How to Love Your Neighbor in 2021

How to Love Your Neighbor in 2021

How to love your neighbor well in 2021 can be tricky. I mean, we are still in a pandemic and the country is so divided over so many things. February is a great time to focus on others. There’s Valentine’s Day on the 14th, and a few days later is World Kindness Day on February 17th. I know I can speak for all of us when I say we can all appreciate a little extra love in this crazy world. Here are some simple and easy ways to love your neighbor this month.

Send Some Happy Mail

Don’t you just love getting something in the mail besides bills? We ALL do! Send a letter (vintage style, ha) or a postcard to a friend or loved one. Let it be a surprise. This past week, my kids made postcards (we used this kit) to mail to their friends. They had so much fun and talked about sweet memories they have with those whom they were creating for. I plan to mail my own little notes of encouragement too. Parenting is hard. Parenting during a pandemic is hard. Parenting during the winter during a pandemic is ridiculous. Send some unexpected love. It will fill your heart as well!

Everyone Loves Coffee

You know coffee is basically life for moms. Show a friend or even a stranger some love by paying for their Starbucks. The Starbucks app makes it really easy to send someone a gift card. Also, paying for the person behind you in the drive-thru line has the potential to make someone’s day or even week! When you pay for someone’s coffee order in the drive-thru, it will often set off basically a coffee love chain where people continue to pay for the person behind them for quite some time. That’s pretty cool!

Your Actual Neighbor

Loving those in our closest sphere of influence can be so powerful. That includes people who actually live next to us. I know I have been guilty of not knowing my neighbors before. Falling into that isolation really doesn’t benefit anyone. If that is you, it’s okay! Now is the perfect time to reach out. Shovel your neighbor’s driveway one morning, make them some banana bread (or the star of the pandemic – sourdough bread), bring their newspaper to their front door so they don’t have to walk to go get it, or offer to take their dog on a walk. There are so many little things we can do to make a difference in someone’s day.

I think so many of us had such high expectations for 2021. Like we thought the end of 2020 would just cause all the big things to just evaporate. Well maybe not quite so dramatic, but we hoped to at least to have turned a corner. For some people, things have gotten better. But for many, things are mostly the same. Pandemic fatigue is strong. Moms are all struggling. I know I definitely have hard days.

I know none of the things listed above are super revolutionary. But sometimes we just need to be reminded of the simple every day things that can make such a difference for others. I think the middle of winter during the month of love is perfect time to show friends and strangers alike a little extra love, kindness, and grace in a tangible way. How are you going to love your neighbor this Valentine’s Day? Let me know in the comments. And, as always, please like, share, and subscribe if you enjoyed this post.

We’ve Made Some Homeschool Changes

We’ve Made Some Homeschool Changes

That’s right. Our homeschool got a few changes and upgrades since we started our year last July. I think that’s my favorite thing about homeschooling. It’s okay and even encouraged to make adjustments to our schooling when we need to. I find it so freeing!

Language Arts

The first big homeschool change we made this semester was switching our Language Arts curriculum. Last semester, we used Abeka. You can read all about my initial review of this program here. Even though I quickly realized we wouldn’t stick with Abeka long-term, my plan was to finish the books I bought. However, we couldn’t even do that. The workbooks started moving too fast for my kids, and no one was having a good time. So, I made the decision to go ahead and toss it out earlier than expected.

What did we switch to you ask? Logic of English. We are LOVING it! Loving it, I tell you. My kids get so excited to do language arts every day. They love the multi sensory approach to each lesson. I made the decision to start with Foundations A, which honestly is way below their current reading level. But, LOE teaches things differently than Abeka. We needed to learn how LOE teaches. Plus, did you learn about broad sounds when you were in school?? I sure didn’t! Did you know the letter “i” makes FOUR different sounds, and there are rules for each one? Me either! I had to memorize so much when I learned how to read. It turns out, there are more logical (ha, see what I did there?) rules to reading than I thought. So, starting with Foundations A has filled in any gaps my kids (or I) had.

