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How do you manage it all?

Julie Quates

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Between a full time job, CrossFit, other workout, trying to keep the house clean, meal prep, grocery shopping, laundry, wedding planning, ive got no relaxation or me time or time for me and the fiancé.! It's just me and my fiancé but when he gets home he's tired from a long day and doesn't really help around the house unless I ask him like he's a kid with chores. I feel likeim spending a lot of time in the kitchen. I am just getting started on this and hope to be more efficient as time passes but I'd love to hear some tips from you ladies who are probably busier then me.

Meal prep

House cleaning

Family time


What can I do to get more tie back?


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oh man! this is not an easy one! Here are just some things that worked for me....

Meal prep - Sunday's are grocery shop and meal prep day. I try to set a aside an hour or so of time in the kitchen to prep things for the week. The cookbook Well Fed by Envoy Melissa Joulwan has a ton of helpful tips for this. Some other things that work in my home, is that once a week my husband is in charge of dinner. So he knows that every Wednesday, it's his job to take care of dinner. This way he knows ahead of time and it's not like I'm springing this on him at 5pm when he is hungry and tired too. The best tip of all: Cook way way more than you need for one maybe even two meals. For example, last night when I was making dinner, I went ahead and baked off some more sweet potatoes, grilled a few more chicken breast and thighs, all while I was waiting on dinner to finish up. Now we have leftovers from dinner, and a lot of extra protein options to help throw together lunches.

House cleaning - I try to devote 10 minutes a day before I go to bed to straighten up and clean up. It's amazing what I can get done in those 10 minutes. Makes all the difference in how the week goes as far as the state of affairs in the kitchen/bathroom/bedroom. I also suggest assigning maybe one or two chores that are specifically your husband's. Mine does the dishes and takes out the trash (I hate these two chores). If he can promise to take care of these two things, I will happily take care of the rest.

Family time - family time can be spent cooking together in the kitchen, creating new recipes. If everyone pitches in helping, work will get done faster, tempers won't flare, and there will be more time for family time.

Exercise - Can you exercise together? My husband and I lift/crossfit together. It's quality time we get to spend together. Helping each other out and reaching goals together. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

These are extremely personal and I'm not trying to say these will work for you and your situation. Hopefully, there is something in there that can help!

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Megan! Awesome tips. I'm still convincing the fiance to come to CF with me and learn more about my paleo cooking/diet. Slowly but surely. It's just crazy because I feel that we're on opposite schedules. I wish I could have enough energy to do CF in the mornings. That would help free up my evenings and be able to clean up/cook/eat/spend time with him.

I've been trying to work on cleaning one area per day (ie. floors on MOndays, bathrooms on Tuesdays). That has worked well and freed up my weekend days for exercise and working on meal prep.

We're getting married next month and I'm just trying to figure all this out! :)

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Amen this is tough! I travel for work, driving about 1K miles/week in state (no overnights) and have a daughter I have to shuffle to practice/games every weeknight and some weekend tournaments. Add to that I am working towards my Masters degree and there is very little time left over! My tips are:

Meal prep-I shop on Saturday after relaxing with my morning coffee, cook on Sunday for me. I make Well Fed chili, bison meatballs and a pound of wild caught salmon along with 6 boiled eggs to tide me over for emergency eating through the week. I cook for my husband and daughter through the week as needed.

House cleaning-sink is empty/clean before bed every night. Laundry done as needed and bathrooms/vacuuming, etc done on Saturday.

Family time-we are all night owls, so anytime after practice is when we spend together. We try to do game night on Friday and Movie night Sat when there's no tournament.

Exercise-6AM, 3/week :)

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I had to adjust to morning workouts and I've got to say it's one of the best things I've ever done. I do 12-20 minutes of HIIT before work 4-5 days per week in my living room. No wasted time travelling to a gym, changing clothes, etc...and it's out of the way and done before breakfast while the husband is still sleeping. It took a while to adjust but is soooooo worth it.

For food, I don't cook very much...I'm more of a salad with stuff on top kind of girl. I eat a lot of food that requires very little prep like fruit, bagged greens (spinach, lettuce, kale), cucumbers, carrots, broc, cabbage, peppers, tomatoes....you just chop and toss together with some protein and some olive oil plus balsamic or lemon and you're good to go. Maybe this would work for you for your lunch?

For family time, pick a couple of tv shows and watch them together...some series that you like or a brainless reality show. Something you can just kick back and laugh at. We call these "tv dates" :)

Congrats on your upcoming wedding!

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Trust me I understand.

