Oh, fitting it all in. That elusive concept… much like “going to the gym” or “healthy eating” or “washing my hair”. When I first had Harlow and returned to work, I spent a lot of time and effort Googling “working mom tips” and “working mom schedules”. I was trying to find a blog for a mother who worked 40 hours a week. All I came up with was “stay at home mom blogs”, or “part-time job mom blogs”, or “work from home mom blogs”. Which are great in their own way; for women who stay at home, work part-time, or work from home. But they helped me… not at all.
So I decided to try to share some of my little time-saving tips and strategies to make time for everything, without any unhelpful advice like “get a regular massage” or “let the parents take the kids often for date nights”. Because… I barely have time to eat, let alone get a massage, and my parents live 2 hours away. So… real world, people!
Since Harlow is an only child, from almost the beginning, I’ve worked really hard to keep her engaged and involved. At the moment, she takes gymnastics, swimming, and ballet. Since we are unable to take any classes that happen before 5:30pm (extracurriculars in this area are heavy-handed toward stay at home or part-time job moms – almost all classes are during working hours) that is a LOT of running after work/school. Which meant that things at home got even further behind. My husband (who works ungodly hours) was getting pretty tired of hot dogs every single night for months (and years) on end. He didn’t complain, but I knew. So, on top of all that, I had to add cooking into the mix somehow.
This giant, wordy opening is just my way of saying, “Hey! Here are some things that I’ve found work for me! Maybe they’ll work for you, too!”
When Harlow started taking only gymnastics classes, I’d pick her up from school, book it over to Panera for dinner, and try to make it to gymnastics without being more than 5 minutes late. After many, many months of that, my wallet was empty, and my nerves were beyond frazzled. There just wasn’t enough time to eat at a restaurant, and it was really, really expensive. It wasn’t unusual to spend around $30 for the two of us.
When ballet started, I told Harlow that we were cutting out Panera (to pay for the ballet class!) and we were going to start handling dinner another way. Enter in CAR PICNICS!
I pack a lunch and we eat in the back of the car in the parking lot of the gymnastics/ballet center. It is a fun bonding experience, and a huge money and time saver! When the weather is warmer, we’ve taken it to the side lawn of the center and had an actual picnic. Harlow loves it, I love it, and it brings my stress levels way down.
I’m a long-time vegetarian, and Chris is a meat eater. Cooking for him sucks. I’ll just say it. I detest cooking meat (I will only cook chicken, which is bad enough). I was always terrified of not cooking it enough and poisoning him. Or overcooking it. I was basically standing by the oven and checking it way too much. Then I discovered the in-oven thermometer! It is awesome. I stick it in, throw it in the oven, and walk away. I just have a cheapie like this one.
I also hate any kind of seasoning or anything, because I have to deal with the chicken (ew). Apparently food manufacturers are getting used to people like me, because they have all kinds of pre-packaged sauces and breadings and spice packs that are impossible to fail at. I don’t even have to touch the chicken. At. All. Bonus. These are a couple of my favorites… Just dump some frozen veggies in the pan with the chicken, into the oven, boom. Done.
Another cool thing I’ve been loving is the ready to bake potato kits. No scrubbing, or wondering about what to season with. All done for you.
Let go of the small stuff. If there are dishes in the sink, or laundry waiting to be folded in the basket, oh well. You are under no obligation to do it all. I sure as hell can’t. You are contributing to your family finances, raising your child(ren), and still finding some time to chip away at your house needs. You are doing great!
Adulting is hard. Give yourself a break.