Hymn Study

The second big change we’ve made to our homeschool isn’t switching curriculums; it’s adding in a whole new subject. We started a hymn study. As you know, my husband is in vocational ministry. We are active in our non-denominational church. However, my husband and I grew up in more traditional churches. We grew up singing the hymns that have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. I wanted my kids to learn these holy songs. There is something so inspiring about singing the words to a song that have united Christians of generations past and present. I wanted my kids hide these songs in their heart just as I have done.

As far as hymn studies, it turns out there are a lot of good options. All unique in their own way. I ended up choosing the curriculum by Not Consumed. This is a unit study program. And out of all the choices, I decided on this one because it had many songs that I personally love. The parent enjoying the material being taught is an important component of homeschooling. This study also teaches the child to play the hymn on a tin whistle (basically a recorder), which has been so fun. We are learning one hymn a month, and we just finished our first one – It Is Well.

Attitude and Pace

The last change we’ve implemented is my overall attitude on the pace of our homeschool. I’m realizing that it is okay if we don’t hit every single subject every single day. I’m continuing to learn that homeschooling does not need to look anything like traditional public school. That there are a million ways for kids to learn. That allowing time to play IS allowing time to learn in an organic fashion. I am dropping the weight of the pressure I put on myself a little each week. Yes, I make plans (I am loving this EC lesson planner), but it’s pretty rare that I check off every single little thing. And that’s just fine by me. I know my kids are learning and growing. Not just academically also emotionally and spiritually as well.

So tell me, whether you homeschool or not, how is the year going for you kids? Let me know in the comments below. As always, if you liked this post, please like and subscribe to be the first to see new posts!

Word of the Year

Word of the Year

New Year’s resolutions have been fading out of fashion over the last several years. It’s no wonder. They’re often daunting, overwhelming, and by mid-February only a distant memory. My biggest gripe with resolutions is that usually they’re made without much thought. What’s taken its place, though, is the all mighty Word of the Year. And it is mighty in my opinion. Having a word or short phase to continually refer back to for the entire year is a great way to bring focus and intention to the mundane of every day life.

NURTURE was my word for 2020. I had several areas of my life that needing tending to grow and further mature. Things I nurtured were my spiritual life, my marriage, relationships with my children, my love for the outdoors, and so on. It was a wonderful word. I had it posted on my bathroom mirror for the entire year. On the hard days, because we all have hard days, I would see it right there in front of me. It quickly reminded me of the things that matter most, and it made it easy to let go of all the excess. Having a word of the year grounded me amongst all the chaos that was 2020.

When picking a word of the year, I want you to consider a few things. Firstly, don’t rush it. Pray and meditate on the things that went well and the things that didn’t in 2020. How does it make you feel? What things do you want to change? Secondly, choose a verb. A verb will inspire action. It will make you focus on forward grace-filled progress. Lastly, when ideas start coming to mind, take time to look up definitions and synonyms. It’s likely that google will help you find an even more purposeful word or phrase for your hopes of 2021. Sit with your word for a few days before you commit. How does it make you feel? Hopefully not overwhelmed! The goal is to feel refreshed, motivated, and inspired.

On that note, I am so excited to share my word of the year for 2021:

EXPAND

I know that I nurtured good things in 2020. When working on my goals for 2021, one thing kept coming up. I want to expand on things that have already been planted. I want to expand my theological knowledge. I want to expand my physical fitness. I want to expand this blog. And so many other things. It’s perfect for where I’m at in my life, and I am so excited.

If you’re having trouble coming up with a word, I wanted to share this resource from Cultivate What Matters. (If you have followed me for at least 5 minutes, you know I love this company.) You will find suggestions on their site, and they also provide wallpaper for your phone with your word. I screen shot (shotted???) the blank floral pattern, then edited in my word, expand. I will have this be my wallpaper on my phone for the year. I cannot wait for you to share your word of the year! Drop it down in the comments below. And as always, if you enjoyed this post, please like and share, as it’s a simple way to support this little space of mine. Much love, and Happy New Year!!!

It’s Time to Edit Our To-Do List

It’s Time to Edit Our To-Do List

2020 has been weird and hard and heartbreaking and all the things. There’s no way to beat around the bush or sugar coat it. The holidays are supposed to be filled with joy and glad tidings, but this year many of us are grieving or struggling financially or feeling burned out or all of the above. I see you. I hear you. And I am here to encourage you.

