I love to cook! Chopping up fresh ingredients while listening to a good book or show is relaxing and the smells of a home cooked meal makes me happy! However, with this last baby, some picky eaters and let's face it dishes, my enthusiasm and time to cook great meals has really diminished. So this blog post is as much for me as it is for you! It's time to put meal planning back on the list.
A couple of questions to consider when doing meal planning. What do I already know how to make? What will my kids eat? What types of food do we like? How much time do I have to prepare meals? What kinds of food do I want to learn how to make? These are all important questions to ask yourself.
Below are a couple of steps and explanations to make meal planning easier!
Write down a list of all of the food that you already know how to make. Your "Go To's"
If you're like me it is 4 o'clock, you're starving, your kids are pulling at you and ideas for dinner aren't really flowing. "Top Romen it is!" Hey, if you throw and egg in there it's totally healthy!... At least this is how it goes at my house when I don't have a meal plan!
Having this reference of all the meals you already know is a life saver when you're planning your meals for that week or if you need a quick idea for that day of something to make for dinner. Also, if you are trying to eat healthier you are more likely to be successful when you have already thought of healthy meal options in advance.
So if you don't do anything else, at least do this step!
Assign a different type of food for each day of the week.
I learned this tip form the, "Food Nanny". It might seem over the top, but it makes meal planning less complicated and overwhelming. It also provides variety & balance to the foods you eat each week.
For our family it looks something like this:
Sunday- Crock Pot
Tuesday-Mexican Food (Taco Tuesday)
Thursday-Fish or breakfast
Saturday-On the grill
When planning your meals types be realistic with your schedule and daily life. If you notice on my schedule I have Crock pot meals for Sunday. Who doesn't love coming home from church to the smells of a delicious roast, carrots and potatoes or something like that for Sunday dinner? Also, it is nice to relax and let the crock pot do all of the work instead of spending all of Sunday cooking and cleaning up a bunch of dishes. One other great thing about doing a crock pot meal on Sunday it that there are usually left overs. I usually eat the left overs for lunch or send them with my husband during the next week. Yay! saving time and money and it's only the beginning of the week.
On Monday we have sports and family night so there isn't a lot of time for dinner. Pasta is an easy solution! It makes for great left overs for the rest of the week and it's easy.
I chose Mexican food on Tuesday simply because it was easy to remember and fun to say, "Taco Tuesday" and we love Mexican food!
Wednesday I usually have a little bit more time to try out a new recipe. I really enjoy cooking and want to develop this interest further by trying new recipes. If you have a day in the week that would allow you more time to try out a new recipe do it!. It makes cooking more enjoyable and fun.
Near then end of my week my enthusiasm for cooking usually fades. I know this about myself, so I try to plan things that are easy and I know my kids will love. We usually do pizza or mac & cheese for Friday night, because that it our date night and we want to make things as easy as possible for our babysitter.
On Saturday we are usually outside and my husbands takes over dinner on the Grill.
Think about your week and figure out what will work best for your family!
Put this categorized list somewhere you can see it. I added mine to my kids activity schedule, so I don't forget it.
Each week or every 2 weeks take the time during your weekly planning session to plan your meals. While you're planning, write a list of all of the items that you will need for those meals. You will save a lot of time and money!
Actually cook the food you planned! I have to say as much as I love lists, I am not always disciplined enough to stick to it! What I have found is that life happens and somehow all of the time you thought you were going to have to make dinner was lost in kids activities or watching the lastest, "When calls the Heart" episode. But that is Ok! Choose a different meal that you planned for that week that won't take as much time. You don't have to cook the exact meal you planned to make that day. Be flexible! The most important thing is that you have created a lot of options for yourself in planning so many different meals that you could make that week!
Days as a mom are sometimes challenging and long, especially with little ones at home! We always have the mom guilt, thinking: “Have I done enough with my kids today?” or “Dang it. I let my kids watch T.V. all day again.” Let's face it, there are days like that, or even weeks like that, where you just get out of rhythm or simply need a break, and that's ok. I feel like it has taken a year for me to get back into the swing of things after having my fourth baby. Sometimes we can only do what can do. So I don't want this post to be overwhelming or place more mom guilt on you! Haha! I only hope to inspire each of us to do what we can in each of the different seasons of our lives. Sometimes we need to push the reset button and make time for the most important people - our kids.
