Do you do everything?

If that’s you – in charge of everything – then why not organise a few swaps? This post is by Nicola Baird. If you like this post there are loads more ideas in my book Homemade Kids.

When your children are very little it feels like you are doing everything – because you are. Unless you have pots of money to buy in help you’ll be your baby’s stylist, hygenist (well nappy changer!), chef, teacher, guide, friend, everything. As children get older and make their own friends you’ll probably hope to step back a bit. This will give you some time to reclaim and your children a chance to learn a range of  life skills, from putting out the cutlery to how to open and eat a boiled egg. (Obviously there’s a lot more to life learning than that short list!)

Bored of the kitchen?
As your little one grows nurseries and schools take on a large burden of childcare, including the cooking, but with daughters aged 9 and 12 I still feel that I have to do far too much in the kitchen. A clever solution is to team up with another family at the school/nursery your child goes to and do some swaps. This might enable you to lengthen your working day or just escape the monotony of having to make the dinner every night.

Each week my daughter Nell, and her friend Nat, take it in turns to have tea at the other’s house. It’s been a great way to introduce both of them to different foods and entertainment. It’s a nice way for a single child to share space with another, and a great way for a sibling to get some quality time off.

Create a family meal
Another two mums, both with two boys, who live nearby team up on Mondays to cook a family meal together – saving cash and energy by sharing ingredients, swapping cooking skills, and generally having a very companionable time.

Do everything if you want to, but it grinds most of us down especially the stay-at-home partner. If you’re feeling worn out or dulled by monotony then it’s essential that you find a way to share your child and all your amazing child-raising skills.

Two kids and you are busy, or can you find ways to share the work?

As Jo, one of the brilliant mums quoted in my book Homemade Kids when her kids were 5 and 2 years old put it:

“I have recently started sending my two-year-old to a playgroup for a couple of afternoons and this has given me a couple of hours in the day. I also share childcare with a friend who has a child of a similar age so that we each get every other Wednesday morning off. It’s brilliant.”

Learning to trust another family method of raising kids works best if you have similar views about reward, discipline and scheduling fronts. But its benefits are far greater as my guesss is that it creates a mindset that sees the potential of swapping in all areas, rather than buying what you need.

Where next?
Perhaps organising a regular playdate could lead to you starting to house swap for cheap and fab holidays, or swapping your time for a grocery discount at a shopping co-op (very Archers! although you can do the same in London at the People’s Supermarket  which was set up by chef Arthur Potts Dawson who recently told me it’s run very like a Steiner nursery with everyone sharing the jobs). It could also see you joining a timebank, helping with a Transition Town or setting up a babysitting circle.

Let me know if the swap magic has happened to you…

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