Weekly Plan of Attack - Staying On Top of a Busy Schedule
The older our kids get, the more crowded our calendar seems to be. No longer is the day simply determined by naptime and bedtime (don't worry...when it did, I didn't think that was simple either).
Now, it's more of a week-by-week barrage of activities, carpools, appointments, responsibilities, and weekend trips. We've been trying to figure out how to make our week flow smoothly, stay on top of chores and housework, and still manage to pick everyone up on time at all 13 carpool appointments each week.
So, I thought I'd share some things that help our family stay on top of our schedule each week and see what others do as well.
The Sunday Sweep
Starting at about 4:00 every Sunday afternoon, we start the Sunday Sweep to get ourselves--and the house--ready for the week ahead. Here are some of the to-dos on that list:
- What's on the Schedule? I check our calendars for the next week and transfer each days' activities to our dry erase board calendar on the refrigerator for quick reference throughout the week. Ben and I have both migrated to using Google's calendars, and have access to each other's calendars, which makes it helpful for us to both be aware of what's going on for the entire family -- even from our phones.
- Weekly Meal Plan & Shopping List. Once I know what kind of activites we have going on for the week, we search through the kitchen and our deep freezer and come up with 4-5 dinners for the week and add them to our dry erase board calendar. When we have evening or late-afternoon activites, we plan for leftovers or crock-pot dinners. I also put together a shopping list for any random things we might need that I can pick up early in the week.
Put everything in it's place. This is usually something the kids do--putting away toys, clean laundry, shoes, books and anything else that has managed to get thrown all over the house while we were "relaxing" over the weekend.
Vaccum. I've found that vacuuming the carpets on Sunday night, right after everything has been put away is great motivation to get the kids to *actually* put stuff away -- especially picking up Legos off the floor! Plus, a freshly vaccuumed floor makes the house feel "ready" to tackle the week. If I was really ambitious, I'd clean the bathrooms on Sunday night too, but I don't. Instead, I try to clean them on Friday mornings AFTER all the damage of the week has been done. :)
- Lay out clothes. I've started laying out 5 outfits for both kids on Sunday nights, and then letting them pick a pile each day so they can get dressed on their own in the mornings. Paxton doesn't usually care what he wears, but for Ayla, this has been KEY to eliminating morning tantrums about not liking her outfit options. She and I come up with the outfits together, so they're approved by us both ahead of time.
- Pack Lunches. I like to pack lunches the night before, usually while we are making dinner. I've found that I simply can't do it as quickly in the mornings, and I can usually find 5 minutes while dinner is cooking to knock it out and have them ready for the morning.
The Morning Routine
Beat the beasts. I get up at 6 am. That gives me just enough time to get dressed, check my email, and wake myself up a little bit before the kids get up. I'm not "chipper" in the mornings. I need some time to myself before I can be civil. Most days Ben is up early too, and getting his run in before Ayla leaves for school.
Set an alarm. This year, Ayla (2nd grade) gets up on her own with an alarm at 6:25. She turns it off, gets dressed and puts her shoes on before coming downstairs. It often takes her until about 6:45 -- especially when she has to tie her tennis shoes -- but she does it all on her own and it is WONDERFUL. I think she's like me. She needs some time to herself when she first wakes up, so this way, we don't have to interact until both of us have had a chance to de-grumpify ourselves.
Paxton (4) doesn't wake up with an alarm, but he usually gets up shortly after Ayla does on his own. He comes downstairs in his underwear, with his puppy (and his eyes barely open). I usually say good morning, and then turn him around and send him back upstairs to get dressed and make his bed so that then he can have breakfast. Which he does...on his own. :)
- Breakfast. While the kids are getting dressed, I put their breakfast (usually cereal) on the table. While they are eating their 4 bowls of cereal each, I use that time to empty the dishwasher, put their lunches into their backpacks, make coffee and make my own breakfast.
Out the Door. Ayla leaves for school just after 7 and then Paxton plays with toys while I finish my coffee and catch up on blogs, facebook, emails, etc. Usually by 7:45 we're out the door too and getting started on our activities for the day (rec, school drop off, playdate, etc.)
- Check-In & Adjust. Since Ben and I both work from home, we're able to check-in with each other often throughout the day. Sometimes our plans change, or one of us gets busier than the other, and we can make adjustments on the fly to better fit each of our days. That also means we're able to share carpool duties, household stuff like laundry, dishes and cooking, and running errands, which is a VERY nice convenience of working from home.
The After School Shuffle
- Unload Backpacks. The VERY first thing the kids do when they get home is unpack their backpacks, hand over any important papers, put their lunch boxes away and hang their backpacks up on their hooks so they are ready for the next day (and out of the way!) Ayla's homework goes on the desk in our entryway - she usually works on it a little later in the evening-- papers are sorted and either immediately tossed, saved in a folder, or dealt with as needed. Getting all that stuff taken care of immediately helps move quickly on to whatever else is planned for the afternoon and evening and keeps the mess of their school papers under control. Plus, then nothing has gotten lost by the morning, when it's time to leave the house!
The Evening Routine
- Kitchen clean-up. After dinner every night, we make sure that the kitchen is completely cleaned up -- all the dishes washed, counters and table wiped, floor swept, and counters cleared of papers and miscellaneous objects. This makes waking up in the morning SOOO much more peaceful!!
- Empty buckets. On our way upstairs to take baths and get ready for bed, the kids carry their buckets upstairs and put those miscellaneous things away that had accumulated downstairs throughout the day (or past few days if it hasn't been much). They are usually full of shoes, socks and books!
Bedroom cleanup. If I have the time and energy to enforce it (most nights...but not all), the kids have to clean up their bedrooms each night before bed. Ben is better at ignoring it, but I can't concentrate to read them stories or put them to bed when their floor is an obstacle course of trucks, blocks, action figures, stuffed animals, dolls and blankets all of over the floor. It *actually* raises my blood pressure. Thankfully, during the school year, their rooms don't get trashed EVERY single day. And over the weekends, we let the mess slide till Sunday night.
- Enforce an early bedtime. Our kids are in bed by 7:30 with the lights out at 8pm as many nights of the week as our schedule allows us to enforce it. When we get them in bed late, it often comes back to bite us in the morning with crabby kids.
And then...we start all over again!
What works for your family?
Do you have any tips to share for keeping things on-schedule at your house?