. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A few months ago I went back to work part-time. I'd always been a stay-at-home, homeschool mom so it was quite a switch to get back into the workforce. But the time was right, I LOVE the type of work I'm doing, and all the details lined up to make a perfect fit. In traditional Gayle style I jumped in with both feet oblivious to the fact that I had just made life a whole lot more complicated. It's been several months now and I've finally worked out the kinks in scheduling, feeding my family, and homeschool. And I've learned a few things that are essential to making it all work.
- Meal planning is not an optional task. My weekends are full of planning. I correct and plan the kids school work and the articles I have due for different writing jobs. I coordinate schedules with my husband so we know the kids are getting to sports practices, and of course I plan meals. When I get home each evening from work, if I don't have a meal planned and ready to go then we are all in trouble. The temptation to spend unnecessary money on fast food is much stronger when my tired brain can't come up with something for us to eat. So a meal plan removes all the energy it takes to creatively come up with dinner and saves us time and money.
- Advanced Meal Prep is necessary. I never cook dinner at night. That sounds weird right? But let me explain. In the morning, while the kids are getting up and ready for the day, I'm making breakfast AND dinner. While I'm flipping flapjacks I am also putting together a casserole, mixing up meatloaf or filling the crockpot. I do all dinner prep in the mornings so that when I walk in the door at night I have very minimal work to do.
- Delegate! We arrange it so that either one of my teens or my husband is home every afternoon with the younger kids while I'm gone at work. (One of the benefits of homeschool and owning your own business.) So everyone has a job to help get dinner on the table. The younger two kids make sure the dinner table is set and ready to go. One of the older people does final dinner prep like putting the casserole in the oven or making side dishes. And I? Well, after 17 years of cooking three meals a day....I get to walk in the door and sit down at the table to a hot meal that's ready to eat. Why didn't I think of this sooner?
- It's O.K. to Shop on the Weekend. I had always avoided grocery shopping on the weekend because it is so crowded. Everyone shops on the weekend! But I've figured out that the stores are peaceful and the shelves are fullest early in the mornings or late at night. So late Sunday nights have become my shopping time. Unfortunately I've learned that my weekdays are so crammed full that if I don't get the shopping done on the weekend then we don't get groceries that week which completely screws up my meal plan. Then it becomes a vicious cycle of strange meals and exhaustion as I scramble at night to put together something from nothing.
So working moms, it can be done. It just takes a little trial and error, a lot of planning and a team effort to make sure that healthy and frugal meals are still showing up on your plate.