10/09/2014 02:59 pm ET Updated Dec 09, 2014

Preemptive Parenting Is a Game Changer

Jose Luis Pelaez via Getty Images

I took a five-year hiatus from working out. Not because I wanted to. But because I got sucked into the vortex of motherhood. Between diapers, meal preparation, organizing kid activities and keeping up with my own career, my needs fell to the bottom of my to-do list. Before I realized it, my triceps softened and belly turned into an unflattering vision that resembled a mélange of Yoplait mixed with lumpy mashed potatoes. And I started to resent the situation.

My ever-practical husband told me that in order to make working out (and grooming appointments and any sort of rendezvous with friends) a reality, I needed to treat these activities like business meetings and schedule them accordingly. A lightbulb went off. I kicked spontaneity to the curb and started to parent preemptively by anticipating and addressing my family's needs before crunch time. Translation? I didn't wait for someone to ask me to get her clothes out at 7:30 a.m.. Play dates stopped being scheduled the night before. A week's worth of dinners were shopped for and crafted on Sunday afternoon. Lunches and outfits were no longer seat-of-my-pants situations.

Here's what I learned: Preparation yields time. And time is an invaluable currency. Once I organized the major Mom things -- meals, school, scheduling after school activities -- I emerged cleansed, much like that glorious feeling of showering after an exceptionally sweaty workout. Oh, and I learned another important lesson: Workouts don't have to happen in the gym. All you need is music, a fitness app and some DIY workout gear (resistance bands and belly-busting balls) to get your schvitz on.

Preemptive Parenting 101

  • Get a master family calendar for your kitchen. Plot out the major must-do activities: meals, food shopping, laundry, after school activities, meetings, etc. Then, in another color, schedule MOM TIME.
  • Program "work out" on your calendar and in phone as you would a business meeting
  • Make school lunches the night before
  • Create car pools for after school activities
  • Stock up on arts and crafts-type activities to occupy the kids so you can read or exercise
  • Leave breakfast cereal on the table with bowls before you go to bed
  • Leave coats, packed backpacks and outfits out the night before
  • Program your coffee maker for 6:00 a.m. so it is ready for you
  • Organize and shop a week's worth of dinners on Sunday so you don't have to deal with it every day.
  • Have an organizational app like 2Do or Intuition on your phone to keep a highly efficient, ever tabulating to-do list