The first To-Do is "Meals": this is about being good stewards of our bodies, our budget, and not being wasteful with our food. God has really impressed upon my heart the past several years how important this simple task is to the well-being of our families. We are in charge of our family's health as part of our responsibility as life-givers. Scripture clearly states our bodies are temples to the Living God, and we are to be stewards of everything God has given us (including our physical selves I Corinthians 6:19-20). What easier way to start than to be aware of what we put into our bodies. Whatever "diet plan" you chose for your family: Organic, Natural, Low Fat, Vegetarian, Etc. is up to you and what you feel God has impressed on your heart and mind. The best way to make sure your family is eating in a way that is glorifying to God is to be well-prepared. If you are a working mom or don't want to spend a majority of your time planning what you will eat, an online pre-set meal plan is a great option! I, however, make my own lists according to what I have on hand and what items are on sale, then I plan my shopping trip according to what we will be eating (this is where the budget and not being wasteful come into play). Each week I make a breakfast and lunch menu, a snack menu, and a dinner menu. I do not plan every single meal and snack we eat the entire week, although you can, I just plan a majority so I don't find myself running to Burger King because the kids are starving. I will only plan 3-4 dinners since I know we will also be eating with my parents and eating left-overs. A lot of dinners I do in the crock pot and do my prep work the night before. For example: Tomorrow we are having bean soup. Tonight I have all of the seasonings and beans set out by the crock pot, the veggies are all chopped and in a bag in the fridge ready to use, and the sausage has been cut. Tomorrow I just have to mix it all together, turn on the pot, and I'm done until dinner time! I also plan a weekly cooking night where I will cook several batches of pancakes for the freezer, muffins, bread, and other healthy snacks. So here is a to-do list about making your meal to-do's!
- Plan enough breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks for you to feel equipped for the week. Keep in mind any eating out you will do and take into account left-overs.
- Make sure your shopping list reflects your meal plans so you do not end up forgetting ingredients or buying extra food you don't really need. Also keep an eye out for what items are on sale!
- Try to do any prep work the night before. Chopping veggies and meat, making sure all ingredients are on hand, whatever you need to do to make it quick and easy to cook the next day.
- Have a "cooking night" where you prepare snacks, breakfast foods, or even dinners to freeze. It's taking prep work to the next level and making it even easier! (Your kids' nap time is also the perfect opportunity to get meal prep done.)
The second of my To-Do's is "Activities" : this is about planning the time we spend with those we love. Making it quality time rather than just a quantity of time. We have set weekly activities like story time at the library and Bible Studies, then we have random daily activities like play dates and activities that I plan, then I also try to plan little games and crafts. Thanks to Google, Pinterest, and my very creative mommy friends I can make sure we have enough planned to keep everyone entertained throughout the week! So here's the breakdown:
- Have a couple of set weekly activities to keep some sort of routine (we all know how much better everyone does with that!)
- Plan ahead what you will do with your children daily, so you don't sit around wasting time allowing them to get bored. This keeps melt-downs to a minimum and helps ensure you will enjoy productive time together.
- If you can, invest in membership passes (like to the zoo or children's museum). Also keep a list of favorite activities handy for those spur of the moment "I need to get the kids out of the house" days.
- Find several arts and crafts projects you can do with your kids each week. Even if it's just tracing their outline in sidewalk chalk and drawing on the clothes. It doesn't have to be fancy!
- Let your kids have time to explore on their own, develop their own interests, and give yourself some down time.
Lastly, is "Chores" : this is about making sure you have enough time allotted for housework. This helps ensure your chores do not get neglected, but it can also make sure you are not dedicating too much time to housework and not enough time to the truly important things. This is the most important list for me since I will put chores on the back burner until there is just no way to ignore them (like when my hubby runs out of underwear!) I have daily chore lists, weekly chore lists, and the occasional "spring cleaning" list. Daily chores include dishes, meals, laundry, cleaning up toys, etc. Weekly chores are things that can be put off, but still need to get done like washing sheets, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, mopping. And the "spring cleaning" list includes cleaning out the refrigerator, washing baseboards, steaming the drapes, things that just need to be done occasionally. I also have set times to do certain things. I do dishes every morning while the kids eat breakfast and clean up their toys after they go to bed at night. Here's the best way to make your chores to-do list work for you!
- Make sure your To-Do lists are broken down into daily, weekly, and occasional chores based on how important it is that things get done. This gives you enough time to get chores accomplished so you can focus on other things without having to neglect your work.
- Time your chores when you will be most productive and your work will not be in vain (Are you a morning person or a night owl? Plan your chores around your daily schedule, not your daily schedule around your chores!)
- Make a chore calendar, write it down, and stick to it. Wash sheets every Saturday and clean out your refrigerator the first of every month, whatever works for you! Assign every task a specific day and time so you will not be able to forget, and you will not be able to spend more time than necessary doing every task that comes to mind on a particular day. This makes housework more natural for those who have "Mary" personalities and allows the "Marthas" the freedom to get their work done without becoming slave to it!
- It's not about which is better, being a "Mary" or being a "Martha", it is about being rulers over our households without letting our households rule over us!