The Importance of A Weekly Planning Session

Life less balanced.

That’s describes the vibe around the Schirmer household the past few weeks.  It’s been crazy.  Mostly crazy in a good way, but still crazy!

We were fortunate to be able to take a week off to spend time with family up in New York.  It was a perfect week. But, as I’m sure you know, a vacation with kids takes plenty of work on the front end and back-end of the trip to make sure that it runs smoothly.  It truly feels like we are moving out of the house and then moving back in when we get back.  So. Much. Stuff!

Immediately upon our return, my hubby, Erik, left for a week-long work trip.  As a person who thrives off of balance and routine, I’ve been feeling more than a little off kilter here-of-late.  Actually, the exact words I used when talking with Erik were “I just feel like I suck at life lately.”   He asked me what was making me feel that way, which made me think.  That’s when I came to realize that I had not had a single moment to myself in weeks—maybe a month, even.  And it was starting to take its toll.

My ideal “me time” in post-mom life is not exactly the same thing as “me time” in pre-mom life.  Trust me, I still enjoy shopping solo, yoga classes and the occasional massage.  But these days, I benefit most from time planning my upcoming week.  A little bit of structure, and a plan, truly makes better for all those I love when I’ve taken that time each week.  It’s my time to tame the mile-long “to-do” list that plays like a broken record in my head all week long.  As we settle back down into our “normal” routine, I’ll be taking my four hours or so this Saturday morning for me to plan, and we’ll see the benefits in a number of ways.

We eat healthier.

Makes sense, right?! When I’ve had time to plan, there’s less of the Mac & Cheese with Chicken Nuggets or “just grab take-out” kinda nights.  This used to be the part of my planning session I dreaded the most.  That frog that I’d put first to get out of the way that seemed to take forever and demotivate me from everything else.  This all changed for me when I found Plan to Eat, an online meal planning service. All of my family recipes are saved in the database, so meal planning and my shopping list now consists of a few drag-and-drops into my weekly calendar.  The app then pulls the ingredients from the recipes into a full shopping list. From there, I’ll take the list and order my groceries online.  Click here to get $10 off your first order with Walmart Grocery.

You can even share recipes with your friends and family.  Click here to try it for 30 days, for free!  And, at just $4.95 a month—or less than a Wendy’s kids meal, it’s totally worth it.  This website has so many convenience factors.  It even loads my menu onto my iCalendar, for me and can set reminders for things that require advance prep! There’s not much this website hasn’t done for me except actually cook our dinners.

We are more intentional with our money.

Since we’re on the topic of groceries, its amazing how just having a plan can save us hundreds on the grocery bill.  Ordering groceries online eliminates the impulse buys (also allowing us to eat healthier—see above), but mostly cutting out those extra expenses and trips to the store.

Also, I try to review our budget daily, but sometimes life (and two small children with opposing nap schedules) gets in the way.  So, reviewing at least once a week helps me to “stay within the lines” money-wise throughout the week.  Being the spender between Erik and I and appointed CFO in the house (interesting combo),it’s imperative that I know where we stand in order to set limits for myself, and the household, where needed.

My preferred app is EveryDollar, by Dave Ramsey and we use Mint for a daily snapshot of all of our accounts and assets. I use these two services as our financial dashboard.  Both are free, although EveryDollar does have a paid subscription if you prefer for it to link to your bank account and load transactions in automatically.

Questions I ask myself during the week: What bills or expenses do I have coming up in the week?  Where did we waste money and how could it have been spent better?  Any monthly subscriptions that need to be managed or canceled?

I begin the week in a mindful and intentional way.

The last “must-do” for me is a careful and thoughtful review of my calendar.  I have both a digital calendar and paper planner that I like to work between.  The digital version works best for adding or reviewing details on-the-go.  As for the paper version, I love that old-school feeling of just writing things down.  It’s the way I “finalize” my plans for the week and makes me feel more anchored as a person.  Here are the questions I ask myself as I review my calendar and finalize the week:

  1. What activities and appointments do we have planned for the week? (Playdates for Emerson, projects for school, work travel for hubby, doctors apps, etc)?
  2. What upcoming birthdays or special occasions of loved ones that I may need to send cards or gifts for?
  3. What’s do I need to do for my blog or  my EVER Skincare business?
  4. What bills need to be paid and what money will be drafted out of our bank account in the upcoming week?

 Conclusion

By taking the time I need to mentally prepare for the week ahead, I gift myself and my family the gift of a calm, present and intentional mom and wife all week long.  I acquired a few tricks that have worked for me along the way.  What about you? Do you have a set time in your week to plan and ground yourself?  I’d love to know what tricks work for you as well!

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