The work week is super crazy for everyone – personally, I leave the house at 6:45 every morning and often don’t get home until about 12 hours later, leaving little time to actually keep stuff in order. With the increased chaos of life after marriage, it’s been a roller coaster ride trying to find routines that work for my husband and I. What I quickly learned is that there’s no “one size fits all” – we all have different routines and need to really formulate our own based on the things we value most. Although, I hope that a few quick tips and tricks I learned along the way can help you become less stressed and more efficient to maximize your time with the ones you love on weeknights.
These are truly a life saver! Cooking your dinner on one pan in the oven minimizes the time you spend cooking AND cleaning! Line a flat cooking pan with foil for easy clean up and cook your vegetables and proteins together. My favorite one pan dinner is foil-wrapped salmon with lime, red pepper, red onion and cherry tomatoes paired with roasted asparagus and cauliflower. Everything cooks at the same heat for the same length, and while it’s in the oven, you have about 20-25 minutes to get little things done. When it’s done and everyone has been served, simply toss the foil and you have a clean pan underneath that can go back into the cabinet!
You can almost guarantee that your kitchen and living areas are the top areas used each day whether you’re a party of one or a whole clan under one roof, so if these rooms are messy, it usually just adds up to wasting weekends cleaning for hours. While dinner’s in the oven, take 20 minutes to get things in order – put the kid or dog toys back in their bins, do the dishes, wipe down your kitchen counters and replace the pillows on the couch that have been thrown around the room. I created this routine for myself from my One Minute Rule, where I get things done at the moment I think of them rather than pushing them off, and it takes less than a few minutes to do. These quick little chores make a huge difference in the day-to-day, preventing increased stress and build up for your weekends and more time to spend together.
The two things that constantly make me late to work are packing a lunch and packing my gym bag. By simply taking 10 minutes the night before to do these two tasks gave me the freedom to now leave home on time and make it to work (with enough time for a coffee break). I’m also able to make better decisions with what goes into these bags because at 6 a.m., it’s hard to pack a healthy, well-rounded lunch, or remember to pack socks for the gym.
We are all stressed about family, work and life in general, so give yourself a pat in the back after a crazy day. Gift yourself with a half hour dedicated to relaxation before closing your eyes. Whether it’s reading a book, taking a bubble bath or just watching some TV, you need to relax your brain and your body to make the most of your sleeping hours. My husband things I’m crazy, but I typically am in bed by 8 p.m. and watch some TV for an hour to give my body and mind the time to increase my melatonin, decrease my cortisol levels (a.k.a. The stress hormone), turn off my thoughts, and give my introverted self a little peace and quite. Find something that lowers your heart rate and takes your mind away from the messiness of life, and you’ll start to notice you feel more relaxed and sleep better through the night.
It’s really easy to want to accomplish everything now, especially if you had a productive work day, but don’t overbook yourself. After I get off of work, I often spend about an hour at the gym every night, so by the time I am done around 6 p.m. and start my commute home, I begin thinking about things that I need to do or pick-up, like go to the post office, get random ingredients for various weekly meals from the grocery store and run by the mall to return other items. What I’ve had to learn is that some things can wait. Keep a list during the week to remind yourself of things you need or tasks to get done on the weekend. Once I started doing this, I started making less trips to the grocery store until I was down to once per week, I planned out a route for a Saturday or Sunday to efficiently get errands done and didn’t spend extra time driving around to one chore at a time on weeknights. Obviously, there are times when you have to get something done that day, but if it can wait, try to find an efficient way to dedicate time on your off days to it or gather them all to get them done in one night.
TIP: the reminders app in iOS devices is really handy and you can also share a list with someone else like your significant other so you can have joint grocery and to do lists!