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Balance for WOH parents

  1. T.H.O.U.

    wonderful clementine / 24084 posts

    @mrskm129: Our local walmart just started offering curbside grocery pick up! And Walmart is also now offering 2 day shipping on orders of $35 or more. It looked like their grocery/staple prices were pretty good!

  2. looch

    wonderful persimmon / 25712 posts

    @mrskm129: I also wanted to mention, that I know it seems difficult now, but there's a whole other level to things when you begin to have kids in school. I have a kid in kinder and it's been quite a shock to my routine. I used to just kind of go on autopilot, but now, there are things I need to make time for during the day and week that truly make it complex. I don't mean to minimize what you're going through AT ALL, but the truth is, it's going to get harder before it gets better.

    As long as you're willing to make changes and tweaks as you go along, you'll be fine. You need to get into that headspace.

  3. gotkimchi

    persimmon / 1251 posts

    @looch: how so? I need to know what I'm in for.

  4. muffinsmuffins

    apricot / 370 posts

    Some great things have been mentioned! We are going to try for a second child as well and i feel the same as you...how can we manage?! One thing that helps us especially with the dog and exercise part is that one of us walks the dog while the other does bath and bed. Every night, without fail. This kills two birds with one stone: exercise for us, dog doesn't go insane from lack of walks. We alternate walks in the mornings too so he always has two walks per day. DW takes him right away in the morning while I get DS and I ready. We did have a dog walker previously which was worth every penny but we are trying to save money now and it's been going well. Also, maybe not possible but we do staggered schedules two days a week. I go 11-7 pm and the things I can get done those two mornings are crazy! I usually vacuum and sweep one morning, bathrooms and laundry the other morning. We tidy each night and are relaxing by 8...our house is still not how I like it but good enough. I meal plan on weekends and grocery shop. Our son is nearly 2.5 and is in bed at 7:30. Dinner is 6 pm, I'm home at 5. Moving dinner and bed a half hour later has saved us so much, as well as moving closer to work so our commute is 20 mins versus the hour we used to have. Not all these things are possible but things to think about long term for work schedules and commutes, especially if you add a second.

  5. nwm

    apricot / 287 posts

    love this post and so many helpful replies! i feel like we're in a similar boat with two WOH parents, and on top of that a job where even when i make it home for DS's dinner and bedtime, i need to get back to work after that (and i still feel like i'm slacking at work)! i know everyone else has already said it, but hiring someone to clean our home has been HUGE. we are lucky in that she comes once a week, and we have her do the whole family's laundry at that time--it means investing in just a few more clothes especially for the LO, but it is SO worth it not to feel like i'm constantly in a cycle of washing and folding.

    one thing i have not mastered at all is meals. like many PPs, we just feed the little guy and eat ourselves after he's down, because it would take too long to cook for ourselves. i'm trying not to give myself a hard time about how cobbled-together every meal is and how often we rely on prepared foods and take out! hoping to implement some of the suggestions on here, like sunday cooking/meal planning. i just don't really enjoy cooking so with everything else being crazy and pulling on my time, it's easy to let it slip.

    also, i make it a priority to at least work out once on the weekends, and i try to aim for once during weekdays too. it's far from ideal--i used to work out 4-5 times a week and that is my preference--but it still feels great to do sporadically and is worth it to find that time. it relaxes me a lot.

  6. looch

    wonderful persimmon / 25712 posts

    @gotkimchi: Our PTO will put events on at night, during the week. We had an math event just last week, it was at 6:15 pm. I don't want my son to miss out, but at the same time, I don't want the routine to be so messed up that I can't recover! That night, for example, we weren't home until past bedtime.

    I will also go to the PTO sponsored events once a month, to hear about what's going on in the school, plus hear about special programming. I also gave 4 tours to prospective parents between November and January.

    Then there's showing up for mystery reader a couple times during the year and I'm also the room parent. So I get to coordinate special activities, collect money, etc.

    Our school is brand new, so there are really no evening assemblies, like concerts and that sort of thing, but add that and sports in, and it gets hectic.

