As a full time working mother who exercises five times a week, tries to read at least two books a month, and spend quality time with my family trying to find the time to provide my family with a healthy, nutritious, and tasty meal that won’t chain me to a stove for hours could appear on surface to be a struggle. However, in reality it never has been because I follow some simple tips and strategies. Today’s dinner was an ideal example.
I became a pescetarian for health reasons when I turned seventeen so chicken and fish comprise a heavy part of my diet. Normally I always cook the night before when I am working so that I can go to the gym immediately after work and then pick up my son afterwards and eat our precooked dinner as soon as we get home. I strongly recommend this for every working mother or father who does most of the cooking for it really frees up your time. Because I am out on summer vacation, I now just wait and cook the same day. At any rate, today I seasoned and stuffed a whole chicken with raw onions and green peppers. I covered it with aluminum foil so it could cook in its own juices on 400 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours. While it cooked, I was free to wash clothes, clean, and take a quick nap.
For sides, I purchased and washed a bag of Morningstar precut and washed collard greens. Collards are extremely rich in vitamins A and C and are loaded with calcium. Normally, this dish is cooked with pork; however, I boiled smoked turkey in a pot of water for an hour and then dumped the washed collards to cook along side the smoked turkey for another hour and a half on low. I added salt for added seasoning. Once again, I was free to perform other jobs while this was cooking .
I topped the meal off with some brown rice. Prep time for all of the dishes took no more than 15 minutes at the most.
Not only was this meal yummy enough for my four year old to ask for seconds, but it was low calorie and low cost. The store brand chicken was only $8.47, the collards were at the most $3.00, and the rice was $4.00 for a large bag that will last at least two to three weeks. In total I spent around $15-16.00 for a nutritious meal that served as dinner today and will be lunch tomorrow for three people and took only 15 minutes to prepare. If you can’t wait the two hours, consider popping it in the oven the night before so all you will have to do is reheat the day you plan to serve it for dinner. According to my Fitness Pal, this meal was only 319 calories 🙂
TGIF family! I don’t know how your week has been but I didn’t think I was going to make it. When you are a working mom and wife, it seems that you are always going. Every morning I rise at 5 to make sure I can prepare hot lunches for the family and a hot breakfast before we all leave. DMV traffic alone is no joke and between taking my son to daycare and then fighting to make it to my job across town by 8 am, I spend a good three hours each day stuck in traffic. Work can be just as taxing, for as a high school teacher, I am always on my feet. Life does not slow down at 3 pm for as soon as work ends, I jump in my car and zoom to the gym which luckily is only ten minutes away where I work out hard for 45 minutes with an amazing trainer. I then jump back in my car to pick up little man. Thank God dinner is always already prepared for I religiously cook the night before while everyone sleeps. As soon as we are done eating and describing how our day went at the dinner table, I bathe, read him a bed time story, and then pass out shortly after putting him to sleep. Doing this five times a week is tough. And despite the fact that I am a true early bird, for some reason I woke up in the absolute worst mood today.
Needless to say I was overjoyed when my husband said he was going to pick up my son this afternoon. I almost did not know what the hell to do with the extra two hours! I thought to myself “Mom’s love getting their nails done so maybe I should get my nails done. ” As I looked online for salons near my house, I thought to myself, “I really don’t feel like sitting in a confined space and then being stuck not able to do anything with my hands that might mess up my polish.” Believe me, four hours later, I will ALWAYS find a way to mess up the polish. Then I thought to myself, “My husband and I are going out for date night tomorrow and maybe I could surprise him with a new outfit. A lot of moms love to shop.” However, I really did not feel like spending money or dealing with a crowded mall. Truth of the matter, the one gift every mother and wife wants is to be left alone and allowed to take a nap in the middle of the day. This last option was truly enticing ,but I could not ignore the amazing weather outside and in the end, I settled my self down and finally listened to what I wanted to do.
I dusted off my bike, hooked it to my car, and headed for the creek. I come here all of the time in the summer when I am out of school and my son is in daycare. Peaceful is too weak of a word to describe how I feel when I ride along this creek. It was just what I needed. I returned home, energized, and ready to show my family love.
Today taught me two lessons: (1) Stop following the crowd and trying to fit into a stereotype. I have never been the chic to spend hours in a salon or rush to get my nails done every week. When I truly feel the need to do that, I will but I will not attempt to use activities along those lines as a one size fits all for my happiness and (2) Make time for activities I love. I thought the fact that I rode almost every other day during the summer when my son was in daycare and I was out of school was a great way to stay true to who I was before I became a mom and continue doing that which brings me joy, but today the only event that gave me happiness was my ride through the creek. I would never have been at peace and rejuvenated to be the mom and wife I want to be if I had not made time today for that ride. I truly found my happy hour at the creek 🙂
This past weekend, I ran for the second year straight in the D.C. Prince v. Michael Jackson 5 K race. All of my close and not so close friends know that I am a Prince fan to the 100th degree and have been since I was a little girl. Before I go on, I have to admit that I neither love nor like running. I would much rather be on my bicycle riding through the Everglades or any of the many creeks where I currently reside. However, I love fitness and I love physically pushing myself. I had eagerly registered for the race four months ago and had my Prince playlist ready a week before to get me hype for the run. But, when I woke up the day of the race, the winds were clocked at 40 mph and it was 53 degrees outside. Such conditions were not ideal for this born and raised South Florida girl. In addition, my 4 year old son was just getting over an annoying tussle with an asthma outbreak and recently diagnosed with an ear infection, my husband was making me feel guilty by complaining about being unable to go to a martial arts class because the time conflicted with the race, and my bed looked like my only place of solace after a really hard week at work.
After rolling myself out of bed and making my cup of tea, I decided I was going to tell my husband forget it and I would just do it next year. But then I remembered the quote I had recently written on my chalkboard by Eleanor Roosevelt which says, ” Do something everyday that scares you.” I rushed and cooked everyone a breakfast, packed my son’s inhaler and new Star Wars light saber, and husband in the car. I made it there minutes before the race began and literally had to run to the starting line. I finished in 34 minutes.
I know for many avid runners, a 5k is child’s play, but for this soon to be 40 year old it meant everything to me. I purposely did something for me and added another memory to my “you are one bad little momma” bank. I am realizing that it is not the new pair of shoes, dress, jewelry, car, or bag that gives you confidence. I firmly believe that confidence and an undeniable glow comes from life experiences and events that serve as proof that you can presevere and finish strong. Don’t be afraid to try something scary, something new, something no one else is doing, or something you thought you could never do.
Saturday I ran for my life. I ran for my happiness. I ran for my confidence. I ran for me 🙂