Day 29: Together #write31days2018

I’m a day behind again (or still), so I’m just writing as if I’m not.

Today was my son’s birthday, and we spent the whole day doing some of his favorite things together for fun. Going to the library, hiking at the park, buying new shoes, making his cake and pizza for dinner. We had a really great day. And I am so tired. It was all simple, nothing extravagant or expensive. (Well, the shoes seemed expensive, but my son needed two pairs and my daughter also needed a pair!)

Just us. Together.

This is pretty normal life for us. As a homeschooling family, we spend a lot of time doing things as a family. When the kids were younger, it often felt hard to be alone with them, but now that my kids are old enough to enjoy playing and reading and drawing together, it is becoming so sweet. I love watching them become the people God intends them to be, even though that includes a lot of tiring, repetitive training.

Chew with your mouth closed.

Please stop whining and use your normal voice.

How do you ask for something nicely?

Don’t stand on the couch.

You get the picture. Parts of parenting are simply mundane and wearying. Some days I do just want to be alone and have a little peace and quiet. But at the same time, I am sincerely thankful that we get so much time together. I think that when my kids are grown, they are going to be some of my very best friends. And I will always be able to look back on these memories we made together and know it was time well spent.

This post is part of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes and Write 31 Days blogging challenges. Find all my posts in this series under the tag “write31days2018.”

Day 16: Pray #write31days2018

Not a day goes by that I don’t pray several times for help from God. Most of the time, it’s a quick prayer in the midst of sibling conflict between my two children. But in the morning, I usually do  have time for more focussed, less desperate prayers.

However, I have found that those short send-ups for patience, wisdom and grace in moments of desperation are still meaningful. I am learning these days that I cannot control my children or the outcome of my parenting. I can only do what I think is best at the time and pray for the Lord’s will to be done in their lives. The Lord alone knows what is best for them, and I need Him desperately in these days. I am not the potter. I am here to nurture my children and to teach them all I can about making godly choices. But I am not able to determine the path they will go. This is a humbling, and in many ways frightening, realization.

So I pray. A lot. I pray that I will faithfully mother these precious souls. I pray that they will see Christ in me, even through my many flaws and failures. And I pray with gratitude that my God is big enough to draw them to Himself no matter how much I may mess up in the day to day.

This post is part of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes and Write 31 Days blogging challenges. Find all my posts in this series under the tag “write31days2018.”

Day 15: When #write31days2018

In the early days of motherhood, I quickly realized how lost I was in the duties of housekeeping and homemaking. I had had all sorts of free time before having children, and I didn’t realize how much I would need to organize my days once children entered the picture. It was a steep learning curve, but I eventually got a handle on some sort of routine. I at least knew when I needed to do certain tasks to keep the house running somewhat smoothly.

Now that my children are entering more independent elementary and preschool ages, I find myself with a little more time again. I am enjoying getting back to pursuing more of my creative interests, like reading and writing. This week I decided to get back to practicing the piano a little. I starting using the Duolingo app to practice my Spanish vocabulary again, too. I have been getting my knitting out every day this week. I am also thinking about when I can add some time to draw in my sketchbook and nature journal.

If you are a new mother or in a stage with lots of littles underfoot, I don’t write all this to make you feel badly. I do, after all, only have the two children! I write to encourage you that someday, you will have time again to do those things that make you uniquely you. And I write to challenge you a little to find a few minutes (really, just 5 minutes a day!) when you can do one thing that makes your soul come alive. There will be a day when you can spend more time on your interests again, but even now, amidst all the diapers and laundry and feeding little mouths, don’t forget that you are a person, too!

This post is part of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes and Write 31 Days blogging challenges. Find all my posts in this series under the tag “write31days2018.”

The Reluctant Cook’s Guide to Meal Planning: Homemaking Series, Pt. 6

In this final post in the Homemaking for Real People Series, I am getting really, really real! I am going to admit that I don’t like meal planning. But I still find it absolutely indispensable to the general health and happiness of my family, not to mention the maintenance of our budget. I also have to admit that I actually am not a big fan of cooking. Eating, yes. Cooking, not so much. It’s not that I can’t cook. I am actually a pretty good cook! I just don’t love it. I know some people who go bake or whip up a new recipe for the pure enjoyment of it. I don’t. I cook because I like to eat, and, as a matter of fact, so does my family! Since we believe that whole, natural foods are the healthiest way to fuel our bodies, we also like to eat food made from real ingredients. And having food allergies and sensitivities makes it even more necessary that I do a decent amount of cooking on a daily basis.

In order to manage all this cooking, I have to have a meal plan. But how does a reluctant cook go about doing this?

Enter, the Reluctant Cook’s Guide to Meal Planning:

Step 1: Make a Master Meal List

Make a master meal list of 20-30 meals that are simple family favorites that you can rotate again and again. For a lot of people, this means just dinners because they have about the same things for breakfast and lunch, like toast or cereal, and sandwiches or salad. Our family, however, doesn’t eat cereal except as an occasional snack, and since we have a wheat allergy, bread for sandwiches is a real pain. I also like a lot of variety, so I do actually have lists of our favorites for breakfast and lunch, as well. Your master meal list is something you can always fall back on when you are lacking creativity or just need a default for meal planning. Obviously, it is good to try new recipes, too, but it sure is handy to know you have this list of meals everyone will enjoy when you just need to hit the easy button.

