• Christina Rice

Find Down Time and Make it Count

Updated: Jul 9, 2018

It's the end of the school year, and life in our house is a little nuts. The social calendar's kicked up a notch, school functions have quadruple x 2, and we're suddenly staying up a little later (kids included). It's the storm before the summer's calm.

If I'm not careful, the busy schedule will try to suck the fun out of this time of year, but I've learned to fight it. I fight it because if I don't, I tend to snap at my boys, break out, eat more junk, and skip work-outs. All of these side-effects make me feel horrible so I've searched for a better way.

While I'm still trying to streamline our family's tasks, I have found a few time saving ideas that have allowed me to sneak in some much-needed "me" time. Hopefully, this will inspire you too.

Let's get some basic planning tips out of the way before we get to the good stuff.

A little planning can go a long way. If you don't normally keep a calendar, you might want use one for these busy times a year. I write out the entire month on our dry-erase, family calendar, and use a chalk board to keep a running to-do list. This keeps us all informed, and gets us all involved in the preparations.

I also have been ordering food through Costco's Same-Day Delivery Service, and it has saved me so much time spent since I no longer have to walk aisle by aisle with boys in tow. My list of food items is saved in my online account, and I can simply go back and re-order my staples. When we have a fully stocked refrigerator, we will eat out less. Eating at home keeps all of us eating our greens.

Since we're talking about shopping, it's also helpful to order a few extra bottles of wine for pop-ins or hostess gifts. If you don't drink or want variety, the orchids are always nice gifts to have on hand as well. Picking up some thank you gifts for the kids' teachers at this time is also a time-saver later.

I also like to have stock of age-appropriate kid gifts. This past weekend, we had three parties, and luckily I was prepared. I like to get the boxed and ready-to-wrap art or jewelry projects for girls, and science projects for the boys. I find that my local Joanne store always has a good selection in stock. For me, a trip to Joanne's qualifies as therapy so any excuse to go is acceptable. Oh, and don't forget to pick up some wrapping supplies if you don't already have some.

And the last part of this summer preparation, is a wardrobe check. It's time to pack away the sweaters or at least re-organize to make the summer clothes easily accesible. At the end of April, I just finished a closet clean-out and donated a lot of clothes that weren't seeing the light of day. I also purged the boys' drawers for sizes they've outgrown.

Once I could take inventory of what we had, it was easy to add a few new staples along with some fun surprises for all of our wardrobes. I shop online for clothes for both me and the boys usually when everyone has fallen asleep for the night. I put on one of my favorite guilty-pleasure shows and shop away!

Being aware of what's in our closets, allows me to mentally prepare for what we'll all be wearing to our events...graduation ceremonies, art shows, swim parties, girls' night outs, and work-related events. By getting ahead of it, I can avoid those last minute trips to Old Navy when I really don't have the time in the first place.

While it may seem like this preparation is a lot to add to your already busy schedule, but it really does save time from running around town later.

My ideas may not be exactly right for you, but try this. Identify your most time consuming tasks & find which ones can be streamlined. A little work up front to simplify these tasks, and you'll be rewarded when this newly found time can be used to reward yourself.

So, let's get to it.

If you don't have the time or the funds to take a personal day and hit the spa, below are some easy ways to sneak take that "me" time into that busy schedule without changing the schedule.

I've found an easy time to carve out for myself without skipping a beat is shower time. We all have to get clean so instead of speeding through the routine, I pick one shower per week and milk it. If you're a bath person, take that bath. If you can find some time for more than one splurge a week, by all means, go for it.

Pick music, play a podcast or enjoy the silence. You'll know what feels right at the time. Occasionally, I will also change up the lighting and turn on a lamp located right outside the bathroom instead of the main bathroom light. This low light changes the whole experience.

I take this time to experiment with the samples in my Birchbox. The surprise of new scents alone I find very satisfying. I try and decipher the notes, and see where they take me. Scents always take me somewhere whether it's a trip to the past or a fantasy vacation.

I've been known to massage my facial muscles using my facial cleanser once in a while too. Have you tried that? I really find it pleasing. Naturally, you can flow into the temples then give yourself a scalp massage once you've lathered up. That is always amazing.

It's really simple to add in something extra to your regular routine and transform it into something special. The extra time spent doesn't upset the schedule, and it does wonders for your mind, body and soul.

The shower is my favorite escape, but I've also found some me time in the kitchen. I must admit I've been trying to avoid the kitchen lately. Work has kept me busy so I've been cooking just to keep everyone fed. I dislike this type of cooking because I miss the creativity.

So, on Sundays, I've decided I had to bring that creativity back. If the boys don't want to help me, I give myself permission to go all-in. I pull out a recipe that allows me to experiment or bake something special that I know the family will love. I take my time and clean as I go to minimize the damage. I've been known to listen to a book on Audible with one earbud in leaving the other out in case someone calls to me. I'll encourage tasting during this time, and I usually set everyone up with a veggie appetizer. (This buys me extra time by curbing their appetites.) They love the good smells that emanate from the kitchen, and they anticipate the soon-to-be-served family meal. I find this "me" time to be very rewarding. It's guilt-free semi-alone alone time, without being completely isolated from the rest of the family.

I do tend to stay up a little later during this time of year because work that I would normally get done during the day is interrupted by events. After the kids go to sleep, I pick up the slack. This does take it's toll after too many days in a row so I make sure to treat myself by going to bed with the kids one or maybe two nights a week when I can.

At 8:30 pm, I click on the star projector and snuggle up with my boys. I get so toasty next to my little heaters that I'm out before I know it. It's usually a deep sleep, and if my oldest doesn't hog half the bed, I can sleep until 6:30 am. I love sleep, and that 10 hours is a treat. I know this time with my guys is limited so I don't apologize for getting all the snuggles I can. I'm not sure this qualifies as "me" time, but the extra sleep and extra snuggles is worth it to me.

The big take-away here is that life can get hectic, but we can take care of ourselves in the smallest of ways that doesn't affect our busy family schedules. In the last few years, I've taken cues from my beautiful Aunt, who seems to have her life down to a science. She's lead by example with good planning, preparation. organization and going all-in. She works hard and rewards herself in small and satisfying ways.

I never thought I had time to treat myself before, but now I make time.

I'd love to hear some of your life hacks that help keep you balanced, sane, and happy. I'm always open to new ideas. Or, if you try my tips, please share.

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