I have never said “I wish there were more hours in the day” until I had 3 children. That extra mouth to feed, butt to wipe, clothes to fold, boo-boos to kiss, cheeks/feet/tummy/hands/heart to kiss took up the time I had used to spend doing daily tasks. As a consequence, it has taken me a year to find my groove.
Now, if you have seen me this past year, for the most part, I look like I’ve got it all under control, but I’m a duck.
Yup, a duck.
(serenely floating in the water, while underneath, paddling like a crazy lady, to keep from sinking)
When I think of the “big three” of time-sucks when growing children (not Facebook, but I know you went there…), I think of the following:
1) Feeding and cleaning up from feeding
2) Washing, folding, and putting away of laundry
3) Picking up various toys, art supplies and their resulting “masterpieces”, and other “little bombs” as I like to call them.
I’m tired of feeling like I’m spinning in circles. I’m tired of feeling like my day is filled with those three tasks, because they have very little to do with the kinds of people I want my girls to become (other than making healthy food choices, taking pride in their appearances, and finding a little time for self-expression and fun).
So, I set to lightening that load a little. Today, I am focusing on the FOOD. Oh, the food Middle can put away. Oh, the food Big just picks at, leaving it undesirable as leftovers. Oh, the mess Little makes by feeding herself. I can literally spend all.day prepping, cooking, feeding, and cleaning up from the activity of eating. By the time the eating part is done and I’ve got myself and 3 kids fed, and I’m close to being done cleaning up the mess, Middle (usually) is asking for a snack.
Then I realized something, that I should have thought of long ago. It’s so mind-numbingly obvious, but I had never put it into practice.
I cook (and clean) twice a day.
How? you ask? Let me lay it out for you:
- I wake up earlier than the girls. I used to let them come get me, but with the 7:45am school start time for Big, there is no way I could get up at 7 and get the kids up, dressed, fed, and out the door in time. Now, I wake up between 5:30 and 6am.
- I set out Big and Middle’s lunch boxes and get to filling. I usually put 1/2 a sandwich, a whole piece of fruit (but cut), a whole carrot (but cut), a string cheese, corn chips, and a pre-peeled hard-boiled egg white (They don’t like “the oak”). I also include their waters. Big takes her lunch to school, and I leave Middle’s on the counter with a freezer pack. When she asks me for a snack 20 minutes after she has finished breakfast, instead of freaking out on her, I direct her to her lunchbox (which makes her feel like a Big Girl). I remind her it’s all she gets until dinner is served so if she wants to eat her PB&J at 8:15 (which she did today), then she’ll have to eat something else in there for lunch.
- I then lay out their breakfasts, before they get up, and pour their drinks. Once those are laid out, I go get them. It saves me from the constant requests for *insert whatever breakfast option I currently don’t have the supplies and/or time to make*. I set an alarm for 20 minutes, and let them eat whatever they can in that time. Sometimes they eat everything and ask for seconds, and other times they barely finish 15 mini-wheats. They have a snack already made, so I don’t have to freak if they are hungry for the moment, because I know I’ve already prepped other grub for them.
- During quiet time, I prep and cook dinner. I try to do the dishes as I go so all we have to do is rinse the plates from dinner and we’re good to go in less than 5 minutes.
So, there you go. I prepare breakfast, snacks, and lunch for all of us (mine and Little’s are in the fridge) in the AM and cook dinner in the PM. Two clean-ups. LOTS more time, for things like… I dunno… blogging.