Take a couple of deep breaths, mama. When you exhale, let it go. Let go of your expectations of what this holiday season will be like. Let’s agree to leave some wiggle room in our schedules. Let’s agree to take it day by day. There. Does that take some of the pressure off? I hope it does. Speaking of plans, lets take a look at our holiday to do lists. I’m not talking about the practical things that are non-negotiable. I’m talking about that holiday baking that you do every single year. I’m talking about the 17 Christmas movies are a must watch. I’m talking about the five course dinner that you typically serve on Christmas day. Those things. Things that you might really enjoy but maybe won’t or shouldn’t happen this year.

It is okay to not do all the things. It is ok to cross things off your holiday to do list because you don’t have the capacity to get them done this year. This isn’t a lesson just for 2020. I actually learned this truth last year. There wasn’t one specific thing that was going on in my 2019 life, but I was feeling SO spread thin by the beginning of December. A lot of little things added up, and I was just DONE before it even started. The holiday season felt like some gigantic mountain I was going to be forced to climb. That’s when I realized that’s not how I wanted to spend my time. I am worthy of enjoying the Christmas season just as much as my kids and the rest of my family. I made the decision. I crossed something off my list. Something big. I decided that we wouldn’t celebrate Advent nightly in our home. I know what you’re thinking. “But Emily, isn’t your husband a pastor?” Yes, yes he is. What I realized (thanks to the Holy Spirit) was that I am not responsible for my kids’ relationship to God. Yes, I am responsible for guiding them, but their salvation isn’t going to come down to one Advent season. And so, I crossed it off. IT WAS FREEING! I was able to enjoy the holiday season with my family without feeling like I was in servitude to them.

This year has been really interesting. It has really made us focus on what really matters. What really matters to you? What fills your cup during this time? What brings your family joy? By crossing off the things that don’t really matter, we can make room for this things that do. One thing that I am excited to make room for is decorating gingerbread houses. But here’s the kicker, because I’ve crossed some things off, I am planning on making the gingerbread myself. This is something that I have wanted to do for years but haven’t been able to because of being distracted by other things. What matters most to us, this year, is that our family feels peaceful and bonded. Every activity is put through that filter. If it doesn’t meet that basic criteria, then it’s crossed off the list.

What are you crossing off your list this year? Are you adding anything to it? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to like and share if you enjoyed this post. Happy Holidays!!

Self Care is Basic

Self Care is Basic

Alright. Enough is enough. It is time that we stop apologizing for being actual humans. We are not machines, people! We need rest. We need a break. When I say self care is basic, I mean self care is a basic human need. It is not indulgent. It is not spoiling yourself. It is taking time to for your mental and physical self intentionally. Of course, anything can be twisted and warped into something its not supposed to be, and self care isn’t any different. But I am not talking about that here. I am talking about intentionally taking time for yourself, so you can be the best you.

I remember when I first became a stay at home mom. I had visions of a 1950’s housewife, who spent her days cooking three meals a day for her family in her always immaculate house. You know what those moms did? They had their babies either in a play pin, propped in front of the TV, or being watched by hired help. When I realized my vision was a fallacy, I realized what undue pressure I was putting on myself. I was driving myself mad trying to live up to these lofty expectations that were completely self imposed. Hear me, sweet friend. It is not a thing to have a perfect house and perfect peaceful children all the time. It’s just not. And that is okay! It’s time that we look at our selves and our lives through a realistic lens.

What am I reasonably capable of in a given day? What would be nice to accomplish but isn’t a necessity? What do I need to do to take care of myself today, so I am starting with a full cup tomorrow. There is nothing worse than feeling like we are running on empty. I see this all the time, especially with new moms. We have visions of what we will be like as mothers, and sometimes reality doesn’t match. For example, it wasn’t until I had three kids that I realized that I get overstimulated by excess noise. When I get overstimulated, I get….short tempered and shouty (I may have just made that word up). So, I know that is something I need to mitigate. If my kids are being loud, I might need to take a beat and go upstairs where it’s quiet for a bit. I might (*gasp*) even need to scroll on my phone for a few minutes to feel like I’ve separated a little. Then, I am better able to come back to reality and not be frustrated and shouty with my kids.

