Sunday, June 9, 2019

Be prepared for Life #3....5 minute tasks....

Working outside the home and keeping home humming along can be a real challenge.
Today I want to offer some tips on sharing the load. And it's not about having an army of human helpers.
It's more about spreading the workload equitably, and having the discipline to manage time more effectively so that you get the most out of your day. It's about using 5 minute windows to make the day run more smoothly.
But first!
1. Feeling your best is the number one priority if you're going to embark on this crazy roller coaster of working and managing the home.
2. Note I said 'managing'. Managing also means 'delegating'. So learn to delegate!
Let me elaborate...
Feeling your best
One of the things I have found most difficult about re-entering the workforce in my late 50s, is the fatigue. I truly love what I am doing, but I have to accept that even though I am fit and healthy, I am no Spring chicken. So I have to manage my energies and accept the natural rhythm of my body clock.
I don't know about you, but energy-wise, so long as I keep to a strict schedule of 9pm to bed and 6am to rise, I am at my best first thing in the morning. Note I did not say 'awake'. I'm sort of on auto-pilot for the first few hours. But even on auto-pilot, while you're getting ready for work, you can still accomplish a great deal.
Some sensible tips: Don't drink coffee after 2pm, if socialising stick to an occasional glass of wine on weekends only, make sure to have 6 glasses of water a day, once home in the evenings only drink water or herbal tea, don't drink anything after 8:30 because most of us don't sleep well with a full! Walk at LEAST 2,000 steps a day...we can all manage this. Try to stick to the appropriate calorie intake for your age and desired weight. For me, that's 1200 calories, and try to get those from fresh, unprocessed food. That's it. Not hard at all.
The morning routine is crucial around here. By evening, all three in our family have been out all day and we are tired. If we get most things done in the morning prior to leaving the house (we're out the door by 7:15am), then the evening is a breeze.
Once showered and dressed, here are five things family members could do:
1. Put on a load of washing.
2. Steam some rice for the evening meal and refrigerate it. In a large microwave safe bowl or jug, place 2 cups of long grain rice and 5 1/2 cups of water with a pinch of salt. Microwave on High for 6 minutes. Allow to sit in the microwave until just before you leave, then fluff with a fork and refrigerate.
3. Make Chia Seed Puddings for the following days breakfasts. Mix 1/2 cup white chia seeds with 2 cups liquid (milk, plant based milk, probiotic milk) and some sweetener or flavouring if you want (sugar, honey, maple syrup, stevia, agave nectar), and add a few frozen or fresh berries. Yummy.
4. Boil some eggs. See my post here for the perfect not-too-hard, hard boiled eggs.
5. Cut some bananas up and freeze for smoothies or Nice-Cream (fake ice cream). To make Nice-Cream, whizz a few chunks of frozen banana in your blender. We use a Nutri-Ninja. Add flavourings or toppings just as you would for real ice cream sundaes. Just like a 'real' soft serve, but healthy!
Here are 5 things another family member could do:
1. Feed pets.
2. Hang out the washing.
3. Throw some salad leaves into a bowl with some halved cherry tomatoes, and make a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette in a recycled jar. Refrigerate covered. To make vinaigrette, put equal amounts olive oil and lemon juice in a recycled jar, add a teaspoon of prepared mustard, a pinch of sugar and salt, and shake well. Add a sprinkle to salad leaves and toss well to coat. You don't need much!
4. Clean the bathroom basin after brushing teeth. We keep a scrubbing pad under the vanity for just this purpose. A tiny pearl of toothpaste makes a fine abrasive if one is necessary!
5. Water the pot plants.
5 more things:
1. Slice, dice, marinate or mix the protein portion of the evening meal. That might mean marinating chicken or salmon fillets, mixing the mince for meatballs, cutting some steak into slivers and salting it lightly to tenderise, or microwaving some red lentil mash for stuffing capsicums or making Dhal. All five minutes at the most. Red lentil mash is made by mixing 300mls of stock (any flavour) with 3/4 cup red lentils. Microwave for 6 mins or until 'mushy'.
2. Fold the clean and dry washing. My clever husband built us a drying cabinet so we can hang as much as possible on hangers to go straight into our wardrobes. Works like a charm. Line hanging will work too though, obviously!
3. Check and replace toilet rolls, handtowels, teatowels, dishcloths.
4. Load or unload the dishwasher OR wash dishes and stack to air dry in dish drainer.

