I don't love the word busy. These days I feel like most people have quite a bit going on, and we're all just trying to do the best we can in a demanding world. Saying one is busy is a rather boring thing to say, to be frank.
That said, since having Amelie, H1 and I have found that our lives are quite a bit – well, shall we say 'fuller' than they used to be, and also more complex. In the past, if we didn't manage to organise ourselves to have fresh groceries for dinner, or we forgot to pick up paper towels at the supermarket, it was no big deal. Now, however, we have to feed Amelie dinner as well, and I prefer not to just give her toast if I can help it, and if we ran out of nappies it would be terrible for everyone involved.
On the upside, after well over a year of practice now, I've worked out a bunch of little things that make our lives so much easier. Here are my top seven for you, if you're interested...
Order My Food Bag
Absolutely my top tip. It might not be called My Food Bag where you are – you might have Blue Apron, or Hello Fresh – but odds are there's a meal delivery service in your area. Having the decision-making removed from cooking dinner is such a luxury on weeknights – and that's said by someone who enjoys cooking. I can only imagine how much simpler it must make life for people who aren't as fond of cooking as I am. Plus, it's fast, you'll waste less food, you'll probably buy less takeout, and if you're like us and upsize your plan, you'll have enough for lunches too.
Get a cleaner
I love having a cleaner and it's one of the things I'd give up last if we had to cut back. Not having to take a chunk of family time away from the weekend is just the best. We still have to clean, of course – I pull the vacuum out most days, after Amelie is in bed because she's scared of it – but all the big stuff, like bathrooms, is taken care of on a Friday so we can enjoy a pristine house over the weekend (well, until 9pm Friday night, usually – by then the shine has worn off and we usually have bits of Amelie's dinner on the floor again).
Keep an assortment of kid-friendly food in the freezer
I don't exactly feel like Supermummy when I give Amelie frozen veggies and cheese for dinner, but at least she's getting some vegetables into her (and she loves this meal, to be honest).
Unashamedly cook the easy meals
We only do My Food Bag once a fortnight, and the other week we enjoy such delicacies as lazy chicken tacos (lazy because the chicken is frozen tenderloins and we just throw it in the oven with some taco spice mix), dumplings (also from the freezer section) with broccoli and beans, and tomato salad with feta, basil pesto and some sourdough. Would I serve it to guests? Hell no. Is is tasty food that serves its purpose for us, and means we're not cooking all night? You bet it is.
Give yourself lots of different ways to get around
In Auckland at least, if you only ever use a car you're going to spend a lot of time sitting in traffic. We have a car, but we also walk, cycle, bus or train frequently. If the traffic is horrendous (as it often is) and H1 has the car, he often wouldn't make it to pick Amelie up in time – but because we're happy to be flexible and we have other options, this doesn't happen. It's often seen as hard but trust me, for us it's so much easier than dealing with traffic all the time.
Live closer to where you want or need to be
This is a biggie! Because most people can't just drop everything and move. However, you can move other stuff, like daycare, schools, errands, the gym...do people in every city drive all over the show to get to everyday places, or is this a weird Auckland thing? We get so much more time together because our everyday life things are close together. There are sacrifices of course – our apartment is not exactly a grand sweeping space – but the trade-off is totally worth it. I know it's not possible for everyone, but even moving just one thing – like having your children go to a school that's walkable instead of having to drive them there, or changing your drycleaner to one by the office so you can drop clothes off and pick them up on the way to work – could make such a difference.
Be prepared to drop an errand
This is something I learnt quickly when I was at home with Amelie, and trying to fit life around her nap and feeding schedule! I have a tendency to try to do too much, get overwhelmed and stressed, and end up in tears. Now, I counteract that by expecting there will be one thing too many on my list, and I won't get to do that thing that day. If I get everything done it's a bonus and I feel awesome, and if I don't I've already dealt with that. This also means I always do the most important thing first...never a bad way to live.