Here me, mama. Taking time for yourself is not detracting something from you family. It is investing in them. Because a better you is a better wife and a better mother. So, if you’re looking for permission to take that break, I am giving it to you. If you are needing someone to tell you to let the laundry sit there this time, so you can take a much needed nap, I’m telling you. There will ALWAYS be something that needs to be done. Our lists are never completely checked off. There will always be something else to do. But that doesn’t mean you have to give in to this pressure of getting it all done perfectly. Take a beat. Take a breath. Take a nap.

The Best 2020 Holiday Gift Guide for Kids 8 and Under

Here are my top picks for gifts that are not only budget friendly, but will also grow with your kids. This post contains some affiliate links, which helps support this space with no added cost to you. Happy shopping and happy holiday!

These blocks are so great and can be used by any age to make simple or complicated structures.

This customizable stuffed animal was such a favorite with each of my kids when they were young toddlers.

The perfect gift for your emerging authors and illustrators. Have your kids write and illustrate their own book, then send it off to be professionally made into a real hardcover book!

Have your little mermaid snuggle up in this cozy blanket all winter long.

Put on a show with this fun set of puppets.

Bilibos are an open-ended toy that can be used in so many fun ways. We also use our as “wiggle seats” during homeschooling.

These On the Go Craft Kits are perfect stocking stuffers! They are perfect for screen free entertainment in the car, if you’re traveling this holiday season.

My 6 year old received this face painting kit for her birthday, and it has been a favorite for all 3 of my kids. I love it because it washes off SO easily and doesn’t stain.

I cannot tell you enough how much my kids love these books. They are cute and sweet stories that actually teach our kids about the scientific method in a fun and engaging way.

This fun toddler scooter will be under the tree for my 3 year old this year! I love how it has two wheels in the front to help with balance. 

Slime, slime, and more slime. Need I say more? Seriously, though, I like how this kit contains ready made magnetic slime, which was showcased on Emily’s Wonder Lab.

Did you know triangle crayons help teach proper grip? These Jumbo Triangle Crayons are great for little hands.

Do you have a fashionista like I do? My 6 year old received this jewelry making kit last year, and she still plays with it at least once a week. 

My 8 year old has become very interested in origami over the last several months. I plan on getting her this set. I really like how the paper is double-sided. 

This fairy garden is growing in my kitchen this very moment. The kids had such a fun time creating it, and now we are watching the grass grow. They can hardly wait to string the included lights for a special and unique night light. 

There’s a reason Tinker Toys are such a classic.

I’m not the crafty mom, and that is why I love all in one craft kits. Look at how stinkin’ cute this robot craft kit is!

Get your kids outside and moving without the clean up of Nerf guns with this Laser X laser tagging game.

Who doesn’t want to cuddle up with Baby Yoda from Mandalorian on Disney +. This 8″ plush Yoda is perfect for your little Star Wars fan.

Harry Potter is as popular now as it was ever. This Room of Requirement LEGO Set is so fun but not overly complicated to assemble.

There you go! I hope you found some fun things your kids will love. A special thanks to my dear friend, Meredith, for her contribution to this gift guide.

Hate Teaching Math? I got you.

Hate Teaching Math? I got you.

Being an enneagram one, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that I like math. I always have. It’s completely black and white. There’s no gray area with math. You’re either right or you’re wrong. My mother was even a math teacher, so it runs in the family. But I can appreciate that lots of people find math difficult. Just like poetry makes zero sense to me (seriously, I cannot interpret symbolism for the life of me!), I understand how math can be difficult for others.

Now, this isn’t really something that effects a typical person in every day life. We have our calculators on our phone, and that works just fine. But what if your a homeschooling parent, and you’re now the one that has to teach all the math to your kids? What then? Well, my best advise? Fake it ’til you make it. I’m serious! Fake that enthusiasm for your least favorite subject, so it’s not your kids’ least favorite subject. My second piece of advise is delegate the hard parts to someone else. From such an early age, kids are duped into believing that they are bad a math, especially girls (which is a whole other can of worms that I’m not going to get into here and now). But in reality, kids just haven’t been taught in a way that they understand.

