Being a mom can be overwhelming. Speaking from experience, it can be the best and the worst job in the world at times. It's exhausting, and it's exhilarating. There are highs, and there are lows, but at the end of the day, would we change anything? Not a chance.
So if you have children, give yourself a moment to grieve for your old life, but don't let it go on too long. Kids are a blessing, and your life can be so much better when they're riding shotgun. The secret is giving up the pursuit of perfection. This is something that Molly Sims—actress, model, and author of the new book Everyday Chic—knows all too well.
"I've realized perfection, in life or motherhood, is simply unattainable," she tells MyDomaine. "It wouldn't be real either. But when you have a busy life or juggle a family and a career, it's easy to get caught up in the guilt. So I always remind myself to put things into perspective. Motherhood is messy. No one ever said it would be easy, but nothing worth something ever is. You just have to plan as much as you can, but when shit gets real? Channel your inner supermama, and roll with it."
Keep scrolling as the mother of three shares some of her tips for creating a zen-like home, from organization to cleaning along with an exclusive excerpt on meal-prep ideas from her new book.
MYDOMAINE: How do you keep a home organized when children are so good at taking things apart?
MOLLY SIMS: I mean, it's not easy. I found that it helps if you maintain, whether it's decluttering before it gets out of control or doing a seasonal edit to donate or toss. I'm constantly in the playroom making sure we aren't hoarding toys we don't need.
I get the kids involved in the process to teach them the importance of keeping a clean space while also giving back in the process. With that said, my house will never be spotless. With three kids and dogs, I've embraced that. It's our happy mess.
MD: What are your favorite organization products that make life easier for parents and kick clutter to the curb?
MS: It's also about smart storage. I work with Clea and Joanna of The Home Edit, and they've taught me everything I know. Organization can be chic, people! Big wicker baskets have proven to be a great option in the playroom. Same with wooden pullout cubbies under the couch. They are easy to stow away at a moment's notice.
MD: Having children can turn your house into noise-central. How do you create a zen-like space?
MS: Routine, routine, routine. Kids thrive on it. My home will never be a spa retreat, but getting down to a routine helps avoid extra chaos. But as mamas, we know things come up, so flexibility is a must. The calmer you are, the calmer they will be.
MD: What's your top rule for creating a family-friendly home? Can it be stylish and kid-friendly too? What's the secret?
MS: Of course it can. My biggest tip is to keep it functional. All the couches in our home are outdoor fabric for a reason. It still looks just as chic, but it's way easier to clean. I also tend to like when a home looks lived in and not so intimidatingly perfect. We are a home of three kids and a few dogs, and we entertain a lot, so I want it to reflect that. Stylish storage, glossy doors, and colorful textiles are other ways I incorporate my style in a kid-friendly way. For walls, matte paint is difficult with kids—a semigloss or an eggshell is a lot more forgiving.
MD: What are your favorite family-friendly meals that are healthy and save time?
MS: I'm all about the one-pot meal. It saves time, both in preparation and the dishes afterward. Plus, if you prepare, all you have to do is pop it in the oven. We love pasta and chicken dishes at our house. I included our favorite Moroccan chicken recipe in my book, Everyday Chic, and I'm telling you—it's so good. My husband practically begs me to make it, and it's super healthy, too.
MD: It can feel overwhelming for many parents trying to keep organized while keeping the kids healthy and happy (and themselves too). What's your advice to those overwhelmed parents?
MS: Try not to be so hard on yourself, as tough as that may be. As women, we've all strived to be the perfect moms, perfect wives, and perfect people. It's just not possible. Do the absolute best you can, and leave it at that.
Keep scrolling for an excerpt from Everyday Chic.
