How many times have we said, ”There are not enough hours in a day!" Today a family sitting down at the dinner table to enjoy a meal together is an almost obsolete occurrence. If you have children who are involved in extracurricular activities, you know exactly what I’m talking about. For those who have children a typical day may look like this…
6 a.m. wake up
7:30 a.m. kids are grabbing granola bars as they walk out the door for school
7:45 a.m. drop youngest off at grandparents, sitter, or day care
8:30 a.m. get to work on time
3:30 a.m. kids finished with school and heading to grandparent or sitter's to work on homework
5:00 p.m. work day ends and evening rush begins including going home to get kids changed, frantically trying to squeeze in another snack because ball games and/or other extra curricular activities start at 6 p.m., and you know you won’t be home until at least 8:30 p.m.
8:30 p.m. the thought of having to go home and cook is overwhelming, so you go thru the closest fast food drive-thru and the kids start eating in the car
9:00 p.m. quick baths for all
9:30 p.m. tuck kids into bed and do household chores, check work email, and plan for next day because you have to wake up and do it all over again
I have been there! I was that mom when my children were younger, and even now, as a grandmother, all too often I find myself caught up in my grandkids' whirlwind. "This isn’t healthy! I need to do better!" I often told myself after going thru a fast food drive-thru to get the kids dinner or simply making grilled cheese sandwiches, boxed macaroni and cheese, or popping a pizza in the oven at 9 o’clock because my kids needed to eat. I’ve learned that it doesn’t have to be that way! Having kids and living a busy life is not easy. So what do you do? You accept obsolete and manage your day as well as you can, taking advice from those who have been where you are (and are compassionate about it).
My daughter is a very busy parent, and she and I have had this conversation many times. We came up with some tips that may help alleviate this unnecessary merry go-round and put some normalcy back into your day.
- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Make it count with protein and fresh fruits or vegetables.
- Pack your children’s lunch; make it easier by doing it the night before. Have the kids help!
- Crock pot meals can be a parents' best friend. Find your favorites and work one or two into a weekly rotation.
- Menu plan a week ahead. Let the kids help decide.
- Be unconventional; serve dinner at 4:00 p.m. and have a healthy snack at night.
- Make meals ahead of time and freeze, and thaw them on those days you know are going to be extremely hectic.
- Don’t forget about leftovers. They make wonderful side dishes or just add another ingredient to make it a new meal.
- Stir fry dinners are great for busy parents. Not only are they healthy, but the time from prep to completed dinner also takes about 30 minutes. Here is a recipe I recommend:
Pork and Apple Stir- Fry
1 clove garlic (chopped)
spoonful of honey
splash of soy sauce
zest and juice of one orange
1 pound of pork tenderloin (fat trimmed) and sliced on the grain into bite size pieces
Salt and pepper
1 large potato (thinly sliced)
1 medium sweet onion (sliced)
2 apples, fuji, gala, golden, or granny smith, depending on preference (cored and sliced)
Combine honey, garlic and soy sauce with orange juice and zest. Set aside. Season pork with salt and pepper.
Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan, add pork; cook until golden on both sides. Remove from pan. Add a little more oil, if necessary. Add onion and potato; stir until golden and add apples. Cook 3-4 minutes.
Pour in soy mixture, return pork to pan, stir-fry until pork is cooked through. Serve over brown rice.
(305 calories per serving)
Remember, you have one body, one life; let’s live it well---for your spouse, children, and grandchildren, but especially for YOU!