My family and I moved to Seattle two years ago from Guam with the intention of me finally pursuing my dream of becoming a midwife. I’d spent the previous 4 years as a semi-stay-at-home mom. My days were simple—wake up at 9am, slip the girls into their bathing suits, pack my tote with a big bowl of beans and rice and some fruit, hop into the car, and lounge by the beach until papa came home, make dinner from scratch, and work on my book into the wee hours of the morning.
Fast forward to 2019 and our life is anything but beachy and simple. Both of my girls are in school (in two different locations across Seattle) and I’m a full-time graduate student at Bastyr University. This means weekly assignments, being on-call for home births, and seeing clients several times a week in the office for prenatal visits. My husband is an active duty service member with a busy schedule as a supervisor, managing large engineering projects.
Earlier this year, we realized that we simply didn’t have enough systems in place. We were trying to do it all ourselves, and it was exhausting. We also desired to keep in line with our intentional-living focus we’d honed in on while living in Guam. As springtime came to a close and I had time to breathe, my husband and I took some time to reconsider how we were doing things. We’d unintentionally stumbled on some great tactics, and needed to consider what else could be done to set ourselves up for success throughout the remainder of the year. Here are a few of the things that have become time-savers for our family.
When I first arrived in Seattle and saw all my neighbors with food deliveries at their door, I just didn’t get it. I’m one of those people who enjoys walking down each aisle of the grocery store. I also like to pick out my own produce. It’s my happy time. But as life became fuller, I realized that I wasn’t able to get to the grocery store as often as I liked, not to mention that we were eating out more. When my sister shared with me that I could do all of my grocery shopping online, have it delivered for free, and I could get good deals on organic food, I thought, “Why not?”. And we haven’t gone back since! I’ve only stepped foot into the grocery store once in the last two months and we’ve eaten more home cooked organic meals than we have in a long time, plus my wallet is thankful.
This technique for lunches has been gold! I simply make a salad of some sort on Sunday evening, like traditional chicken salad, orzo with red bell peppers and pumpkin seeds, or a curry spiced quinoa and chicken dish. Then I buy a bulk supply of a vegetable, like baby carrots, snap peas, or cucumbers. Each lunch gets a fruit, usually blueberries or grapes. I might add in a little treat, like a few tiny marshmallows or a couple dates with nut/seed butter. We use a metal, pre-sectioned lunch box that can be washed in the dishwasher. I fill in each of the squares, pop on the top, and we’re done! The girls love the various colors and cute presentation, which means they’ll actually eat it.
Prioritize 3 things
This is a big one that harkens back to our island life. While living on a small island, we realized how freeing it was to only have a few activities to choose from at any given time. Most stores closed by sundown and we were forced to be content with the few activities available to us. When we first arrived back in the United States, we were overwhelmed by the birthday party invites, many of which overlapped each other on a single weekend. I soon learned that it’s not uncommon for parents to shuttle their kiddos from one party to the next. Eek! I had to draw the line. My husband and I came up with our solution to this. We now prioritize three things each season. At the moment, it’s Jiu-jitsu for my husband two nights a week, family adventures on the weekends, and getting the girls in bed on time. These priorities are the ones for which we filter all other bids on our time. It was hard at first, but we’ve learned that others who have set boundaries for themselves understand our families need for boundaries.
Take time for you
If you’ve spent any time on social media over the past year, you’ve likely been introduced to the term “self care”. I’m a huge fan of self-care and I don’t think it has to be fancy. Self-care is simply a form of “preventative maintenance” for your mental and physical wellbeing, so that we have the resiliency to continue doing the work we love. This could mean simply choosing to delete social media apps off of your phone from Friday until Monday morning, halting notifications after a certain point each night, or getting dressed in the morning while listening to your favorite artist. These are things I try to do, which are really easy to incorporate into a busy schedule and don’t cost a thing.
I absolutely love that as a woman, I have the option to navigate family, career, education, and passion projects as I choose. But I also don’t think that having it all means doing it all at one time. Part of the beauty in life is enjoying each season as it comes. I hope these tips help you to find ease and joy in whatever season you find yourself in right now.
About the Author
Anjelica Malone is the mother of two island-born girls and the wife to an astoundingly supportive husband. She is also a graduate student studying Midwifery at Bastyr University. Her writing and philosophy on parenting is influenced by her travels and third culture upbringing. Visit her website, AnjelicaMalone.com, to learn more.