The other day, I was preparing lunches for the week for my kids while my husband was out working in the garage. He popped in the house for a moment for who-knows-what and stopped to watch me for a minute. I finally asked him what he was staring at, and he told me, “You look like such a Pinterest mom right now.”
In this particular moment, I had just finished spiralizing some zucchini noodles and was assembling a packed lunch to later be thrown in a lunch box. For a brief moment, I went defensive and wondered why he was giving me crap when I’d been slaving away in the kitchen for hours to assemble a week’s worth of lunches for “his” kids. But after that brief moment passed, I took a breath and realized he meant it as a compliment rather than an insult. He kissed me on the cheek and went back outside to resume whatever it was he was doing out there, to begin with.
Then I started to think . . .
I have so many friends ask how I have it all together all the time. I have relatives ask how I’m so successful at balancing a full-time job and full-time parenting gig. The cashier at the grocery store asked me today how in the world, I was able to cook all these meals for my family.
Here’s the secret – there is no secret. I most definitely don’t have it together all the time. I most definitely feel like I’m failing at the end of every day. I force myself to take the time to cook because if I don’t, we eat like crap, and no one feels good. But what I’ve done is round up some of my tools for organization and order that has helped me personally in the hopes that maybe they can help you manage your home a little bit better too.
Okay, in all reality, this is my number one go-to for home organization. We used to use a standard wall calendar, but plans change, and pencil doesn’t work well on those, and pen can’t be erased. So, meet my handy-dandy-dry-erase-wall-calendar.
Honestly, when I bought this gigantic 32”x30” calendar to hang directly inside our front door, my husband was less than amused. However, a year later, the family regularly checks it to see what is coming up and what they need to prepare for. I also have a MUCH smaller weekly one on the refrigerator (not pictured), where I put day-to-day details that both the kids and husband have taken to consistently checking for information before asking me for details.
This saves me SO MUCH time and frustration. It does away with “you didn’t tell me this” or “I wasn’t aware of that.” No, it was on the calendar. Check it. Often.
Our kids are back in school full time, in person. I realize many of you are still virtual, but this is something that I believe could come in handy either way.
Every Sunday morning (or Saturday night), I plan out my week. I consult my handy-dandy-calendar to see what nights we are home versus what nights we are out of the house, and I plan my dinners accordingly. In the same breath, I look at the school’s lunch calendar for the week and know what my kids will or won’t eat, and I plan lunches. The more I can make in bulk, the better. For example, this week, I know the kids aren’t going to eat any of the school lunches, and we are home 4 of the five days, so I made meal plans and grocery lists. Today I cooked 6 pounds of chicken and made 20 individually packed meals from that.
Yes, the kids could survive on sandwiches and Lunchables, but they don’t like to.
Yes, I use disposable containers that I don’t have to worry about returning home.
Yes, I know reusable ones are better for the environment, but let’s be honest – finding a reusable container that was sent home in May after school let out unexpectedly in March was quite possibly the most disgusting thing I’ve ever experienced (and I’ve pulled a live baby goat kid out of her momma when her momma refused to push) so for me, disposable is the way to go. You do you.
I do have recommendations on reusable bento-box style containers if you want them. But the bottom line here is that I plan ahead. I make their lunches every Sunday, so it’s not a Wednesday night at 10 pm when they’re telling me they need food for tomorrow, and that alleviates so much stress on me.
Alexa creates mixed emotions in many people – she’s listening to you all the time, absolutely. For me, I have nothing to hide, and she makes my life easier, so it’s worth having her in every room in the house (for real, I have one in our bathroom).
I set morning alarms for the kids with Alexa. I have our calendar, yes, the handy-dandy-wall one, also on Alexa. The kids get home from school and are able to call me in my office on Alexa without having to check in on them.
When the kids come in while I’m cooking, they don’t ask me how long until dinner. They ask Alexa how much time is left on the timer. When some staple item runs out, the kids don’t come to tell me we need laundry detergent and expect me to remember; they tell Alexa (and my husband is learning). She adds it to my list. I. Love. Alexa. She is most definitely our hub and my personal assistant.
These are just a few of the tools I use each day to help manage my household. Learning to utilize them properly has changed my life and stress level, and I hope they help you out a little too.
But this isn’t all about me. What do you do day-to-day to make life easier? Tell us in the comments!