All We Need Is A Plan...
Is everyone starting to feel the pressure...or it is just me? These past few days have been an extreme sensory overload of scheduling information. Schools are starting to formulate their "back to school" reopening plans that really do not take a regular "back to school" form. The vast majority are hybrid plans, and in my case, with two children in two different grade levels they may or may not be in school on the same day with the exception of maybe once every 6 days? Dance schedules, sports schedules, religions schedules.....they are all flooding my inbox with mounds of words that are enough to make anyone just want to shut off their computer and run for the hills. Trying to register your child or children for extracurricular activities while still not knowing what actual days they will be in school. Wow! Just typing this is headache inducing. If you can not tell by now, I am a little on edge when schedules are not settled.
Full disclosure, as if you might've not already guessed.... I am a planner! I am a list-making, file folder using, color coding calendar mom. No shame, it is how I do my days and weeks. MY GOODNESS....I was that girl that had a binder for her wedding, with tabs and all.
There are many things out of our control, case in point...2020 as a whole. We have all been through so much this year and we continue to do the best we can for our kids, our family, our home, our friends. We have been there for each other in so many ways.... physically, emotionally, mentally. Sharing funny memes, giving air hugs, lending an ear to someone that lost their job, lending a hand to those who may not have been able to put dinner on the table, just holding space where needed. I think we can all agree that once June hit we were SO ready for summer. Not having to worry about schoolwork, zoom classes, reports and so on gave us a bit of lightness...like a tiny load had been lifted from our ongoing list of responsibilities.
It is absolutely crazy to think that we are in August! I feel like this crazy school year just ended and here we are ready to ramp up again. Buying school supplies, trying to digest hybrid programs and what that means for not only us as parents, but for our children's education. Will it be effective? Will we be able to help? How many days will we need to be home for them? Will they have a chance to build a relationship with their teachers?.. the questions seem to spill over from every direction. The fact of the matter is that no one knows. And despite our best efforts for trying to be prepared, the best thing we can do as moms and dads is to stay steady. Help show our children how to handle uncertainty with poise and confidence in what we know. Bring a sense of happiness to the home and gratitude to the table. I find when I do this that not only does it help to put smiles on everyones faces but it helps the kids feel safe (in more than just a physical way).
I want to bring my panic-inducing first few paragraphs to halt and shed some light, some peace and some control over the upcoming months. Even on a regular school year there are hectic schedules and overlapping time conflicts, especially for those with more than one child. The dinner table is so much more than just a physical piece of furniture. It is where conversations are shared, jokes are made and days events are told. It's where even for 1/2 hour we can sit and enjoy each others company over good food with great conversation. Dinner has taken a lot of different forms in my house (as I am sure it has in many of your homes as well) over the years. There have been two of us or three of us most nights, and then the nights where there are the 4 of us...it's a bonus! But we make the time to sit, be still, be together and that is a very important part of the glue I feel holds our family together.
Dinnertime is always so stressful because of work schedules, and school responsibilities, after school activities and homework.... but with just a little forethought and preparation... your evening doesn't have to seem like another chore. The last thing you want at the end of the day is to worry about what your going to make for dinner.
A couple years back I started jotting down some dinner ideas on scrap notebook paper over
the weekend and I would clip it to this little key ring/chalkboard organizer we have in the kitchen. I would always think of a favorite meal of my son or daughter and made sure that on a night they would be home, to make that meal. The kids used to get so excited for the weekly menu...I couldn't believe it. I really had just done it to help me with my shopping list so I didn't find myself at the grocery store 4 times a week. Their excitement was a totally side bonus!
I found that having these weekly menus helped plan my grocery shopping trip, helped me to focus on what nights we needed something quick and easy and when I could take more time to cook. It also allowed me to even plan ahead to make extras for leftovers or leftovers that I could use in a different dish. Like if I was making something with chicken breasts on the stovetop for dinner, I would buy an extra package and season them up and roast them so you could top a salad for lunch or maybe have the cooked chicken on hand to make a rice or noodle bowl. The kids looked forward to certain meals that were on the weekly menu and I think it just made them feel thought of and loved. They also learned to respect that each other have different likes and they would be like..."Wednesday is YOUR favorite." Its everyday moments like these that help me to realize I must be doing something right. I think we all need to remind ourselves we do SO MUCH right. It is always just easier to focus on the negative.
So, I decided to put this Weekly Menu Planner together and make it printable for you. Feel free to cut along the dotted line and post up your weekly menu somewhere in your kitchen. Use the other portion to take with you to the store and shop wisely to help you regain some of your precious time and money.
Click here to download and print your new Weekly Menu Planner. I hope you find this helpful and your kids find it fun! Get them involved too! Let the pick or make a meal one night. It's all about what work for you and your family!