Monday, 8 July 2013

Reprioritising for a better end to each day


A week or so ago, I finally recognised I needed to reprioritise a couple of things in my daily routine. This may explain why I never got around to writing a second blog post last week but the overall result has definitely been positive. It made me think about how it can sometimes be tricky to get the right balance with spending time with our children, having time to ourselves, time to get stuff done around the house, meals cooked etc. Maybe there's even an element of not always wanting to prioritise what deep down, we know should be prioritised....

 My son goes to nursery in the afternoons. It works out great for me because while he is at school, my daughter is having her nap and usually sleeps the whole time my son is at nursery and we are home. So I have a couple of hours completely to myself. I have to confess, I spend most of this time doing not very much. I sit and have a quiet cup of tea, I catch up on some blogs, I write my own new posts on some days, I relax and recharge ready for the afternoon. I do often have a quick tidy up or do a little bit of cleaning but that's definitely not the majority of those two hours.

This was all very pleasant of course. However, I slowly realised I was making the late afternoons worse for myself by not using those uninterrupted hours more constructively. After picking my son up and getting home, I'd spend a short bit of time with my children but would then need to go in to the kitchen and start cooking dinner. Sometimes, this would be fine. My children would be happily playing and amusing themselves while I cooked. Other days and more often than not, it wasn't going so smoothly. They might be fighting over toys, someone might get hurt, there would be some tiredness and whining going on. They'd want to come in the kitchen where I was but would get in my way or would bring the squabbles or whining too close for comfort. I would feel a bit stressed out and start counting down until their bedtimes.

The truth is, I prefer cooking by myself. I like to be in my zone, doing my thing, enjoying the focus of chopping, stirring, or whatever whilst thinking about things too. Unless I am doing some cooking with the children, I prefer to be alone getting on with it. Just like my own mother, I am not really a planner when it comes to meals either. I like to leave it to the last minute, look in the fridge, see what vegetables we have and then decide what I am going to cook. In reality, the last-minute approach is not the best when you are a mother to two young children.

I'm sure you can see where this is going! I decided to use some of my precious two hours after lunch to prepare our evening meal. It really only takes about thirty minutes and yet, it means later in the afternoon, I have more time to spend with the children and any pre-dinner stress has gone! Definitely worthwhile re-prioritising. My son often asks on the way home from nursery what we are having for dinner and now I can tell him, which I think he appreciates too. It also means I get to cook in peace and quiet. A win win situation all round!

Suddenly I wonder why I didn't do this sooner. It doesn't feel like a sacrifice to the time I have to myself. The more relaxed evenings far outweigh the loss of those thirty minutes spent on meal prep. I enjoy the feeling of having achieved something during my couple of hours alone, especially as the benefit lasts through to the end of the day with my children. If I'm honest, I probably knew I should have done this sooner but I suppose part of me thought I was going to miss out on the time to myself that I value so much.

Do you ever struggle with prioritising things on a day-to-day basis? Or realise you spent the last hour doing something that was not urgent and used up time you could have better spent on something more pressing or worthwhile? Out of interest, when do you prepare your family's evening meal?
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photo credit

4 comments:

  1. Every day I struggle!!! :D

    In fact, I still haven't posted since the other week - need to do the Leibster! :D

    I'm not a planner either - and I very much value my solo time, what little I have of it. Unfortunately it wouldn't work out for me to prep the meal while little un is at playschool as she's there in the morning into early afternoon, but I have actually started planning the shopping a little better so that I have food that is quick to cook. I used to do elaborate meals that would always take about 90 mins (stressful), but basing my meals around quick to cook staples like pasta or rice (all with fresh veg, of course) has made it easier on me. And yes, some days I cheat and we have a freezer meal - especially now I have discovered vegan-friendly Asda bean and nacho burgers :)

    But still, I could do better! x

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    1. Glad to know I'm not the only one who's not a planner and who values her solo time ;-). Yes, it is stressful trying to do those elaborate meals! It sounds like you are pretty organised with basing your meals around those staples you mention. Definitely makes life easier when you're cooking for little ones I think. xx

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  2. You're very wise. You took the time to check in with yourself and you've followed through. It is good to remain flexible and be willing to re-adjust as our children grow. Well done!

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    1. You're very kind, thanks Maryse!

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