School or no school – weekdays are hectic in the Howl household. Between getting the kids dressed and dropped off at school, camp or daycare in the morning; to getting home and putting dinner on the table; and everything in between, sometimes it feels as though we’re always in a hurry.
And on days that start awry, it can snowball to a frantic day of playing catch up.
Does this sound familiar?
Doing the Legwork on the Front-End
While we can’t fully control how our weeks unfold, we can take precautionary measures that help us put our best foot forward so we have smoother weeks and can more easily manage surprises.
If you’ve ever had to give a presentation, you probably did some prep work to before you got up in front of a bunch of people. You think about what you’re going to share, create your visuals and jot down your talking points. You may even pick out your outfit for this day and practice what you’re going to say.
Come presentation day (normal public-speaking jitters aside), you feel more ready and composed to give your presentation because you’re prepared.
You’re able to share your ideas as planned. And even if you goof up and forget something, you’ve got your notes to help bring you back on track. Overall, you’re able to give your presentation better because you took the time to prepare yourself.
If on the other hand, you didn’t prepare yourself and decided to wing it, you’ll probably get by and survive the presentation. But you’re more likely to fumble your way through it with some anxiety and stress.
Much like this, we can set ourselves up for a smoother and more relaxing week by putting in some time on the front-end – spending two to three hours in advance to get our ducks in a row.
When to Prep
I like to do our prep work on Sunday mornings. However, this doesn’t mean you must follow this schedule. You can do this Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon. Whatever’s best for your schedule. Sundays work better for us because we’re usually out and about on Saturdays. And I prefer getting this done in the mornings because when I accomplish these things early in the day, it gives me a great sense of accomplishment and I feel more at ease the rest of the day knowing we’re all set for the week. And when my family goes out afterward, we’ve got the space to stay out longer and enjoy the rest of our Sunday.
In the past, when I’ve done my prep stuff on Sunday afternoons/evenings, I found myself feeling rushed and so tired after because I’m trying to get that done on top of getting dinner ready and everyone cleaned up for bedtime. At the end of it all, I feel exhausted, which makes me dread Monday morning so much more because I feel like I need more time to re-energize myself.
Now, do I do this every Sunday? Uh, no.
Just keepin’ it real 😉
But on the weekends I do make this happen, I feel calmer, more organized and ready to take on the week. This mindset alone puts me ahead of the game. And, by getting things ready in advance, my family and I get to carve out space to do the things we want to do, like exercise (well, this isn’t really something I WANT to do, but should do), take after dinner walks, read, and have more snuggle and play time with the kids before bedtime.
What You Can Do This Weekend to Get Ahead of Next Week
So before the week winds down, I want to share with you the five things you can start doing this Sunday to get yourself and your family ready to conquer your week:
1. Do a Load of Laundry
Before you do anything, get the laundry going so it can do its thing while you tackle the other things. If your washer and dryer are located outside your home or isn’t within ear shot, set a timer for yourself so you don’t forget to move your clothes to the dryer and then to take them out and fold them.
It’s so easy to get distracted or sucked into whatever it is we’re doing. You can easily avoid this with a timer. Our laundry room is outside and shared with our neighbors, so I always do this so I don’t forget myself.
Pro Tip: If you have more time today and are up for it, go ahead and do two loads. I do laundry throughout the week, which helps me keep our laundry under control. So unless you’ve got the time and want to, stick to one load.
2. Review Your Calendar and Know What’s on Your Horizon
Once your laundry is going, sit down and scope out your week. Check your calendar to see what your schedule looks like this week. By getting the lay of the land, you can avoid surprises and scheduling conflicts, and know when you’ve got some “pre-work” for any upcoming obligations you have.
In general, you can better plan and prepare for the week when you know what’s ahead of you.
Once you know what your week looks like, figure out the things you need to do and make a note of them – write them down in your planner, put them in your phone, or however else you to keep track of tasks.
Do you need to fill out some forms before your doctor’s appointment? What about buying a gift for a birthday party? Or that permission slip for your daughter’s field trip? Whatever it is, make a note of it so you don’t forget to do them or have them incessantly nagging you to get them done.
Pro Tip: Look beyond this week and see what you’ve got going the following week. You may not need to take any action for the following week, but in case you do, knowing well in advance gives you more time to take action or to pivot and change, if you need to.
3. Have a Quick Pow-wow with Your Partner
After reviewing your calendar, it’s time to sync up with your partner. If you’ve got older kids, include them in this pow-wow. This doesn’t have to take long, just make sure everyone’s aware of appointments and events they need to be aware of and cover logistics for the week that may differ from your normal routine. This helps get everyone on the same page, avoid those last minute
At the same time, you’ll want to discuss any tasks or projects you guys need to do this week. This pow-wow helps your family be in-sync, eliminates surprises and reduces potential arguments.
Another way I keep my husband and I in-sync with our schedules is by sharing calendar events and reminders with him using Google Calendar. This helps us both know and keep track of our family’s schedule.
Pro Tip: If you did the pro tip advice above, this will come in handy. Cover your family’s landscape for the next couple of weeks. Go in more detail this coming week, but have a brief discussion about what’s also coming in the week(s) to follow. This helps your family plan better and be more prepared as a whole. For instance, if you see that two-three weeks from now your children have no school, you have a better chance of securing care or camp for them that day.
4. Plan Your Meals for the Week
Having a meal plan and simply knowing ahead of time what you’ll be serving can save you a lot of stress during the week. When you’re rushing to get the kids from daycare by closing time, the last thing you want in addition to that is the stress of not knowing what you’ll be feeding them when you guys get home.