In our family, we use a few different approaches. You can read about our main curriculum here: https://intentionallywell.org/2020/08/19/math-love-it-or-hate-it/ . We do take a pretty traditional approach to math, and that seems to be working for now. However, I was recently approached by a company who has put together a really great online math curriculum. A+ Interactive Math by A+ Tutorsoft Inc. has been a really great addition to what we were already doing. And my kids look at doing math on the computer as a fun treat.

A+ Interactive Math operates in the traditional lane of homeschooling. They actually line up their lessons with public school, so it is a great resource for keeping your kids on track if you are only planning on homeschooling for a short time (hello 2020 pandemic). We have the Family Math Package, and it allows my kids to work mostly independently at their own pace. They can work from anywhere as long as we have internet connection. I can view their progress from the parent account as well. This helps me to see where they might be struggling, and what we need to spend our time on. The Family Math Package includes up to 10 students accounts, which is perfect for Pandemic Pods or an entire family. It includes 7 different grade levels (1st-6th, Pre-Algebra) which gives you an option to place each child in a desired grade level and even change the grade level when ready. This curriculum includes video lessons, interactive review, practice worksheets, chapter tests, step-by-step solution to each problem, easy to read progress reports, automatic grading & tracking, eBooks (lessons, worksheets, chapter tests, solution guides) and much more.

I hope enjoy this program as much as my kids and I do! It has been a great addition (ha! get it?) to our weekly math routine. It fits in seamlessly to what were already doing, and my kids as to do this program literally every day. You can check it out for yourself and try one month free at https://www.aplustutorsoft.com/freestuff/family-math-package . USE MY CODE: EMILY20 AT CHECK OUT FOR 20% OFF THE FAMILY MATH PACKAGE

Help! My Kids Don’t Like Books

Help! My Kids Don’t Like Books

Sometimes you have a child who just loves and loves to look at books. But what if your child doesn’t want to be read to or read a story before bed time? How can we as parents cultivate a love for books? The stress on parents to get their kids reading and reading early is strong. So often we here about little Susie who is reading beginning chapter books by age 4, but we never really hear about little Janie who can build an elaborate block city, or little Stevie who is unbelievably kind and empathic with his friends. All of these things are equally important for child development, but somewhere along the way reading got put on this pedestal. What I’m getting at is this, it is okay if your child doesn’t naturally love books. The best part is that there are things you can do to actually encourage a love of reading.

Spoiler alert, I’m writing this post as a parent who has a reluctant reader. Learning to read is just harder for her than other subjects. It’s not a bad thing; it just is what it is. But I want her to LOVE reading. I grew up seeing my parents devour books, so reading as a hobby was never a foreign concept for me. So that is step one. If we want our kids to enjoy reading, then they need to see us enjoying reading. Mama, when was the last time you read a book for pleasure? Probably quite some time, especially if you’re in the early baby and toddler years. But, this is an important thing we can model for our children.

The second step for encouraging a love for reading in our kids is audiobooks. Seriously, listening to audiobooks in the car is what sparked my child’s interest is even listening to stories. I can’t thank Junie B. Jones enough! (These are good books for the car because there is a lot of funny dialogue) Another wonderful resource for audiobooks is Epic! (Read the best books for early readers on Epic!). Epic! is an app used in homes and schools all over. You’ve probably heard of it. I like that I can tailor each of my kid’s profiles to their interest and reading level. For example, my pre-readers have all read-a-loud books to choose from, and my early reader has a mix of read-a-louds and age level books. We have independent reading time as part of our homeschool, and Epic! is always a popular choice. I feel like audiobooks has been such a great jump start to their love of stories, and it’s not something I see talked about very much.

Lastly, it is so important to set appropriate expectations. I’ve seen conversations in the homeschool community especially, saying that we need to be reading these long classic books to our young elementary school aged kids. And yes, I totally get it. I want to read Little House and Charlotte’s Web too. But, also, it’s fine if your kid isn’t ready for that just yet. Meet them where they are at first, then slowly build. For us, that meant reading some Shimmer and Shine books that basically retold a TV episode they’d seen. So, what? It was a book they were excited about, and excitement was my goal. They’ve since built up their reading stamina, and now ask for more complex storylines.

