Ahh, the age-old question that most of us deal with on a daily basis...
"How are we supposed to balance it all?"
What is the trick to doing it all - being healthy, having loving relationships, being good parents, enjoying our careers? As an extremely busy mom, wife, and business owner, people often ask me how I balance it all. My two boys are little (ages 1 and 3), I have a great marriage to a handsome, supportive man, I exercise 3-4 times each week, I run a very successful health and nutrition website that currently employs over 30 people, and I cook and eat healthy food every day (my children have never had a bite of processed or fast food). I'm sure there are people who are busier than me, but I often get asked how I keep exercise and eating healthy a priority in my life with so much else going on.
I cannot stress my most important tip enough - create habits and routines.
If you want to guarantee that you will get something done, make it a habit. Once you get into the routine of doing something it will just become second nature to you. A lot of the food that I prepare each week for myself and my family is the same. I don't even have to think about it because I'm so used to doing it! My family and I love eggs for breakfast and snacks, so I am in the habit of boiling 12 eggs every Sunday and Wednesday morning. If I wake up and it is Sunday or Wednesday morning, I know I am boiling a dozen eggs as I make breakfast. If the morning is too hectic of a time for you, try this during dinner clean up.
A great benefit of cooking is that I always have healthy, yummy leftovers for lunch. Each Sunday, I always make an entire chicken which not only provides dinner but lunch for a couple of days as well. I usually keep an extra chicken in the freezer so I'm sure to always have one available.
I plan my food shopping into my schedule. My husband and boys know that every Saturday at 8AM, mom is going to the grocery store. Alone! Not only does this provide such much-needed alone time, it's already in the calendar each week so we don't schedule anything else during that time. Sure, things may come up occasionally and I will have to go Sunday afternoon, but this rarely happens.
I made a commitment to myself that I will exercise every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday morning at 6AM. No ifs, and or butts about it! Those four days a week I head downstairs to my garage to work out, regardless of anything else that may be going on. This was an especially challenging routine to keep when my kids weren't sleeping through the night, but my wonderful hubby always helped me make it happen.
As a woman, I used to think that I could and would do it all by myself. Thankfully, those days are long gone. We all need to ask for help! I need help and I have no problem admitting that. A few areas of my life where I ask for help are with cooking and child care. Always having natural, home-cooked meals takes some thought and preparation, and my mom is a huge help in this department. My mom will either watch my kids for an hour while I cook or she chops veggies and does the dishes as I'm cooking. (Thanks, mom!) I reach out to my mommy friends and we cook for each other. We coordinate who is going to make what, and we double or triple the recipes and share the food. Voila! Dinner is ready! I also call on my mommy friends for the babysitting/exercise swap. I watch my friend's kids while she exercises, and then we switch. Of course it would be nice to exercise together, but beggars can't be choosers, and we are all grateful for a little alone time to exercise or run errands.
My last tip for you is to learn to say No! When my second son was born, I really had to prioritize my life and learn how to say NO in a polite way. It was very interesting because once I had two small children, people didn't get mad or offended when I said no, as opposed to when I said no before I had children. Regardless of what your situation is or if do or don't have kids, it is always your right to say no. Of course we should all be generous towards each other, but taking care of yourself should be your highest priority. It's true. If you don't take care of yourself first and foremost, nothing else in your life will be okay.