Evenings are intense. Working moms are exhausted but want time with their kids. Stay-at-home moms are worn out and want silence.
My sisters are the perfect examples. My little sister is a single, working mom. My older sister is a stay-at-home mom for her two kids and our little sister's two kids. They are both busy and over-worked 24/7. And on top that, they LIVE together.
So, obviously their time is precious. Both need breaks in the evening and have been struggling to make it work. Making dinner is a tiring chore and cleaning up is even worse. The working sister wants to spend time with her kids but is dragging by then. The SAH sister wants time to herself and a quiet house.
We all want those things! So, here's a re-make of our evening schedules to maximize quality time with the kids and free time with ourselves:
1. Fast food
Award yourself with up to an hour of free time on week nights by making quick, healthy meals. Save the meatloaf and roasted chicken for Sunday, when you're more likely to have the time and patience. Instead, on week nights, boil some pasta, warm your fav sauce, steam frozen veggies in the microwave and you've got a decent meal in 15 minutes. If you want to be extra fancy, spread butter & a little garlic salt on some bread and toast it in the oven on "broil." The goal is to get nourishing food in their bellies, not impress a 5-year-old with your asparagus soufflé.
2. Paper is your friend
Want to save yourself another hour of free time after those quick meals? Trade the china for some good old American paper plates and plastic forks. Your kids don't give a crap if they eat off ceramic. What they do care about is their mom's happiness. 'Cause when momma's unhappy, ain't nobody happy. I'm serious. And the time you save will make you serious. A break in the evening is worth the $2.50 for a package of cheap-o plates.
3. Quality time = 15 minutes
Directly after dinner, dedicate 15 minutes to playing actively with your kids. It will make their entire day. Tickle-attack them, wrestle on the floor, play hide-and-seek, play go-fish. 15 minutes of quality time with mom is better than a whole day of just being in the same house as a busy mom. For you working ladies, this is important to understand. You may feel guilt because you can't be around during the day. But, your kids will never feel forgotten or alone if you actively play with them each night after dinner. 15 minutes will turn their world around and remind them that "Mom loves me."
4. To bed, I said
After playtime, straight to the tub. This gives them another 10-15 minutes with you, even if you're just sitting on the toilet watching them play. It's comforting and reassuring to have you nearby. And then, straight to bed. Don't pass go or collect $200. First one in bed gets to choose the bedtime story. Most of my friends and I have an 8 pm bedtime. During the week, make that time (or whatever time you choose) a religion. Because after 8 pm, it's all your time. It's your time to check Facebook, watch your favorite TV shows on Hulu, text friends and just chill.
My point is, a good mom is not defined by the complexity of the meals she makes or what material the food is served on. A good mom prioritizes, uses her time wisely and minimizes stress in her life so she can be a better mom. Don't force yourself to fit a certain "mom mold." Make momming work for you, whatever that looks like.