Ask Caroline

Caroline Manzo tackles questions on divorce, privacy, and even her son, Albie.

on May 30, 2011

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Bobbie from Greenville, NC says: I have two beautiful young daughters and a wonderful husband. I am juggling family, work, and running a household. I have gained almost twenty pounds in five years. My health is suffering. I find myself grabbing sweet tea for breakfast and Pop-Tarts for dinner. How can I find the time to keep my house clean, do my job, keep my children and husband happy, and still remain in good health? After work I can’t even go to the gym because I’m too tired and it’s too expensive. I am happy, but feel that I’ve lost the pizzazz I had before marriage and babies. Please help me feel beautiful again!

Caroline says: You sound like you’re in a rut, Bobbie. It’s more common than you think especially among young mothers. Juggling work, family, and home life isn’t easy, and it’s bound to take a toll on you if you don’t manage it properly. Little adjustments in time management can go a long way.

The simple act of getting yourself and your children dressed and ready for the day is probably a race against time every morning and undoubtedly a stressful process. Make life easier for yourself by laying out everyone’s clothes the night before. If it applies, pack the families snacks and lunches the night before too. Make sure backpacks are packed and ready sitting by the front door. These are just a couple of simple adjustments that don’t take much time at all, but you’d be amazed at what a difference it makes in your morning routine.

You can just as easily grab a cold bottle of water and a piece of fruit for breakfast versus sweet tea. Dinner should never be a Pop-Tart. Believe me, I’m a loyal fan of Pop-Tarts, but there’s a time for them, and it’s not dinner. I love to prepare food for what I refer to as refrigerator food. I cook specific items just to keep in the refrigerator in case I don’t have time to cook one day or just don’t feel like making a mess. For example, you will usually find meatloaf, grilled chicken cutlets, steamed broccoli, beet salad, etc. The list goes on and on.  Instead of grabbing a Pop-Tart, slice a piece of meat loaf instead. This is definitely a lifesaver, and you can prepare the foods at your leisure. A healthy diet is important, and I’m guessing it’s something you’re lacking. This could be one of the reasons why you’re gaining weight and feeling tired.

I’m a big fan of the gym. I feel like it’s a great place to go to get motivated and get back into the fitness groove. Some of us just don’t have the luxury of belonging to one. That shouldn’t deter you from exercising. There are so many DVDs out there that you can purchase and use in the comfort of your own home on your own schedule. Take a walk around your neighborhood and bring the kids with you if you have to. It’s good fresh air and a benefit to all. I could go on and on with examples of simple things you can do at home or work on to maintain a healthy body, but I’m sure you get where I’m going with this.

Keeping up with the house is a challenge, especially with little ones. I have a few little tips I can give you that I’ve found to be helpful to me. I keep disinfecting wipes under my sink in the bathroom, and as part of my morning routine I wipe down the sink and counter tops when I’m done. It takes as much time as brushing your teeth, literally. I use a squeegee on the glass door and the walls of my shower after each use; it eliminates soap scum build up, which makes the process of cleaning the shower much faster and easier. I don’t designate any given day or time to cleaning. I do little things here and there to maintain the overall cleanliness of the house as needed. It takes away the stress of getting everything done in one day. 

Now we need to address the pizzazz issue. It’s so easy to lose your sense of self when you’re juggling so many different things in your life.  I’ve seen so many women get lost in mommy mode and put their needs as an individual on a back burner. This isn’t healthy. It’s not good for you, your marriage, and ultimately your family life may suffer. Maybe you’re not the same person that wore stilettos and mini skirts back in the day. That’s OK, it’s only natural to evolve over time and have to adjust to life as you know it. However you can look just as good in a pair of flats and skinny jeans. My point is that you can’t allow yourself to fade away. Your husband didn’t fall in love with his children’s mother, he fell in love with you; don’t let yourself fall between the cracks! You need to make a conscious effort to adjust and improve yourself, and the pizzazz will be back before you know it. Good luck, Bobbie!