There is a lot of responsibility that comes with being a mom, and developing trust and friendship with our kids is one them. I am not one of those moms that sits and plays with my kids all day long. I don’t think that is healthy for me or for them. However, I do think it is important to set aside meaningful time with our kids each day.
Meaningful time doesn’t have a set time. It doesn’t have to be a grand event, either. If your child is feeling loved, then you’ve achieved your goal. It could be reading them a book, doing a craft or teaching them something new. With older kids, it could be helping them with their homework or simply giving them your full attention when they tell you about their day. Whatever stage of life you are in with your family, I think these principles still apply and we can answer the question: “Have I done something meaningful with my kids today?”
Of course, meaningful time doesn’t always have to be planned. However, I like to have some time set aside to make sure that I’ve at least done something with them. Then everything else is a bonus! I try to plan an activity around 10:00 each morning with my little kids. Then when my older daughter gets home from school I try to plan something with her around 4:00. This set time each day helps me to remember my goal.
When thinking about planning activities, there are a couple questions that we really need to ask ourselves: “What do I want to teach my kids?”, “What are they interested in?”, “What are my talents?”, and “What can I teach them?”. Each of us has unique talents and gifts and we were given these children to share these talents with them. Using a list of answers to these questions think of a few things that you would like to do with your kids. You can include your kids by asking them what they would like to do with you. After brainstorming, pick the top things that you feel are the most important. Then decide which days you can do those activities.
Here’s an example:
Monday-Spanish or Arts & Crafts
Tuesday- National Geographic Day (Animals & Geography)
Thursday-Outing or Science Experiment
Friday- Music or Dance
Having each day be a different category is wonderful! Instead of feeling like I have to reinvent the wheel every week, I simply go back to my weekly categories that I have already set up. Then come up with a quick idea that would work for that day. I usually plan these activities during my Weekly Planning Session. (Check out the previous blog post) If you don’t have time to do your weekly planning session you at least have a quick reference of what you could do that day.
I would suggest buying a small "Days of the Week" dry erase board and writing out the activities that correlate with that day so you can remember what the categories are each day. I don't know how many times I have set up great goals of things I wanted to do with my kids but completely forget about them by the next day-mostly because they weren't somewhere I could see it! So make sure you do this step and put the calendar in your kitchen or a place that will help you remember.
If you have kids that can't read yet, cut out pictures magazines that represent those activities so the kids will know what activity is on which day. I was really surprised that my kids would get so excited about the activities and would ask me, “What are we doing for our craft day today?”
Tips on what to do on the specific days
Craft-Think of a craft related to the season.
National Geographic-You can watch a YouTube video on a specific animal or place and have the kids draw a picture on what they learned.
Service- Be inspired by the person the kids are going to serve. What do they need?
Outing- Find a group of moms to go to the zoo, museum, or park. Kids need to get out of the house just as much as we do.
Music & Dance- One of our favorite things to do is have dance parties. You could also look up some step by step dance videos for kids to learn some new moves.
Be inspired by the things around you - the time year, the interest of your kids, and things that make you happy to share with them. In my opinion, kids want to learn and do activities, but sometimes just need our help getting started. Also, activities for our kids don't have to be something grand or something some Super Mom posted on Pinterest. Keep it simple!
Good Luck! Start Planning!
With four little kids, I have found that planning and organization has been a tremendous way to feel peace, growth, and satisfaction. As a young mom I felt like all I did every day was clean up after kids, make meals, and do laundry and then it was all undone by the time my husband got home. I felt like each day rolled into the next. The days seemed long, uneventful, and it was hard to see my accomplishments. I was doing something great by taking care of my kids and home, but the lack of planning and goals made it difficult to see.
I bought myself a planner and began to write down all of the things I did each day. I wrote down everything. For example: I read my scriptures, I cleaned up the kitchen, I folded laundry, I served someone, I had a tea party with the girls, we went to the park, and I made dinner. This list was just for me to look at each week, but somehow recording it helped me see that I really was accomplishing something great.
