When I was 16, I had this great idea to maximize my day. Back then I was running on the track team, lawyering up in Mock Trial club, studying for the SATs, taking three college-level courses, and tutoring or babysitting in my “spare time.” I thought that if I could just sleep for 6 hours, I’d have 18 left to FIT IT ALL IN. What a dreamer I was.
It was hard to juggle school and extracurricular activities with work and still manage to have a social life. But I was 16. I always came home to a hot meal on the table, folded laundry in my room, and had someone to schlep me around to every activity before I got my license and a car.
Twelve years later I’m still trying to find the time to fit it all in. And the thing I hate to admit is that there will never be enough time.
Most days I’m overwhelmed by the piles of dirty dishes and clothes – and don’t even get me started on dog hair. How is it possible to sweep up a full-length fur coat every other day?
It’s the little things
While this topic could go on for pages, I decided to stick two of the things that I struggle with daily: household chores and cooking.
Bring on those chores
Divvy em’ up
I don’t have kids, but if I did, this post wouldn’t even exist – I’d have a wheel of doom…I mean chores…to take care of that. Boom!
My husband and I do a good enough job of dividing up the chores. He does maintenance on the cars, outside work, takes out the trash, and is the main caregiver to the two pups. I prefer all things related to the kitchen, laundry, and being inside. If I had to write up instructions on what items get cold washed, ironed, no dryer, etc., I’d have a full-color manual in a 2″ binder.
It’s definitely important to find a healthy balance if you don’t already have one. When one person does more or feels like they do more, the resentment can be HIGH.
Make em’ fun
I don’t usually mind cleaning. But I’m often tired after work and doing something as trivial as the dishes, let’s say, feels daunting. There could be only ten things to wash, but it always feels like hundreds.
I usually put my headphones on and listen to an audio book, Netflix, or Spotify while I’m working. Anything to take my mind off the task at hand. It takes about 15 minutes to wash a sink full of dishes, and when you think about it, that’s really no time at all. I actually find it mindless and relaxing.
There’s always the dishwasher, but I try to save that for meal prep days.
Break em’ up
I like to get all of my grocery shopping done on Saturday. I also clean out the fridge and cabinets, then meal prep for the following week. If I have a lot going on, I’ll split this between two days. After all, it does take a few hours.
Little things like sweeping, picking up, dusting, etc. can be done with ease during the week. 15-30 minutes here and there can make a BIG difference. Sometimes I’ll run the dishwasher (if I have a lot) or throw a load of laundry in while watching a movie. Chores that can be done in the background are the best ones.
It’s not gonna cook itself
Some people love to cook. I am not one of them, believe it or not. I find cooking to be annoying, which is why I always look for shortcuts. And let me tell you, there are some pretty good ones.
Setting aside a few hours to make a slew of meals for the week helps immensely. It also makes me feel like I have my shit together. I usually throw together one or two breakfasts, alternate lunches, and portion out some snacks so I’m set for the week. Doing this has saved me a lot of time and tears. If you’re interested in a deeper dive of this topic, check out my #mealprep blog post.
I love subscription boxes, and one of my favorites is Plated, a meal delivery that has so much variety and many great-tasting dinners. You do have to cook the food, but all of the ingredients are pre-portioned and the recipes are very easy to follow. And, I mean so easy that [insert the friend you know can’t cook a can of soup] can do it!
I recommend Plated to everyone I know, but it happens to be one of the pricier companies. The box I get is $72 and includes 3 days of meals for two people. It’s worth it because it’s more cost-effective than eating out, there is no waste, you can add more meals or servings, there are always two dessert options (for an extra fee), and their customer service is STELLAR.
There are many other services that offer meals from around $9-15 a dish. Some are even catered to vegetarian, gluten free, or Paleo lifestyles. They make dinners after work a breeze and take the guesswork out of what to have. Plus, the whole family can easily get involved. Win, win, and win.
Now, I’m not one for “TV dinners” or anything that’s frozen in a plastic black tray. In all honesty, it would probably be healthier to eat the packaging. But I can attest that having some pre-packaged food hanging around can help in a pinch.
I accidentally found a few frozen meals from beetnik and Tastefully Plated Paleo Meals while I was perusing the aisles in Walmart. When I was sick a couple of weeks ago, and could barely leave the couch, it helped to just pop one of these babies in the microwave.
There will be times when you just don’t have the energy. There will be days when all you have in the fridge are ice cubes and something green and wrinkled in the produce bin. There will be moments when the only other option is digging a spoon into a jar of chunky PB for breakfast, lunch, and dinner or ordering everything on the dollar menu.
Do yourself a favor and get some emergency food in that fridge of yours.
I don’t know about you…
…but I’m absolutely loving this series of posts. While we might not ever find a good balance between anything, there are many things we can do to make the best of EVERYTHING.
Check out last week’s post and stay tuned next week to learn about finding the balance with relationships.
Peace, Love, Zen