How Do 2 Working Parents Manage their Mornings and Evenings with Little Ones?

shutterstock_176259971This is a frequent topic that comes up when I get together with my girlfriends.  We have a four year old and a one year old at our house.  My husband and I are both managers with challenging schedule needs and our family is not close by.  Here is what works for us:

  1. Meals can be Good and Simple –
    • Dinner
      • Sunday with Tuesday Leftovers – I always cook enough on Sunday so that I have leftovers on Tuesday night. This doesn’t have to be much.  I like to cook, but this week we were busy so I made Turkey spaghetti.  I store the extra noodles with the sauce, so it is easy reheat on Tuesday night.
      • Monday with Wednesday Leftovers –  I use my crockpot.  I use a 10 minute rule (no more than 10 minutes prep and no more than 10 minutes after I get home). This was Vegetable Soup last night.  It is 5 minutes prep and just spooning out when we get home.
      • Thursday is Non-Cooking. I keep things for salads and wraps.  So, we usually pick up a Rotisserie chicken and use it to make a salad or a hummus wrap with veggies and chicken.
      • Fridays is Pizza night. I pick up Trader Joe’s whole wheat dough, sauce, mozzarella, and toppings. (Cheating Tip: I go once a month and stock them in my freezer)  I hide spinach under the cheese to ensure the kids get their greens.
    • Snacks: Keep snacks in your car to take the edge off “hangry” kids on the ride home. I keep packs of pretzels and squeeze fruit because neither are too filling, but they take the edge off until we get home.  I also keep bottles of water if they get thirsty.
    • Breakfast:  I love yogurt, and I like that it is easy. So my kids eat a lot of yogurt for breakfast as do my husband and I.  We add granola to it to make it a little heartier.  However, we also do overnight oatmeal in the fridge and on the mornings we just can’t get it together – we have Kids Cliff bars for my son and Kind Bars for us to eat in the car.  (Cheating Tip: I leave these in the bag in my car with the afternoon snacks.)  The baby gets a non-spill cup of cheerios and a yogurt squeeze pouch.
  2. Alternating Nights – We found pretty early on that it is better for us if we each have a hectic night and then get a night off. In our home on your night you are responsible for bath time for both and bed time for our oldest.  The person who is “off” but is still at home– gives the baby her last bottle and puts her to bed.  So in our home, Mr. Style takes Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights and I take Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights.  Saturdays we “share”.   We also alternate who gets up with the baby on that night.  I wear ear plugs on “his” night.
  3. Agreeing that a Successful Morning is getting BOTH of you to work on time – This was huge for us. I realized that we both were feeling frustrated when the morning didn’t work out for us individually and changing the definition of success helped us refocus our mornings.
    • Each Sunday, we sit down for about 5 minutes and discuss our week. If Mr. Style needs to leave a little earlier, I adjust my morning to get him out the door earlier and vice-versa if I need to leave earlier he does the same.
    • Have a routine – He feeds the baby and makes sure our son has something to eat. I make sure the kids are up and dressed.
    • Be prepared – I lay everyone’s clothes out the night before to ensure zero drama. I make sure bags are packed and coats are at the back door after my morning workout.  I make this my “cool down”.
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