When we set out to start a family, I knew that life would be different. I vowed that children wouldn’t consume my life, we’d still eat out when we wanted, I’d continue to cook elaborate meals, keep a clean house and laundry caught up. We said that having kids wouldn’t change our lifestyle. I know, you’re laughing and shaking your head because you either thought the same thing or just laughing at my thoughts. I get it, I would too! We always tend to paint a perfect picture of how we see our lives going but reality is, well reality. How many times had you gone over to someone’s house with kids and vowed that your kids toys would always be picked up.
Don’t get me wrong, being a parent is amazing when you are not getting yelled at and your child is standing outside your car with your pants down. But becoming parents is a big shift in you lives.
With our first, the biggest hurdle is realizing how we manage our time and how we lived our lives. We are very laid back people and we never went out too much. We would work a lot, usually came home late and would grab take out or I would pick up something at the store on the way home from work to make. Nothing was ever planned, no one was ever relying on us. Insert kids, toys, laundry, maintaining a semi-cleaned house, meal planning and did I mention laundry.
Our problem was how do we manage all this! Our weekends became full of cleaning, laundry, planning food, caring for a child…you get the drift. No more naps and laying on the coach all day. We always cherished our weekends because we work very hard and it’s the only time to just do what we want to do. With kids, that’s not an option. Our weekends were so consumed with catching up that we ended up resenting the weekends! Which also caused arguments, who’s doing what, long to-dos, so on.
For me, I’m a problem solver and efficiency master. I’m that person that will carry 20 bags of groceries so I don’t have to make additional trips back to the car. If there is a shortcut, I will find it! So that’s what I did! I devised a plan…project bring back our weekends!
I’ve listed out some of the ways we manage everything in order to enjoy our time with the kids on the weekends and each other while still getting our “chores” done!
hire a house cleaner – I never thought I would do this but I now understand why people hire someone to clean their house. I said I would never do it but now I’m that person…guilty! I know this seems expensive and out of reach but honestly it was the best thing for our sanity and our marriage. I felt like I was always cleaning and never was able to spend time with the kids. What’s that saying, time is money…so true! I tried cleaning a room each day of the week but that never worked out, I was too exhausted! We made this work in our budget!
To find a good house cleaner, start with asking friends…you’d be surprised how many people actually have a house cleaner. Ask for a reference in your mom’s group on FB or even on the NextDoor app. If you cannot afford to have the SWAT team come clean your house, start with someone coming to clean the most time consuming or hated part…bathrooms! If someone comes in for an hour each week for an hour or even every other, that is one thing to take off your plate and less to worry/stress over.
meal planning – Probably the most dreaded two words. Not only does it seem time-consuming but also impossible. I promise it’s not that bad. It can be overwhelming at first, but once you have a system…you’re good! I do love to cook but I keep my meal planning simple for the week. We eat a very healthy diet, kids included! That being said, I don’t go crazy on week night meals. I stick to basics…a protein, veggies and fruit or carb of the kids. I find simple, healthy recipes and try to keep the ingredients similar. If a recipe has more than six ingredients, I move on or save that for the weekend when I have more time. Most nights I have an over tired toddler (she doesn’t like to nap at school) that wants to be held or wants my attention so I need it to be quick!
Either sometime Thursday or Friday AM or over lunch, I sit down and determine all the meals I’m making for the next week. I plan a meal for Monday thru Thursday and keep Friday as an eat out or take out night. I also meal plan our lunches. We generally eat the same lunches each week and I keep that simple as well. I usually do a crockpot meal for myself, especially in the colder weather I’m all about chili and soup! Other options are roasted veggies and chicken on sheet pans or some sort of hash for my husband.
I use an app called Paprika and it’s amazing! You do have to pay for it but it’s cheap. It’s great because if you find a recipe online you simply copy the link of the recipe, open the app and then it will automatically load the page where you can save the recipe. It strips everything out except the ingredients and the directions, it’s amazing! Then you can add the recipe to you calendar and make a grocery list of the ingredients you need! It makes meal planning so much easier now!
meal prep – I know this phrase can sound even more daunting but again, I keep it real simple. After I meal plan, I’ll go to the store either Thursday evening after the kids go to bed…which is amazing! No one is in the store! Or I will go Friday before I pick up the kids. I try very hard to not go Saturday or Sunday. If you have a grocery store that delivers or does pick-up, I highly recommend that! Usually we don’t need that many things so I just run in really quick and speed shop, ha!
Now the actual “prep” part. I really don’t prep too much. I do make our lunches while the kids are sleeping. Sometimes that’s before they wake up or during nap time. I only spend an hour making our lunches and sometimes I’m chopping and making spice mixes for the other meals while things are cooking. Most of the time though, I’m prepping the next day’s meal the night before or the morning off.
laundry – My most hated word, not really but you know how laundry goes…it never ends. I do try my best to do a load of laundry each night so I don’t spend the weekends going eight loads of laundry. Since the loads are smaller, I try to fold in the morning or the evening. I know some people who wash whatever is worn that day all together. I’ve been tempted to try that but haven’t tried it yet.
pick up toys and other stuff – Although we do have a “play room” in our basement where I can just close the door and never see it until I go down there. We do pick up the toys each night. I do have Pepin (almost 4) help pick up toys before dinner and bedtime. Once the kids go to bed, we spend 10-15 minutes picking up left over toys and whatever else. If it’s after the 15 minute mark, it gets left out. Most of the time, we get everything picked up. We have two storage ottoman/coffee table where it makes it nice to toss and hide the toys, ha! The main areas we pick up are the kitchen and the living room. I usually do that while my husband is getting Pep to bed or while he’s cleaning dishes. He’s in charge of dishes and making coffee for the next day while I do laundry and/or meal prep. I say we’re done with everything around 8:30. Then it’s free time…party!
Now, we don’t follow this perfectly. There are times when I’ve planned meals and we ended up eating out because of whatever reason, life happens so we just roll with it. If things are left out and there is a pile of stuff to take up the stairs and you are too exhausted to mess with it…just keep walking up those stairs and go to bed, it’s ok. Remember, no one is perfect. If they are well, good for them! You just be you and do what’s best for you and your family. This is what happens to work for us at the moment! Hopefully some of my tips will help you! If you have tips that help you and your family, leave a comment, we’d love to hear!