You've gotten a lot of good answers.

I was given some incredibly good advice by an ex-boyfriend a long time ago. It has helped me through a lot of difficult times, especially concerning food/diet/cooking.

"You think about it too much. Just make a plan and do it. Don't think about it, because once you start thinking about it, you get overwhelmed. Just go from one thing to the next thing."

That's how I cope. I just go from A to B, and don't think about how much work it is, how busy I am, how tired I am, or how sick of it I am.

Some days I don't succeed. Other days I do.

Hang in there.

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"You think about it too much. Just make a plan and do it. Don't think about it, because once you start thinking about it, you get overwhelmed. Just go from one thing to the next thing."

I love that quote! I'm a total over thinker.

As for suggestions.. My hubby and I have been married for 2-1/2 years (+ living together a year before that) and we're still learning every day! I recently found that making a "chore chart" (I know.. sounds childish.. but hey whatever works, right??) can be super helpful. I have 2 columns (one for him, one for me) and the chores underneath using 3 categories, daily, weekly, monthly. This way we both know what is expected of each of us and how we can work together to be a team so things don't get out of control. Also, even though it's just the 2 of us I find we always have SO much laundry and I was tending to do it almost every day (overwhelming!). Now I do laundry 2x a week (that includes washing, drying, folding, putting away, and ironing). The rest of my days are laundry free. We also have a weekly (Sun - Sat) stick on chart on the fridge where I put what we're having for dinner (he doesn't need to ask and I don't need to ask myself because it's always there!). I got it at Staples from the Martha Stewart section - super handy :).

Hope that helps a little bit!

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I definitely agree that investing an hour in doing a mass cooking on Sunday is a great investment. Make a couple of different kinds of proteins & wet saute a bunch of veg. During the week, use frozen veg to make completing the meal go really fast. There are times I've even resorted to using frozen chopped onions because if I got a knife in my hand I was probably going to stab someone!

On the fiance/relationship front - the best advice my dad ever gave me was to start a relationship the way you mean to carry it on. When you first start out together, it's fun to take responsibility for all the chores. But, once the expectation (stated or unstated) is set that one person is going to do all the chores, it is really hard to create change. If you need him to help, tell him so & ignore the teenager attitude - it just matters that the chore is completed :)

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I was given some incredibly good advice by an ex-boyfriend a long time ago. It has helped me through a lot of difficult times, especially concerning food/diet/cooking.

"You think about it too much. Just make a plan and do it. Don't think about it, because once you start thinking about it, you get overwhelmed. Just go from one thing to the next thing."

I just had this EXACT conversation with my 23 year old daughter this past weekend. EXACT. Same words, same ideas...and still, she over analyzes EVERY thing to death. It's exhausting! I don't know how she stands it! :)

I will share advice as someone who has been happily married for 24 years and together for almost 30 years...be good to yourself. Do what you need to do to be happy. Feed yourself well. Take care of yourself physically and emotionally. If you do these things, you'll be better able to be in a healthy relationship with another person. It works. It's not selfish, because in the end, the things you do for you benefit your significant other. You are happier and healthier and your relationships benefit from that.

So, keep doing what works for you. He'll see how happy and healthy you are and he'll figure it out! ;)

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How do I manage it all? Well... I don't! :D I'm sure that's not the answer you were looking for! But I felt like I needed to be honest. I don't want you to feel stressed if there are times where you feel like you just can't manage it all - because you aren't alone. My husband and I have a 9 month old and full-time jobs. That means that certain things are going to have to take a back seat from time to time and I've had to learn to relax about it and just tell myself, "It's okay to not get everything done today." Some things really can wait. I can wear that ugly shirt in the back of my closet if I just don't get to the laundry today. I can vacuum the family room quickly now and worry about the bedrooms and stairs this weekend. No one notices the dust on the fan blades if the fan is running. My most important priority is my family!

These are my tips. Maybe something will strike a chord for you! :)

- Instead of piling dishes in the sink to tackle after dinner, my husband washes pans and unloads/loads the dishwasher while I'm cooking. As soon as I finish with a cutting board, he takes it and puts it in the machine. When a pot comes off the stove, he scrubs it up and puts it away. We have a small kitchen, so this is better than trying to help me cook. And I second the idea to post your meal plan - invaluable.

- We wash and cut up (if applicable) all the produce as soon as we get it home, before we put it away. It saves prep time later and it makes us much more likely to grab it and eat it for a snack! Also, I buy the precut veggies from time to time. Yes, they are more expensive, but they are worth their weight in gold when I Just. Want. Dinner. Done. Now.

