.

Sometimes when it's cold and I am home alone, I bake myself a pudding.
I think I deserve it.

I love that I don't have to share or visit the shops to buy a sneaky daytime treat.
Pudding and I just snuggle up together on the sofa with a good book and get to know one another some more.

Hot, oozy pudding is all I need to set myself on a course for happiness.
It's probably all anyone needs.

I have shared my favourite self-saucing chocolate pudding here on the blog before. I have other puddings up my sleeve too, (probably on my sleeve more like it) and some of my lesser baked favourites are just waiting to be introduced to you.

Meet Lemon Currant Pudding...
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Friday, 22 August 2014

Mamadoo - The Online Shopping Mall for Mums - My Latest and Favourite Finds...

Do you want to save time shopping - even online? Then you'll want to know all about the fantastic Mamadoo website.

I am first to admit that I am not a keen shopper in the traditional sense. The thought of physically shopping with my children makes my skin crawl if I were to be completely honest and I avoid it at all costs. I am certainly not unique in my aversion either. I am never one for the crowds or the driving or searching on foot for that matter. Then there's always the very real possibility that what you actually want is not available for some reason when you do manage to get to the stores, rendering the whole experience pointless.

Does that sound achingly familiar?

As Mums we've all been in the situation where we've had a new baby, demanding toddlers and older children, extreme fatigue (does that ever end?), loads of housework and the need for some essential shopping to be carried out in amongst the mayhem. How can you manage to do so with so many distractions and find specific items that you require? The answer is to shop online!
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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

A Christmas Wish List Buying Guide of Gift Ideas for Children of All Ages

I don't mean to freak you out and all but it's August.
That means a mere four, short, abnormally fast-paced months until Christmas.

August is a month powered along by two birthdays for two special little boys in my life. I am beside myself keeping up with the weeks of pre-list lists requesting birthday presents from them. These are poked at me no matter how inappropriately in the months preceding their actual birthday dates and altered with equal enthusiasm as new desires take hold and old ones fade away.

It's funny, it's exhausting and it's unrelenting.
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Friday, 15 August 2014

Tips For Flying With a Baby or Toddler

For some parents, flying with a baby or toddler takes nerves of steel and so much planning that it can make you doubt your decision to travel at all.

I am one of them.

It's not the plane, or managing the luggage or any of those obvious things that cause the freak factor in parents such as myself - it's more the other passengers that pose the problem.

Will you be seated with tolerant adults who will not glare, comment or generally fume at you while you are confined to a small space with a child who, well, wants to behave like one?

Children are not everyone's cup of tea and that's reasonable - I accept that. It's just there's no better place than a plane to make you feel the cold shoulder of society aimed at your delightful bundle of joy.

I have travelled with three babies now on both national and international flights. We took our eldest to Shanghai when she was just 6 months old. When number 5, (Taite) was around 8 months of age, we took a family trip to the Gold Coast. Most recently, we visited Sydney with a 19 month old. All very different experiences too I might add, ranging from not a lot of trouble to a bit tricky at times. (I am being nice.)

By far the most challenging of all was travelling with a toddler and thank goodness it was only for the shortest of flights! Toddlers have that developing independence which is so at odds with plane journeys. Unfortunately for me, Celeste's little inconvenient streak began to sprout around 6 weeks before our departure and being a seasoned Mum already, I knew what I was up for.
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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

A That! Dairy Snacks and Milkshakes Review and A Great Healthy Snacks For Active Kids Giveaway!

This is a sponsored post on behalf of That!

As a Mum, I am forever on the lookout for easy and tasty foods for kids that are also healthy.
What Mum isn't?

Having six children presents some real financial challenges as you can imagine. All kids are picky at the best of times but when six children under one roof are highly selective eaters, the amount of food wastage and dollars that wind up in my bin can seriously disturb.

I sometimes wonder how my children are managing to grow at all they consume so little of what gets offered.

Frustratingly, fruit that is not cut up in lunchboxes, comes home untouched.
Sandwiches that I have laboured over in the early hours of the day, turn up squashed and well past their use-by in the late afternoon.
My kitchen countertops are littered with half finished glasses of milk that no-one claims.

Are you recognising a familiar scenario here? Is it the same at your place? (Please tell me it is!)
It's the woe of parents everywhere.

How do you feed your busy kids healthy food and make sure it's fun enough to hold their little attention spans long enough to actually consume it? The answer lies in the pouches!
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Friday, 8 August 2014

Introducing Gooie - Gorgeous Travel Luggage for Children and Giveaway

Kids and cases. What is it with kids and cases?
I remember desperately wanting a suitcase of my own when I was little. It was a really big thing back in the '70's and early '80's to have a little school case. Sadly I never got one like the other kids but I drooled over the cases of my friends longingly for years.
I still don't understand why cases were so cool for kids back then.
From memory they were eternally dull, plain, brown or black things and daggy to boot.
Fast forward to modern cases for kids and Gooie trolley cases need little understanding at all.
Gooie manufacture cases that are undoubtedly cool for kids. So cool in fact, that I am wishing these darling little travel things came in adult sizes... 'cause I want one even more now!
It was quickly noted that cases are still a hot thing with kidlets.
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Tuesday, 5 August 2014

A Weekend in Sydney...

Sydney, oh Sydney - I am pining your famous qualities as I begin to write this post...

It's been a good 14 or so years since I have visited Sydney; maybe more. (Actually, definitely more but admitting that here makes me feel old so I will settle for fourteen years and make fake peace with that.)

Last time I admired your shining glories, I was visiting you on a business trip as a career woman with no children to speak of. I saw you by dazzling day and I saw lots of your sparkly nightlife with work colleagues and lots of wine.

You were fun!

Sydney has long been admired by the rest of Australia and certainly the world. She's a looker this city and there's no denying that. In a recent *World's Most Liveable City ranking, Sydney popped in at an impressive 7th place. Melbourne actually came first based on infrastructure, healthcare and education facilities, however...

Sydney definitely has the glamour of the duo. (We've always been a duo too, forever destined to nip at each other's heels.)

We were very recently invited to visit Sydney to enjoy a complimentary minibreak by the Cambridge Hotel. Here was an ideal opportunity to take a few of the kids to another city, which is really the most iconic Australian city in both our own country and in the eyes of the world. (Though as a Melbourner, it breaks my heart to admit that.)

A weekend in Sydney - What to do? Where to go? What to see?
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