Family Smarts

 
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We all know them: those perky mothers and fathers who zip through the grocery shopping, two birthday parties, a soccer game and Pilates, all on a Sunday— while you’re zonked after merely getting the kids fed and dressed. Yes, these hyper-parents are annoying. But, no, you shouldn’t strangle them.
Why? Because we’re going to let you in on their secrets! Check out these peppy-parent tips from on-the-go parents like you.

1. Swap kids

For about three years, my friend and I have ‘swapped’ kids once a week to allow time for ourselves—to run errands or relax. Once every couple of months we also take turns having each other’s children over for a sleepover,” says Linda Cudmore, mum to Dylan, two, Leah, five, and Colin, seven. (She and hubby Craig are involved in lots of church activities, and piano, swimming, skating and Ukrainian dance lessons with the kids.) Start by choosing another parent with whom you have a good relationship and whom your kids know, says Cudmore.
Then try one- to two-hour sessions and ramp up from there. Try not to fret about what will happen on your watch.
It will be frenetic at first, but you’ll soon relish your turn to drop your kids off.

2. Unwind with friends over a night out

Mother of two, Tamara Wouters, recharges by entertaining friends, minus fancy table settings and the hassle of finding a babysitter.
We make sure that when we entertain, it’s with other couples and their kids,” says Tamara, a hard-working decor store owner. “That way, we have our adult time and the kids have fun and play together,” she adds. Make it easy by ordering a fancy meal from your favourite restaurant. Most will do takeaway if askd!

3. Act like a man

Overbooking your family is energy sapper numero uno. “Hypertasking is taking over people’s lives,” says Tracy Lyn Moland, author of Mom Management: Managing Mom Before Everyone Else.
This time-management expert juggles her busy career with dance, soccer and hockey lessons for two kids, Matt, seven, and Courtney-Lyn, ten.
We keep weeknights open, to allow for playing after school and having friends over,” Moland says. And check out how she says non to excess engagement: “I do what men do. Women always want to explain their reasons, but men just say ‘Let me look at my schedule. Oh, I’m busy.’ “

4. Put the kids to work

We’re not suggesting that you play drill sergeant, but getting the kids to pitch in a little more wil lighten your day and your mood.
Get the family involved,” agrees Dianne Sawh, a research librarian ad mother of two, who battled breast cancer two years ago.
She ot through it with her sanity intact by delgating more. “My kids have had chores since they were little.” Nowadays, Caleb, 11, and Danielle, 15, vacuum, do laundry, and make dinners. Mum soaks in the spa. Can’t argue with that.

5. Dust off your roller-skates

The secret to maintaining your energy is to do what you love,” says mother-of-four Leslie Beaton Hedley. For her, it was going back to studying at 40 for a deree in English. “There will always be things you have to do, but its important to focus on what energies you,” she says.
Scratch the surface of dynamic parents’ lives and you’ll find their entusiasm is genuine becase they follow their passions. if you’re not sure what yours are, think about the activities you were crazy about before adulthood. Painting? Roller-skating? It’s never too late to dust off that paino keyboard. Who cares if your family cringes? It’s your job to embarrass them once in a whole.

6. Consider spaghetti Thursdays

The cudmores swear by a monthly meal calendar. “I don’t have the daily stress of deciding what to make or bargaining with the kids,” says mum-of-three Linda Cudmore.
Tamara Wouters organises meals in advance too: “Meal planning is huge. If you’re eating well, you feel on top of things.” It doesn’t have to be a chore. You can play interactive games, giving each person a role in preparing and presenting the meal.

7. Let a few things go

Beaton Hedley’s mantra is: “I don’t do things that drain me.” That includes hunting down every dusty corner or going from store to store to save a few bucks. Hedley full-time university student, writer, editor and day-care worker has culled this wisdom after rainsing four kids, two of whom are still teens.
Dianne Sawh agrees. She invested in a second fridge for milk, juice and eggs to avoid trips to the supermarket four times a week, for instance.
Bottom line: be strategic to avoid things that deplete your bateries.

8. Fly a kite

Exercise and being active play a big role in feeling energetic, Moland says.
She and husband Pat run triathlons and go to the gym, which keeps them buoyed. Endorphins prodced in the brain kick in and make you feel good after you’ve been active. You can still get that high even if you’re not into barbells or profuse sweating.
Do anything to get you moving, and do it with the kids on weekends so you don’t have to carve out extra time, adds Moland. Wouters and Gugushe, for example, go to the beach to ride bikes and fly kites with their boys.

9. Create your own calendar

Dianne Sawh says kitchen calendars are a key for staying on the ball. “We have a huge calendar on the side of ou fridge on which all doctor and dentist appoinments are recorded. Also, all events, like cross-country meets, teacher meetings, and major assignment deadlines.” Make your own by buying a big desk blotter at an office-supply store and have the kids liven it up with stickers. You can plan meals on it too.

10. Book a manicure

Yeah, right, you think, as our nine-year-old calls for help with a maths question, your four-year-old wnats you to put on a DVD and your six-year-old hollers from upstairs,”Mummy Mummy, come and see what I can do,” promptly followed by a thud. How in the world can you make time for yourself?
The secret: book it in advanced. “My husband and I each have one scheduled night a week to do our own thing,” says one of the mums in Moland’s book. Join a scrapbooking night, have a night out with your best fried or go for a manicure and pedicure – the possibilities to get re-energised are endless. What are you waiting for?