We are fortunate enough to live in an area where there is a veritable plethora of activities for the kids to participate in.  We also live in an area where there is not an insignificant amount of pressure for kids to find a sport or activity in which they excel, and to pursue it competitively from a young age.  I freely admit that I have had difficulty in the past saying “No” to signing my kids up for class.  The list of activities my son, who is just 7, has participated in to date is staggering.

But this year, I somehow managed to find the strength to stop the insanity.  And for the first time in years, we have Sundays completely free of activities (along with a much more manageable week-day schedule).

And so, today, we had our first Sunday under our new family schedule, or lack thereof.  And how wonderful it has been.  We have been able to take our time, let the kids putter around the house; let the adults putter around the house, and of course, settle down at 4:30 to watch our beloved Broncos play.  And best of all, the Husband and I were able to quietly get everything organized for the week ahead.  Menu plans are done, groceries have been purchased, after-school activity backpacks have been prepped, and the to-do list for the week has been compiled.

Which brings me to the main point of my post today . . .planning ahead, especially when it comes to meals, is the single best habit I’ve adopted over the last year.  I currently use the Martha Stewart menu planner that I got at Staples last year.  From what I can gather, this product isn’t available anymore.  But, I LOVE it.  It sticks to the fridge and has a section for breakfast, lunch and dinner for each of the days of the week (I did cut off the portion of the planner that had a notepad and a space for notes so it takes up a little less space on my fridge).  I use either dry erase crayons or just regular dry erase markers to fill it in.  If you can find one . . . GET IT!!!!  If not, there are lots of similar products available too . . . including free printables that you can just print off each week and stick to the fridge.

As we are cleaning up from breakfast/getting ready for the day on Sunday, I take about half an hour to look at the calendar for what we have going on in the week ahead, look at what we have in the fridge/freezer (and clean out what needs to be tossed), and plan what we’re going to eat accordingly – from this, I can then make up my grocery list too (we usually do a big grocery shop at some point on Sunday).

So, why do I love this so much????  Well, for starters, my kids are really into food and cooking, especially my son.  So he LOVES knowing what we’ll be making and eating in the days to come.  The Husband is often the one who gets breakfast ready for the kids in the morning – by planning out what they have for breakfast, I know the kid won’t be eating too much of one kind of food (like eggs).  And most importantly, it gives me peace of mind during the week.  I know exactly what I need to pull out of the freezer/prep for dinner on a given day . . . there’s no 5:00 mad dash to the grocery store to pick up something quick for dinner.  Ok . . . wait.  Most important is the fact that I know over the course of the week, the kids (and the Husband and I) are eating a variety of foods that are in-keeping with our thoughts and values when it comes to our preferred way of eating.

I know it seems like a lot . . . we’re all so busy, and carving out 30 minutes can seem like an impossible task at times!  But I promise . . . the end result is SOOOOOOOOO worth it!!!