Meal Planning and Prep
Another key to healthy eating? Planning and preparation. (These are the keys to most things in life, don't you think?). Ultimately, we will eat what is in front of us—the good, the bad, and the Krispy Kremes. If you are zipping around all day and you haven't planned out healthy meals in advance, chances are you will find yourself at the drive-thru with your kids or eating something packaged or processed. Lots of salt, sugar, additives, and other not-so-nice stuff is hidden in fast food and packaged convenience foods. I am not judging because once upon a time I was that girl with only wine, yogurt, turkey wraps, fat-free hot chocolate, and crackers in her kitchen.
After a lot of trial and error and training with chef Michael, I've come up with a shopping and food-prep strategy that works brilliantly most of the time. It's harder to maintain when we are super busy and I am traveling a lot, but for the most part, these strategies are a saving grace for our superfamily. While meal planning might take more time when you first get started, it saves time overall—and before long, you'll have it down to a science. No more decision-making before each and every meal. No more multiple trips a week to the grocery store. By planning, shopping smartly, cooking in bulk, and in advance, you will save so much time and effort down the line. Not to mention you'll be saving money for treating yourself to other things like a blow-out, a mani-pedi, that pair of strappy summer sandals you've had your eye on—you name it.
My Weekly Meal Prep Strategy
2/2/2 + 1 = The week is done.
For easy, everyday lunches and dinners, I don't waste time planning a whole bunch of different menus. Instead, before the start of each week, I follow what I call my 2/2/2 +1 strategy. This allows me to cook all my dishes for the week ahead of time, and I store my entrees, sides, and salads in large glass storage containers tightly sealed with a few slices of lemon inside to keep the food extra fresh. This strategy is the brainchild of our home chef, Michael, and it's a godsend. It's economical, it means I only have to cook on average two nights a week, and I never find myself staring blankly into the freezer, fridge, or pantry.
The 2/2/2 + 1 Strategy:
2 Protein Dishes
2 Veggie/Grain Sides
1 "Top It Off" Dish (a one-pot meal, casserole, stew, or simple dish).
How Does It Work
On Saturday or Sunday:
- I choose two protein dishes, two salad dishes, and two vegetable/side dishes from my recipe arsenal (see recipes below).
- I shop for groceries, and then I cook all my dishes, which I will mix and match throughout the week. (I tend to cook and shop on Saturday since I like to chill out on Sunday, but it can change week to week based on our schedule.)
On Wednesday or Thursday:
- I prepare my +1 "Top It Off" dish. My slow cooker is my best friend on "Top It Off" days, and I'll often choose to make a simple one-pot meal, stew, or else a casserole—anything that doesn't require a ton of prep or clean-up.
- I try to use ingredients that I already have in the fridge or freezer from my Saturday/Sunday shop so that I don't have to head back to the grocery store.
On the following Friday and Saturday:
- This strategy usually gets us through the week because we like to order in on Friday, and often eat out on Saturday with friends or as a family.
In our house, as much as is humanly possible, Brooks, Scarlett, and Grey eat what Scott and I eat. No special meals for picky kiddos. So I have to keep this in mind when selecting recipes and choosing sides. A healthy version of mac and cheese does make an appearance most weeks as a side because I know the kids love it. Day to day, I want no-brainer recipes that are nutritious, quick to whip up (no more than 30 minutes), and clean up (duh!), and that we can enjoy together. When we have guests, I'll bust out a more complicated recipe, but in our house, everyday family meals must be:
- Easy to cook and assemble and not require too many ingredients.
- Healthy and nutritious. Gotta build healthy bodies and brains.
- Yummy to the tummy. Goes without saying.
- Easy to clean up. Not getting a million dishes dirty is an important time saver.
- Simple and not require a bunch of high-tech kitchenware or appliances.
- Great as leftovers. Saves sanity and time.
- Kid-friendly (as mentioned, the kids generally eat what we eat).
- Able to be prepped and mixed and matched.
For more of her secrets on entertaining, organizing, and decorating, shop her new book below.
This excerpt is from Everyday Chic. Used with permission of Dey Street. Copyright © 2017 by Molly Sims.