  7. ShootingStar

    coconut / 8324 posts

    I have two LOs - 3 and 6m and here are some things that we do:

    - We have a house cleaner biweekly
    - I cook big batches of stuff a lot since making large batches of things takes only a tiny bit more effort than what it takes for one meal.
    - Have simple dinners on the nights when I don't have something frozen. Last night was breakfast for dinner, night before was grilled sausage and kielbasa.
    - Do the bare minimum with laundry. Yesterday I threw DS and DD's laundry in the wash (separated by mesh laundry bags) and DH folded DS's during bath time. I'll fold DD's tonight, maybe while watching tv. DD's stuff just basically goes into a big divided bin, DS's goes in his dresser.

    So here's how our day went yesterday

    6 am DH gets up, showers. I get up, feed baby.
    6:45 DS up, DH gets him dressed, I get baby dressed, we all eat breakfast
    7:30 DH leaves with kids and takes them to daycare. I finish getting ready, go to work
    4:30 We leave work
    5:30 Arrive home
    5:45 DH arrives home with kids
    6:00 I start dinner hand off to DH to finish, I put DD to bed
    6:45 Done with dinner, relax on couch (Me), DH starts up work computer and works for a few minutes
    7:00 I go to the gym, DH gives DS a bath and puts him to bed
    8:30 Back home, we hang out on couch together and then go to bed.

  8. T.H.O.U.

    wonderful clementine / 24084 posts

    @looch: @gotkimchi: Agree! Having school age is another ball game!

    1. How will you handle after school activities? Even things like sports/dance/etc or special programs at the school. Most of these things fall once a week in the evenings. We typically have been splitting up, so one of us goes to the event with DD or if its a parent/PTO event, I will go with the baby.

    2. Homework and reading! I posted earlier about how to practice reading with kids with a hectic schedule and sadly a lot agreed its just hard and often gets dropped. 20 min of reading doesn't sound like a lot but when you only have from 5:30-7:30 to fit in dinner and baths and clean up, its hard to devote a parent to sit 1:1 with them for school help. We are finding some creative ways to fit it in. Like in the car pool line

    3. Schedules. School age has different schedules typically. Luckily our school allows for 7:45 drop off and DH works only 10 minutes away. He usually gets in the office just a bit late. This allows for us not to have to pay for before school care but we do pay for after school care.

  9. petitenoisette

    persimmon / 1327 posts

    A few ideas:
    I don't know when you currently get up, but I would prioritize going to bed early and getting up early so you can get some stuff done in the am when you are more energetic.

    Sundays/Fridays should be easier nights to deal with so I would focus on getting Mon-Thurs routine down to a science. Just accept that you cannot cook on those nights. Make two big crockpot meals (on the weekend or after bed) and eat over 4 nights or have sandwiches or a frozen pizza and a bagged salad. If you have to eat dinner after your LO is asleep that is ok, just prioritize eating together on Friday-Sunday.

    Who puts LO to bed? What is the other person doing at that time? (Might be minding dogs, wasn't sure from your post). If not, have person not doing baby duty do one household chore a night.

    Dog walker. Even just a few days a week is an enormous help. Our dog gets a short walk in the morning and 45 minutes+ with dog walker at dog park on the days she's home. In the winter we aren't good about really walking her again once we're home but in the Spring/Summer she gets more walks or outdoor playtime.

    Also consider big-picture changes that might need to happen especially if you want to add to your family (move closer to work, new, more flexible job, nanny, smaller house that means less upkeep, etc.).

  10. T.H.O.U.

    wonderful clementine / 24084 posts

    6:30 am DH gets up, showers. I get up, didn't shower
    6:45 DD1 and DS get up, this was sleeping in for them, they are often up at like 6:15. They turn on TV and sit down with pancakes (pre-made) and yogurt.
    7:00 we are done getting ready and go to the kitchen to start packing bags. 3 kid backpacks (the baby needs the most stuff with 5 diapers, pour her four bottles and any solids). 1 kindergarten lunch box (we try to pack the night before but doesn't always happen. We use the EasyLunch Box sets). My pump bag, DH and my lunch bags. One of us in the kitchen and the other starts getting big kids ready.
    7:15 Carry bags to car, get kids shoes on, brush teeth, get baby up and dressed.
    7:25 - I leave with baby and DS.
    7:30 DH leaves with DD1 to get in drop off line so he can be in front of line for 7:45 drop off.
    8:00 we both arrive at work.
    5:00 We leave work
    5:20 - DH arrives home with DD1. They have about 10 minutes to start dinner.
    5:45 I arrive home with little kids. Lots of bags to unpack
    We split up and one of us takes the kids to play, the other starts dinner.
    6:15 diner
    6:30 Done with dinner, clean up kitchen, play for a short bit.
    7:00 Baby goes down, I nurse her. DH starts teeth with other two
    7:15 - 2 books, prayers and lights out for big kids. Usually done by 7:45.
    8:00 final clean up of house, pack stuff for tomorrow.
    8:30 watch tv or I usually am ready to crawl into bed (baby still getting up twice a night).

