Work life balance. Mum life balance. Life balance… everyone is busy, everyone seems to be looking for that magic tip to help make life seem a little less chaotic. I’m on the eternal search for advice on how to stretch my day that little bit further so I can have more time to relax and just enjoy life!
So I thought I’d share a few things that help make MY life easier since going back to work and balancing life as a mummy, working girl, wife, sister, friend, daughter, aunty, and any of the other names I go by.
My ‘sort it out’ basket
I have a basket that I keep in our main living area and anything that doesn’t belong in that room goes into the basket. My shoes from work, H’s jumper from daycare, toiletries I just bought at the shops to go to the upstairs bathroom, bills we’ve just paid that need to be filed.
At the end of the night, I empty my basket, making sure to put everything away properly (as in, not just moving it from one dumping ground to another!) Then I leave my empty basket at the top of the stairs and take it back down the next day. So simple but it’s such a great idea to keep the house from getting too messy. B has even started putting his stuff in it too (doesn’t empty it, but hey, it’s a start!) The novelty of checking what’s in the basket and emptying it out still hasn’t worn off for H so I do need to keep it on the dining table until he goes to bed!
I love cooking but after a long day at work, picking up H and doing the dinner, bath, book, play, milk, bed routine and THEN having to think about cooking dinner does sometimes wear a bit thin. I have embraced my slow-cooker – great for hearty winter meals like chilli con carne, pulled pork, curries and stews but there’s only so many of those I can handle so I keep those meals to about once a week.
Another idea is to pre-marinate your chicken (or pork). Not BUYING pre-marinated chicken (which are often full of sugar and other random stuff you don’t need in your life) I mean buying chicken in bulk and making your own marinades. Simple ones like honey, soy and garlic. Or smoked paprika, lemon, mixed herbs and oil. Pop your chicken in a freezer bag, add your marinade, mix it around then freeze. Then when you want chicken for dinner, take it out the night before and let it defrost in the fridge and while it’s defrosting, it’s also marinating. Perfect!
Also, amending your grown-up dinners to be kid friendly makes life a WHOLE lot easier. Not always possible but I will often cook a meal, take some out for H before adding salt, chilli or any other things I’m not keen on him having. For my spinach and ricotta triangles, I will pop the mixture in a wholemeal wrap and bake H’s in that while we have ours in pastry. I add chilli to my curries after I’ve taken out a serve for him. Taking those extra few minutes to make the effort means I don’t have to cook a separate meal for H. Plus it makes our meals healthier as I try to give H wholesome, healthy foods which in turn means we’re eating that too. Win!
My best friend the freezer
Embrace your freezer! Buy meat and fish in bulk when it’s reduced to clear or on special and freeze (saves you so much $$ too). Make extra dinner: taco mince, curry, lasagna, spinach and feta pie, san choy bau, burger patties. I TOTALLY understand not loving leftovers but making your meals in bulk and then having one night a week where dinner is pretty much done, I’ve come to appreciate them a lot more.
A little bit each night
Often we save up all the chores for the weekend which means our time off isn’t as much fun and can mean starting a new working week without really having had any down time. By breaking up chores into little chunks and tackling over the whole week, it means I can enjoy my weekend’s a whole lot more.
I might bake some muffins or cookies on Monday night. Do some washing on Tuesday. Clean the bathrooms on Wednesday. Make two dinners on Thursday and Friday I prep H’s meals for the whole weekend (and then it’s all about wine, tv and relaxing!)
I also take that extra half an hour each night to prep for the next day. Making H’s breakfast – I take something from my freezer stash, pop it in a container and let it defrost overnight. I make all his breakfasts in bulk and freeze – sultana pancakes, blueberry porridge balls, mango oatmeal slice, banana muffins, cheesy vege pikelets, healthy breakfast cake – just to name a few… I told you I love my freezer!
I make our lunches, prep breakfast (usually overnight oats or a smoothie – all the ingredients into the blender and then we blitz it in the morning) make up snacks and take out some meat for tomorrow’s dinner. This just means we’re all prepped and ready to go in the morning so we’re not rushing around madly trying to get organised when I’d prefer to use that time to sleep! Half an hour prepping at night = half an hour extra in bed the next morning. Yes please!
Lay out my outfits for the week
This one sounds weird and is something I’ve only just started doing but I love it! On a Sunday, I will pull out some outfits for my working week and set them aside. Then, each night I will choose one, grab some underwear, jewellery and shoes and lay it out in my bedroom, ready for the next day. It saves me standing in my closet wondering what to wear while B is honking the horn, cursing me for running late. It takes the guesswork out of my morning which can only be a good thing! Seriously, it’s been such a life/time/argument saver!
Keep a list
I love a good list. My phone is full of them! I also hate incomplete lists so by adding something to a list, I want to make sure it gets ticked off! Every time I think of something I need from the shops, an appointment I need to make, a friend I need to message back, I add it to my list. It saves me from having to keep everything in my head and I’ll often write myself a list of tasks for the week so I don’t get too lazy and conveniently ‘forget’ to clean the bathroom or water the plants. Even things like washing my hair go on the list with a scheduled day cause otherwise I put it off and then everything has to be done at once and I feel stressed out for being too busy to wash my hair and shave my legs! Lists make life happen!
I also write down meal ideas – when I flick through a magazine, watch a cooking show, scroll through instagram or just when an idea comes into my head. Sounds simple, but when it comes to meal planning for the week ahead, having some ideas already written down makes it a LOT easier!
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So that’s it! Small but (hopefully) helpful little tips to help get you organised and find a bit of balance in your life. They certainly help me so I I hope you find them useful! Let me know if you use any!
Love Dan x