The hardest thing for me is planning ahead.
My mom was brilliant at it.
Ah, Planning – that word we hear and then our eyes immediately roll. I know, I know, you have heard about planning before. But you know what? Let’s look at planning in a whole new light, shall we?
I used to think the same thing as you probably. I thought planning would take the spontaneity out of my day, it would pigeon hole me into tasks that maybe I didn’t want to do right at that moment, it would limit my life and have me performing this “script” day in and day out. But you know what? I was wrong to some degree. Taking some time to do just a little bit of planning for each week actually saved me time and saved my sanity in some aspects. It didn’t take hours to do, it took about 30 minutes each week and it really did make a huge improvement in my quality of life as a Mom.
What to Plan
There are two main things that I planned out each week: my menu and the family activities, mostly the kids’ activities. Planning out each of these things freed up time during the week and gave me a plan of attack so to speak for how the week was going to go. So, let’s look at each of these items and how I would plan them out.
Again, I’m sure you have heard about this one before but there isn’t a right or wrong way to menu plan. You can make it as easy or as difficult as you would like. You don’t need any meal planning sheets or a program – a piece of blank paper works great! For me, I would look at what I had on hand – glance actually, and then I would come up with an idea of what meals I would prepare for the week. I always added in some easy, quick type meals for busy nights and I would make something a bit more complicated on Sunday evenings that would work for leftovers on Monday evening. One great tip I learned early on in menu planning – always have back up meals on hand for when it all just falls apart.
One great tip I learned early on in menu planning – always have back up meals on hand for when it all just falls apart. You know it’s going to happen at some point – you are running late, traffic was horrible, a kid is sick, you are sick, life just totally crashes and burns and your meal planned for that night is just NOT going to happen. This is when we turn to backup meals instead of ordering that delivery or stopping to pick up fast food. A backup meal is one that you keep on hand for those crisis nights. It can be taco meat you prepared weeks ago and froze for just this occasion, spaghetti as that is always an easy backup option or breakfast for dinner night! I’ve even put together little kits for the freezer with English muffins, pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings for a quick make your own pizza night. A great motto – Be Prepared!
Family and Kid Activities
This is the running around that gets us all kinds of stressed if we have more than one child that is participating in after school activities. It’s also a struggle for me to keep track of what they have at the school like the days they have PE, Music, Art, etc. so I know what shoes they can and can not wear that day. What I do is at the beginning of the year, we get a calendar of the PE, Music, Art, etc. days so that I can glance at it at the beginning of the week and place it on my weekly calendar. I then add in doctor’s appointments, dentist, haircuts, and after school activities so that I can get a good glance at the week. I use the “Oh What a Week” planning pad that I found over at Erin Condren. It’s like a huge weekly notepad that i can write on, decorate at times, and hang on the fridge so EVERYONE is aware of the week coming up!
Bring it All Together
Once I have the activities written out on my calendar, I then take a look at the days and assign meals to the days. I put easy, quick, and leftover meals on busy days and then those that might take a little more time on the less hectic days. Then I can create my grocery list and head off to the store! If you don’t make a list for the grocery store, I highly encourage you to start – it keeps you from overspending and keeps you on track to get out of that store in record time – bonus points if you organize it by aisle because it can get you in and out so fast that way!
So you may be thinking – this will take me so much time, where are the time savings in menu planning and planning out the week? Well, after the first few times, it only took me about 30 minutes tops to plan out the entire week. When I looked at how much time it would take to wait on delivery, divert and pick up fast food, fall apart from stress when the day was going to hell, and trying to figure out each morning what the kids were doing that day, it wound up saving me MUCH more time than 30 minutes. Most of all, it helped me to not be a ball of stress during the week when it came to these two things and things within the house flowed much easier when everyone could see what was going on. No more asking what was for dinner – you could see it on the calendar on the fridge! No more wondering if they had PE that day – they could see it on the calendar on the fridge! No forgetting an appointment or that you are doing carpool today – it is on the calendar!
Give it a try for a few weeks and let me know how it goes for you! Did you see the time savings? Did it help you with stress and freak outs? I really want to know!