  11. LulaBee

    pear / 1837 posts

    The moral of the story is it's just. hard. to. find. balance.

    DH and I both WOH and have a 4 year old and 1 year old. We get up at 5:30 to finish lunches/drink coffee. DH gets girls fed while I shower, I leave with girls at 7, DH does morning dishes after we leave.

    I'm lucky to be home from work (with girls) around 4, so I have more time than most to prepare dinner- although if we don't meal plan and shop on the weekend it is rough. Dinner at 5, we try to take a family walk after dinner and the 1 year old goes to bed by 6:30. Whichever parent isn't putting the baby to bed has "special time" with the 4 year old- this is just 1:1 time with her directing play and it's helped tremendously with her behavior. After baby is in bed, other person finishes dishes, makes coffee and lunches for tomorrow.

    I spot vacuum every other day, but really only clean bathrooms when they're dirty. Laundry happens mostly on the weekend but I usually do a load or 2 during the week. We can't really afford a house cleaner right now but when we used to have someone come once a month it was AMAZING.

    I work out on my lunch break at work. DH hasn't figured out how to incorporate working out time into his schedule and it's very stressful.

    I will say, having an Instant Pot has made dinners so much easier.

    Oh, and we have 2 dogs but they are currently living with my parents because we don't have a fenced in yard and it's just not possible to get them walked before work with our current schedule.

  12. looch

    wonderful persimmon / 25712 posts

    @T.H.O.U.: It was kind of a rude awakening. I was used to just doing the same thing every day. I did a super early drop off for my son at my mom's and came home every day at the same time. Now it's a jumble and I can barely remember what day I am supposed to do what.

  13. youboots

    honeydew / 7332 posts

    We are not in the exact same situation but here are a few tips that help us.

    A Housecleaner is essential for us. They come every 3-4 weeks I'd prefer every other week when we can reasonably afford it.

    About 1x a month we get a hello fresh box- there can be a fair amount of prep but I like finding new recipes

    We have several ready to go meals in our freezer- our favorites are to make spaghetti sauce in bulk and preseasoned taco meat- then we toss the sauce or meat in the fridge the night before.

    I do laundry all on the same day 1-2 times a week and fold during naptime- on the weekends I'll fold and watch a movie with DH.

    ETA we just did click list grocery pickup- game changer.

  14. snowjewelz

    wonderful apricot / 22797 posts

    We made do with just one but with another one now and me going back to work in a month.. I'm so anxious about how we'll get everything done! I think #1 is that my expectations will have to be lowered once again haha.

    We don't have money in the budget to hire cleaners, so I think I just have to be even more disciplined with how I do things now...

    1) We don't bathe every night. That def cuts out 15 min to half an hour every night. In the winter we bathe even less; and in the summer we still may not always bathe nightly but give thorough wipe downs.

    2) After they go to bed, I just have to get out (currently we each stay in the room with 1 kid till they are asleep). No slacking around looking at my phone. I do a super quick clean up of the living room (as much as we ask our 2 yr old to clean up, it's not perfect). DH cooks and will try to do dishes between dinner/bed time but whoever gets out first will finish dishes. I'll do a wipe down of dining room/kitchen. Pick up/tidy anything else that need to. Then it's prepping for the next day. THEN I try to spread out chores to do through out the week whether it be laundry, mopping or cleaning bathrooms. I try not to have chores on weekend nights to give myself a break

    My lunch hour at work is usually spent paying bills, making appointments, or buying household stuff at Target, etc. So at least I'm productive in that manner when I WOH.

