5 Things I do to Control the "Crazy" in our home

I won't pretend for a second to have "got it all right." My home is mostly organised chaos and loud at that.

We try to eat dinner by 17:30 so that the kids can be in bed by 18:30, but that doesn't happen successfully. We try to be out the door by 6:50 to be perfectly on time for school and in sync with the traffic, but that's also a hit-and-miss situation.

But I have learnt from the three kids that seem to dominate and dictate where to and for how long in our home, that if I am to have any control, and if I am to be relatively calm and rational, there are a few tools that really help.

1. I pre-cook. I have a ready-to-go meal in the freezer at all times. Sometimes it's not even something I've pre-cooked, but bought from a good home-cook style food shop. Our closest one makes the most delicious tomato and lime soup, to which my family responded, "Could we eat this every night for supper?" when I first served it. I also pre-cook a big batch of savory mince most weeks. (Here, insert whatever works for your home...) But the kids love it over pasta, they love it on toast with an egg for breakfast, they love it as a substitute for whatever we're eating for dinner that they now deem "disgusting." My savory mince has seven or eight veggies in it so it's a meal in it's own right. But having something quick, easy, healthy and no-brain-required is a life saver. No question.

2. I've created a term-planner that works. It's simple and detailed enough to know their requirements (Monday: Swimming, Tuesday: Show & Tell etc.) as well as the times they need to be collected. Things I've found so useful to add on here are, what to pack for each school day, which extra murals are keeping them at school, (No use knowing you need to fetch at three pm, but then get an email to say swimming that day is cancelled, and have to find the notice with the swimming times to check if it was swimming or ballet that ended at three.) And then important dates, or semi-important dates, such as market days (when they need extra cash to school,) or outings, (when they need different types of lunches.) It's printed in three places around the house and makes morning prep much easier. Or evening prep, as in our case most of the stuff is done the night before.

3. I downloaded a meditation app. Mine is called "Calm." (I'm sure there are other apps that do the same thing.) Why? I certainly hardly use it. I aim to use it more, but seriously? BUT they have bed time stories that have been designed to put children to sleep. When I'm at the end of my tether, the day is done and the kids won't settle, it's a God-send. I genuinely can put on a story and by the end of it, they will be far more restful, if not entirely asleep. It's great. If that's not appealing, try find audio books, or book cds that will work. I know it's important to let them know our own voice and read to them ourselves, but there are nights when what comes out of my mouth at bed time, nobody would rather hear.  Calm Meditation App

4. I make time for my wellbeing.  I wish it were meditation - but that won't keep me as healthy as I need to be. It helps, but if only I could do it while swimming... So I swim, or walk, or cycle, or run. I find that have I done nothing for myself by the end of the day, I resent my children. And my husband. It used to be time for me to listen to my music, but these days I am podcast bound and have found myself walking a longer route in order to finish the longer podcasts. I love using my brain, and I need to exercise. So the combination seems to work perfectly. But maybe you enjoy trips to the beauty salon, maybe you need a coffee date with a friend. Maybe you would prefer to sit in a quiet corner somewhere and read. Whatever the case, by making time during the day to do something for me, I reach the end of the day with a little more to give. Remember that the mother is the tone-setter for the home, which if you haven't realised yet, you can test to prove. The mother's mood dictates what happens to everyone else's levels of crazy, so this is probably more important than we ever realise.

5. I've learnt to say No. We have certain rules in our home, one birthday party a weekend, only two birthday parties a month. With three kids, that is already challenging. We get invited to many social engagements and honestly, we don't go to most of them. Simply, we love being home and we don't get enough of a chance to do that. There are many weeks when we aren't home for one evening as a family for the entire five days of Monday thru Friday. The only thing that could possibly bring any sanity in that craziness is to learn to say No. The art of saying 'no' tactfully seems to be an entirely new area of study, where podcasts and TedTalks are being shared on the subject all the time, but in our home, it's something of an old study. We simply choose the most important. I think it was Stephen Covey who said we should Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing. Well in our home, the Main Thing is keeping our family time sacred. And keeping our sanity is paramount.

This list is not a complete solution. Nor is it prescriptive. If I were to add a number 6, it would be this: Find what works for your home and your family and YOU, and do THAT. 

It may take a little time to get organised at first, but the effort is well worth it. Too many of my friends are battling to try to keep up with the whole world's pressures. No two homes are alike. So I hope you read many lists like this one, weed out the rubbish and find the tips that truly work for your home. Then block your ears and try, difficult as it may be, to silence all the criticism and unhelpfulness out there.