Mom Hacks: How to Find More Time for Yourself
We moms are giving people who pour our hearts and energy into our families and our jobs, leaving little time left for life’s small indulgences—a hot cup of coffee, solitude in the bathroom, or time to curl up under a snuggly blanket with a good book. What whimsical pleasures have you missed the most since becoming a parent? Eating your food while it’s still hot? Holding an adult conversation without perpetual interruption? Exercising? Watching a chick flick instead of a G-rated cartoon? Yes, a mom’s time is allocated a million different ways every day. No matter how much we love our kids, we are bound to get testy and irritable if we don’t take time to recharge. Where can we sneak in me time? The following time-saving tips are a good place to start.
Ask any mom what room she spends the most time in, and she will tell you the kitchen. Whipping up breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for your continuously hungry clan is a labor of love. Many moms find themselves at wits end trying to think of something different to make for mealtime that won’t take hours to create. If you don’t plan meals ahead, you are probably wasting valuable time making too many grocery runs. It might sound daunting at first, but planning your meals 2-4 weeks in advance is ultra-efficient and a mega time saver.
If your computer is equipped with Microsoft Publisher, you have the capability of printing off a blank monthly calendar. Otherwise, inserting a simple table into a blank document with the right number of squares to match the given calendar month will do. Enjoy paging through your favorite cookbooks and magazines to create a month’s worth of menus at one time. It takes the guesswork out of meal-planning, allowing you to forget about it for an entire month! If you are an over-achiever, make a grocery list for each week as you go. That way, you won’t have to sift through the recipes a second time to determine what ingredients you need to snag at the store.
If you are a working mom, the dinners you plan for weeknights should be simpler. My all-time favorite cookbook is Taste of Home’s Easy Weeknight Dinners. You may have noticed cookbooks containing easy recipes or minimal ingredients produce bland meals your family hates. Not so with this must-have cookbook from Taste of Home! It is loaded with yummy recipes you will prepare over and over. This cookbook is so diverse, containing easy meals that can be made in 30 minutes, with 5 simple ingredients, in the skillet, on the grill, in the oven, or with a slow cooker. There are even ideas for quick desserts and breakfast recipes to have a dinner. Here are just a few of my family’s personal favorites:
- Family-Favorite Cheeseburger Pasta
- Smoked Kielbasa With Rice
- Mini Ham ‘N’ Cheese Pizzas
- Caesar Strip Steaks
- Open-Faced Texas Burgers
- Pasta Carbonara
- Pork chops In Honey-Mustard Sauce
- Pork Tenderloin With Zesty Italian Sauce
- Peanut Chicken Stir-Fry
- Balsamic-Glazed Beef Skewers
- Chinese Takeout-On-A-Stick
Are you get hungry yet? Taste of Home’s Easy Weeknight Dinners is not one of those cookbooks that takes up room on your shelf when it only contains a few favorite recipes—it is one that will tatter over time with your repeated thumbing through its pages. As an added bonus, large, crisp pictures are included with every recipe so you can see the side dishes that pair well with each entrée along with comments and tips from other fellow cooks.
Make It A Family Affair
Between work, shuttling the kids to activities, and tending to your domestic duties, you might feel guilty spending additional time away from your kids when you don’t see them enough as it is. Still, your heart pines for the freedom to engage in your favorite pastimes. You still can! Find creative ways to include your family in the fun so everyone can enjoy the best of both worlds—you get to do what you want and still spend time with your favorite people. Do you like to walk or jog? Go for it, and let the kids ride their bikes, scooters, or roller skates along with you. Pop in a Wii Dance game and boogie off the calories while you laugh together. If you long for silence to read in peace, unplug technology and assign quiet reading time to everyone to bolster their brain power while calming their souls. Relax by playing board games with your kids and make happy memories at the same time. Miss having girl time with your friends? Invite them over for a grown-up play date and ask them to bring their kids so yours will have someone to play with while you catch up with your best gal pals.
Incorporating your family into your fun plans when you can will make you feel less guilty about taking a trip alone to the mall or the salon—times when you really need to be by yourself.
A mom’s superpower is the ability to juggle everything by herself. Even though you can do it all and make it look easy doesn’t mean you should. Are you a perfectionist who won’t ask for help because no one can do things to suit you? Learn to delegate jobs that really don’t require your flawless execution. Ask Grandma and Grandpa to pick the kids up from school or shuttle them to basketball practice. Schedule one night each week for your husband to make dinner. Require your kids to do chores to earn an allowance. It’s an initial time investment to teach kids how to sort the laundry, make their beds, pack their own lunches, wash the dishes, and sweep the carpet, but the dividends are sizable chunks of time left for you to pursue your interests and hobbies.
Mastering the art of efficiency is the key to having more time to yourself. Some people just can’t pull it together, and the lack of organization robs them of loads of precious time. Most moms will admit that every day is laundry day, but some tasks should be consolidated to one time slot to free up your week. Pick one day to clean, one day to shop, one day to schedule everyone’s doctor or dentist check-ups, and one day to pay bills. Rabbit trails are the death of efficiency. How many times have you entered a room and forgotten why you were there because you were sidetracked ten times along the way? Make to-do lists for yourself and organize your tasks into manageable chunks throughout the week to help you stay focused. For example, make grocery day the day you also assemble fresh fruit bowls, veggie plates, and lunch meat and cheese plates. When your family needs to pack lunches or grab a snack, the work is already done. Do you find yourself stopping several times a day to respond to texts, e-mails, and social media posts? Technology can be a time killer. Set aside a segment of each evening to reply to your contacts instead of being distracted with too much frivolous banter throughout your day.
Seize the Moment
Yearning for me time doesn’t have to be a selfish desire when it’s kept in balance. You’re a mom who invests love, sweat, blood, and tears into your family, but your love bank needs replenished sometimes with a healthy deposit of solitude so you can chase your dreams. Seize opportunities to bask in your own amusements without forsaking your responsibility to the ones who depend on you most. Last-minute sleepover invitations, sports camps, days out with grandma, church activities, and the like are those stolen moments where you can read a few chapters, spend longer in the shower, eat hot food, and text with friends. Those unexpected moments, when you find them, help make you an even better mom.