When I asked a group of online friends who they would love to see featured on Our Family Home, the name Nicole Avery popped up more than once! Otherwise known as the Planning Queen, Nicole is the mum of five and master organiser behind the successful Australian blog and book of the same name, Planning With Kids. She is also a good friend and I am so pleased that she is here to share a peek behind the doors of everyday life in her busy household.
Could you please introduce us to your family and tell us a little about your home?
We are a family of seven – myself, Mr I, master 14, master 12, miss 9, master 7, master 4 and our 6 month old Airedale pup, Pocket.
We have been in this home for the last eight years. It looks like 5 kids live in it – lots of marks on the walls, lots of books and lots of activity. The home has a warmth to it that comes from the energy of the gorgeous little people who live here.
What does a typical day look like for your family?
I am always first up as I exercise in the early hours of the morning (5.30am class). By the time I return home around 7am, four out of the five kids will be up and about. We set the table each night, so they are able to make themselves breakfast as they wake.
Once home, I will chat with the kids as I put the finishing touches on the lunch boxes. I do the majority of the lunch box preparation the night before. Mr I leaves for work around 7.15am. The kids are pretty independent at getting ready in the mornings and they each have some simple household tasks to complete before we leave for school. I aim to leave the house with the key rooms organized – that is dishwasher stacked, table and benches wiped down, beds made etc.
Providing it isn’t raining we walk to school each day. I much prefer to walk to school than drive. The walk gives us a chance to chat along the way and it is less stressful than getting everyone in and out of the car and finding a park. It is a 3km return trip and I run home with the preschooler in the jogger pram, so it is a great way to exercise the dog too.
The days the preschooler has preschool are my workdays, on those days when I return home I tend to get straight to it and make the most of my child free days. Throughout the day I will have short breaks to do washing, have lunch etc. Before I know it is 3pm and it is time to do the preschool and school pick ups. I drive to pick the kids up due to time constraints.
Refueling for the kids is always the first thing we do after school. We sit at the dining table and have afternoon tea. Only Monday nights do we have no after school activities, so there is generally some running around to do by me, dropping off and picking up kids. In between this there is reading to listen to, homework to help with and dinner to be cooked.
Monday through Friday the kids and I have dinner together. Their dad is usually not home from work until after 7pm. It is then bath, stories and bed for the younger three kids. We have staggered bed times of 7.30pm (4 & 7 y.o) , 8.00pm (9 y.o), 8.30pm (12 y.o) and 9.30pm (14 y.o). Once the younger three are in bed there is more tidy up, homework helping and preparation for the next day. On a good night I will jump online after 9pm sometime to get some more work done. My bed time varies but is most often around 11pm. You can see more details about my kid’s routines here.
My view from the kitchen – where I spend a lot of my time!
Which five words would you use to describe your home?
Warm, full, noisy, open and fun.
How would you describe your parenting style? How does your home reflect this?
I would describe it as intentional – I do think quite a bit about how I parent and continually try to improve how I go about it. I really encourage independence, problem solving and discipline in my kids.
My parenting style is reflected through out the house in many ways – lots of visual aids for the kids to organise themselves and remind them of the household tasks they are responsible for. Our house is completely kid friendly and there are dedicated shelves in the pantry cupboards for the kids to access what they need to be able to get themselves a drink or something to eat, tidy up after spills etc. We also have a small fridge which they can access anytime for a healthy snack.
The primary school and preschool schedule / visual charts to help them get organised independently for school in the mornings.
Where do your children play?
We have a room in our house, which would normally be a formal living area. When we moved in to this house 8 years ago, we didn’t have any furniture for it as we came from a much smaller house. But we have made a conscious decision to keep this room pretty vacant to give the kids space to play and now study. They also play in the main living area; we keep this pretty sparse too and have a shelf full of toys in this room as well as a cupboard full of drawing, writing and cutting materials.
The kids also play a lot outside; we have plenty of equipment – a netball ring, soccer goals, fort and trampoline. We are lucky to live in a street where the kids can play outside on their own too. So they will ride their bikes and scooters up and down the hills – sometimes at speeds that I cannot bare to watch!
What should be a formal living room, but what the kids call the LEGO room as that is what it is used mostly for.
How do you ensure that everyone has the space they need?
This is a tricky one for us as we run the house with 3 bedrooms and a home office for me. We recently made changes to the bedrooms set up as our daughter was finding the younger ones were touching all her things and she was doing most of the tidy up all the time. This change has been working well to date.
But other than that, the kids don’t complain too much about having space to themselves. Growing up with many siblings, they know they need to share space. I can tell at times that a child may need some space to themselves, so will offer for them to go up into my study or my bedroom to move away from everyone else. For the older boys I will also encourage them to get outside for a run or ride around the block if I feel tensions are building.
How and where do you find space for yourself?
I don’t think I do at home! Not when everyone is home, anyway. I find space for myself when I am running and exercising and as I do quite a bit of that, I don’t really take space to myself at home. If I am working when the kids are home I usually do it in the home office. The kids now know after years of training that when I am upstairs working and dad is home, they need to go to dad for assistance and avoid interrupting me. This is always a work in progress!
What is your favourite way to spend time together as a family?
We are a pretty active family, so lots of our time is spent together around sporting events, either with a family member participating or watching one of our favourite sporting teams.
What three things is your home never without?
Music: We all love music. Our stereo has connection to plug our iPods and iPhones into and we share who gets to be DJ.
Food: With our activity levels, it is a constant cycle of food prep, eating, cleaning up! Just as well I love spending time in the kitchen.
Chatter: I love to talk and my kids seem to have inherited this gene from me too.
The dining room – where we chat together most as a family.
What do you hope your children will most remember about their home and family when they reflect back on growing up?
Sitting around the dinner table talking and laughing while enjoying good home cooked food.
“I would describe it as intentional – I do think quite a bit about how I parent and continually try to improve how I go about it.” – I love this Nicole’s description of her parenting style. How would you describe yours? How does your home reflect your parenting style?
Be sure to check out Nicole’s blog, Planning With Kids.
- Our Family Home: Rachel Devine
- Organising Kids: Sorting & Storing Baby & Kids Clothes
- 7 Steps to Creating an Outdoor Play Space Kids Will Love