Finding more time to simply enjoy life

No Time Left for...

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No Time for...Anything!

My wife and I are continually getting frustrated with not having enough time to do the things we enjoy doing, its always working on cleaning, cooking, etc. We have no children and enjoy exercising at night after work which by 7pm we are just starting to cook dinner, then its make our lunches, wash up the dishes and by this time you are too tired to do anything like a hobby or watch tv and its time to go to bed. I would be grateful for some advice.
Paul G

Premake Lunch and Dinner

On quick suggestion is to premake your lunches. I make a weeks lunches on Sunday.

Another is to prep a lot of your weeks dinners. By this I mean to keep containers of salad, veggies, garlic, fruit, pasta, rice, etc. prechopped/precooked and ready to go. Also, as one person cooks the other could be cleaning other dirty dishes, counters, etc. and putting away the prep stuff. If you are baking/roasting you could start before you go exercise.

Check out some books on quick cooking (i.e. 10 minute meals) for more ideas.
Dan G in Albuquerque, NM

Crock Pot Help

How about investing in a good crock pot? Let it cook for you while you're off at work. Another nifty little idea (and there are many books out on the market to help you out) is taking one day to cook for the whole month, or at the very least, 2 weeks. You cook large meals --multiple meals-- and then bag them up and freeze them in 1 - 2 portion sizes. Label them and then either take them out the night before to sit in your fridge or that morning to thaw on your counter to be ready that night to be heated up. Hardly any clean up and not very long to heat up.

This can be done for lunches as well. Even a large salad can be made ahead without adding the tomatoes or cukes (anything that will go bad quickly) until later. --Have them chopped ahead of time or use cherry tomatoes. These salads will last fairly nicely for at least 2 days.

First Things First

Steven Covey has some wonderful books on finding fulfillment in life. _First Things First_ is very helpful. It allows you to take a good look at what you're doing, where you're going, and how you're getting there. Simply making a list or using a planner isn't enough, as I'm sure many people are finding. I have 5 children, a home educator, active in my church and neighborhood, have many personal pursuits, and I feel I have a very fulfilling life. I'm extremely busy, but I like the direction I'm going.

Exercise in AM & Cook on Weekends

This is in reply to "Can you help this reader?" who says he & his wife have no time for...anything!

  1. Exercise. Maybe you guys can change to exercising BEFORE work, instead of after. I know, this takes waking up extra early, but it wakes you up for the day and increases your metabolism.
  2. Cook your meals/lunches on the weekends. I cook up tons of pasta (no sauce), and put it in single-serve containers in the freezer. Then when I need a quick lunch or dinner, I just pop it in the microwave and throw sauce over it. Or just olive oil and cheese! On Sundays, I try to cook in advance so that I can warm up stuff for Monday and Tuesday.

This is just basic....I guess with coupons (and there are plenty!), by the time you get to the end of the week you can reward yourself with KFC or take-out pizza.
Melissa C.

You Think You've Got Problems

I don't really have any suggestions, but I just felt compelled to reply to Paul G. who states that he does not have time to do anything. Go cry somewhere else! (Sorry, I'm usually not like this). How old is this couple? What hours do they work? Exercising is a luxury to me. Actually being able to cook a meal is too. I'm a registered nurse who works a full-time management position 55+ hours a week at a home health agency, part-time at a hospital in ICU, and currently going back to college to expand on my nursing degree (8 credits this semester and research is one of them.) I substitute at the local school as their nurse several times a year. Believe it or not, we are trying to save $$ so I can stay home and only work part-time at the beginning of the year. I volunteer for the Red Cross. I help coach soccer. I'm a Brownie leader. I'm an involved parent with 4-H, etc. I have 2 children (ages 4 and 7) that I am very involved with (not as much as I want to be though). The children go to school and daycare during the day until 5PM (when Dad picks them up), but after that we don't routinely have babysitters. On top of this we live on a farm which involves work from all of our family, and I am responsible for all the bookwork, taxes, etc. My husband drives a school bus too. I still clip coupons, shop yardsales, bargain shops, clearance racks, and read (and distribute) my weekly Dollar Stretcher (by the way, I read this issue and am writing this letter at 2:30AM.)

So, Paul and his wife have no children, they both have jobs, they have the chance to spend time with one another working out (this is good for their heart in two ways, if you know what I mean!), they have the chance to cook meals, and clean their home. How messy can a house get with 2 adults who are gone most of the time? I'm somewhat envious, although I wouldn't trade my life in for another.

I doubt if Paul is going to get much sympathy from your readers, based on the articles I see (some people with 4-7 children), but I also know that everyone leads their own special life and faces different challenges.
Janet in Shoals, IN

Three Simple Suggestions

Some tips for the reader who had no time for hobbies. This is a problem that plagues most people in America it seems -- when you add in commute time and getting dressed time, it really starts to add up. Some suggestions.

- Try to work out over lunch -- Go to the gym for 40 or so minutes and then eat a quick lunch. This may not give you the "pump" that you get from the hour and a half workout, but it's not bad for an "easy day"

- Take advantage of flex time to avoid traffic -- if your employer lets you come in on flex time, use it -- get to the office at 6am and leave before the 5pm rush (this does depend on the type of work you do, and what kind of hours you put in)

- Clean while you talk on the phone -- it's easy to do mindless things like load the dishwasher or wipe down the counters while you are on the phone with somebody.

There's a host of time management/ life management resources out there. I am particularly fond of a book called Margin by Richard Swenson. Best of luck!!
Russell S

A Couple of Ideas

It should be easy to juggle your schedule since you don't have children. Exercise is important and it is nice you are able to share this time together, but if it is every night, perhaps you can move it down to 3-4 times a week, that will free up time.

About the cleaning and cooking...that should not consume a large amount of your time with no children...are you maybe "over cleaning"? Are there some things that you are doing daily that you could do once a week? (like dusting, vacuuming, etc.)

Could you start a project together that would be a weekend project? That would give you something to look forward to together. (you're not missing a thing by not having time for tv, LOL) But an activity together on the weekend would be fun.

What about lunch hours. Is there something that could be worked on then? I use to come home at lunch and check mail, pay bills, and feed pets just so I didn't have to come home to it!

Healthy Meal Plans from Gatheredtable

Use Your Freezer and Crockpot

  1. Try making full use of your freezer. There's lots of stuff on the web regarding freezing dinners to explain the freezer life of certain foods and how to best freeze them. There are also books "Dinner's in the Freezer" (author?) and "Once a Month Cooking" by Mimi Wilson that will help you on your way. I love pulling a meal out of the freezer the night before and knowing all day long all I have to do is turn on the oven and maybe cook a vegetable. This also saves on the number of dishes you need to clean up since the pots and pans used to make this meal were cleaned up when the meal was made on the weekend.
  2. I also make my husband's lunches for the whole week in one night. It doesn't take that much longer to make 5 sandwiches than one. I just lay all the bread out, slap on the deli meat, wrap in individual sandwich bags and then throw all the sandwiches in a good quality gallon FREEZER plastic bag squeezing out as much air as possible. I smile every night I sleepily walk to the freezer and put a sandwich in the refrigerator for morning. Hint: Try freezing one sandwich first to make sure your type of sandwich freezes OK, some use day old bread or frozen bread so the bread won't be soggy.

  3. Use a crockpot. When you walk in the house after working out dinner is all ready to serve. Also saves on dish cleanup.

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