Since returning to work, my life is a juggling act – and I know many parents can relate with me on that! Being the organized individual that I am, I rely on planning ahead and a lot of lists to help me keep it all together. I feel terrible if I forget something or let certain household chores go for too long. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that there will always be cat hair in tumbleweeds on my floors and Goldfish crackers jammed in the couch cushions – and I’m ok with that (now).
I have a few tricks up my sleeve that help our days run smoothly, and most of my tips revolve around food.
1. Pre-packing my lunches and Odin’s snacks
Every Sunday night I pre-pack my lunches for the week. This means cutting up fruit and putting it in individual containers and packing whatever other items I can in advance (crackers, cheese, and other snacks). I also take this time to get a few things together for Odin to take to daycare with him. They provide snacks, but I also send along a few things each week, which I send with him every Monday morning.
2. Writing out dinner menus a week in advance
Over the weekend, my husband and I will take a look at the week ahead, see what the weather is supposed to be like and if there are nights we have activities/commitments outside the house. We take these into consideration when planning out our dinners for the week. Doing this in advance helps us remember what food needs to be taken out to thaw each day and makes it easier to start cooking right away, rather than wasting time debating what we should have for dinner (because I can waste a lot of time making a decision).
3. Getting things ready the night before
Every night I get my clothes and bag ready for the next day. This reduces the amount of time it takes me to get ready in the morning because I just put on what it sitting on my dresser. I also refill items in Odin’s diaper bag and pack his spare clothes the night before so that I can pick him up and go each morning. We save a lot of our housework for the weekend, simply to give us more time to devote to Odin during the evening.
4. Making the most of my lunch hour
We live out of town, so my husband and I make the most of our lunch hours by getting all of our errands done on our lunch breaks. My office is located close to everything I could possibly need in Ottawa, which makes picking up groceries, going to the bank, picking up prescriptions and other errands run smoothly – and allows me to do a lot in a short period of time.
5. Running… at 4:30am
If I didn’t get up extra early to run, I would barely ever get out to run. By the time I get home, pick Odin up from daycare, get dinner ready, walk the dog, give Odin a bath, etc., it would be pitch black before I fit in a run. I also want to have evenings to spend with my family, so it’s just easier for me to run when everyone else is still asleep. We live in the country, so having a treadmill is necessary, and makes it possible to run at 4:30 am without worrying about the types of animals I may encounter if I were running outside in the dark (we only have one street light on our road).
With all of that said, the balancing act that is work and home is not rocket science, it’s simply time management. Once we figured out a routine that worked best for us, things got much easier. It also got easier once our marathon winter in Ottawa ended and we didn’t spend 5-10 minutes getting bundled up before heading out the door each morning.