Wednesday, February 1, 2012

That's the way I like it.

For the past week, I've planned; and the plans have actually turned out the way I intended.  (Insert gasp here.)  I know!  I've put fun stuff in the schedule for the kids.  Huge smiles!  I've had my meals for two weeks planned and shopped for (with the lowest grocery bill in a long time), and my family has enjoyed them all so far.  After weeks of chaos with the holidays, sickness, and my grandfather's funeral; I've planned extra-chilled days that would definitely include nap times (and rest for me too!).  It's been a huge boost to my own morale, and when I remind the kids how lucky they are to be on-schedule, I'm sure it warms their hearts too.  No??  Oh well.

Here are some things that are working for us.  If they work for you too, sweet.  If not, rejoice with this rejoicing sister.

1. Family calendar sync.  Teacher Man keeps track of his entire life on Google Calendar.  School. Family. Church.  It's all on there.  Color-coordinated.  And he teases me for being type A.  Ahem.  I, however, love the feel of paper.  The portability of paper.  I'm the crazy chick that goes into a used bookstore just to smell the air.  So I have calendar pages (monthly) that are in my home organization binder.  On Sunday evening, Dave and I sit down.  He shares the upcoming challenges in his week, and I let him know what epic adventures we've got planned at home. (Pretty sure that the most epic adventures are the unplanned ones, but this at least gives him an idea of what he's coming home to.)  This has been tremendously helpful!  When we have synced the calendars (3 minutes tops!), the rest of the week goes much more smoothly and with fewer frustrations.  Plus, this also allows me to see if I'll be needing sitters anytime during the week.  Score.

2. Menu planning.  I know. I know.  I'm in love with organization.  I already knew that.  But seriously! It only takes 15 minutes! I normally menu plan while sitting in the bathroom watching my boys splash each other in the tub.  Planning out the meals two weeks in advance and shopping every two weeks is saving us money on take-out and on last-minute purchases. Bonus: it helps my type-A, planner self to chill out and know that dinner is already in the cupboard.  This has lead to something else that's working...

3. Cooking with real food.  I've been purposing to cook with whole foods more (I highly recommend Sue Gregg's Cookbooks!).  This means more whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies, and homemade breads.  Obviously, this takes time; but it really isn't an inconvenience when I plan for it.  It's just part of the day, and the boys love to help. Okay, Caleb is helpful.  Ben just wants to sample... everything.

Just this week we've had honeyed lentils and rice (yum!), creamy turkey rice soup with bolillos, and homemade macaroni and cheese with barbecued venison sandwiches.  Teacher Man has smiled at every meal, which indicates that the whole foods menu hasn't made us sacrifice flavor.  So thankful that butter is a whole food.  Amen.

4. A weekly planner.  Ann Voskamp made a great daily docket, but that just didn't work for me.  I think broader, and I don't take time every night to plan the next day.  I'm normally chilling on the couch with Teacher Man, trying not to think about anything.  However, her weekly planner gives me a way to think through the logistics of each day while also laying out the meals.  I actually filled in meals where she gives spaces to organize your children's activities.  I have two children under four. They don't drive. Our schedules are pretty much the same.  I hang the weekly calendar on a clipboard right by my back door.  This is right next to the kitchen so every time I go from the kitchen to the garage (which is a LOT!) I have the opportunity to glance at what I need to prep for dinner and what events are planned for the day.

So there you have it.  Those things (and not having been sick) have made the last week and a half a delight!  We've basked in the 50 degree weather, taken bike rides as a family, celebrated my dad's birthday with a special dinner, and played with a friend's children so she could have a sick day.  All these things were not on the calendar, but we had time for them because the dailies had already been worked out.  Love that.
And love this little thumb sucker.  A lot.

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