If you’re like me, weekdays are utter chaos. Especially with kiddos that are back in school. The week is almost a blur and then I spend half the weekend catching up. I feel like I’m always behind and never know how to catch up! After many years of running on fumes, I finally threw my hands up in the air and decided I had to change things. I needed to find a way to actually enjoy weekdays instead of rushing from one thing to another.
So what’s my secret? I’ve found you can make small changes that will result in a big difference.
I’ve implemented five strategies to free up some of my chaos during the week, and I am sharing them with you, so you will have some time to actually enjoy your weekend.
(1) Menu Plan Before Each Week
This requires some weekend work, but it’s worth it. Take 10 minutes to sit down with your family on Sunday and plan out your meals for the week. This includes all meals for the week, including lunches for the kids. The key is planning meals where you can use leftovers throughout the week, and minimize cost and time (both cooking and at the store), and maximize using up your groceries.
(2) Cook Ahead of Time
Now that you have your menu, prepare many of your meals for the week in advance. Full disclosure: this will take some time out of your Sunday, but it gives you back chaos-free evenings during the week. Cook in bulk. If you have one burner going on the stove, all four should be going, as well as the oven. Prepare veggies and dishes that you can eat over the next several days. Obviously, you will have weekdays where you are still going to cook because you will want a fresh meal or you are cooking something that won’t make a great leftover, but you’ll be able to minimize those nights with this process.
(3) Pack Lunches for Your Kiddos on Sunday
When you pack lunches in bulk, it goes SO much faster. Find a container with dividers for different foods that fits into your kid’s lunch box (the second part can be tricky, but I promise, it is possible). Easy lunch ideas include sandwiches, bagels, boiled eggs, lunch meat and cheese and tortilla wraps. Let your kids be a part of the process and they’ll love it. It’s so much easier to create a well-balanced meal for your child when you aren’t throwing food into a lunchbox at 7AM while trying to drink your coffee, dress your kids and get out the door. We stack the lunches neatly in our fridge and label them. Give your kids the responsibility of grabbing their lunches and ice packs each morning and packing them in their backpacks. This saves time and allows your kids to share responsibility by having to remember to grab their lunches.
(4) Plan Your Workout Schedule for the Week
One of the first things to get pushed to the bottom of the priority list is working out. We get too busy; we’re tired and there is absolutely no time to run to the gym and work out….UNLESS…you’ve scheduled workouts just like you’ve scheduled meetings, calls and your kids’ activities. Figure out the most convenient time for your workouts during the week and then set yourself up for success by creating your workout for each day. Are you taking a class? Register for it on the weekend, so you can get it calendared. You’ll also have extra accountability with a no-show fee, which means you’ll be sure to go. If you are scheduling gym time, take 10 minutes to figure out the actual workouts you will do each day. Not just your focus area (e.g., legs and back), but actually write out the workouts for the day. Or, schedule time for a workout video like Fé Fit and take the guesswork out of it since the schedule is already created for you. Whatever your workout style, schedule it in advance so you aren’t scrambling to fit it in the evenings. The goal is to avoid another week where you don’t prioritize your health and fitness because you can’t squeeze it in.
(5) Dress to Impress by Selecting Outfits Ahead of Time
Select outfits for your children before each week, so you don’t have to deal with the morning drama of trying to find something for them to wear. Involve them in the process and it will be much more successful since you can remind them that they picked out their outfits if they complain. Get five baskets that will fit in your child’s/children’s closet and label them Monday through Friday. Pick out their clothes all the way down to their socks and put them in the basket for the corresponding day. Then you just have to grab the outfits each morning, or better yet, if your kids are old enough, have them dress themselves.
The key to all of this is trying to get ahead rather than fall behind. Simple steps like these can also allow you to enjoy weekday mornings and evenings, which can be full of madness unless you implement some time-saving measures such as what is listed above. Just a few simple changes can lessen stress in your household and put everyone in a better mood by creating an environment where everyone isn’t scrambling to get through the day.