In a world where it’s all about how busy we are, and how time poor we are, how are we meant to “do it all”? After talking with friends and family recently about how hard it is to “do it all”, and after them jokingly suggesting I should come to their house and help them, I thought I would post some of the strategies I implement at home.
I feel like there’s an invisible line drawn between women and mums, the elephant in the room, as mums coordinating little humans have more planning and organising to do, especially if they work as well, there are still some little things we can all do to make day to day life a little easier. I don’t want mums to think they are destined to fight the uphill battle alone every day, there are a lot of women and men who have trouble coordinating a work/family/home balance.
My husband and I work shift work, he’s on a rotating roster and I work all afternoons and one morning every second Saturday, therefore I eat dinner at work 9 out of 14 days. We have developed our plan of attack over the last year since we’re both full time now. Previously when I was on my own I didn’t really do anything on my days off other than prep for the week ahead and clean the house. This meant I could cook for the week, put it all in the fridge and run the dishwasher, I had leftovers every work day. Apparently this doesn’t work for my other half. He gets sick of eating the same thing all the time so I had to get creative, and even got him involved. Now we have a discussion about what we’d like to have for the following week, I do the shopping, prep some staples, cook 2 dinners in one night where I can, he loads and unloads the dishwasher because he doesn’t really like to cook, and we share the household duties like laundry and vacuuming. It works for us. But, I wanted to share with you some little things that can give you a little more time in your day, or make you feel less rushed.
- Meal planning and prepping – yes plan your meals ahead, do your shopping for the week or fortnight depending on how you like to do it but cook two dinners at once. This frees up your other days. If you have to run around after school and struggle to get dinner on the table, cook extra the night before so you can have leftovers when you get home. If the kids or even the husband are fussy let them be involved in the planning process, ask them what they will eat maybe just a few nights of the week, then if the suggestions are unhealthy or outlandish you can afford to leave the routine for a night or two. Put one dinner in the oven while you cook another. Another idea that works for us when trying to decide what to have for dinner is to keep a list of things we cook regularly for a quick reference. Because I try to stay organised we almost never have fast food or take away.
- Cleaning and general household chores should be multitasked – When you cook dinner that has to sit in the oven/thermomix/pressure cooker/slow cooker (insert other options here) for 20mins or more, go and put the washing on, hang out a washed load, run a bath, have a shower, set kids up for homework, make lunches for the next day. Make the most of the small times you get, as I think they are wasted opportunities we often don’t consider the potential for. Even put laundry on the moment you wake up, and by the time school drop-offs are done they should be ready to be hung out to dry.
- Shopping should not be done on the way home from school afternoon pickups – at this time the kids are grumpy, hungry, you’re hungry and you will buy more than you need and fight with the kids who will want to raid all the wrong isles. Instead see if you can do the shop after school drop off, prior to school pick up, or order online and click and collect or better still have it delivered. This can work in well with meal planning and have it delivered in advance of when you need those ingredients.
- Downtime – we all need some of this and a lot of people say they don’t get any, and any opportunity they would have is then taken up by cleaning up the house after the kids have gone to bed. Make sure you multitask wherever possible, do a quick tidy up while kids are eating if they eat alone (load the dishwasher for example), make lunches while waiting for the jug to boil. If you have no other opportunity do a quick 10min surface tidy when the kids go to bed, then sit down with a cup of tea and a book in bed, or wind down with some tv, or just debrief with your other half if that’s what you need.
- Roster jobs – if there’s two parents, or even kids that can help out, then work together. Maybe one parent does school pickup and the other can do the grocery shop, or maybe one organises kids while the other cooks dinner. If one parent doesn’t get to sit in front of the tv and the other does how is that fair?
Just a few simple ideas that can make a real difference. I find I’m happier if I even only cook every second day, and there are so many quick and easy meal ideas out there these days. Unless it’s a day off I even avoid doing too many tasks in one day, for instance I’ll do laundry one day, and vacuum the next, it just depends on what works and what your time commitments are like. But, I like to keep myself at least 30mins to sit quietly before I have to leave for work.
This weeks meal plan included:
- Coconut curried sausages and rice
- Tuna pasta bake
- Chilli con carne
I prepped homemade bread, subway style footlong rolls (herbs and cheese), yoghurt with fruit compote and carrot cake balls.
No miracle cures to a perfectly organised existence. Only little ideas to make it a little easier.