A lot of people ask me how I manage to cook everything from scratch while parenting, homeschooling, blogging, launching a new ministry at our church, etc. etc. How do I survive without mac and cheese or fast food? The answer is this: I make time. Yes, I have lazy days where I look at the clock, realize it’s noon and I have done close to nothing, and I scramble to salvage my day. But here’s a sample of a day in my life to give you an idea of how I “fit it all in.” Of course, there are exceptions…Tuesdays/Thursdays the boys go to homeschooling classes all day at a local church, so I have flexibility to do my grocery shopping, etc. They also do music lessons on Tuesdays. But this is a typical “regular” day in our home:
4:45 a.m. Get up, brush teeth, get my coffee, and do my “quiet time” with God…this involves praying for Superman and our kids (and anyone else I’m praying for!), reading my Bible, and reading a book that interests me. Right now, I’m reading “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn. *This time is vital to me having a good day! The quietness of the morning, darkness outside…it all makes for a perfect start to my day.
5:45 a.m Make Superman’s lunch and breakfast, get some blogging done, check in on Facebook, e-mail, etc.
6:15 a.m. Make kids’ breakfast (and mine), get house picked up a bit, finish blogging if needed, start thinking about dinner.
6:30 a.m. Kids get up, give them 10 minutes or so to wake up, then have them do their chores (they have about 20 minutes to get chores done).
7:00 a.m. Superman leaves for work, kids start breakfast, and while they’re eating, we have our morning devotions (prayer time, and right now we’re reading “Sticky Situations,” which we love!
7:20 a.m. Start school–get language arts, math and science or history done.
8:45 a.m. Kids go out to recess with a snack–I do “prep work” for school and lunch or dinner (chop up some veggies, take meat out of freezer, stare in the fridge trying to decide what to make…you get the idea)
9:00 a.m. In-laws arrive, and school starts back up. Kids rotate around for the next hour or hour and a half doing computer time, reading, math, etc.
10:15-10:30 a.m. In laws leave, if we haven’t finished science or history for the day, we finish that. Then kids go play outside until I get lunch ready.
11:00 a.m. Eat lunch
11:30 a.m. Kids go back outside and play for an hour or so until “room time.”
12:30-2:00 p.m. Kids are separated in separate rooms/outside. I use this time to pick up the house…again. Prep some more for dinner. I’ll blog a bit, have some Facebook time, spend some time outside with our animals, or just do nothing. I don’t usually watch t.v. during this time since I usually feel like if I sit down on the couch, I won’t want to get back up.
2:00-3:30 p.m. Kids play, watch t.v., do afternoon chores, etc. I usually listen to Pandora while I work on dinner…it keeps me going!
3:30-4:00 p.m. Superman gets home, dinner is usually in the oven, we catch up on our days, etc.
4:30-5:00 p.m. We eat dinner. Monday nights are family night and we usually play a game, hide-and-seek, Uno, etc. for about a 1/2 hour.
5:30-6:00 p.m. Clean up dinner stuff–kids are assigned a night of the week to do dinner dishes. I put away leftovers (if I’m lucky enough to have some!), Superman usually spends some time on the computer checking in on all the political junk he likes. =)
6:00-7:00 p.m. Either the kids are playing (or arguing), or we watch a show together as a family (we were doing The Cosby Show every night, but Netflix just took it off…bummer).
7:00 p.m. Girls go to bed
7:15 p.m. Boys get jammies on, brush teeth, put laundry away, etc. Go to “room time” for a 1/2 hour or so before bed.
7:45 p.m. Boys go to sleep
7:45-9:00 or 9:30 Superman and I watch a movie, hang out, etc. Usually in bed by 9:30 during the week. And then do it all over again tomorrow!
So, as you can see, I do spurts of prep work throughout the day. Some days I’ll do the crock pot, and then I just throw whatever it is in first thing in the morning, and then it’s ready in the afternoon!
My two cents? Embrace your life wherever you are. We are where we are, and that’s just how it is. Obviously I’m lucky in that I’m home during the day, so I don’t have to juggle work schedules with school schedules. Find out what works for you. We can approach life with a “grass is greener” philosophy or with a “grass is browning on my side, but I’ll try throwing some fertilizer on it!” mentality. That may have made no real sense, but I think you get the picture. There are times where I feel completely overwhelmed with my responsibilities and with the never-ending barrage of requests from our children. But at the end of the day, this is my life. Either I’m going to grab it by the horns and ride it all the way with a positive attitude, or I’m going to crouch in a corner and shy away, constantly complaining about my “lot” in life. I’ll take option #1! Yes, I’ll have bad days. Yes, I’ll probably throw some tantrums now and then. And yes, I’ll have mini-breakdowns at times. But in the end, I know I’m filling our family with nourishing foods, investing time to make sure they are being fed foods that will fuel them. I want our kids to look back on their childhood and see that I was willing to put in time for them to help ensure their adult lives will be filled with as much vigor and energy and health as possible!
Here are some of my tips for less stressful days:
*Each night, write down a list of things you want to accomplish the next day. I love crossing things off a list. Number them in order of importance, and then do them. Include your meal prep work (dicing veggies, etc.) on that list. Give yourself some grace. If you don’t cross everything off your list, just add it to the following night’s list.
*Every morning, give yourself a little “breathing time” before you start running around. Whether you are a person who reads your Bible, Qu’ran, Book of Mormon, or just likes to sit and sip a cup of coffee, take 10-15 minutes and just enjoy the quiet.
*Don’t freak out when things don’t go according to plan. Be flexible. We really don’t have control over most of what’s going on, anyway.
*Play some motivational music. I usually have Pandora playing in the morning as I’m making breakfast, and it’s calm music. As the day goes on and I’m making lunch or cleaning, I put on some hoppin’ stuff (think 90’s dance). Whatever gets your little heart skipping.
*Take baby steps. If you’re revamping your diet, don’t let yourself be discouraged when you “fall off the wagon” or if you can’t eliminate everything at once. Just do what you can when you can.
*There is no “cookie cutter” perfect diet/plan/lifestyle for everyone. God made us unique. Find out what makes you feel good and what doesn’t. Start eliminating things you feel may be a culprit and keep them out for at least 30 days. Then try to add it back in to see if it is, in fact, having a negative affect.
*Lastly, enjoy your life! Try to find the good in each day. Compliment someone. Give someone a hug. Thank someone who isn’t expecting it. Send someone a note. If you have kids, invest in them. We only get one life. One chance. One time. Live it!
For some more tips on making your cooking less stressful, check out this article on Stress-Free Cooking!