These small, seemingly-insignificant things that we do are important, even if we are fighting a never ending battle with chaos.
Being a GOOD, GREAT, GRAND, WONDERFUL stay at home mom takes a lot of work! We need to start treating it like what it really is - a FULL TIME JOB! If we had a job, I don’t think any of us would go into our work week unprepared, aimlessly going through the motions. In fact, we would probably be fired if we did. Of course as moms, we aren’t really fired, (maybe sometimes we’d like to be Ha Ha), but we are living below our potential when we don’t take the time to plan and set goals.
After a few years of being a mom, I took a proactive approach to start planning out my week ahead of time. Each Sunday I set aside an hour to plan out my week. Yes, an hour! It does seem like a lot of time, but the time I invest in planning is more than recouped by time I save during the upcoming week. Think about how much time we waste looking into the fridge thinking, “What am I going to make for dinner tonight?” or “Wow! That is a really cool idea on Pinterest but I don’t have any of the supplies, it's never gonna happen.” Sometimes I would think, “It would be really nice to have some time for myself, but I haven’t done anything for my kids today” and then the mom-guilt would set in and I would end up wasting the day without doing anything for myself or my kids and then feeling frustrated that nothing happened.
Weekly planning can help you solve these frustrations and allow us to live up to our full potential. We have one of the most important jobs that anyone can have. So let’s not simply go through the motions, let’s really be great at what we do!
What I am giving you today is the framework for weekly planning. Over the next few weeks I will be giving greater detail about each of the sections so that you can make your weekly planning faster and easier!
Good luck at getting your lives organized, you’ll be glad you did!
Weekly Planning Session for Moms
1.Theme of the Week (Usually a quote or scripture)
I use this theme for myself and for my kids. It is usually something to improve or simply remember throughout the week. For example, one time we focused our week on faith and I tried to find different scripture stories about faith that I shared with the kids before school. They loved it and it was easier to remember the lessons shared because it was the same theme the whole week.
2. Rollover previous week’s unfinished “To Do List” tasks
Let's face it, not everything we set out to do in the week get's finished, but it is important to finish the goals we have set.
3. Create a new “To Do List” for the week
I usually have 5 categories:
4. Highlight the most important tasks
5. Mark the tasks with the beginning letter of the day of the week that you want to accomplish them. Ex. (M)(Tu.)
6. Write all of your Fixed Activities into your calendar, then find a time and day for the rest of the “To Do List” in your weekly calendar.
*I am a paper girl and love my handwritten calendar because I like to see it all mapped out in front of me and I figure it’s a way of journaling. But if you really want to get organized, I would recommend using a calendar on your phone, such as Google Calendar, so you always have your plans with you. You can even schedule alerts to remind you of an upcoming task.
7. Write in the activities you want to do with you kids
I like to designate the same time each day if possible so that it makes it easier for me to remember.
(I will be creating a future post on how to do this easily!)
8. Plan time for YOURSELF
This step is so important! If we are constantly giving to our kids, husband, chores and others we will be completely depleted and won’t be able to grow as a person or give our best selves to those around us.
9. Plan my meals for the week
This helps me to put together a grocery list for the week. Some people like to do meal planning 2 weeks in advance and get all that they need from the grocery store for those two weeks. I think this is a good idea too! This saves time and money!
10. Choose a Day for Service
This doesn’t mean that I am only doing service all day, but it’s a day that try to do something special for someone or a family.
11. Scripture Study Plan for the week
Making the scriptures apart of our daily routine is so important. When we make time for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in our lives we are given peace, inspiration for ourselves, our children, and we are able to stay focused on the things that matter most in life. It is easy to get distracted in this world that we live in.
12. Date Night
To keep the love alive my husband & I like to go on dates every Friday night. It is a day I really look forward to in my week. With so much happening with work and family life it is nice to reconnect and showcase my fun date personality with my spouse. Sometimes in the day today tasks we forget that we were once really fun and date night gives us a chance to remember that. This year my husband and I have decided to take turns on whose planning the date each week so it doesn't just fall on one of us to plan.
