Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I don't have time for everything!

As parents, we are spread pretty thin between our kids, spouses, jobs, extended family, friends, pets, homes, and more. There is no way to be 100% at everything, so just let that go now. But, I have found that if you think about things a little differently, and use time efficiently, you can get more done during the day.
  • Cleaning. When I worked full-time, I could never find time to clean the house during the week, and so I spent a large portion of Saturday or Sunday catching up on housecleaning tasks, rather than relaxing with my family like I should have been doing! So, I decided to make a schedule for the week so that I did one small cleaning job per day. Here is an example of a schedule I have used: Sunday-mop; Monday-clean upstairs bathroom; Tuesday-clean the kitchen; Wednesday-vaccuum downstairs; Thursday-clean downstairs bathroom; Friday-dust; Saturday-vacuum upstairs.
  • Dog-walking. We have two dogs, and although they got regular exercise pre-kids, that regimen fell to the wayside post-kids. Now, I don't necessarily fit in an isolated "walk-the-dog" time, but instead I just take the dogs with me while I do something else. For instance, when I need to get the mail (our mailbox is down the block), I take the dog. If I need to walk the kids to the bus stop, I take the dog. If we're headed to the neighborhood playground, we take a dog along for the fun. This definitely doesn't amount to the long walks they got before the kids were born, but it is better than nothing!
  • No kids! I have exactly 4 hours during the week that I am sans-kids (while they are in preschool). So, during that time, I try to do something that is hard to do with kids around - mostly, I work on this blog, run quick errands, or meet a friend for a long walk (that the kids would whine through).
  • Bath. When my twins were babies and toddlers, I used bath time as a really concentrated time to play and talk to them (since I worked during the day). Now that they are older, I use bath time as a time for them to get clean and for me to do something else! There is a lot you can do while still supervising the kiddos in the water. I often save a basket of laundry to fold during bath time, but lacking that I also catch up on email or fit in some exercises - squats, lunges, crunches, and push-ups can easily be done during bath time! If I am feeling particularly indulgent, I will read a book I am currently obsessing over.
  • Exercise. I used to exercise pretty regularly, and even ran a half-marathon before I had kids. Once I had kids, I had trouble finding the time or energy to exercise, particularly when I was working full-time. So, I tried to build it in to my day. Instead of taking the elevator or escalator, I make a conscious decision to take the stairs. When shopping, I don't search for a space up front - not only do you save time looking for parking, but you will also have to walk a little distance from the car to the store (and back). When I have to pick up a toys left around the house, I try to do a lunge (that amounts to about 1,000 lunges per day in my house...). When putting laundry into the dryer, I do a squat instead of bending down. These last two were actually recommendations from my physical therapist, who I had to see after I got pretty bad sciatica from so much bending!  So, lunging and squatting saves my back and works my legs!
  • Cooking. Who can find time or energy to cook a delicious edible dinner everyday? Not me. So, be efficient with the time that you do have.
    • If large batch cooking doesn’t work for you, try cooking two meals at once on a weeknight when you do find time - your oven is on anyway, so throw in some baked chicken and some meatballs at the same time!  Make sure to make enough so there are leftovers for another night.  This cookbook has some easy (believe me, I need easy!) recipes for weeknight cooking.
    • CrockPot can be a lifesaver for weeknight meals, particularly if you work outside of the home. This cookbook has 1400 recipes to try!
    • If you are able to find a long block of time on the weekend, prepare large batch meals to freeze for the week or month. (Bonus if you can do this with a friend to make it a social time!)  
Do you have any other tips for using time efficiently?

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