    There really isn't a good balance... But I get really stressed out and can't enjoy myself if my house is dirty/messy and if my chores aren't done, so I guess I don't mind only having 30 min to myself at the end of night if it means sitting in a clean/organized house~

  15. muffinsmuffins

    apricot / 370 posts

    I should also add that I only cook 3, maybe 4x per week. I think someone else mentioned but make bigger batches! Sunday night is also Monday dinner, one easy thing like breakfast for dinner or soup/grilled cheese on Tuesday, Wednesday is also Thursday dinner, frozen pizza Friday night. Saturday I grocery shop and have more time so I don't count it, but I often make extra and freeze for one night during the week so that reduces cooking too.

  16. T.H.O.U.

    wonderful clementine / 24084 posts

    Im surprised how many of you can cook/clean after the kids go to bed. We have a 1 story house but too much banging around and they can hear us! So we have to keep it pretty quiet once they go to bed. Making lunches is hard enough sometimes

  17. Mrsbells

    pineapple / 12115 posts

    @T.H.O.U.: we are in an apartment now and we do a bit of washing up after they go to bed but we play white noise rainfall sounds so they dont hear a thing!

  18. gingerbebe

    cantaloupe / 6131 posts

    @T.H.O.U.: Yeah we live in a single story house but we run white noise machines and humidifiers in their rooms and they don't seem to hear much - at least in that initial stretch of deep sleep. Early morning is another issue - if one of us even pees we hear our toddler babbling in his bed.

  19. Bluebonnet

    GOLD / persimmon / 1378 posts

    A few things that help us:
    1) Cleaning service every other week (SO worth the $$). I find we pick up more because "the cleaning ladies are coming"

    2) Doubling recipes and freezing extras - soups, sauces, marinades, casseroles, etc). Its hardly more work to double recipes and freeze the extra. If I'm marinating meat, I marinate 2 or 3 times what we need for dinner and freeze the extras. This is huge for crazy weeks

    3) Establish a laundry routine (load the washer at night/before work and set the delay start timer, put laundry in the dryer when you get home from work, fold while watching TV).

    4) Rely on simple meals (kids love "breakfast for dinner")

    5) Make myself a priority and workout regularly (I'm cranky and depressed if I feel like all I am doing is doing things for others). I love mommastrong.com - 15 minute HIIT workouts for $2 a month geared to moms.

    6) Create fun traditions our whole family can look forward to (Friday night movie night, pizza night, etc) - it makes life more fun and seem less like a grind

    7) Training LOs to pick up after themselves (put your pjs in the hamper, put the toy away, etc) - it doesn't change things overnight, but it certainly reduces the number of things I'm picking up.

  20. mrskm129

    pea / 6 posts

    @bluebonnet - does the mommastrong satisfy your workout desire or do you do more on top of that? I'm sure everyone's different, just wondering if it's challenging because 15 minutes sounds great!

  21. Anagram

    papaya / 10978 posts

    @T.H.O.U.: Both kids have a white noise machine--we are in a small condo and the bedrooms are right off the living room and we unload the dishwasher, watch movies, whatever and they are fine.

  22. MrsADS

    pear / 1962 posts

    Love reading everyone's suggestions!

    I would love to hear what your favorite meals to "batch cook" are - things that can go straight into the freezer.

    I love my crock pot but can't use it on work days - if I put something in at 7am, by the time we eat at 5:30 or 6 it would be mush.

  23. Mrs. Toad

    GOLD / clementine / 753 posts

    @MrsADS: I would get a programmable outlet cord so that you could have the crockpot turn on at the right time.

  24. MrsADS

    pear / 1962 posts

    @mrs. toad have considered that (or a programmable crock pot) but don't want meat sitting out for 4-5 hours on the counter in the crock pot at room temp

  25. Bluebonnet

    GOLD / persimmon / 1378 posts

    @mrskm129: there are times when I just do Mommastong and other times do Mommastrong and other things. To be clear, it's a very challenging, but accessible workout.

