Archive | July 2012

Menu Planning

Planning our menu…

I must admit that I’m not the most organised person in the World…  One thing that saves me a lot of time and effort is planning a weekly menu.

There are plenty of templates out there that you can download, however our method is a lot simpler.

We get a notepad or a piece of paper and simply write down five meals for the week. In addition, we write a shopping list at the same time.

Menu planning saves me a lot of time during the week. This way, I know what we are having and I know that we have enough ingredients to make the food.

I don’t put them down as Monday, Tuesday, etc. Just Meal 1, Meal 2, etc. This way if the afternoon doesn’t go according to plan, we can chop and change as we feel like it.

In addition to the meals on the menu, we make sure there is a supply of “back up” food, such as meat pies, fresh pasta & sauce, baked beans & tinned spaghetti, and sausages and frozen veggies. All of these are quick and easy and serve as weekend meals and meals when I’m tired or we get home really late.

Most recently, I’ve put my kids in charge of doing up the weekly menu! This may seem strange, but it’s something they really enjoy. This has a number of advantages. The first is that I don’t have to plan the menu, and the second is they put meals on the menu that they enjoy eating. They are surprisingly good at writing a varied menu, although there are a few meals that we tend to have every week!

Get the kids to help around the house

Get the kids to help around the house

There seems to be a trend at the moment of parents doing everything for their children. It may be a “let kids be kids” attitude and letting them play all the time.

When I was growing up, there was a list of jobs I was expected to do – all as part of being a member of the family and not for any pocket money.

My kids are now 8 and 10, and there are jobs they are expected to do. These include:

  • Putting away their clean clothes
  • Setting the table for meals
  • Tidying their room
  • Putting dishes in & out of the dishwasher
  • Clearing the table after meals
  • Putting the rubbish and recycling out
  • Putting the bins out on bin night
  • Packing their school bags
  • Carrying their school bags
  • And anything else I ask them to do…

These jobs are not for any money, they are part of being in the family. It also takes a lot of pressure off me doing everything.

As the mother of two boys, I also see part of my job is teaching them to be responsible adults and to be able to contribute to their household when they are adults. If I don’t teach them when they are kids, when will they learn? Little by little, they are given more jobs and more responsibility around the house. For example, Mr N is able to change the sheets on his bed, but isn’t quite big enough to put the doona cover on his doona.

We also spend regular time together cleaning, and the boys have jobs they really like to do. For some reason, they fight over who gets to clean the toilet as well as washing the bathroom floor!

By getting my kids to help out around the house with the housework, it takes the pressure off me and I don’t feel like I’m doing absolutely everything around the house.

Don’t put it off

Make an appointment

I made myself a doctors appointment this morning. It’s for after lunch, and it’s something I’ve been putting off for a few weeks.

I’ve used every excuse under the sun – I have to work, I have the boys with me, I have to take the boys to their appointments, or there’s something else that means I don’t have time to make this appointment a priority.

The last few weeks I haven’t been sleeping very well and getting more and more tired, and this is never a good sign. I’ve known I needed to go to see the doctor for some time, but have been putting it off.

Unfortunately, this is something that is not unique to me – many Mum’s do the same thing. They try to muddle on and push through the pain. So many other things present themselves as a higher priority – kids, work, study, housework, and whatever else we have in our lives.

By putting off doctors appointments, little niggles can become much, much worse. We often hear that early detection of illness means the recovery is faster. If it is something with our kids, we are down to the doctor as fast as we can, but if it’s something for ourselves, then we put it off. The irony here is not lost on me at all.

My challenge today is to make sure I attend my appointment, and make sure I make any follow up appointments that may be needed, not pushing them to one side and making everything else a priority.

Get the kids involved…

Organising school bags

My kids are 8 and 10. Every day after school they would come in and dump their bags, usually in front of the stairs where anyone could trip over them. Quite apart from their bags being in the way, they also looked messy and our entrance way was blocked with bags, shoes, notices and anything else that would spill out of their bags.

I rearranged some furniture to give the boys a shelf in a small cupboard for their bags. Mr N had the top and Mr Z had the bottom shelf. The idea being that their school bags, shoes, choir bags, and so on could go in the cupboard and be out of the way. This didn’t work! Instead of putting their bags inside the cupboard, they would put their bags in front of the cupboard. Same mess, just in a slightly different place…

Getting tired of nagging for the bags to be put away, I sat down with the boys and we came up with a plan together. The question I put to them was simple: How can we keep the school bags nice and neat and out of the way?

Their solution was equally simple. They wanted hooks.

My awesome brother went out and bought some hooks – ones that would screw in to the wall. They sat on the bench and didn’t end up getting put up. One day, I had a brainwave – we ended up getting hooks that wrap around the top of our stairs for the boys to put their bags on.

Since that day, I haven’t had to nag them to put their bags away! They walk in and put their bags on the hook. Getting them to put their lunch boxes on the bench, now that’s another post….

The lesson I learned here is to get your kids involved with organisation, especially when it directly impacts them. You never know what solutions they may come up with, and it may work better than you imagined. There are certain things where they have no choice, however if there is an option, ask for their input.

By asking them what they want and coming up with a solution together, not only will they give their thoughts on what will work, it will be their responsibility to show that it works.