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Stay-at-home mother with six children under one roof reveals how she conquers back-to-school

With back to school on the agenda this week, parents across the country are prepared and ready to send their children off for the start of a new term.

Rural Queensland mother Tracey is no exception. 

The mum of six – whose children range between five and 18 – shared with FEMAIL her back-to-school tips for large families – and how she keeps the costs down. 

These include storing her bulk bought groceries in a shipping container, shopping for groceries online and stocking up on specials she knows she’ll use later.

Tracey has six children – excluding three who no longer live at home. She and her husband both had three children each when they got married and had a further three together

BACK-TO-SCHOOL 

When it comes to back to school, Tracey said she begins her shopping when the final term wraps up.

‘We start as soon as I get the book list, otherwise it just gets too chaotic and it isn’t fair on the kids,’ she told FEMAIL.

‘We just buy it bit by bit, and they pick their bits and pieces. I involve the kids. That makes it easier.’

She said the key factor to new term success is organisation.

However it can be an expensive feat. She said in public school uniforms alone she has spent $1,000 – excluding shoes, socks and underwear.

She said for shoes she buys ‘good’ brands for the children and this can cost anywhere between $100 and $150 per child.

‘The older kids need a few pairs – formal and sport – so it all adds up,’ she said.

She does have a trick to keeping costs down – buying everything in bulk.

‘I buy more now than we need – for example if they need 100 pencils we will buy 150. The more you buy, the cheaper it is,’ she said.

The stay-at-home mother said she will also buy items during the year if they are on sale, particularly once school goes back and prices drop even further.

She has a cupboard at home dedicated to school supplies and it is where she stores items she buys during the year.

Conquering back-to-school: 'We start as soon as I get the book list, otherwise it just gets too chaotic and it isn't fair on the kids,' she told FEMAIL

Conquering back-to-school: ‘We start as soon as I get the book list, otherwise it just gets too chaotic and it isn’t fair on the kids,’ she told FEMAIL

MEAL PLANNING 

However that is not where Tracey’s organisation skills end – she also plans the family’s meals during term time using a planner.

‘Once a week I do a meal plan for the week ahead and see what we have on,’ she said. 

‘If we’re not home until 7pm, then it is a pasta.’

She meal plans breakfast, lunch and dinner and for school lunches she uses bento boxes.

‘Basically twice a week I get out a whole bunch of containers and cut up a whole watermelon, a whole rockmelon, carrots – I cut up everything,’ she said.

‘In the mornings it is really just a procession line. I put it all out, I know who eats what and fill up each section.’

She also makes fresh sandwiches daily for her children.

Big family bliss: The oldest child who lives at home is 18 while the youngest is just five

Big family bliss: The oldest child who lives at home is 18 while the youngest is just five

GROCERY SHOPPING 

Tracey gets her groceries delivered to their home instead of going into the store.

‘We go to the markets for fresh fruit and vegetables,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.

She said they only buy fresh produce that is in season so that makes it cheaper.

‘For meat we go to the butcher and for the older bulk food we get it delivered once a week because if we go into the shop I spend more money,’ she said.

‘Whereas if I have a meal plan I go onto the supermarket’s website and I only order what is needed for that. I also always look to see what is on special as we do stock up.’ 

She said that they have a shipping container with shelving to store their groceries that they buy on bulk and on sale – often many of these items are used for the children’s lunches.

Using the container has helped her to shave ‘loads’ off the weekly shop, as she always has supplies she can turn to that she has bought for a lot less.  

Delivery: Every week Tracey said she spends $350 per week at a grocery store, $60 on fruit and vegetables and with top ups on items such as bread and milk it brings her overall total to $450

Delivery: Every week Tracey said she spends $350 per week at a grocery store, $60 on fruit and vegetables and with top ups on items such as bread and milk it brings her overall total to $450

She said that they have a shipping container with shelving to store their groceries that they buy on bulk and on sale

She said that they have a shipping container with shelving to store their groceries that they buy on bulk and on sale

'It has a bit of everything really. We have a normal stacked pantry inside and then a few back up of almost everything in the container,' she said

The family also have 30 chickens and some cows on the property

‘It has a bit of everything really. We have a normal stacked pantry inside and then a few back up of almost everything in the container,’ she said

‘It has a bit of everything really. We have a normal stacked pantry inside and then a few back up of almost everything in the container,’ she said.

The family also have 30 chickens and some cows on the property. 

Every week Tracey said she spends $350 per week at a grocery store, $60 on fruit and vegetables and with top ups on items such as bread and milk it brings her overall total to $450. 

‘I will not pay top dollar for something just because I want it,’ she said.

‘We don’t buy cheap brands, we like what we like and we don’t want the kids to miss out on eating good food because we have made the decision to have a big family.’ 

BUDGETING 

Her number one tip is organisation, as it helps avoid stress and creates a better life at home. 

‘Even our money – I list everything. We have a list with our yearly bills, monthly bills and weekly bills. We organise everything into categories,’ she said. 

For instance, Tracey and her husband are taking their children to Thailand next month – a holiday they booked in July 2018. 

‘We book it so far in advanced so we don’t feel it,’ she said.

‘You know what bills you have. You know Christmas and birthdays are coming. So we basically categorise our money and divide everything up into smaller portions.’

She said if it is possible get yearly bills divided up into monthly or fortnightly payments.

Key tip? Her number one tip is organisation, as it helps avoid stress and creates a better life at home. 'Even our money - I list everything. We have a list with our yearly bills, monthly bills and weekly bills. We organise everything into categories,' she said

Key tip? Her number one tip is organisation, as it helps avoid stress and creates a better life at home. ‘Even our money – I list everything. We have a list with our yearly bills, monthly bills and weekly bills. We organise everything into categories,’ she said

‘It is easy to find $100, but harder to find $1,500,’ she said.

‘Don’t get me wrong there is always little things – like something will go wrong with the car.’

However budgeting and organising your money for expenses you know are coming up, for instance putting items on lay buy in the middle of the year for Christmas time.

She said it is also important not to buy things simply because it is on sale, it has to be useful as well.

‘You basically have to think a month from now, not today,’ she said.

‘It’s taken a few years to work it out though.’ 

She said there are moments where it isn't always smooth sailing, and one point had seven children under nine under one roof. 'But it was wonderful and if we didn't want to have that, we never would have had the kids,' she said

She said there are moments where it isn’t always smooth sailing, and one point had seven children under nine under one roof. ‘But it was wonderful and if we didn’t want to have that, we never would have had the kids,’ she said

OVERALL 

She said people wouldn’t believe the amount of negative comments they get as a larger family. 

‘But truthfully we also have many lovely people who stop and have a conversation and ask how we do things,’ she said. 

She said there are moments where it isn’t always smooth sailing, and one point had seven children under nine under one roof.

‘But it was wonderful and if we didn’t want to have that, we never would have had the kids,’ she said.

‘It’s different and it’s not everyone’s life dream but I wouldn’t trade it.’  

You can find Tracey’s Instagram account here



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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