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How to Rock Must-Have Parenting


How do you meet the considerable responsibilities of primary parenting, possibly while also working your own outside job, and still retain that piece of yourself that you just can't fathom losing?

Slow cookers, Wi-Fi and yoga, that's how.

Our grandmothers and great grandmothers had to spend hours planning and cooking meals. Their iceboxes were cooled by an actual hunk of ice.

Laundry day took the whole day because they had manual washing machines and had to hang everything out to dry or worse, they had to use wash boards and wash tubs. They had to gather wood and light their stoves, people. With fire.

Our laundry rooms have more lights and sounds than a state fair midway and we have kitchen appliances to make nearly every meal faster and easier to prepare.

We can allow technology to be a partner when our Must-Do mate is out of action.

Buddy up to your slow cooker

I have devices that assist me with most every aspect of home making. Food processors, robot vacuums, rice steamers, you name it. I'm not too proud to outsource my duties to things that require 120 volts of Benjamin Franklin's finest.

My favorite time saver is the slow cooker. I use it at least once a week. It takes me 15 minutes in the morning to assemble everything and then there's nothing else to do until dinner time.

Whatever your favorite device is, use it. Time's too precious to waste. You're not Martha Stewart. (Unless cooking is your passion, in which case, take as long as you need.) Get it done and move on.

Wi-Fi frees four hours a day

When you've got more to do than you have minutes in the day, you have to find ways to do more with the time you do have. The internet -- especially Wi-Fi and smart phones -- have made it possible for us to engage in outside interests and even businesses from anywhere.

I researched and wrote a novel last fall during my son's football practices (while my slow cooker was making dinner at home).

Wi-Fi in public places means that you can work from almost anywhere. Wi-Fi at home means every room of the house can be your office, which means you can supervise children on the trampoline or wait for the dinner rolls to brown while you finalize your business plan and apply for a loan.

You may not have four uninterrupted hours each day to devote to career pursuits or to your passions, but you probably have four hours in smaller chunks.

Twelve minutes parked in the carpool lane, 27 minutes in a doctor's waiting room, eight minutes after you put the baby down for a nap while you wait to make sure she's really asleep -- these are your new work day. Use them.

Eight minutes is plenty of time to do a Google search. In 27 minutes, you could write a letter of introduction to a potential client. With just 12 minutes of parked car time, you could write a detailed to-do list. You know you'd just be on Facebook or playing Candy Crush, anyway.

I know that I could easily lose a whole day reading a great book -- so I let myself read only when I'm on the elliptical machine. It's a whole lot easier to meet my exercise goals if I'm willing to keep going because I want to finish the chapter.

Maybe reading isn't your thing. Maybe you like Farmville. If you allow yourself to play only while you're doing cardio, you'll either get fit or break yourself of Farmville.

Yoga unleashes flexibility

But above all else, you have to be flexible, and that's where yoga comes in. Yoga is all about relaxing and allowing yourself to go with the flow. Sometimes life doesn't care about your to-do list. You have to be willing to bend a little.

Come to think of it, a game of Twister and a bottle of wine would accomplish pretty much the same thing -- and sounds a lot more fun.

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Family and Spouse Military Parenting Rebekah Sanderlin

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Rebekah Sanderlin is an Army wife, a mother of three and a professional writer. Her work has been published numerous places, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, National Public Radio, CNN, and in Self and Maxim magazines. She currently serves on the advisory boards of the Military Family Advisory Network and Blue Star Families.

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