Being a mum can be a relentless cycle of same again, same again, same again. Day in day out. Every day. Every day. And while motherhood definitely has its perks (cuddles on tap, cute things kids say and delicious miniature people who are delighted to see you every single morning) there are times when the hamster wheel of motherhood can really wear you down.
If you are experiencing ‘mum fatigue’ and you need a circuit-breaker try employing one or all of my patented* Lazy Mum 101 tips to get you through the next week.
1. Have dinner at Bunnings
Last Sunday, a friend of mine sent me a text at 5:30 that said:
“Well that’s dinner sorted #Bunningssausagesizzle.”
Did I judge her? No way, I was in awe of her ingenuity. She has four kids and she is the master of Lazy Mum 101. Try it. If you’re sick of making dinner and it’s a weekend, get thee to Bunnings and line up for a sausage in a bun. Dust off your hands, your work here is done.
2. Make a trip to IKEA the day’s activity
Where I live, in Sydney’s inner-west, it’s quite common for everyone to head down to Tempe IKEA ballroom en masse after school drop off.
Not only is there a ballroom for your feral toddler but there’s also a dodgy café and you can even squeeze in some shopping for an HURDYVERDEN TV cabinet whilst you’re there. Retail therapy: TICK. Cheap coffee of questionable quality: TICK. Swedish meatballs: TOTALLY OPTIONAL. Kids get to go nuts somewhere other than your own living area: DOUBLE TICK.
3. School photos, they’re not compulsory
Full disclosure: I stopped buying the premium package – the one with the bookmarks and the calendar and the one trillion different sizes of the SAME PHOTO of my kid looking like a zoob – about three years in. We’ve all got plenty of photos of our kids these days. Save your money (and your time: oh the forms, ALL OF THE FORMS). I just buy the class photo so we can sit on the couch and talk about everyone in the class while we point at them. It’s still a photo of your kid every year, there are just 25 other kids in the photo too.
4. Use the dryer as a socks and undies cabinet
By that I mean, after you’ve washed the socks and undies, bung them in the dryer and when people ask where all the socks and underpants are, refer them to the ‘socks and undies cabinet’ in the laundry. Why sort them? You’ll only have to do it all again in a couple of days.
5. Use a washing basket as an all-purpose ‘crap that was all over the floor’ collection vessel
Got people coming over? House a bomb site? Grab a laundry basket and run around the house chucking everything that’s on the floor into the basket. Deal with it later. Or not at all. In theory, you could from then on refer everyone to the ‘crap basket’ when they ask where their things are.
6. Keep a packet of wipes in the bathroom for quick bathroom clean ups
In my experience, if I make the cleaning the bathroom a big thing, I never do it. But if the wipes are there I just do a quick wipe down once a day.
HOWEVER, don’t flush those suckers down the toilet. The word ‘flushable’ on the packet is just a suggestion. Not a guarantee. I found this out the hard way when the plumber, after three days of digging up my garden from east to west, finally reached into the crater that he and three men had dug and produced the source of our blockage: a giant WODGE of flushable toilet wipes the size of CANADA.
7. Put your preschooler’s breakfast out before you go to bed
This will buy you 15 extra minutes every morning. Put the cereal in a bowl on the dining table, cover it with a placemat, put a small jug of milk in the fridge (so the toddler won’t have to take on the 3 litre milk carton) and, hey presto! One less breakfast to make in the morning and about 15 extra minutes before ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE and everyone is up.
8. Use the stroller as a Hannibal Lecter-style toddler restraining chair
I got this tip from an old friend. She had two boys under three and the older boy was a bit … um … feral. In particular she couldn’t trust him not to clobber the baby when she was busy making dinner. So her daily routine was this: 5pm, strap the two-year-old into his stroller, wheel him into the living room and put his favourite cartoon on the telly to stultify him into submission. This gave her 30 peaceful minutes to get dinner on the table.
9. Serve breakfast food for dinner
Oh dinner, how you undo me: Every night! Every night! By Wednesday I’ve used up all my moves and I can’t face another way with mince. Which is when I crank out the ever-popular, ‘breakfast for dinner’ move. You can offer, cereal, toast, soft-boiled eggs, scrambled eggs with bacon and even pancakes! Breakfast food is easy and it’s SO MUCH FUN.
10. Start rocking the 10 second hairspray hairdo
Is your hair your nemesis in the morning? Personally my hair, to do it properly, represents at LEAST 15 minutes of my morning routine. Well here’s your 10 second hairdo trick for the school run: scrape all your hair off your face and reign it into a bun or ponytail. Now hairspray the crap out of the hair around your face so that it stays in place ALL DAY. Sure, you’ll look like a bowling ball with eyes, but trust me, it really makes tidy work of all those fly-aways that make you look like a homeless person by 11am.
11. Hang those washed shirts on a coathanger and bypass the ironing thing
In all my childhood I never saw my mother use an iron. But I did see all the shirts on coathangers dangling from the clothesline once or twice a week. This genius hack has two benefits:
- The shirts will dry crease-free and won’t need ironing
- You can then go straight from the clothesline to the cupboard in one move
12. Get a stick vacuum and make it a living room feature
Instead of hiding that vacuum cleaner away under beds or in hall cupboards, get one of those stick vacuum thingies and display it proudly in the corner of the living room. Granted it will not go with the HURDYVERDY TV cabinet you bought at IKEA in hack #2, but I guarantee you will vacuum the floor regularly if the vacuum cleaner is like Richard Marx: right here waiting for you.
13. Play the ‘Depression era dinner game’ at dinner time
Remember The Great Depression? When there were shortages of BASIC FOODSTUFFS AND YOU COULDN’T GO TO EFFING COLES EVERY NIGHT AT 5:30 FOR SUPPLIES? No, neither do I. But apparently it happened when Grandpa was knee high to a grasshopper. My point is, it happened and everyone survived. If you are sick of dashing to the shops so that you might produce your toddler’s heart’s desire for dinner, just play the “Let’s pretend it’s 1929” dinner game. Scratch together dinner from whatever you have in the pantry. Go on, you know you want to.
14. Cut up kids’ meat with a pair of kitchen scissors
This is a small thing but it’s my signature lazy mum move handed down to me from my own mother, the queen of lazy mum 101 (see lazy tip #11) Chops, steaks, schnitzel, don’t saw away at them with a knife and fork. Cut those slabs of protein into teeny tiny pieces with the kitchen scissors. That’s what they’re for. To be clear: I’m talking about cutting up your toddler’s food. Not your own. But whatever works, ladies, whatever works.
*not really patented