- I try to combine priorities. Any of those activities you listed can become family time if you do them together and enjoy each other's company. We made exercise family time by taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood after dinner. The baby enjoys being in the stroller and my husband and I get to spend some meaningful time with each other. We do chores together - folding laundry, cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen, yardwork. It gets done twice as fast, and I find he responds better to, "Can you help me with this?" rather than, "Can you DO this?" Same with meal prep. When we get our produce home, I wash and he cuts, slices, or chops. Then we pack everything up for the week.

Even without conversation, there is value is just being with each other and getting a job done. I think it strengthens the underlying message of, "We're a team. We're in this together. We play together and we work together."

Good luck and congrats on your upcoming marriage!

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I had to make a chart to manage the food prep and cooking. It has columns for Dinner, Kid dinner (we will move them to W30 gradtually but overnight would have been awful), Lunch, Ingredients needed, and Prep needed. At the bottom it has two shopping lists - grocery store and farmer's market. There is a row for each day of the week. On Saturdays I fill it out and shop. On Sundays, we prep anything that can be done ahead for the week (so the box for prep needed on Sunday is LONG).

It helps me make sure I have the ingredients I need, that I cook enough for leftovers if they will be needed for lunches, and that I remember to defrost things the night before. All of these have been problems before the chart. We are having better meals during the week with far less time involved in making them.

I cook as much ahead as I can. If we are having steamed broccoli at the end of the week, I wash it, chop it, and put it in one of those As Seen On TV green produce bags. They work! So last night I pulled the bag out and dumped the pre-cooked broccoli into the steamer - voila! I've also steamed veg the night before and just nuked them to speed things up even more.

I have some backup dinners that can ALWAYS be done quickly if we are just too tired even to do that. Chicken and apple sausage - it can be defrosted in the micro and cooked quickly. SHrimp salad - shrimp defrosts fast under running water, mix in some mayo, done. We always have some fruit or vegetables that can be eaten without prep (apples, carrots we peeled on Sunday, salad greens) and some avocado and that's dinner.

And it's still really, really exhausting but it's better than it was.

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There are so many good ideas listed above (some I may steal!) but I especially appreciate (m)eat to lives's honesty about how, sometimes, it doesn't all get done. For my husband and I, it really comes down to priorities and teamwork. We have a 5 month old and both work full time, so there are certain chores we've decided to "outsource". It's a bit of a luxury, and I'd probably be wiser to do the chores myself and put the money in savings, but if it means I can spend time with my baby instead of cleaning the house all day on Saturdays, I'm in. Ditto with my husband and mowing our lawn. I don't mean to sound like a spoiled brat, but that's one choice we make to keep certain things up. We also eat out almost never, which offsets some of the expense - so it really depends what matters to you (if you're planning a wedding, this is probably very familiar territory!) Other things either have to wait until we have time, or they get crossed off the list (as in they're simply not important enough to bother with).

I second the weekly cooking approach mentioned above - it makes weeknights so much easier. And a couple of "go to" meals are great, too. Surprisingly, the steak recipe in "It Starts with Food" is one of our favorite fast meals, especially if you get some steam-in-bag veggies to go with them.

Wishing you the best with wedding planning, and navigating chore distribution in your relationship - I still find it hard after 5 years of marriage, but we're happy in every other respect I can think of, so at the end of the day it's all good. ;)

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I cook as much ahead as I can. If we are having steamed broccoli at the end of the week, I wash it, chop it, and put it in one of those As Seen On TV green produce bags. They work!

Yes!K. They do work. Hope they keep making them. Also love your idea about the chart...I'm spending too much prep time daily

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I have it easy, I admit. I work from home as does my husband when he's not traveling. My hubby was/is the 7th out of 10 in a very poor household. If you didn't help/do chores/get the work done, you didn't get anything. So he helps a ton. With that said, I second (or third or fourth) the cook ahead options. When we make a dish, if it serves 4 (I also have a 16 year old human food incinerator, er, stepson) we double it. I'll have that for lunch and or freeze it. Keeping dishes in the freezer has save me on more than one occasion. The sunday cook day is a great idea that I've managed once---I was on crutches and no weight on one leg and hubby was leaving time--but it was glorious. All I had to do during the week was heat things up.

While the chore chart might sound like something for kids, your fiancee needs to man up. (Sorry I tend to be a bit blunt). He lives there. He eats. He makes messes. He needs to do his part. Not saying he doesn't have weak areas (my husband has NO memory. I'm his memory). Make the chore list. Men can be just like children and need to see you aren't asking him to do everything.