    I love a lot of her themes "begin again" and "winning ugly". She encourages you to forgive yourself and "begin again" if you get sidetracked by life and neglect self care/workingout. And she promotes "winning ugly" to encourage you to workout out, even when it's not ideal or hard (your kids are hanging on you, your dog is undefoot, etc). If you wait for the perfect moment to workout, it will never happen (especially when you are a mom).

    If you are at all curious, give it a try. The Hook is her intro program, she also had a Diastasis Recti course and the Daily 15. Its only $2 a month.

  26. hellobeeboston

    cantaloupe / 6770 posts

    @MrsADS: they make new crockpots that are WiFi enabled so you can stop it from cooking remotely or start it a few hours after you leave! cool right?!

    The meals I make ahead that will keep are: lasagna, shepherds pie, chili, and meat sauce.

  27. gingerbebe

    cantaloupe / 6131 posts

    @mrskm129: we didn't have a housecleaner with our first child and didn't start using one until I was 9 months pregnant with DS2. My husband is not bothered by mess and I'm not PARTICULARLY neat, but having a messy house just makes me feel frazzled and having a DIRTY house makes me feel like a bad parent.

    I told DH we had to keep the house neater because we would have another baby crawling and mouthing everything and because I wasn't going to have time to scrub stoves and bathrooms (and he wasn't going to do it). So I sorta didn't leave him an option. We got the Roomba and the cleaner. I also told him that the neater we were the less likely our kids would be sick (which is his pet peeve). So we keep Lysol wipes everywhere and we just habitually wipe counters and toys and stuff down all day long because DH is like KID GERMS EVERYWHERE!!! Lol.

  28. gotkimchi

    persimmon / 1251 posts

    @gingerbebe: does you roomba work? I want one to help us with cleaning but have heard mixed reviews

  29. gingerbebe

    cantaloupe / 6131 posts

    Yeah we have the one they sell at Costco for pets for $300 and like it. It works better on the carpet than our hard surfaces and since it can run every single day if you want it doesn't really let stuff accumulate.

  30. sarac

    pomelo / 5093 posts

    I second everything that everyone else has said. Mostly, I would drastically lower my expectations, and I would hire as much help as I could reasonably afford. Can you hire a dog walker (or a neighborhood teen) to come over in the evening or the afternoon and walk the dog? Can you get a housekeeper? Can you send your laundry out to be washed and folded? The dog walking I would especially do, unless the walk is good exercise for you.

    I would also drastically lower my expectations for food. An avocado and an english muffin is a wonderful meal! Add some fruit and milk and you've got a great, complete meal. I'd be eating stuff like that myself, honestly. I would eat whatever the healthiest, cheapest, easiest food possible was. I would probably make a list of 10 very easy meals, pick 5 each week, and just rotate each week. Really simple protein/veg/starch stuff that you can set up in a crock pot or a rice cooker or on a roasting pan in 3 minutes each morning. Or maybe just a lot of really easy stuff from trader joe's. I would use a crock pot and a rice cooker every single day.

    I would also find any way possible to get in 15 minutes of exercise in the morning, because I need that for my mental health. I love the NYT's 7 minute workout app, I just do it twice. Or 10 minutes of jumproping and 5 minutes of pushups. My mental health requires it, and for me, it would be well worth 15 minutes less sleep.

  31. JennyD

    clementine / 989 posts

    @Mrs. Toad: I have a Bluetooth crockpot! Best present ever! I can turn it on with my phone! The only issue is that sometimes I forget... It's A&W those nights...

  32. nwm

    apricot / 287 posts

    does anyone have specific recs for a wifi-enabled crock pot? this thread has inspired me to make better use of my morning time to tackle our dinnertime problems!

  33. purplelilac

    grape / 81 posts

    Disclaimer - I didn't read every response and I only work PT.

    But my 2 cents- hire a great nanny. Seriously then you can avoid drop off/pick up issues, they can start dinner, help with laundry and basic cleaning/picking up around the house. (Clearly I love my nanny). With one kid it can be pricey but once you have more than 1 child the costs is comparable if not cheaper than daycare, especially up here in the NE.

  34. Mrs D

    grapefruit / 4410 posts

    I havent read the whole thread but I think these threads are great for resources - so I'm adding my two cents then will go back and read all the responses over the day!

