kids

With a family of eight, Madeleine West sure has nifty tricks for a chaos-free Christmas.

Wondering how you’re going to get everything done before Christmas? Between work, the shopping, social events, planning the family Kris Kringle, it can seem like you might not pull it off.

Take it from Madeleine West, actress and mother to six children under 12, it can be done. It’s all about going with the flow.

“There’s no point regimenting it too much because you’re just putting added stress on yourself and your family, and you won’t enjoy it,” West told Mamamia.

“It’s really one of those opportunities to sit back and take the time to smell the roses.”

madeleine west christmas
Madeleine and her husband, chef Shannon Bennet. Image: Getty.

Of course, the festive season for the West/Bennett household (that's Bennett as in Shannon Bennett, the head chef of Vue du Monde) is predictably "busy and chaotic", and careful organisation definitely plays a role.

But the logistics come pretty naturally to 36-year-old West; a product of keeping an eight-person household running day to day.

"It's the same organisation that it takes to get everyone out of bed on time, and everyone off to school on time and get yourself to work on time and even manage to have a shower somewhere in there," she laughed.

West, who is about to return to Neighbours, recommends making detailed lists and ticking them off as the day goes on, just to make sure you stay on top of things. Things like gift shopping, for example. For that, she insists a head-start is key.

"I try to start in July. I keep an eye on the sales," she said. "I do a fair bit of online shopping, because anything that means I can stay at home and have a cup of tea in my pyjamas is a good thing."

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West also encourages her kids to pen their wish lists nice and early.

"They can write anything they want, but we have to be realistic and explain, 'There's an awful lot of kids out there, and Santa needs to be generous to everyone'," she tells them.

"'A couple of gifts that really mean something that will last you a long time, that's really all you need. And be grateful for anything you get.'"

Madeleine promoting innovative sun safety book, Colin Splodge and The Sizzledodge. Image: supplied.

Ultimately, it's all about spending quality time together as a family. Once school holidays are in full swing, that means occupying the kids in the great outdoors - going to the beach, time in the pool, trips to the park and so on.

But having witnessed the ravaging effects of skin cancer on family and friends, she's also cautious of protecting her fair-haired little tribe.

Madeleine has therefore teamed up with Banana Boat to promote Colin Splodge and The Sizzledodge, a unique storybook with UV activated pages designed to show children how to be sun safe.

"I see the look in my kids' eyes, they kind of just glaze over when I start lecturing them about protecting themselves in the sun," she said.

"But I find that if you say to your kid, 'Take the book outside, open up the page and if the Sizzledodge appears, that means you've got put sunscreen on', it becomes a game for them. As we all know as parents, the best way to impart any information to children is by engaging their imagination and making them laugh, and this book does both."

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