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?


18 comments so far:

Paul Brown said:

Fantastic recipe!!! Did not change anything in recipe. Tastes wonderful!! This is my new go-to chicken recipe! Thanks.

Holly Hooper said:

I have not included it in the past. I am just starting to add it to a recipes going forward. But since you asked, I did the analysis on this recipe and added it ;). Please let me know if that helps.

Joseph Donahue said:

I made this tonight almost exactly as the new directions say. I had baked chicken left over from Sunday dinner so I used cooked chicken instead of raw. I just added the chicken and the rice a little later. It was not too thick at all. In fact just perfect. I love soup. Will be a family favorite.

Ashley Jones said:

I made this last night and it is delicious! Just wondering what is considered one serving for the nutritional information? Is that 2 prepared chicken breasts.

Harold Burton said:

Making an unstuffed version of this. Instead of stuffing jumbo shells with the hamburger mixture I have mixed the hamburger mixture with small shells and covered with the pasta sauce and cheese. hope it turns out good Thanks

Effie said:

Awwww, you are such a good mom! Loved your reply about not making something different for your little picky-man. That is such a great stance as they will develop more sophisticated taste as they continue to try things and so many parents give in too soon. You're right he definitely will get hungrier. My "little" man is almost 13 now and he's hungry every 45 minutes! Your planning calendar was impressive!

BeColorful said:

Can I say I am more than a bit envious of all that organization. I am in the throws of a pretty major remodeling project and nothing is where it belongs and the chaos that I hope to contain to just a few rooms seems to be spreading throughout the entire house and our lives. :D It will be terrific when it is completed but I can't wait to get back on that organized schedule and routine that I see you following. Kudos to you. Thanks for sharing on BeColorful. I would love it though if you would include Motivated Monday at BeColorful on your link list.

Carrie This Home said:

These are really great tips, Andrea! I also do a lot of meal planning for the week on Sunday and it really helps keep the rest of the week organized.
By the way--I'm not sure if you recognize me but my husband was a good friend of Ben and Josh. I love seeing your tips on Pinterest and then realizing that it's you behind the idea! Have a great weekend!

Andrea said:

Of course I remember you Carrie! :) Can't forget a Davis. ;)

Stephanie said:

Great list of ideas to get out the door on time! I use many of them as well!

Katrina Vega said:

Wow! I am so inspired by your schedule! I don't have kids and it's just the hubby and me, but there are many tips from here that I can take away. I sort of do a Sunday Sweep already, but I think I'll add in the cleaning part. I also love that each night the kitchen is nice and clean. This is a habit that I'm definitely going to get down. Pinning for reference!

Diana Rambles said:

I love your calendar. It starts on Monday and includes a spot for dinner!

Britni said:

I only have a 5-month old right now so not all of these pertain to me but I love the idea of getting organized upfront on Sunday and really need to do that with my husband. It'd be make the rest of the week so much easier to navigate. http://talenttoplay.blogspot.com

Angela Grace said:

Thank you! Love all your ideas! So helpful- keep them coming!

Justine Y said:

These are some great ideas and tips! Thanks for sharing! Pinned!

Beth @ Incomplete Guide to Living said:

These are great tips! And your kids are too cute! Found this post over at Skip to my Lou! : )

Angela Grace said:

Love it! You mentioned crock pot meals- can you give some trite and true kid friendly ones that you use? Also, is that hot dogs in their lunch- can you give ideas on what you pack them for lunch? Thanks!

Andrea said:

Angela -

My sister in law used to put cut slices of turkey sausage in my nephews lunches. So easy, such a great idea, and my kids love it. They often make their own "lunchables" with the turkey sausage slices, cheese slices & wheat thins.

Other things I often pack in lunches: diced pears, sliced strawberries, goldfish crackers, raisins, grapes, baby carrots & ranch, cheese sticks, yogurt straws, applesauce, peanut butter & honey sandwiches, turkey & cheese sandwiches, animal crackers, pretzels, apple slices, chick peas, etc. They aren't fancy.

I'll have to collect and post some crock pot meal recipes that we often use. But here's a quick list of some that we go back to often:

Creamy Italian Chicken & Rice w/Broccoli
Chicken Divan
Whole Fryer Chicken w/Potatoes, Onions & Carrots
Taco Soup
BBQ Chicken Legs
Pork Butt BBQ
Thai Pork (served over rice)

Whether they are kid-friendly or not is debatable. Ayla eats very well and usually will eat whatever we make. Paxton doesn't--so he rarely eats much (if any) dinner at all. Hopefully, he'll eventually get hungry enough that he'll start trying some more things. We don't fix him anything different that what the rest of us are having though. We don't run a restaurant.

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