    DH and I both have demanding jobs - fortunately we are both at points in our careers where we can be flexible. We have two girls, 3.5 and 1 year. I do drop offs M-F at 8am, I pick up 3 days and get home at 5:45pm those nights. DH picks up two days and I get home at 5:10pm those nights. My little one goes to bed at 7 (process starts) and my older one is right after. Here is what works for us:

    1) I prep the crap out of food on Sunday. All my breakfasts, snacks and lunches. All the parts of dinners I can.

    2) I plan at least 2 hands off meals, this can mean crock pot, casserole or DH BBQing. This way I have two nights where its basically done when I walk in the door. If I worry about the girls eating our meals that week I make a separate casserole for them (Mac, Spaghetti Bake, something easy I can have on the table for them quickly throughout the week).

    3) The nights DH picks up I use my extra 35 mins to: 1) get a dinner going, 2) throw in some laundry, 3) pick up. Its amazing what I can get done with 35 mins alone in my house!

    4) when the kids go to bed I try to stay productive. Some nights I have to work (half my team sits in Asia so 9pm conf calls work great) but others I use it to fold laundry, clean the kitchen, pick up, prep tomorrows dinner, workout, etc.

    5) I go to bed early - DH and I are in bed at 10pm. This makes me getting up at 5/5:30am easier. My girls usually sleep til 6:30am so thats another 1-1.5hrs. Granted I am getting ready for some of it.

    6) Dry Shampoo...gives me so much time back.

    7) Meal services for busy weeks. If we have a busy weekend and grocery shopping is not an option we will use HomeChef to have meals delivered.

    DH and I plan to hiring a cleaning lady this summer. And this will be the first year we hire a lawn service to mow our grass. We will likely hire a service for just 1 time a month and see how that goes.

    As others have mentioned - this phase to me is about enjoying the ride - not trying to be perfect.

  35. 808love

    pomelo / 5604 posts

    DH is completely on board.
    6:15 DH starts making breakfast and packing lunch. He moves very slow so he wakes up early so I'm not rushing him when I wake up
    630 wake up get myself ready
    645 LO up getting herself mostly and comes to table with shoes and socks on/I am finishing getting ready
    700 LO eats breakfast and I finish her hair.
    7:10 out the door
    730 at school
    3:30 free
    5pm cook dinner, simple meals on weekdays
    530 eat dinner, throw dishes in dishwasher
    600 free
    730 bath. brush teeth
    815 lights out
    We don't clean much. Sad to say. That would be the thing that gives to feel a little more "free".

  36. JennyD

    clementine / 989 posts

    @nellywm: mine is a "WeMo" enabled Crock Pot brand. I love it.

    You can also get a WeMo outlet. It plugs into your regular outlet and you plug an appliance into it. Then you can control the power to the appliance remotely. So, if you had a crock pot that was not digital, but had a knob to turn, you could plug that into the WeMo outlet, turn the crock pot on low (or whatever) then wait until noon before you turned on the outlet. So the crockpot wouldn't start until you turned on the outlet.

  37. nwm

    apricot / 287 posts

    @JennyD perfect, thanks! i'm going to give it a try!

  38. Mrs. Sketchbook

    GOLD / nectarine / 2820 posts

    @looch: just looking at this thread now and agree agree...And my older isn't even in kinder! Just pre k. But there are theme days and parties and sports etc. I blew up at my husband a few times this year for forgetting to check the cubby and missing a key communication on his pickup day. I think the trick is just having a family culture that prioritizes what matters (this is individual of course) Dress up day at school may have to be just the basic ears and a hat vs. Pinterest. Our kid does pull out soccer instead of after school soccer. Etc etc.

  39. looch

    wonderful persimmon / 25712 posts

    @Mrs. Sketchbook: I think part of it is that we're told as parents, once our kids are in preschool or kindergarten at the latest, that our participation in the school is extremely important and that creates an environment where, at least for me, I feel guilty if I am not participating. That adds another layer on top of it that I didn't have when my son was in daycare.

  40. T.H.O.U.

    wonderful clementine / 24084 posts

    @looch: Yes and my wonderful mom was a SAHM who did pinterest style things before pinterest was a thing. She always tells me, "You dont want your daughter to be the kid that is missing out or left out because you weren't prepared".

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