Step 2: Find Your Style

This part takes some trial and error, in my experience, but once you find your groove, you’ll be set! Some people like to have a monthly meal plan, others plan weekly. I’m a weekly gal, thought sometimes I do plan for up to two weeks at a time. You may prefer to have a paper plan that you post in your kitchen, or a digital meal plan system like Plan to Eat. I actually put my meal plan right in my Happy Planner along with all my other weekly to-do’s so I can see everything all in one spot. There are myriad meal planning calendar printable online, so I encourage you to try out a few different styles until you find your sweet spot.

Step 3: Look at Your Calendar

Before you start writing out your actual meal plan, you need to consider what you have going on in your week. Knowing how much time you are going to have for meal prep each day helps you choose what to make. For example, I know if I’m going to be gone most of the day, I either need to plan to have leftovers for dinner or make a slow cooker meal that will cook itself while we are out. Also, consider the season and weather when choosing meals. If it’s going to 90 degrees and humid, you probably aren’t going to want to plan a lot of baking or roasting if you can help it.

Step 4: Make Your Meal Plan

Once you’ve got all the preliminaries done, all there is left to do is plug in meals from your master list (or maybe a few new recipes from a Pinterest board)! I like to write down breakfast, lunch and dinner in that order. For breakfast and lunch, I don’t have as many choices to rotate, so that goes pretty quickly. We like to try more new things for dinner, so sometimes it take me a bit longer. As I go, I have my grocery list alongside me, so I can write down any ingredients that we need for the coming week as I go. I also try and write in any prep-work that may need done ahead of time in my planner. If we are going to have soaked baked oatmeal on Sunday morning, for instance, I write down that I need to get the oats soaking while I’m making dinner Saturday evening.

Step 5: Follow Your Plan

So, you’ve gone to all the work of making a meal plan. Now you need to put it in a place where you will see it and do your best to follow the plan! I know there are times when plans change and meals will get switched or left out all together. I am fine with this as it is MY plan, after all. I have the freedom to change it as needed. But I also know that if I don’t take care, produce purchased for a specific meal may spoil, or meat may not get thawed in time, etc. If I want to be wise with my time and money, it helps to stick to the plan. And, yes, I do build leftovers into my meal plan as much as possible! It is frugal and time-saving, and even my kids have no problems with eating leftovers (most of the time).

Step 6: Have a Good Attitude

Okay, maybe this should have been first…and it certainly isn’t reserved just for meal planning and cooking! Having a good attitude and thinking positive about your role as cook and meal planner for your family will go a long way toward making it a more enjoyable experience. I know that I am always proud when I put a healthy, hot meal on the table for my family. It is satisfying to know that this is one way I can serve and bless my husband and children, and it really is not all that much trouble after all. Even on a frugal budget, we can enjoy good meals when I plan well and execute that plan. And so can you! So, go ahead. Make a meal plan and go cook something wholesome and delicious!

That wraps up our Homemaking for Real People blog series! I’ve enjoyed sharing a little more in depth on how we run our home, and I would love to hear what you’ve thought of the series! Would you like me to write more on topics of homemaking, planning, or routines? Leave me a comment below. I’m all ears!

Previous Posts in the Homemaking for Real People Series:

Intro to Homemaking for Real People: Homemaking Series, Pt. 1

Why Just “Good Enough” Housekeeping? Homemaking Series, Pt. 2

A Good-Enough Housekeeping Routine: Homemaking Series, Pt. 3

20 Daily “Quick Wins:” Homemaking Series, Pt. 4

Keeping the Laundry Monster at Bay: Homemaking Series, Pt. 5

20 Daily “Quick Wins”: Homemaking Series, Part 4

Welcome back to my Homemaking for Real People blog series! This week I wanted to give you a list of 20 Quick Wins– small tasks that you can do when you are short on time that still make a big difference around the house. Most of these ideas are things that you should be doing daily, or at least weekly, anyway. All of them can be done in a few minutes, except perhaps washing a full load of dishes. For tasks that may take longer, or areas that have become overwhelming problem areas, try setting a timer and see how much you can get done in a 5-15 minute time period. I suggest printing off this list and posting a copy somewhere you will see it when you have few spare minutes. One great place to stick this list is in your planner so you will see it when you are checking off your to-do’s for the day! Also, if you have kids, many of these tasks are things your children can and should be taught to do, too. After all, as the saying goes, many hands make light work! Here goes:

20 Daily “Quick Wins”

  • Make the bed
  • Put dirty clothes in the hamper
  • Put shoes away
  • Clear off kitchen counters
  • Wipe bathroom counter and sink
  • Wipe kitchen counters
  • Wipe down microwave
  • Sweep kitchen/dining room floor
  • Fold throw blankets and fluff pillows
  • Hang up jackets
  • Fold a load of laundry
  • Put away clean clothes
  • Wash dishes
  • Put away clean dishes
  • Do a quick pick-up of one room
  • Empty waste baskets
  • Take out trash/recycling
  • Sort mail
  • Straighten a bookshelf
  • Clear off your desk/dresser/nightstand

How many quick wins will you have today? Click here to get the free printable list of the above 20 Quick Wins to help you make the most of your housekeeping time. It is formatted to print 3 lists on a page, so you can cut them apart and post them around the house where you will be able see them often. Happy cleaning!

 

 

 

Previous Posts in the Homemaking for Real People Series:

Intro to Homemaking for Real People: Homemaking Series, Pt. 1

Why Just “Good Enough” Housekeeping? Homemaking Series, Pt. 2

A Good-Enough Housekeeping Routine: Homemaking Series, Pt. 3