Sunday, January 7, 2018

Organizing, Meal Prepping and Fitness tips from a working mother.

It's Sunday and we haven't gotten out of our sweats all day. It's ok, we are cleaning and meal prepping for the week! Priorities. I thought I'd share a little of how I multi-task everything as a working mother. 

The biggest challenge I've ever faced was multi-tasking motherhood, working and keeping true to myself in some way. I have this small inkling that I am not alone. And rightfully so. When I first became a mother, it was ALL about Scarlett. I was so invested in doing everything in my power to make sure that she was raised perfect (I laugh about that now),  that I neglected myself, a lot. It was a lesson learned. I think that it is common to do this when you have your first child. And I don't think it is wrong per-say, I just think that as your child gets older or you start to have more children, you realize that you are a happier and a healthier mother if you take time for your needs as well.

I learned this and by the time Maxwell was born, I asked Ty to help out a great deal more. That's right, I made him get his butt up to help me in the night, even if he had to hold the baby's head to my boob. ;) And he did, without a single complaint. I also took nights out with the girls or date nights a lot sooner. In fact, we left Maxwell with a sitter a month and a half after he was born so that we could go out for a date night alone. I don't think I left Scarlett alone with anyone until she was 2. Ha ha.

I also learned that you can't do everything. It was impossible to clean, (I like my house clean at all times!) cook, tend to the kids and give them attention, work and workout. There just wasn't enough time in the day!!! So I prioritized. Some days the house stayed dirty and I didn't die. Sometimes we ate out and nothing in that take out food was organic or non-GMO. *wink* Sometimes I opted to go for a walk instead of laundry. And I can tell you that I felt a whole lot better after the walk than I would have if I finished laundry instead. The same went for working out. I had to make it a priority or it wouldn't happen. So I didn't get to hang out with my friends as much as I would have liked but hey, I had abs, felt great and only once a month out with the girls wasn't that bad after all. It's a season. I think all mothers can relate to having to make priorities when your children are young. I am a working mom with two kids and a house, who wants to stay in shape. I make it all work and here is what works for me. I write down my priorities and stick to them. For instance, my list looks like this:

1. Time with kids & Ty
2. Fitness & eating well
3. Work
4. Nourish my soul 
5. Clean & Organize 

(Side note, I no longer have an infant. When you have a newborn or small baby, life is just chaotic and there is no way to plan for what the baby will need at any given day. This is my plan now as my kids are 6 and 2.)

1. Meal Plan. This has saved my life and saved me so much money. If I don't meal plan, than I eat whatever and it isn't usually healthy. I also go crazy at the grocery store throwing in every impulse that comes around the corner. You best believe I will throw in Mallomars if I see them! I used to write out all of our recipes on paper but then when it was my husband's turn to cook, he'd ask for the recipe and I'd have to send it if I wasn't home, or explain it... it was always a hassle. So I got this notion one day to add my recipes to a Pinterest Board labeled "dinner this week". All of our dinners are in my Pinterest Board and when we want to cook a meal, we just go into that board and open it up! Genius right? lol, maybe not but it really works! So I add all of our meals in here. Trust me, you can find ANY recipe that you are looking for online. I also add a dessert in here that I make for the week. Sometimes we try new stuff and if we don't like it, we delete it but if we do, we add it to my "EAT" board and that is like our menu book that I pick from sometimes when trying to meal prep. If you are interested in seeing mine, it's HERE.

I used to prep all of my food out for each meal but now that I work from home I don't do that as much. I make sure everything is made and ready to eat, but I don't put them all together in Tupperware. This is a good idea if you don't work from home or aren't a stay at home mom. Whatever works best for you. Another thing I used to do when Maxwell was a baby was to use a meal service like Blue Apron or SunBasket. It takes all of the work out of it for you and it worked for us during that stage of our life.

Now if you are trying to stay healthy or doing a Nutrition Guide, it's important to stick to that. Lately I have been eating ONLY clean foods. Ok, except for Chik-Fil-A yesterday....LOL. But I did 4 weeks of clean eating before we went to Siesta Keys for Christmas and I felt great! I'm starting another 6 week series on Monday and I wrote down everything I will eat in my calendar and check it off as I eat it.  This holds me accountable. I also just bought a 60 oz water bottle and I know that I need to at least drink this entire bottle every day. No more refilling. I don't know why but that just kills my enthusiasm for water drinking. If you are looking for help with what to eat, I'd suggest the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan. It does cost but it might be worth it if you are stuck. I have done a lot of recipe hunting on Pinterest and online. At this point, I feel that I am confident in knowing what is healthy or clean.

2. Work Out Plan. Just like meal planning, you have to have workouts planned out.  These days my routine changes depending on what's going on. So I don't plan the times, but I do plan what I'm going to do. And I make sure that whatever it is that I write down in that calendar gets done. No excuses. For the month before Christmas I did the 31 day challenge with Tone It was SO easy and I felt like my body was on point. I will let the photos speak for themselves....Here. Don't forget, this also included eating right.