It doesn’t take much time. Just quickly make a list of the meals your family will be eating for the week – whether you’re cooking it or doing take-out. And s
For instance, if you know that Wednesday is going to be hectic because you need to work late or you’ve got some doctor appointments, maybe that day you’ll plan on serving chicken tenders and mac n’ cheese from the deli with some cut up fruit, or something you’ve made in advance and just need to reheat
In addition, having a meal plan enables you to know exactly what to get at the store – saving you money, reducing your trips to the store and preventing food waste. And because you’re thinking about this early enough on Sunday, you can run to the store later in the day if you need.
You don’t have to strictly stick to your plan. I don’t. Stuff happens. So be flexible.
Our family tends to get Cheeseboard Pizza once a week. They make one kind of pizza each day and that’s it. So in my plan, I put Cheeseboard on a night that we all can eat the pizza (my son has tree nut allergies and they sometimes have pies that have
If something pops up and I don’t get to make dinner on a particular night. I move pizza night to that night instead. Cheeseboard is awesome and for the most part, we like the majority of their pizza. Then, I simply cook whatever I had originally planned that day for the next one. But having a plan helps you manage these unexpected situations and easily pivot.
Side Note: Your laundry’s probably ready to be moved to the dryer by now – don’t forget to do this.
Pro Tip: Prep for or cook a dish. If you’ve got the ingredients you need for one of your meals, you can cook and save it for the week. That’s one less evening you need to cook. Or, you can prep some of your ingredients to save you time the day you need to cook – chop veggies or marinade meats in advance.
Often times, I actually like to start thinking about my meal plan Friday nights when I’m schmoozing on the couch with some Netflix. At the same, I make a list on my phone with the ingredients I need. This way, I can go to the store on Saturday morning to get the stuff we need for the week. And… Drum roll… On Sunday morning, I cook one or two dishes so I don’t need to cook every night of the week. This is a huge time saver for me.
5. Tidy Up and Speed Clean Your Home
Now, it’s time to clean house. I know, I know, probably not your ideal Sunday activity. I know it’s not mine. But if you’re like me, you’ll feel more “zen” after this is done 😉
There’s something about a space that’s in order – things placed where they belong, no random toys on the floor, clear counters and tabletops. I’m better able to really relax and enjoy my Sunday evenings (even with Monday just around the corner) when I see no piles of clutter, no dirty dishes on our kitchen counter and no clothes to put away. The clear space helps me feel calmer and more focused. And, this flows into my Monday mornings. I wake up and start the week fresh with an organized space.
On the other hand, when our house is, I have a harder time focusing on what I need to do and get a bit stressed out seeing what needs to be clean up. The clutter and mess can be distracting. Tidying up and cleaning our house gives us a calmer and more organized space, helping us face the week more readily. Plus, it reduces the likelihood that we lose something in our piles, saving us time (and stress) from having to look for them.
I suggest leaving this last because while we may not enjoy cleaning, sometimes when we get started, we get on a roll and end up wanting to clean more than we originally planned. And at the end of it all, we either run out of time to tackle the other prep work we planned to
Our goal here is not to spend all day cleaning. We simply want to make our homes clean enough and functional for our families.
Plan on spending no more than an hour (an hour and a half, if you have a large house or your home is just in total disarray) and recruit your family to help. The more help you get, the faster you guys can get this done! For instance, I tackle the kitchen, while my husband tackles the bathroom (my least favorite to clean!) and our 5 year-old tackles her room and putting away toys and art supplies. Also, I suggest setting a timer so you don’t lose track of time.
I’m far from being an expert at cleaning. So I’ve gathered ideas, tips and inspiration from Living Well Spending Less, Woman’sDay and Housewife How-Tos, and applied the tips that work for our home, cleaning style and needs. Check them out and do the same.
Our Speed Cleaning Routine
For our family, the main spaces we try to tackle are the kitchen, bathroom, living room and floors. When we’re on our A-game, this is how we divvy up the work:
- I handle the kitchen – clearing the counters, loading the dishwasher and washing any dishes that need to be wash by hand, cleaning the sink and wiping down the counters and appliances.
- My husband handles the bathroom – cleaning the sink, shower and toilet, as well as mopping the floors.
- Our daughter puts away toys that have seemed to crawl into the oddest places around our homes, dust furniture in the living room using a Swiffer duster (which she LOVES to do) and sometimes ask her to sweep the floors under and around the dining table.
- I do any final putting away of things from the living room and bedrooms that don’t belong there, and I wipe down our baby play mat (placed in the middle of our living room) using baby wipes. (Sometimes, our daughter does the wiping.)
- We sort through any mail and recycle junk mail we don’t need.
- My husband then throws out the trash.
- Finally, we sweep the floors (our whole place is
hard woodand we tossed all our area rugs because of our son’s allergies) and mop it using a Swiffer Wet Jet for hardwood.
Reminder: If you haven’t already, take out your clothes from the dryer – fold and put them away. Voila!
Pro Tip: No pro tip here! I’d say we’ve done plenty. 😉 Let’s bask in our glory!
Ready to Conquer Your Week?
By setting aside two to four hours to prepare for the week, we are better equipped to take on the coming week. This gets our mindset straight and focused, improves our chances of remaining cool (as cucumbers ;)) amidst unexpected situations and creates the space for our families to be able to do more of the things we want to do.
Ready, set, PREP!
Want to get through these tasks easier?