Schedules are a key in this household to having any free time/adult time. My husband works shift work and finding a balance for life between his sleep schedule and family time is the key, I have found having Oliver on a tight schedule helps tremendously.
It is hard to find balance where you can get things done, have some free time and still look after your baby… how does one do it?
Meal Prep (1h saved per day = 7h free time per week)
Meal prep has become more popular the last few years. There are 2 different ways I like to meal prep…
Eager beaver method – prep your whole week in one day. Find some great crock pot recipes online. Type in “crock pot dump in meal prep ” into your search engine and drool over the mouth-watering recipes that arise.
If you try to choose dishes with similar ingredients not only will this help you prep your meals faster but it also saves you some green in your piggy bank. Using a larger quantity of ingredients means you can buy in bulk which will make your meal cost even less.
Choosing crock pot meals means that you do not have to cook anything yourself at dinner time – just dump the pre-made ingredients, cook and enjoy. (SO SIMPLE RIGHT!)
Getter done method – after returning from the grocery store unpack your food and separate it. Wash and cut up all your fruits and veggies so they are easily available in containers. Cut up your meat into meals vs keeping them in the packaging they come in; this way you can quickly grab 1 chicken breast or 1 pork chop out of the freezer without having to cook and defrost extra which might go to waste.
When all your veggies and meat are cut, separated and ready to go its easy to toss in a pan/pot/instapot/crock pot and enjoy.
These are the two best ways I find that will actually help you stay on top of your meals and have spare time to enjoy for yourself.
The best part about preplanned meals is that you always know what you are having for supper, second best part is all the time you will save! Meal preps save me between 40min-1hour a day between all meals.
Nap Time (2h of nap time = 14h free time a week)
Who doesn’t look forward to nap time some days? Nap times are those precious moments when we can regain some sanity after dealing with a screaming baby/toddler.
How do I keep a nap time schedule? I found a groove that worked for me.
How do you find your groove? Start by working the naps into your child’s routine where they are the most clam and relaxed. Oliver’s best naps are after a bottle when he’s starting to rub his eyes and makes long whinny noises.
He is currently 8 months old and having 2 naps a day for about 1 hour each. He has not always napped as well as he currently is. In the first few months he would sometimes only nap for 20 minutes at a time but have up to 6 naps a day.
Weather your child’s naps are long or short it’s still a reboot for the parents as well. Sometimes 10 minutes is all you need.
Play Time (1h alone playtime = 7h free time a week)
Learning play time is important for kids to discover things on their own and comprehend new leaps and goals. I always give Oliver 1 hour of alone play time a day – I watch him from the monitor as I house clean, write a blog post or have a shower. This really helped when he started to comprehend when I would leave a room. Leaving for the 1 hour every day while he played in his jumper or on the floor seemed to teach him to self sooth a bit. He would get fussy and cry at times but it was easy to pop my head in the room and comfort him from the door way.
Between doing these 3 things I can optimize up to 4 hours of productive time a day – having 4 hours of a little extra time can really help this mama out. Don’t get me wrong those 4 hours will fill up fast.
If you’re a parent looking for some extra time, I hope these small things help you as much as they have me.