The key to freeing up time for yourself, your children and maybe even a date or two is to plan ahead. "For me, life became a lot easier when I decided to spend Sunday afternoons cooking ahead for the upcoming week," says Samantha Johannson, single mother of two teens. "You can do so much ahead of time, then freeze or refrigerate it until you need it later in the week. This way, I can assure that my kids are eating nutritious, home-cooked meals without spending hours in the kitchen every night."
One of the reasons that many parents don't have enough time with their kids in the evenings is because they don't stop working when they leave the office. In this modern age of technology, we are attached to our electronics -- smartphones, tablets and computers -- making it easy to get caught up in work after hours. Make it a rule in your house to unplug when you get home to remove distractions. Also let your boss know that you are completely committed to work from 9 to 5, but after hours is your family time.
Eating together is important. "It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and not connect with your children everyday," says Melissa Trimble, single mother of three. "Between work, school and extracurricular activities, I don't want to lose touch with what's going on in my kids' lives. So we have a rule in our house that we sit down for dinner together as a family at least four nights a week. It's great to relax, enjoy good food together, and talk about our days."
You might not think you can afford a cleaning person, mother's helper, nanny or other service person, but you need to consider how much time they can save. Getting a little help with the laundry and housecleaning or having reliable childcare providers can provide the break you need. Everyone needs some "me time" to relax and unwind. And of course if you are dating, you need to find time for that as well.
Finding a work-life balance may seem impossible, and it is if you try to do everything for everyone all the time. Scale back a little bit. Don't take on extra projects at work, overschedule your kids in too many extracurricular activities or volunteer to bake 200 cookies for the school bake sale. Learn to say "no" to things that don't really matter to you that much, devoting your time and attention to things and people you love. Also, stay organized both at work and at home. Delegate chores to your kids whenever you can and work as a team to free up time for your family.
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