Monthly Feature Article by Contributing Writer
Christine Louise Hohlbaum, author Diary of a Mother
Everybody has a dream. Whether you know it or not, at one time you dreamed all the time. As children grow, their imaginations grow with them. Then they become adults, and the reality of the world sets in. Have you forgotten how to dream? Do you feel as if you have no time to breath, much less make your dreams reality? Then read on.
Time, energy, and money are chronically lacking in parents' lives. They are too tired because their children keep them up at night; they are strapped for time between juggling work and family; and they spend all their resources on their kids, the house, the car, and the mortgage. Below are some simple solutions to these chronic problems:
Make a list of priorities each week. Ask yourself: what do I want to achieve this week? Put the list in a place where you see it a lot, if not every day. When you have a roadmap, you can find out where you are going much more easily. Those scarce minutes will suddenly be there when you need them most. Check off the list as you manage each task.
Cancel your cable. Sound scary? It isn't. Really. When my husband and I cancelled our cable right before we made an international move, we suddenly had three free hours at night. We could not believe how much time we suddenly had on our hands. Unless your dream is to watch four hours of TV each night, do it. You will find much more relaxing and fulfilling ways to spend your time.
Make a schedule. Similar to your list of priorities, you will want to organize your time according to events. If you have to work late one night, dont expect yourself to go to the gym and help your child with his or her homework anyway. Rearrange the schedule as needed. Remember: being flexible is a part of being human.
Exercise is time well-spent. Three twenty-minute activities a week is all you need to stay relatively fit. Schedule a walk at lunch time with friends; swim at the local gym or run on the weekends. If you need a support system, ask a colleague to join you. Take a class that meets once a week and carpool with friends. Chances are you will go more often if you have someone honking at your sidewalk to take you along.
Sleep management for parents with very small children is one of the most challenging areas to handle. Make certain you get in a nap on the weekends to tank up your energy. Take occasional weekends away from the children if possible and ask a relative or trusted friend to watch the kids while you are gone. It will be good for your relationship with your partner as well as assuring you get the rest you need.
Nutrition is a well-neglected realm for busy people. Instead of swinging by the local fast food chain, bring smaller snacks with you until you get home. Not only will you have more energy by eating better, you will save money, too.
Make a meal plan for the week. Create a list of food items needed at the grocery store. It will reduce the urge for impulse shopping and save you time later. Instead of standing in front of the refrigerator and asking, What's for dinner? you will already know because you planned it in advance.
Coupon shopping can have its advantages. It may save you a few dollars, which can add up over time. Buyer beware, however. Frequently, coupons require you buy two of one item to qualify. Ask yourself if you really need two gallons or liters of juice before jumping at the sale. If you do bulk shopping at warehouse stores, calculate the price of the item before you buy it. Sometimes it is actually cheaper to buy smaller amounts at local grocery stores. Pay attention to Sunday circulars. You can use it as a basis for making your weekly meal plan. Whatever is on sale is what you eat that week.
Entertainment doesn't have to be expensive. Libraries often have a good selection of videos you and the kids can watch. The loan time is usually one week, which saves you time from having to run back to the video store the very next day to avoid extra charges. The best benefit? Loaning from the library is free.
Maximizing your resources can free up the time, energy, and money you need to pursue what you really want in life. Instead of spinning your wheels, you will be further along in your journey to reach the dreams you imagined as a kid.
Christine Louise Hohlbaum, American author of Diary of a Mother (2003), SAHM I Am (2005), "American Housewife Abroad" (AnotherChapter.com), has been published in hundreds of publications and has appeared on numerous parenting radio shows. When she isn't writing, leading toddler playgroups or instructing an on-line course in book promotion, she prefers to frolic in the Bavarian countryside near Munich where she lives with her husband and two children . Visit her Web site Diary of a Mother
This article has been reprinted with permission for http://www.workandfamily.bellaonline.com. (c) 2004 Christine Louise Hohlbaum, All Rights Reserved.