Coming home exhausted from a hard day’s work with hungry, needy, cranky, tired kids is stressful, especially if you’re a single parent. It can be more stressful than your actual workday, and very physically and mentally demanding.
Here are a few tricks that I use for a smoother work week:
1. Accept the 10-15 minutes of chaos upon arrival at home. Keep cool, give the kids exclusive attention and listen to them intently for 15 minutes.
2. Prepare a quick but healthy dinner in peace: give the kids a quick snack of fruit or veggies and hummus/dip, and let your kid either play quietly or watch TV/computer/ipad. I generally allocate 20 minutes of prep time for a workweek dinner and prefer to be undisturbed while doing it! If you feel comfortable, children as young as 2 years old can also help prepare dinner by chopping vegetables, stirring etc...
3. Schedule active playtime for after dinner, when bellies are full, and the pre-dinner chaos is over. If it's nice out, walk to the park to decompress and play with the kids.
4. Save time by not bathing kids every day, especially in cold winter months. It's been proven to cause skin problems in some cases. A bath every 2-4 days is sufficient. At worst, a quick sponge bath in strategic areas will do in between baths
5. Make a one-pot stew on the weekend. Freeze in family, supper-sized portions, plus leftovers for lunches the next day. Keep frozen portions of 2-3 different stews for easy and varied dinners on weeknights
6. Order take-out for dinner once every week or two.
7. Outsource if you can: I pay 60$ every two weeks for a cleaning lady to come while I’m at work. Some of my best money every spent: I don’t have to spend the weekends sweeping, dusting, vacuuming and mopping, and I have more stress-free quality time with my kid.
8. Extracurricular activities that require driving can be reserved for weekends only. Extracurricular activities that take place at school can happen during the workweek. Driving across town in rush hour traffic is an unnecessary stressor!
9. Meditate in the morning for 5-10 minutes. Get used to incorporating 5-10 minutes of meditation in the morning before the craziness of the workday begins. It's only minutes from your busy day, and has many scientifically proven benefits, including making the day go smoother.
10. Schedule some me time. After the kids are in bed, do something for you: yoga, reading, watching your favourite TV series etc... If you can get a babysitter to come once a week and put the kids to bed while you enjoy a fitness class or activity, do it!