Developing a love of reading a books takes time. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. We did audiobooks for probably a year before my kids started showing an interest in hard copy books at home. And that is a-okay by me, because now I’m seeing them consistently excited when we sit down and read together. They shout “more! more!” when I tell them that’s all for today. So, turn off the noise and pressure you might be feeling from seeing what other kids are doing. Turn your attention to your sweet little ones and meet them right where they’re at.

Below, you will find a list of books my kids have loved:

Owl Diaries https://amzn.to/3iPPtnC

Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows https://amzn.to/3jUDwOF

Greetings from Somewhere https://amzn.to/373Nlq9

Tum Tum and Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall https://amzn.to/36WyxJN

Junie B. Jones Books 1-4 https://amzn.to/3nK03Ac

Living in Zones

Living in Zones

Do you ever feel like there are people and things all over your house all the time? I think this is so common, especially when you have kids. It’s exasperated when you are homeschooling, therefore actually using your house each and every day. Toys migrate from the play room to the living room to the bedroom to even the bath tub. By the end of summer, I’d had enough of this mess, literally and figuratively. I decided to create zones for my kids and myself in our home.

I forget where I first heard of turning your space into zones, but I was re-inspired when Erin from Cotton Stem (@cottonstem) made a little book corner in her kids’ bedroom. I thought, “Wow, I can do that!”. And I did. I went around my house and grabbed my son’s Anywhere Chair, a cozy blanket my kids love, an extra end table we randomly had, the basket of books which was not getting read in our playroom, and voila! We had our own reading corner in the upstairs loft. We named it the Book Nook, and it is now where my big kids do their independent reading each day. They LOVE it, and they are actually reading the forgotten books formerly in the playroom.

With the success of the Book Nook, I started looking for other ways to implement zones to bring some order and use spaces more effectively. We have a large loft area upstairs that wasn’t really being utilized. I decided to take this space that now had the book corner and divide it into more zones. I moved a desk that was in my daughter’s room (it was only storing doll clothes) to the loft. I found a lamp and a globe. BOOM! A zone for school work during the day, when someone needs to move to a quiet space. I moved our keyboard to the same wall as the desk to be included in the “school zone,” since the kids take online piano lessons.

Next, I placed the TV and foam cushion couch together to create a “lounging zone”. The TV cabinet now stores our LEGOs, so these are out of the kid’s bedrooms. The TV actually doesn’t get watched much, but the foam cushion couch is used a lot in the next zone. It is this cool thing that comes in multiple pieces. You can have it together as a couch, or you can take it apart and create all kids of things. Forts and obstacle courses are favorites for my kids (nuggetcomfort.com).

That leads me to the last zone I created in our loft. The “gross motor” zone. This is the biggest zone. I have a toddler trampoline in a corner that I was able to get secondhand. I bought a sensory swing to hang from the ceiling, and then the Nugget couch is right there to be pulled over and turned into something new. I also added the little toddler slide from the backyard. It was important to have a gross motor zone where the kids can play rough and get their wiggles out. We live in the Midwest, and the days are coming when it will be too cold to play outside. Our typical indoor playgrounds are closed because of the pandemic. Having this play space is essential, and it’s already getting used.

I know not everyone has a large unused loft in their home. But the idea behind creating zones is to use the little corners and nooks you do have, and turn them into a special place for your kids to go. Maybe it’s setting aside the end of your kitchen table and leaving out crafting supplies, or trays and tubs of playdough the kids can access on their own. Maybe it’s taking that kids table that isn’t really getting used anymore and turning it into a board game table. Maybe you need a “mom zone” to keep your calendar, file mail, and meal plan. I created my “mom zone” in our kitchen, and it is so nice to have all my things in one place. Assess what’s not working or take a space that isn’t being used efficiently and let your imagination flourish. Take a look around and share what you come up with!