5. Ready cups for herbal teas when we all walk in the door. We each then only need to boil the kettle.
Labour saving devices

It's a funny thing. Many of the appliances we traditionally imagine to labour saving, haven't been for us with me not at home.
Husband refuses to use the slow cooker as he hates cleaning it. It's an old one, that requires soaking overnight and a scrub whilst on it's side in the morning. I can totally see how that's a bit painful!
Ironing? No thanks. We wash on the Gentle cycle, and hang everything that would traditionally need ironing, straight on to hangers. I literally have one shirt that I iron. The rest? No way!
Bread-maker, sandwich press, pie maker all just add to clutter and stress and we don't eat that way any more anyway, as we are gluten free. All gone. Is it time for you to reassess your actual needs and declutter your kitchen, based on your own families changing needs?
Our most used appliances are the kettle and toaster, the bench mixer and the Nutri-Ninja. Everything else? Gone.
That too, might take just five minutes, free space in your kitchen, and lift a weight from your shoulders.
Keep snacks simple - more 5 minute tasks
Here are five really easy snacks for lunch boxes, that can be used as a base and varied for interest:
1. Dried fruit and nut mix. We make our own meaning we can have exactly what we like in it. What we 'like' can be different from one week to the next.
2. Fresh fruit. Seasonal. Whatever is least expensive or growing in the garden that week. We eat anything.
3. Veges and home made hommus. 'Hommus' to us, can be a dip of anything with herbs and oil for flavour whizzed up in the Nutri-Ninja. We use roasted sweet potato, eggplant or pumpkin, cooked green peas, drained tinned chick peas, lentils and kidney beans. Add oil to carry flavour, season well, add herbs and spices to your liking. We make new combinations all the time so we don't get bored.
4. Cheese and crackers. Again, this could be herbed home made ricotta, brie, camembert, crumbly vintage, spicy jalapeno, wasabi infused, peppercorn, green pickle....don't just go for the cheddar!
5. Hot chocolate mix. To make this sift equal parts cocoa, icing sugar and powdered milk together. Easy peasy. Add ground cinnamon, ground chilli, or vanilla essence for extra flavour.
We accomplish all of these little tasks in five minutes or less. They make our life run so much more smoothly. Admittedly we have a three adult household, but even teens can make a dip, change the dishcloths, put on a load of washing. Younger children can scrub the vanity (when I was 5 this was my task too!), sift the cocoa and sugar for hot chocolate mix, help pack snacks on a Sunday afternoon.
Spread the load. Delegate. Use 5 minutes here and there, to make your own life easier.
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  1. Great tips Mimi! I think delegating is one of the hardest things to get used to. Really though it's best for you and them. They learn how to manage and you don't feel taken advantage of! Have a great night!

    1. Vickie, you are so right. I find it hard to let go of the tasks that have been my sole domain for twenty years! But I'm getting better at it, and as you say, you don't want to go down the path of feeling like you're carrying the entire load. Mimi xxx

  2. thank you for the Chia seed recipes. I have a jar that I need to use up and some fruit that needs to be used as well.
    Also the 5-minutes jobs were a great reminder and those great menu ideas. We continually try to eat healthier and cut out empty calories.

    1. Kay that Chia seed 'jam' is an absolute winner. So much flavour and zero sugar! Mimi xx

  3. Your comments about the appliances that save time made me think about what I have and use. I bought a breadmaker on Gumtree and wasn't a fan so I eventually gave it away on Freecycle. I do make homemade bread but it's easier without the machine. We have a sandwich press, a Nutribullet, a stick blender and a rice cooker. DH loves his slow cooker. He uses it more than me but then he does the weekday meals which is fantastic. The times when he is not home to cook are not necessarily difficult but they are nowhere near as smooth. Everyone will do their bit to prepare the meal but the evenings are more relaxing when he has the meal prepared.
    I have been soaking chia seeds in water and adding them to a cup of natural yoghurt that has two teaspoons of sweetened yoghurt in it just to take the edge off the tart flavour of natural yoghurt. Thanks for all your recipes and tips, they are really valuable.

    1. Yes its one thing to have labour saving devices. It's another altogether to just accumulate clutter. I agree, slow cooker (even though husband here won't use it, I will) is a winner. Although my oven has a super low slow cooking feature that I haven't even tried, so maybe I need to get cracking on that! Mimi xxx

  4. These are excellent, practical tips. Thank you

    1. I'm glad you think so Deb. Thanks. Mimi xxx


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