Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mommy Management

As a Mom, you are not only responsible for your schedule, but your children's schedule and sometimes the husband.  This is a lot to think about and can be quite stressful at times but there are things that we can do in our daily routine that alleviate our stress and make things go a lot smoother!  I am going to share a typical Monday in our household and give a few hints on what I do to help the schedule out.

I am very fortunate to only work 3 days a week with half a day on the fourth day for office work.  Typically, I have Mondays completely off and most Wednesday mornings.  I do have 4 children so the days off are needed to prepare for the rest of the week!  Monday morning we leave our house at 7:30am to pick up another child and head to school and drop them off at school (our oldest already left for the day with Dad for school).  Hannah and I stay there to help out in Emma's class, leave to drop her off to preschool, return to Emma's class and finish out the reading time.  The key to my day being successful is what I do for the next hour and a half before I get Hannah from preschool.  I generally run home and start laundry, make dinner for the evening and pack lunches for Tuesday.  After lunch, I use the next few hours to do dishes or laundry, make meals for the week (that's right - the week).  At 3:15 I leave for school pick up and begin my bus route.  I pick up 5 children (only 2 are mine) from school and we start delivering them to their homes.  I make 2 stops before getting to the middle school to pick up my daughter then home we go for snack and homework.  In the next hour and a half, I help them finish homework, go through papers, wash dishes and finish up lunches or dinner.  Then we leave at 5:40pm to get Sophia to chorale and return home for dinner.  Wednesday is very similar to this schedule, just with piano and church and no chorale in the evening.  Tuesday and Thursday I work until 5pm and the littlest 2 have soccer.  Whoever has said staying home with the kids is easy has never had a schedule like this!  My days at the office are my days off!

So how does this all get done?  Some major coordination, a willing husband and some very great friends.
The first key has been finding some wonderful friends to coordinate activities and rides with.  I am no longer afraid to ask for help especially when they know the favor will be returned.  I carpool with another mom that knows I work on Tuesday and Thursday and really need the help in the afternoons.  She has small children so mornings are tough, and she appreciates not having to take care of the morning run.

Next, I plan my meals for the week during the weekend and try to stick to it.  We may divert from the plan on occasion so I make sure I have quick back-up meals.  Since I am home on Mondays, I generally prepare a few of my meals that day so I am ready the rest of the week.  If Mondays don't work that week, then I will do this on Saturday or Sunday.  I also cut all the veggies I need for the children's lunches that week along with a big bowl of salad.  We eat a lot of salads so I don't have to worry about it going bad before it is gone.   I also try to plan ahead for after school snacks but some weeks I forget!

I also keep a planner with EVERYBODY'S schedule in it.  I also write down what needs to be turned in, when snack has to be provided or when the kids have a test I should be aware of.  I write everything down and carry my planner with me everywhere.  If I don't write it down, it doesn't happen.

Of course, there are still times when things will not go perfectly planned (the computer isn't working, the children have twice as much homework as usual or a snack for school has been forgotten) and adjustments need to be made.  You really have to be able to expect the unexpected and have an alternate plan!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Consistency Becomes Habit

Now comes the time to put it all together, implement your plan and carry it out!  In the 100 Year Lifestyle we talk about 3 life-changing principles:

1. Change is easy but thinking about change is hard
2. Change happens once choice at a time.  Think progress, not perfection
3. Approach change with your ideal 100 year Lifestyle in mind.

For me, it is easier to think about change than actually implementing change.  If I make one small change at a time, the task does not seem so monumental.  I also notice that as I begin to make conscious food choices and go to the gym regularly, it gets easier each day and a new habit is formed.  This doesn't mean I am on target everyday.  Actually, more often than not I miss my intended goal for the day but what I now know is that tomorrow is a new day and a time to start over!  At the same time, if I had a cookie for mid-morning snack I don't say, "Well forget eating good the rest of the day!" I try to balance it out or cut calories some where else.  As humans, we want instant gratification and give up easily instead of moving forward with the task ahead.

The key is to add things and not concentrate on what you take away; water, movement, vegetables and strength.   Keeping a diary to track your daily food intake is also a real wake up call.  Sometimes, when we "think" we are eating well, we see that we really are not or that we are consuming more than our recommended daily calories.  The reason for my own weight gain was that I had decreased my training, but ate like I was still training for a marathon.  I forgot that if my workouts got reduced to half the time, my food consumption should probably too!  There are numerous places on the internet (and apps for you phone) where you can calculate and track your calories.  If you decide to keep a food diary, also track how hungry you are when you eat and what your mood is at the time.  This allows you to see if you are actually hungry or bored, upset or even happy when you eat.

A friend of mine posted on her Facebook that she had begun to exercise because of her family's health history and if she lost weight doing it, that would be a benefit!  Talk about having the right attitude!  Always have health improvement as your goal and don't look at the scale so much.  When you see the numbers it is easy to get obsessed about wanting that number to go down.  When the number stops going down, or even starts to go back up, it is tempting to give up and forget the new routine.  Learn to have fun with whatever activity you choose.  Try new foods and find new recipes to put variety into your diet.  If you need a break, take it, but get back to your routine sooner than later or it will be lost.  Just don't give up!