Now, I am going to amp up on weights and try to gain some muscle. So I will make sure to plan according to that. Some people work out at home, like I do. I prefer that. But others like to work out at the gym. I like working out when Ty gets home from work or on my lunch break, others prefer getting it out of the way in the morning.  Whatever your preference, just get it done. NO MATTER WHAT. If you don't know where to start and are having a hard time figuring out what to do, I highly suggest Tone It Up! It's free to start and it truly works. I also did Bikini Body Burn which is a little more advanced and took up more of my time, but if you are up for a challenge, look into that. It was $40 to join if I recall correctly. Like I said, I am loving Tone It Up right now. They have an app and just make it so easy to get a quick workout in if that's all the time you have, or go for more if you can. Best plan I've done thus far! (And no, this is not a sponsored post. I'm just sharing what has worked for me)

3. Take Time for You. This is so crucial. Like I mentioned above, I didn't do this and it took a huge toll on my marriage and my life. I wish I had known to take some time to do things that I enjoyed. Maybe yoga to destress or an hour of alone time in the bath with wine and a book. A night out with the girls or a hike with a friend. Whatever you enjoy, do some of that for at least 1 hour a day. I know some of you are thinking that's impossible. Then make it every other day. Literally write it in your calendar if you have to. When I don't do this, I start to get cranky without even knowing it. Since I work from home, I'm here most of the day. Being an extrovert, this kills me. So I take time every other day to get out of the house. It doesn't matter if the family is with me or not, I just need to be out of the house to feel renewed. I also love writing so this stays on my priority list as "Nourish my soul".

4. Cleaning: So now comes the hard one. How do I keep the house clean? This is one that I still struggle with, I admit. The kids make a mess of one room before I can clean the next. But 2 things work for me like a charm. Chore charts and Simplifying. Before bed, I have them clean up their own messes. The little ones can help you (like Maxwell does with me) and then older ones like to know they are getting a reward once the stickers fill up on their charts (like Scarlett). I can't help you yet with, although Scarlett is a close second for a teenager, I swear! I make sure to do a Fall Cleaning and Spring Cleaning every year. I also do a New year cleaning. I purge all of the old and get rid of it. When we moved here from NY, I got rid of SO much stuff and it felt great! I am now a firm believer that simplifying is magic! Do the math. Less stuff.....less cleaning and picking up. Same goes for toys. If my family would ever get the memo about that ;)

I try to always tidy up as I go. And I encourage the other members of our family to do the same. Instead of putting the dishes in the sink, put them in the dishwasher. Or wash them right away. When you come into the house, put your coat in the closet instead of hanging it on the chair. That type of small stuff makes a huge difference. Ty and I have certain stuff that we each do. Hello! This isn't the 1950's, men should be helping out too! We both work full time. Ty usually cooks most of our dinners (because he's just better at it ha ha) and therefore, I do the laundry and do the deep cleaning the house(because he is NOT good at that ha ha). We both share dishwasher duties and of course, the kids.  I clean bathrooms every Friday, often when the kids are taking baths. I was reading this on a blog one day and thought, what a genius idea! You have to be in the bathroom to watch them anyhow, might as well clean it.
I like the house to be nice and clean for the weekend. I also do a little extra on Sunday evening when I'm prepping the week's meals. It sets the mood for the week if things are all in order.

5. Organizing. I am the master of organization. I love organizing and putting things in order. Sometimes I do it just for fun. I don't think this is something that can really be taught in a paragraph. For me it comes natural. But my advice is to get lots of baskets/bins. When we moved to Texas, my sister helped me pack and she was laughing at how many baskets and storage bins I had. But I use them all and it keeps our house organized. I keep labeled bins for all toys and the kids know where to put everything away. Maxwell got my trait of organization because if the toys are not in the correct bin, he will move them until they are. I also keep square baskets under the sinks for all of my toiletries. I have one for hair products, one for face products and makeup, one for lotions, SPF and tanning products and one for hair brushes and elastics. Our house here is MUCH smaller than our New York house. So I have eliminated lots of our things, as I said, and come up with alternatives. We no longer have a large entry closet, so I hung hooks for Scarlett and Maxwell's backpacks so they won't be thrown about when we come home. When in doubt, get some ideas on Pinterest. They have awesome hacks on there.

6. Last but most important, Family Time. I think that this is a hard one for working parents. We work 8 or more hours out of the day and by the time we work-out or cook a healthy meal, how much time is really left for family? It is SO important to keep the little ones feeling like their is together time. We make one night a week family night where we play games or watch a movie together or do something all together with NO interruptions. That means electronics! ;) We also make sure that we all sit down together for dinner. It is the only meal that we get to eat together so we sit down, pray and talk to each other. Sometimes if Ty has to work late or can't get to dinner, then he will give them their baths. This may seem like it's not quality time but kids love when you play with them in the tub. You can always do a nightly routine too. Maybe 2 books before bed.  We reserve the weekends for family time. Luckily neither Ty nor I have to work weekends and we take advantage of that. We go on weekend trips and explore together every chance we get. 

I know it may seem impossible to do everything that you want. But when you are intentional about your priorities, you can make it happen. I know because I have had lots of practice and I've succeeded at it! Don't be hard on yourself if now and again it doesn't work out. I have these days, too. The most important thing is that you do what you can to make a happy, healthy home and body! I'd love to hear your tips if you have any. I'm always looking to better my life. 

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