Monday, 28 April 2014

Surviving After School Activities … or not as is usually the case here

Whoosh - just like that the holidays are over.
School is back today for my lot, together with all of the activities and sports that they are involved in.
Our kids can choose 2 sports/activities each - eg basketball and piano.

This seemed a very reasonable number:

  • Kids not overloaded but allowed to join teams and follow interests, 
  • budget not completely destroyed and 
  • everyone is happy.

I have 3 kids which means 6 activities and some of these have training nights as well as playing days.
I didn't think this through.
This gives us 8 or more after school things during a week - madness!
My small kids aren't big enough to stay home alone so everyone has to go everywhere to drop off, pick up, watch, cheer etc.
And I'm trying to keep an afternoon/night free because I think that is just as important as being involved in things.
In there somewhere is homework, readers, play dates and dinner preparation.
It is making my head hurt.

I'm whinging aren't I, sorry.

I'm not alone.  Millions of us are all doing versions of the same thing.
Some are great at it and then there are the strugglers like me who get to a point where everything feels like a complete mess and we're chasing our tails.

To be honest, when it all goes to pieces I know I'm not a nice Mum.
I'm stressed, grumpy, disorganised, impatient and not nice to be around.
I don't want my kids to remember me as that mum.

I need some strategies!

So here is my attempt at getting it together…
(listed here so that I can review it if/when the wheels fall off)

Get organised!
I have a list of everyone's activities stuck to the noticeboard.
At a glance I know what is on after school - this is something that you would think I would remember after a couple of weeks but I have been known to forget things…even the names of my kids!

Plan my meals
Not my strength. I tend to open the fridge at 5pm and make something out of what I can find. I know this will help even if it is only for the really busy days.

Cook earlier, freeze and/or reheat on the busy nights
My wise cousin (mum of 4) told me the best days were when she cooked dinner at lunch time. She is a wise girl.

Have the kids take responsibility for organisation too
They need to have their gear in a bag at the door before they leave for school (we will see how this one goes…) so that after school we are all good to go.

Use our waiting time
There is "waiting time" for those of us not playing/doing the activity.  We will try to use this time to do readers etc.
I'm packing a "waiting bag" (my book, knitting, kid's book, colouring pencils and some paper) so I relax and enjoy the wait time either by myself or with my small people.

It is OK to be late sometimes.  I am going to be kinder to myself (and my kids).

Ask for help if you need it.
My support network is on the other side of the country so this is something I don't often do here in WA.
I will look at car pooling with other mum's to share the load.

Enjoy this time
Don't let anxiety and stress rob me of the fun that I could be having with my kids as they learn and enjoy new things.
I should have also included get off the computer and do the things on the list!!!
If you have any strategies that work for you I would love to hear them too.
Hope your school term is great.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

zombie gnocchi

In Dusty Cookbook Number 4 the gnocchi looked like this ...

After having that Masterchef moment of "crap, not enough time to get this finished properly and get kids washed and into bed before we all turn into hysterical monsters" - I'm sure that was on an episode somewhere….

I added buckets of extra flour, swore and wished I had a back-up plan.
I didn't.
So I dropped spoonfuls of the incredibly sticky, pumpkin goo into boiling water and crossed my fingers.

We ate this
It is now known as "Zombie Gnocchi".

Everyone said it was nice - in a "screwed up nose, don't offend the crazy lady" kind of way.
No-one has requested a repeat performance.
Perhaps some recipe books get dusty for a reason.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Sweet Dreams

A few months ago, after having less than sweet dreams, our smallest suggested that she needed a dream catcher. I like how she thinks.

We looked at some amazing ones on Pinterest and decided that we could make our own.

Prior to this activity I hadn't really considered that when we do craft it is usually an all in affair.  Generally all 3 kids are in on the act for craft.  Whilst this is great, I hadn't really noticed the absence of one on one craft time - especially with the smallest kidlet.
The older two weren't interested in making dream catchers so this became a smallest child and Mum only event.  I realised that we don't do this very often.  Miss small doesn't often get Mum (or Dad for that matter) to herself.
The dream catcher experience was great for both of us and is something I will consciously do more often with each of them.

I love that we had lots of discussions about materials and ideas as we wandered around Spotlight together.  I let her choose all the components that she felt would suit her dream catcher - although I did suggest that the large, expensive and quite heavy crystal beads might be better for someone else's project.
I love that we discussed the options of using an embroidery hoop or a cane ring - she decided on the cane ring.
I love that she considered different colours, textures and all sorts of additions … some of which after purchase didn't make the final cut.  She creates like her mum and will probably have cupboards full of project "extra stuff" when she is older … just like her mum.

There was a lot of winding and making it up as we went along.

She is very happy with her creation which, if you look in the centre, includes her version of a volcano - just in case any nasty dreams try and sneak through.

It is now hanging over her bed and she tells me she is having sweet dreams…. in her own bed all night.

We're all happy.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Dusty Cookbook Number 4

Ok so the wheels may have fallen off ever so slightly…
I did say I would do a new Dusty Cookbook every 2 weeks.
This is book number 4 and we are in April - so not quite going to plan.
Ah well, never mind.
We'll just plough on, shall we?

This is our "Dusty" number 4, complete with dirty sticky marks on the front cover which means that at some point it was loved and used … that would be before babies when cooking was a fun adventure!

Now I tend to cook dishes that:

  • feed the majority of tastes at the table, 
  • provide minimal groaning and tantrums, 
  • take the least amount of time,
  • can be created with whatever is left in the fridge that is still edible.
(maybe I should be meal planning ????)

This lovely birthday present was from a beautiful girlfriend when we both lived in Melbourne in 1999.  Now I'm in Perth and she is in New Zealand - Em, I miss you xxx

The book is by Donna Hay and has some good, quick recipes together with a couple that just don't work.
Sorry Donna but it is true.
Even my Mother In-Law who is a genius in the kitchen agrees that the Baked Raspberry Cheesecake on page 174 is a dud.  She has tried it twice and I've tried it once and neither of us could get it to set.  Just a friendly heads up for you in case you want to try it.

As winter sport gets into full swing here and the Mum's Taxi service hits peak load, I need quick and easy so I'm hoping this book may give me some new options to throw into the mix.

Have you dusted off an old cookbook for inspiration lately??
Are you a "Mum's taxi" driver too??
Jenny x