“My Family and I Work Together as a Team”
Suzy Martyn, 42Cypress, California
Married to Dave, 44; mother/guardian of Julia and Vanessa, 13 (seated); Natalie, 11 (standing); Rebecca, 7
A mother of three and legal guardian of one who runs an in-home day-care business, Suzy Martyn has weekday mornings that resemble, in her words, “a well-organized three-ring circus.” What keeps things running smoothly is everyone pitching in to get things done. Every night, the girls lay out their outfits for the next day, including hair accessories, socks, and shoes. With Suzy’s help, they put homework, library books, and signed permission slips in their backpacks, which are lined up unzipped in the dining room so they can add their lunches in the morning. “If they forget something―say, lunch―they have to deal with the consequences, like having to suffer through the school’s less-than-appealing cafeteria food,” says Suzy.
Before bedtime, Rebecca sets the table for breakfast and places vitamins by everyone’s plate. Later, after the girls go to sleep, Dave, an elementary-school music teacher, fixes the girls’ lunches, fills their water bottles, and puts them in the refrigerator. Suzy handles breakfast preparation, cutting fruit and buttering the whole-grain bread she grills on the stove. “I’ll scramble eggs and put them in the fridge slightly undercooked,” she says. “It’s one less thing to think about in the morning. Plus, it saves me at least 15 minutes―that’s a huge amount when you’re rushing around.”
In the morning, Suzy gets up 45 minutes before anyone else. “It’s a quiet time to reflect and plan my day,” she says. The girls, whom Suzy taught to use alarm clocks at kindergarten age, get themselves up and have 15 minutes to make their beds, put clothes on, and wash up. “If they’re not downstairs promptly, no hot breakfast. They have to settle for a protein bar or a banana as they’re going out the door, which they really don’t like,” says Suzy. “Believe me, it only has to happen once.”
Vanessa and Julia empty the dishwasher and clear the table. Then Natalie and Rebecca help Suzy get breakfast for the five infants and toddlers arriving for day care. “I believe that kids love to feel useful,” says Suzy. “Since we all started pitching in in the mornings, my girls don’t just take care of their own chores; they help each other out as well. That makes them―and me―proud.”