This month's question comes from Anonymous, a reader in California.
Q: "What or how can I manage my time usefully and wisely with each one of my kids at ages 2, 4, and 6. I'm so behind every day with making doctor's appointments, dentist appointments, washing clothes, cleaning house, even taking a shower for myself is impossible. I just can't seem to keep up and I'm ready to just throw my hands up…"
A: As a fellow mom of 2 kids, 2 dogs, a husband, and a full-time therapist with a side hustle, I completely understand your question! How in the world do we manage it all, all the time?!?
When I was raising my first baby as a full-time working mom, I became insanely frustrated with baby books! None of them really addressed today’s reality for busy parents. As such, I wrote an entire book centered around this very question! What I’m going to share with you is a few of the tips I talk about in my book.
When I surveyed moms for Trials of the Working Parent, I asked them their top tips for managing home-life effectively. There were several suggestions that seemed to be the most popular. I’m going to share 3 of those 11 tips with you right now. I won’t be able to explain them in as much detail as I would like, but I think you’ll be able to get the gist of it.
My readers tend to agree that cooking is one of the most time-consuming tasks they have to manage all day. They also agree that it’s one of the most important because it’s how you nourish yourself and your family. On your least busy day, I want you to take some time to meal prep. To explain this, I’m going to give you an example....
Let’s say you have decided that Monday night, you’re going to serve spaghetti. Sunday night (your least busy day of the week) you meal prep. You cook the spaghetti noodles and dump the cooked noodles into a container that goes into the fridge. Then, you heat up your sauce, add whatever extra ingredients you want to make it tastier, and then you refrigerate it once you’re done.
Now, on Monday night, all you have to do is mix those two things together on the stove and you’re all set! I chose a simple example, but meal prepping is really helpful when you have a recipe that has a lot of initial prep to it: making fresh sauces, lots of veggies to chop, trimming or cutting up meat, etc. Taking care of these little, time-consuming tasks ahead of time can really help you on those nights where you know life is going to be nuts!
2. Start Batch Cooking
Batch cooking was another really popular tip. This is where you double or triple your recipe with the intention of freezing the extras. Let’s take the spaghetti example again. While you won’t make a double batch of noodles, per say, you might consider making double the spaghetti sauce as opposed to enough for one night. Freeze the extra sauce for quick, mid-week meals.
So, if there is anything you cook often that freezes well, consider doubling or tripling your recipe and freezing the extra. Examples might be broths, soups, rice (freezes really well actually), etc. Just be sure to label your storage bag with the date, the contents of the bag, and how many servings are frozen inside. Also, consider freezing all those extras into small portions. By doing this, you only need to thaw what you need and don't have to thaw everything for one night's meal.
3. Fall in Love with Your Slow Cooker
Slow Cookers are one of the best inventions ever made! You can set your meal and forget it completely while you move on and tackle the rest of your chores. There are so many Slow Cooker recipes out there for you to try too! Something you can do to help yourself is do some major meal prepping with Slow Cooker recipes.
Here's what you do:
Look for some Slow Cooker recipes that you want to try that don’t require layering in the Slow Cooker and pick out 7 recipes. On your least busy day, prep a recipe, but instead of putting everything into the Slow Cooker, you are going to throw everything into a giant Ziploc bag. Label the bag with the recipe name, temperature setting, and cooking time needed. Do the same for the other 6 recipes. When you’re all done, refrigerate them. You have just prepared 7 nights' worth of dinners!
Each morning, simply pull one out, set the Slow Cooker to the temperature you listed, and voila! Dinner is cooking. You can go off to work, do house chores, run errands, or whatever, and you no longer have to worry about dinner for the rest of the week! An entire week’s worth of dinners has just been hammered out in 1 day, saving you tons of time during the rest of the week when you know things are going to be crazy!
I wish I could dive into more tips today to help you out! There are so many clever and creative ways to help save time each day and get stuff done. If you liked these tips and want more ideas, you can always check out my book, Trials of the Working Parent. I share more ways to help you manage mundane tasks, like cooking, but I also talk about how to squeeze in more quality time with your kids, self-care for moms, and so much more!
Thanks for sending in your question! Hopefully this helps you mange it all!