Life can be a whirlwind.  Family pulling you one way, work another, and you forget about time for yourself. Calgon, take me away!  How can we stay sane and make healthy choices while trying to juggle it all?

1. Plan ahead.  Have a list of menu ideas ready and staples for these meals on hand.  This way, you always have some “go to” meals at the ready based on what you’re in the mood for.  If you are tracking your food/calorie intake, use this to your advantage on days you have no idea what to eat or make for dinner.  Pull from a day in your tracker, & take one more task off you list of things to do for the day.  Another way to plan ahead is to divide snacks into individual portions as you unload groceries. Today, I bought a 1 lb. bag of pretzels.  This is not something I routinely do, because I don’t want the temptation of eating the whole bag mindlessly as I’m watching the latest Walking Dead episode.  To help with this, I immediately divided them up in snack baggies by serving size.

2. Cook ahead. Some dishes lend themselves to this better than others, but if I’m making soup, stew, ground beef, lasagna or meatloaf, you can bet I’m making at least a double batch.  This way I get more mileage out of my time & effort.  A meal for now, & one in the freezer for later. One mess, many meals, & I only need to think once – it’s a win-win.

3. Shop smart. Even if you’re trying to avoid fast foods and processed foods on your quest for a healthier you, there are healthy options to grab on the run.  I always keep my pantry stocked with quick grab items like protein bars, granola bars, and nuts.  Some easy to grab perishables are fruit, Greek yogurt, string cheese & baby carrots.  You can pretty much bet I always have at least two of these items in my purse at all times.

4. Use technology to your advantage.  There are great applications like ziplist or 411 that will make lists for you, & 411 will even locate the item in the store for you.  Calendars like Cozi, Mom’s Daily Planner, or Family Organizer (just to name a few) are all great ways to keep the family in sync & delegate some tasks to other family members.

5. Delegate. Use above mentioned applications to keep hubby or older children in the loop.  They can help by stopping at the store to grab the few groceries, run those errands or do those chores.  Let others help, & know that your way isn’t the only way.  If the towels are folded in fourths, and not thirds, I assure you, the world will not end.  Learn to let it go & ask for/accept help where appropriate.

6. Do double duty. Just like cooking ahead, find ways to get more bang for you buck.  Get a group of girlfriends together & do some freezer cooking, get pedis, or attend a yoga class together.

When using these techniques, you will find it’s easier to find time to curl up with a book, grab coffee with a friend, workout, or take that bubble bath you’ve been dreaming of. The old saying is so true, “When momma’s not happy, nobody’s happy.”  So make yourself happy, enjoy some time in the gym or with friends by following the tips above, knowing the benefits will trickle down to the whole family. (Photo credit here)