Cleaning. We had the intention to take one night a week and have a quick meal, i.e. fast to cook and fast to clean up and take one hour after dinner to speed clean. Each participant (son, hubby and I) got assigned an area of the house and we cleaned it. Each had one bathroom, their bedroom (either me or hubby took the master) and then another area. We had designated I don't care areas...spare bedroom that no one uses and we clean before someone comes. I still like this idea but my husband just didn't participate. I decided it wasn't the hill to die on as he cooks, does dishes, does laundry, takes care of daughter and works hellish hours.

Perhaps it could work better for you. The other thing I've seen suggested in books and magazines is to clean the sink while you brush your teeth. Clean the toilet after using one night a week. In other words, the 10 minutes that a previous responder suggested.

Good luck and congrats on your upcoming wedding!

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All of the above entries are excellent advice. One thing I would like to offer in addition is that there are seasons in life. Go easy on yourself and shift the list you started with and arrange from most to least important. Wedding planning will eventually end. This is just a phase. When that's over, there will be more things. I have 5 kids, full-time job (with 30% travel), and own my own business. In my opinion there is no such thing as "balance." You just have to recommit every single morning, when you get up, to what is most important to you THAT DAY. Some days it will be cleaning, some days it will be quality time with the ones you love, etc. This will take practice. If you follow the tips that have been posted here, you will be an expert before you know it. Focus on what's most important, and don't forget to add you to that list. Best of luck!

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What a great list of advice! A wealth of wisdom!

We've been together 20 years, two kids, two jobs plus a business and a non-profit, and I will second (m)eat to live...sometimes it just doesn't all get done. :) and you know what? the sky doesn't fall.

I think meal planning/prepping one day a week is invaluable. We'd all starve if I didn't do that.

We also combined "just us" time with some productivity...Sunday evenings are designated as fold-the-laundry-and-watch-some-TV-together nights. (I hate laundry, so I only do it once a week, wash and fold everything and we're done for 6 days!) It is after kiddo-bedtime and (pre-paleo) we used to also have some wine, so it felt like a mini-at-home-watch-a-movie date. ;-)

I also designated several responsibilities that I didn't want to do and asked him if he would do them...as in "I-never-have-to-think-about-these-things-ever-again do them." He handles the trash and recycling, yard work and bathtime for the kids and all car-related chores. (He also helps out a ton with dishes and kitchen clean up if needed, even though that's usually my department.)

Someone else suggested this and I concur - we also got help. I have a housekeeper who comes once a month and cleans the whole house from top to bottom, every room. It's like a monthly re-set button. We were hesitant to do it at first - guilty, we should do it ourselves, we shouldn't spend the money, etc. - but I would happily give up a dinner or two out in order to have it. It is so much easier to keep the house clean and straightened up in a few minutes here and there, knowing that the "heavy lifting" will happen regularly. And now that we've been doing it for several years, I'd happily pay twice what we do. Really, it's one of the best decisions for our relationship that we ever made. Arguing about the house was practically a pastime for us at one point (and I'm a marriage therapist!!) ...and now I can't remember the last time we even discussed it. In fact, just last month my husband's job got really crazy and I could tell he was bringing a lot of stress home, staying up late to catch up, feeling guilty about not having enough time in the evening with the boys...so I hired a lawn service, too. Again, just every other week, to lighten the load a little. One thing off his plate for a bit. Ditto the reply about there being a season to everything...for now, it will be helpful. Anyway, I'm just saying that the only part of it we regret is not doing it sooner!

I also use a weekly plan...kind of a "map" of the week so I know when everything is going to happen. Having a visual of my week made a difference - I moved some things around once I could "see" them that way. And this process helped me actually "find" pockets of time in my schedule that I could use more efficiently. I mapped out all my client/office hours first, then kids activities, exercise, then grocery store/food prep, then date night, laundry/TV night and with the spots that are left over I can stick the other stuff in...non-profit work, family history and photo projects, blogging, etc. Then I also know exactly which spots are open for catching lunch with a friend or squeezing in a facial. Ditto to the reply that encouraged you to take care of YOU. :)

Also, I quit watching TV - like completely. (Except for when we fold laundry, of course.) ALL kinds of time showed up once that stopped!

You might not feel like you'll be able to do it all...but if you take care of yourself, be honest about what you need/expect in the relationship, and focus on your top three priorities (the things you always come through on in this season)...you'll be doing pretty great!

Congratulations on the marriage! Such an exciting time!

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