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Tips For Prioritizing as a Busy Parent

All parents come to understand the same thing: Their work never ends.

I was reminded of this again when my son's school recently re-opened with in-person classes for the first time since mid-March. I thought it might make life a little easier, but after only a few weeks I realize how wrong I was in that assumption.

What can we do to restore balance and stay sane? Following are a few tips that have worked for me:

When things get crazy, your first priority is to take care of yourself. If you are too tired and stressed, nothing runs smoothly. There's no need to feel guilty if you skip reading a bedtime story one night, or if you ask a trustworthy friend or family member to pick up your child from school so that you can have a little me time. Whether it's to work out or to read a chapter from the book you have been trying to finish for over a year, a little time for yourself will go a long way. 

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, it's necessary to establish priorities and make schedules. To start, stay organized. I schedule almost everything on my iPhone calendar; that way I can avoid over-scheduling. 

Assess everyone's needs: Setting priorities means assessing what needs to get done first, what can wait, and what doesn't need to happen. Putting together a list of the needs that fall under each of these headings (top priority, can wait, and won't happen) can be helpful. Once you have created the lists, you will be able to better schedule your time. I recommend doing this every week, on whichever day works best for you. I do it every Saturday morning while drinking coffee.

Say no sometimes: One thing I had to learn that was uncomfortable for me was saying no to people more often. As a people-pleaser, it was not easy to say no to my son's school when it needed a volunteer, or to a family member who needed me to babysit during the weekend. But saying no gives me the freedom to feel in control of my schedule.

Pre-plan and take care of it when you can: After you have prioritized and scheduled your week, you can now get organized and pre-plan activities that can be taken care of ahead of time. Perhaps getting your child's daily wardrobe picked out, or doing any easy or routine tasks ahead of time.

Our time is really scarce in the evenings. Preparing meals has to be quick. The food needs to be healthy and delicious. One of our favorite quick meals, Pesto Vegetable Pizza, fits the bill and is a time-saver too. You can make the crust and pesto ahead of time, and finish this meal in under 30 minutes! Here's the recipe:

Pizza Dough

  • 4 cups of brown rice flour (you can use any flour). Make this on the weekend and freeze until you need it, or just buy prepared.
                     - 3 cups of water

                     - 1 packet of yeast
                     - 2 tablespoons of oil
                     - 1 table spoon of olive oil
                     - hand knead dough and let rise for 2 hours


Pesto

  • 1/2 cup pesto sauce. Make this on the weekend or just buy it prepared (3 cups of fresh basil, 3 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup of pine nuts (or sunflower seeds for an allergen-free pesto), 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese – then mix in a blender.

Pizza Assembly
- 2 garlic cloves, halved
- 3/4 cup packed spinach, chopped
- 2 large portobello mushrooms thinly sliced
- 1 medium sweet bell pepper, julienned 
- 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and sliced
- 1/3 cup packed fresh basil chopped
- 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
- 1/ teaspoon of oregano

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place crust on a non-greased 12-inch pizza pan. Rub cut side of garlic cloves over crust; discard garlic. Spread pesto over crust. Top with spinach, mushrooms, yellow pepper, tomatoes, and basil. Sprinkle with cheeses and oregano.

Bake until heated through and cheese is melted, usually 10 to 15 minutes.