13. Family Night Plans
Our church has given us great council to set aside time each week to have a family night. Usually a spiritual thought can be shared, a fun activity is planned and if you’re an over achiever you could have dessert together. The kids Look forward to it and I do too!
14. Exercise Plan
Haha! See how this one is last? I am still trying to put one together for this new year, but I think it's important that we plan exercise into our lives. I always feel healthier and happier when I workout.
Now that you have read through some of these weekly planning suggestions I think it is important incorporate something else that we have learned as moms, TO BE FLEXIBLE! Does my family have gourmet breakfast every morning? Of course not. Most days, we're running late and just eat cereal. Do I always do the exact activity that I plan for my kids that day? No. Sometimes something else comes up like a play date with friends. So I will usually do that activity at another free time that week. The point is life happens and sometimes plans have to change, and we can be flexible with those changes. However, I will say having my week mapped out with goals and activities allows me to be more productive than I ever could be without it. When I do stick closer to my schedule I feel peace, balance and accomplishment.
There is a lot of information in this post so I would start by choosing a day and time that you can do your weekly planning session. Next, choose the bullet points that you love the most and add them to your weekly planning. Last Step.... GET STARTED!!!
Quick Weekly Planning Check List
It’s beginning to smell like Christmas!
The smells of Christmas are just as important to me as the decorations and the food. So I wanted to bring some of those fresh, spicy, comforting, and happy scents to those that I love. The spiciness of cinnamon & clove, the bright fragrance of oranges and sweetness of cranberries bring you right into Christmas! This recipe is quite simple, but you will love the amazing fragrances that will fill your home with this Christmas gift. Below I have shared with you the amounts and directions for 24 Christmas potpourri jars.
What you need to make a batch of 24
24 Quart size mason jars
1 pound bag of cinnamon sticks (I bought mine off Amazon)
6 12 oz bags of cranberries
2 1.25 oz jars of whole cloves
*You can add rosemary as well for fragrance and color
Wash all fruit
Slice the oranges about ¼”-½” depending on your preference
Layer in all of the ingredients
Start with 1 cup of Cranberries on the bottom
Add 2 oranges slices to the sides
Place 4-6 cinnamon sticks in between the oranges
Add more oranges to the top to make the jar full
Scatter ½ tablespoon of cloves throughout
Create a cute note for each jar with the directions
And of course, tie a bow to the top to add the finishing touch
Place in the fridge until you are ready to deliver them
Enjoy!!! Merry Christmas!
When I think of The Pink Chateau, I think of a home that is happy, decorated for the season, and full of projects. It’s a place where memories are made. It smells like fresh bread and home-cooked meals. It is organized, full of color, music, laughter, and happy children.
A home is more than just walls and flooring. It is a reflection of us. It is the backdrop to kids coming home from school, family parties, birthdays, holidays, children playing, and traditions. It’s a place where our kids learn values and about God and Jesus Christ. It’s a place of learning and creativity.
Ideal Right? I have hesitated in doing this blog because I would never want my readers to think that this ideal setting is what my home is like ALL of the time or that I think I have all of the answers. The truth is I don’t, but these ideals are what I aspire for my home to look and feel like.
As my own family is growing, I am realizing how important my little Chateau is to me and my family. A home doesn’t just happen. It takes great effort, planning, and is a conscious choice. What do I want my Chateau to look and feel like and how do I accomplish it? These questions have played through my mind over the years since I became a mom and even before as I watched my own parents create a beautiful childhood and home for me. I am still in this process of figuring out the answers to those questions and I think those answers will continue to change as our kids grow and our family changes.
However, the most important thing that we can do is to start now, whatever our family looks like, and try to imagine what our Pink Chateau is for us.
Whether you live in a studio apartment or a massive home, have no children or many, you can still answer the questions, “What do I want my Chateau look like and feel like and how do I accomplish it?”
My hope is that I can share my love for family, home, and design in a way that will inspire you to do the projects that you thought you couldn’t, be the fun parent that you’d like to be, and create a home that reflects you and your family and is full of happy memories.
In this section I hope to share some Ideas on how we can get organized and create this kind of home for ourselves!