My husband gave me this towel as a present the other day.
It is amazing how this one little saying can mean so much to a person, but it summarized one of the main struggles that I recently went through as a new mom of two. I have a 2 year old boy and a 4 month old little girl, I have a full-time job, and my husband and I run our family farm. Let me tell you, making the adjustment from one kid to two kids can be pretty overwhelming (especially when your kids are only a year and a half apart). One of the main struggles that I dealt with was that I felt like I couldn’t get anything done. Between helping run our family farm, my own full-time career, caring for an infant, keeping a toddler entertained, cooking for my family, cleaning our two-story farmhouse, laundry, bathing and bedtimes I felt like I could never keep up. Having that feeling of never really accomplishing much was very frustrating for me, and I felt like this quote:
So one day a couple of months ago, I sat down, said a prayer and made a list of the things that could use some improvement in my life.
Here is the list of problems that I came up with:
After looking at this list, I was pretty discouraged. I realized that most aspects of my life were a mess. I was wasting time being unorganized and scattered and worst of all… I was missing out on quality time with my husband and my kids.
I then realized that in order for me to be the best mom that I could be, I needed to get my act together. So I did some research and I found that there are so many books and websites that are completely focused on helping new parents become more organized, and I felt a little better about myself knowing that there are tons of other people that felt the same way as me!
Fixes to the Morning Madness
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people show up late. If I am less than 10 minutes early to work or an appointment, I feel like I am late. All of that changed, however, when I had kids. I felt like it did not matter what time I got up in the morning, something would happen right before we would all walk out of the door that would cause me to be 5 or 10 minutes behind. I have to get myself up and ready, feed the infant, cook breakfast for the toddler, get both kids dressed, get a bag packed for the babysitter, get a lunch packed for my toddler, and also pack my own lunch. And all of this needs to be done before 7:30 in the morning. Mornings at my house got (and can still get) a little hectic, and I constantly felt like I was racing around while never really getting anywhere. So I went to the internet. I found an article from Parents Magazine on their website called No More Manic Mornings.
One of the tips from this article really helped my family with our morning madness: Start the Night Before. That was their tip. Now I know that this sounds pretty obvious, but I had never really considered how much I could get organized and put together at night. I now pick out all of our clothes the night before. I find the outfit that I am going to wear to work, and I also lay out what the kids are going to wear. I also restock and pack the bag that the kids take to the babysitter’s house. I make sure that the diapers and wipes are full and that each of my kids has at least one extra outfit, because you never know what they will get into or get on them during the day. I even go as far as to pack the lunch bag that I send with the kids every morning. I put everything in the lunch bag and keep it in the refrigerator overnight. That way in the morning, all I have to do is grab a freezer pack and throw it in the lunch bag. I do the same thing with my own lunch. With all of these things prepared the night before, our mornings run so much smoother. I am calmer, I get to spend more quality time with my kids as they eat their breakfast and we almost always get out of the door on time. I would rather spend an hour on these things at night after my kids have gone to bed, than race around for an hour in the morning trying to get all of this done. It starts all of us out on a good note, and makes our days more productive.
Fixes to Suppertime Craziness
One main issue that constantly posed challenges at my house was suppertime. As soon as I picked my kids up from the babysitters in the evening, my son wanted to eat supper. I don’t know if any of you have had to experience the wrath of a toddler that is hungry… but let me tell you that it is not a pleasant experience. My normal routine included getting home from work and try to figure out an idea of what to make for supper. Then once I would get an idea of what to make, I would then have to figure out if I even had the correct ingredients. I don’t know how many times I ended up pulling a frozen pizza out of the freezer to cook because I couldn’t find all of the ingredients to make a healthier meal. By the time I was finally able to start supper, 20-30 minutes had already passed. And remember, this whole process is going on while a toddler is screaming, “Hungry Mama… Hungry”. I would then cook supper, and it would be after 7:00 when we finally all sat down to eat. With us eating that late at night, the kids didn’t get baths until late, and they don’t make it to bed for their 8:00 bedtime.
One overwhelming response that I got from my research was the idea of Meal Planning. This is something that takes a little extra time in the planning stages, but let me tell you it helps so much during the week, especially when I am standing in front of the fridge trying to figure out what to cook for supper at night. Here is my process:
Every weekend, I sit down and figure out the meals that I am going to cook for the rest of the week. I use Google and Pinterest and all I do is search for quick and health recipes that are kid friendly, and print off the ones that I want to use. It is amazing how many people post recipes that are simple and that actually taste pretty good! Here is an example of a recipe that I found on Pinterest for Family Style Roasted Chicken Bake and it came directly from Kraft Food’s website.
Once I have a menu planned out for the week and all of my recipes are printed out, I then go through the ingredient list. I figure out the ingredients that I currently have (either in my pantry or in my fridge) and I figure out the ingredients that I need to purchase. This makes making a grocery list SO MUCH EASIER! I know the exact things that I need at the store to make the recipes for my weekly meal plan, and I spend less money because I am not buying random grocery items that are not needed. I also plan my grocery shopping for the weekend, that way I do not have to make last minute trips during the week. With all of that done on the weekend, when I get home from work I look at my meal plan menu and choose the recipe that I want to make. This has simplified my life, and my toddler has been so much happier. We now normally eat around 6:00 each night, which leaves me with plenty of time to spend with my family before we have to start bathing and putting kids to bed.
My next few blog posts will show the tips that I found and the plans that I have incorporated into my life that has really made a huge difference for my family. We still have our crazy moments and life is still hectic at times, but a few changes have really helped to organize my time so that I can spend more with the ones that I love.
Jessica Winter, on behalf of the Quakerdale team.