How To Be Efficient When You Have Young Children


Girls Playing

Having five children under six years of age may seem overwhelmingly busy. At times I have to admit it is, particularly when there is sickness! Most days however, when the routine is kept the same, the children are always happy and generally obedient. I have noticed that they love their routine and being consistent.  

No Meal time Fuss

We all know that meal times take up a large part of our day. There is the preparation of the meal, the actual meal as well as the clean up afterwards.

Here are some ways to save time. Children get no choice in their meals, but to be flexible and give the kids a bit of fun, they often get their choice of which coloured plate, which surprisingly makes them more than happy enough!

Breakfast is always the same: Wheatbix and yoghurt with a glass of milk.

Lunchtime is always a sandwich. I will give them what I know they will eat as this reduces a lot of fussing or tantrums. For example, my oldest son is very unfussy. He will eat dried up bread, bread crusts with anything on it and never complain, so he is easy!

My 3 year old daughter takes forever to finish her meal, so I like to cut up her sandwich into tiny bite size pieces and usually give her a flavour she enjoys.

Give each child a face washer during their meal and encourage them to eat cleanly. This saves a lot of clean up afterwards. If you notice your child dropping their food. Teach them to concentrate during meal time and eat over their plate. You will need to remind them constantly. If something drops off their plate, they have to learn how to put it back. By doing this, there is hardly any food wastage on the floor or mess.

My 3 year old daughter also has a very short attention span and finds it difficult to focus and finish her lunch. During mealtime, I keep her chatter to a minimum and often have to tell her ‘no more talking until your sandwich is finished.’ It doesn’t upset her, she just knows this is a rule.

Have one job for each child afterwards to save mum from all the cleaning up. Each day, a different child will clear the table and another will sweep up the crumbs. Another will push in the chairs and throw all the facewashers in the laundry basket.

Children Dressing

Each day, all my kids clothes are laid out in the morning and the same goes before their shower or bath. This way there is no fussing of what they would like to wear! They will always dress weather appropriately since I have chosen their clothing items.

Kiddie Jeans

Sometimes, I will give them a simple choice, eg: dinosaur socks or fire engine socks? And they excitedly pick one. I have found that when I allowed my children to choose their clothes, they often created a huge mess in their cupboards pulling out the item they want.

This way, my cupboard always stays neat!

Keep On Top Of Your Laundry

Child play

I have learnt that washing smaller loads once a day is more effective then huge loads at a time. The clothes are washed and hung out and there is always enough space on the laundry line. Once dry, they are folded as soon as possible. I do not always put them away immediately but make sure to always collect a pile each time I pass the laundry.

The problem with big piles of laundry? I actually found I was overloading my machine and the clothes were not coming out very fresh smelling. Secondly, if for some reason, we had a bed time accident or wet cot sheets, the laundry pile can grow so suddenly becoming quite overwhelming.

With this unpredictable weather, we have also invested in a dryer which can be very efficient for drying clothes which are 70 percent dry but are just taking that bit too long to finish off!

Keeping The House Tidy

Toy mess! It’s unavoidable. Yes, it is hard to keep a neat home when children are playing with their toys all the time. There are, however, a few ways to keep mess to a minimum.

Playdough and Lego building are always done on trays, preferably at the table or countertop. The ridge on the tray keeps the Lego contained, which is same for the playdough.

The children are never allowed to take out another game or toy set without packing the previous toy.

I try not to create more work for myself. For example, painting for me is just an exhausting activity. Dressing the children in smocks to keep them clean, lining the countertop, the paintbrushes being flicked and paint flying everywhere! Personally, I find it very exhausting. Instead I buy them those magic water paint books (available for $2 from Kmart), where all they need is a bowl of water and a paintbrush and there is no mess!

Fingerpaint 2

I often let them engage in water activities as they love this! I lay a huge towel on the floor. Each child gets a large bowl with about half a cup of water, some toy dinosaurs, toy animals, a straw to blow bubbles, some rocks, sticks etc. and they have a great time using their imagination. This is an activity they love and it is very little clean up afterwards.

Before Hubby Comes Home…

Try to prepare and organise as much as you can before your hubby comes home. Remember, the more you do, the smoother and more pleasant family time is. Even little things can help: having fruit cut up for after dinner, laying out the children’s PJs, getting night time nappies laid out etc. I do all this when I have the energy as I know when it comes to the night time routine, both mum and kids are more tired, and probably more cranky!

Some days, I feel like there are so many house rules, but the truth is that the children are actually a lot happier with structure, order and routine. I have found there to be a lot less tantrums and fussing which of course can be very exhausting for you to deal with.

A BIG kiss for each of them goodnight and it all starts again tomorrow!





Filed Under: ChildrenFamily LifeFeaturedOrganisationParenting

About the Author: Mother of 6 children. 4 boys and 2 girls. A proud stay-at-home-mum and Co-founder of the website. Jill has a strong Catholic faith. "I believe it's really important to have a support network for mums to connect and learn from each other." She also has a Degree in Primary Teaching from Melbourne University.

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  1. I know that time has passed since this was posted but this is an article I revisit.
    Such great advice, thank you. Your advice about washing in particular has been so helpful when sudden vomiting strikes.
    I actually have an empty washing machine to deal with the mess. It really reduces the emotional strain of laundry for me to do it this way (yes I have emotional reactions to doing the housework).
    Thanks again!

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