Freedom in planning with kids

Getting your kids involved in planning is all it takes for them to take ownership, Nicole says.

By Melissa Meehan

With five kids, Surrey Hills mum Nicole Avery has to be organised.

Her kids range from 12 to 22-years-old – her youngest started high school this year and her eldest began his first post-graduate job.

Planning was not always something she’d been good at or focused on, she still doesn’t claim to be an expert.

She’s just had a lot of practice.

She’s been working online, working with Planning with Kids since 2008.

“I had four kids at the time and kind of wanted to go back into the workforce in some way and it was about my own life. So it was a really easy choice for me to blog about it,” she told Kids Today.

“I probably was a more traditional mummy blogger at first – but sharing photos of the kids wasn’t my thing. I’m pretty private, so what I wanted to do was answer the questions that people asked of me in real life.

“How are you so organised?”

She always had menu plans and that kind of thing so thought she would share what she knew.

Because, she figured, it could help other parents.

“One of the things when you’ve had a few kids that you get better at, is self practice,” she said.

“I’m pretty process orientated, but wasn’t always natural that way, but I did get to the point with my second child, where I worked out okay, I am going to step out of the workforce and I’m going to be at home full-time now,” she said.

“I can’t just be in this chaos thinking about what we’re having for dinner every night, you know like a baby crying on the hip and a toddler hanging off my legs.

“I was floundering a bit and it felt harder than it should be.”

And that’s where it started.

Nicole worked out if she could plan out five or six meals a week that would make meal time easier.

And it did.

“That was sort of like that clicking moment where I had all the skills I used in the workforce – but I wasn’t bringing that home,” she said.

“And I worked out that work things ran so much smoother and my work life would have been so much less stressful when I was really organised with it, home life is the same.”

And that mindset is applicable to doing the washing, vacuuming.

Stepping out of the chaos and having a plan made life with kids much easier.

But just because you have a plan doesn’t mean your life revolves around it, according to Nicole.

“People automatically associate plan with being quite restrictive and very prescribed and that you’re quite confined,” she said.

“I actually found it gave me more freedom.”

If she had already prepared the meals for the week and was out late one night – she knew she could change up the meal plan.

And if it was too late, she could swap in takeaway night and cook that meal on Friday.

For Nicole, planning actually ended up giving her more freedom.

She also found that the more she had organised, the more she could delegate.

“I was able to say to my husband, here is the shopping list, could you please go and shop for it – the fact it was in an actual list form and not in my brain meant I could get some extra help,” she said.

“I found my life became easier and easier, and I became happier.”

It was the same for after school activities and sports.

When Nicole took it out of her brain and put it into a shared online calendar that her husband could see it made life much simpler.

These are just some of the tips you can read about in Nicole’s book Planning with Kids, or learn in her online course.

Find out more at www.planningwithkids.com