Planning for the upcoming week is a regular weekend activity for me. I love sitting down with my planner and my colored pens to write down everything that needs to get done. Since I started setting aside dedicated planning time on the weekends, Sundays have been far less stressful for me. Once I have everything planned out, I can relax and enjoy the weekend without worrying about the week to come. But summer has thrown my usual weekly planning for a loop, because no two days are the same (let alone no two weeks). I am spending a lot of time this summer ferrying kids in all directions, so coming up with a regular routine has proven impossible. Instead, I made a list of things to consider each week as I work on my planner. When I am ready to plan, I pull out the list and work my way down it, filling in my planner as I go.
1. Schedule in camps, lessons, and appointments. These get plugged into my planner first, always in green ink (green for go!). Everything else must fit around them.
2. Consider special days – are there any birthdays, events, or holidays this week? Plug them in and make celebration plans and notes as needed…add any relevant errands to a separate errand list. Errands get scheduled in later!
2. Decide on a time for the kids to go to the gym. Three of my kids have a membership at a rock climbing gym and their dad takes them once a week.
3. Add in any extra activities. These may include activities with our homeschool group, field trips, swimming, or time with friends. I like to add in at least one fun thing a week, depending on how busy our week is.
4. Decide what’s on tap for the weekend. I jot down our weekend plans and decide if we have time to go on a family outing or do a project around the house. I like having my weekend plans in place early. We are always willing to change them if something comes up, but by planning early we have time to pick up picnic or beach supplies, invite family over, or just make sure we have supplies for s’mores.
5. Plug in errands. I decide what errands need doing and plan to do them when we will be out anyway. I hate to make separate trips for errands, with the exception of grocery shopping. Regular errands for us include shopping for various things (someone always needs something!), picking up our farm share, and going to the library.
6. Add in exercise. I like to exercise most days, so I decide in advance when I will be able to fit it in. If I am going to be home one morning, I might plan to walk or use a yoga video. If I am going to be out most of the day I can walk during one of the kids’ classes. Planning ahead for this has been key to making sure it gets done.
7. Figure out when we can get a bit of school work done. It’s summer, so school is not our priority right now, but I still try to fit in an hour here and there to work on a few things.
8. Block off time to clean. I look for a day when I will have a solid three hours or so at home and plan to do the bulk of the housecleaning then. Lately, this has felt easier than trying to clean a bit every day.
9. Find some writing time. I have been trying to spend more time writing in the hopes of earning some money from it again, so I need to put in the time. Currently I am aiming for 10 hours per week, so I plug those hours in whenever and wherever I can find them. This part is not easy!
10. Decide on a realistic dinner plan for each day. This will depend on what time everyone will be home, who is around to do the cooking, and how much prep time I have earlier in the day.
After I have all of these things written in my planner, I jot down my to-do list. I am currently using the Plum Paper Planner, which provides space for a weekly list. I also look ahead a week or two to see if there is anything coming up that I should be planning for.
All of this might make it seem like I am incredibly well-organized, but I can assure you that things regularly fall through the cracks anyway. That’s just the nature of life with several kids! The other day I realized that we have done nothing to prepare for an upcoming trip, that I haven’t weeded the garden in just about forever, and that I forgot to shop for the sneakers Christopher needs for camp in a few days. Still, this system of planning has been very helpful in reducing my stress level during a very busy season.