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 🙂
Finding time to work out when you work full time can be stressful, but when you add the responsibilities of motherhood you find yourself working with even less viable time. I have worked out five days a week since I turned 18 for numerous reasons. First, I recently took author Gretchen Rubin’s personality quiz and realized that I am an “Upholder.” According to Rubin, Upholders are those individuals who rise to inner and outer expectations. Looking back, my dedication to working out makes sense. When I graduated from high school, the state of Florida had just implemented a new law that required all freshman college students to take a health and wellness class. Needless to say, it was the first real health class I had where I felt the professor really broke down the science between living a healthy life comprised of effective nutritional choices and purposeful exercise.
I quickly set my own inner expectations to live a healthy life and 22 years later have not looked back. I also love a routine and my gym is less than two miles from my job and home. Membership dues are quite reasonable and include extremely small classes with personal trainers. As soon as class ends for the day, I bolt out of the door, change sometimes in my car on the way to the gym, workout hard for 40 minutes, jump back in the car and dart towards my son’s daycare.
Finding time to run is a little more difficult because there are not any tracks or trails on the way to my son’s school that I am familiar with. The weekends are really the only times I can run and I am usually so tired and just want to sleep in. However,I regret not engaging in some type of physical training , because the deep sleep that I enjoy the nights that follow a hard workout during the week elude me on Saturdays and Sundays. Also, I absolutely hate running and I would like to feel like I accomplished some obstacle by getting myself on a track or trail on at least one of my days off.
This Saturday I tried a new strategy that worked. I woke up at 6:30 am which is about 45 minutes earlier than I normally would on a Saturday. I cooked breakfast while my son was still sleeping so when he woke up his food would already be waiting for him. My husband wakes up at the crack of dawn on his days off and was already headed out the door to run errands. Normally, I plan my Saturdays around everyone else but today I got suited up in my workout gear while he was out and met him at the door when he returned. Today I did not ask “If he would be free to watch our son so I can run.” Today I said, “I’m going running and will be back in X time.” Breakfast was cooked for everyone and he already ran his errands. Thus, there was no excuse for me not being able to go. Although the run was hard, the weather was exquisite and I had time to focus and distress. All it took was 45 minutes -a 15 minute drive back and forth to the track and a 30 minute run. Afterwards, we took our son to the local farmer’s market and then to see ” A Secret Life of Pets 2.” When we returned home and ate lunch, we all took a nap, but my nap was the deepest 1 hour sleep I have had in a while on a Saturday. Mommies suit up and set your time because mommies need to run too!! 🙂
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 🙂