I am fortunate enough to have the talented and organized Ana Brady guest blogging for me today. She's got tips on how to include your children in your life so that everything gets done and fun is had at the same time!
There are mommies who manage to get everything on their daily agenda done, and mommies who simply don’t.
Before I got pregnant, it was just my husband, me, and our desire to spend our lives goofing around, going out with friends, traveling, watching movies, cooking together... We watched our acquaintances and wondered how they survived with jobs, children and so many obligations that come with that.
Then we got two beautiful babies and suddenly it was my husband, me, the babies, and our desire to do everything to keep them safe and happy. Well, that, and a pretty firm decision we will not be like many other parents who "quit" their previous lives when they get children. We made a deal we’d be the best organized parents in town. Did it work? Well... We haven’t made a survey, but I’m satisfied at how our plan is coming along. If you feel like you don’t have parenting figured out and you’re always missing some time for yourself, here are some tips I found very useful, that might help you, too.
1. Make a list of things that you’d be very unhappy if you had to abandon them. I don’t mean activities that would give you some pleasure, but those that you really can’t do without. Activities that you as an individual really need. Everyone needs some alone time, some entertainment time, some shopping and getting-hair-done time. Make a list of what you really need in your life. That could be: exercising at least twice a week, drinks out with girlfriends once a month or more often, reading a chapter of a book every day, writing poems, planting flowers, etc. You and your partner need to figure out how to help each other keep your favorite activities and hobbies.
2. Some of the things you want to do, like shopping or seeing your friends, don’t have to exclude your children. Malls have playgrounds where you can leave your children with experienced instructors for an hour or even more, and you can spend some of that time checking out the latest spring/summer collection at your favorite store. If there’s some children’s play going on in a mall, or park, or any other venue, you can set up a meeting with your friends there, and enjoy their company while your kids are engaged with what the puppets or actors are doing on stage.
3. If cooking is taking too much of your time, you need to make some organizational changes in the kitchen. For some time now I’ve been practicing cooking only, or mostly, on weekends. That’s when I make one or two meals for the weekend, but I make large quantities so that I can freeze extra servings. While my husband is playing with our kids, I also cut the newly bought groceries and prepare them for the freezer. That way, in the week to come, I have several ready-made meals and ingredients that can be whipped up into a healthy meal very quickly.
4. If your children are hyperactive, take them outside for a long walk that will tire them out after a while, and also feel wonderful to your body that probably doesn’t get enough exercise. Do this after dinner, so that when you get back home, they are ready for bed, and you can have some relaxing alone or partner time.
I’m aware that the advice I offer here will not work for everyone, for various reasons. Still, it’s good to see how different families function. That way you can modify what works in someone else’s family, or you might get an idea for your own four (or more) tips on how to get organized and live a more relaxed and enjoyable life.
Ana Brady is an enthusiastic mother of two and writer who blogs about nutrition, recipes, family time, fitness, healthy living and similar topics. She and her husband work on a project on vinyl sheet labels.