Below are links to some things that we have in our zones, but don’t feel like you have to buy a bunch of stuff. Shop your house first, then see where you need to fill in the blanks.

Toddler Slide: https://amzn.to/308IO1h

Indoor Sensory Swing: https://amzn.to/3mX3jaT

Toddler Trampoline: https://amzn.to/2G88owz

Toddler Chair: https://amzn.to/30gEcX0

Counter/Desk Organizer: https://amzn.to/3cyXN9M

Intentional Days

Intentional Days

Hey there mama, how are you? The seasons are changing. Can you feel it? Fall and pumpkin spice are in the air. Crunching leaves are beneath your feet. I love fall so much, but any change of seasons is a special time. It’s a time to reflect on the months previous and be grateful for lessons learned. Now, I realize those lessons might have been taught through hard and stressful days, but lessons they were none the less. For example, I learned that I need to include things that I want for lunches during the week into my grocery shopping. I mean, I can only eat a PB&J so many times, unlike my children who are content to relish it daily.

Fall not only brings about a change in the weather, it almost always brings a change to schedules and routines. Kids are returning to school (however new and odd that looks this year #2020). Even if you homeschool, days are able to be filled with more time outside and seasonal experiences. Last week, I shared about how to plan and live intentionally with the big things in life, whatever that is for you. You can read about that here: https://intentionallywell.org/2020/09/07/living-intentionally-well/ But today, I want to talk about how to plan for and have intentional days with the little mundane things.

Now, I’m not saying I am perfect by any means, but when I intentionally make a plan for my week, my day to day life is much less stressful. I’m not talking about big abstract things, I am talking about things like menu planning, lesson planning, and schedule planning. Yep, it seems simple, right? It is. But this is something I have found takes a real discipline to stay committed to. It’s easy to fall into the cycle of waking up Monday morning and thinking, “Oh, shoot! What do I have going on this week?”. Then having to quickly spend rushed mental energy trying to remember all.the.things. It is much easier to take some time on Friday afternoon and peacefully make a game plan (plan of attack) for the following week. Warm up that left over cup of coffee you never finished and stick the kids in front of the tv (no shame!) and let’s make a plan!

Here’s a random fact about me. I love office supplies. Put me in an Office Depot, and I will be content for hours. However, as much as I love paper planners and stickers and pretty pens, don’t fall into the trap of feeling like you have to have the perfect tools to plan your week well. You don’t. Also, don’t think the way you plan for your family has to look like the way I plan for my family. We all have different needs and focuses. This year, I have been using a daily planner. It has been okay, but I really miss having a weekly set up. So, I’ll be switching back to that next year. You might prefer to use a monthly calendar. Or just recycle the back of that mile long CVS receipt. What ever works for you!

So, what does the process look like for me? Well, when I am really on top of my game, hubby and I have a “calendar meeting,” where we take fifteen minutes to discuss any appointments we having coming up and who is taking who to various sports activities. Then, I write out any other commitments I have with the kids. Do we have a play date this week? Are we going to have a movie night? Write it down. All of it. Next comes menu planning. This is best done at home, before you are actually at the the grocery store, ha. Typically, I will look over our nights and decide which nights I need to prepare dinner early (sports’ practice night), which nights need to be a quick and easy dinner (nights when I’m working), and which nights I can cook a full meal. Next, I will go to the pantry and freezer and see what we already have on hand, and I will try to form my weekly dinner menu around that. This helps our grocery budget as well. I do all of this on Fridays. That is what is working for us now in this season.

So, at this point, I have schedules, activities, and meals planned. The only thing left for me to do is make our homeschool lesson plans. If I am being transparent, this is something I am still trying to hone in on. Because this is our first full semester homeschooling, I still feel like our lessons are a lot of trial and error. And that is ok! It took time for me to develop a weekly planning method that worked well for schedules, activities, and meals. It takes practice, and it’s okay if it takes you time as well. But the reward is so great. Six days a week, I don’t have to spend mental energy deciding what we are going to have for dinner. It’s not a surprise when I get a reminder text about an upcoming appointment, and my kids feel valued because I didn’t forget that I told them they could stay up late one night and watch a movie. Totally worth it.

What about you? Do you have a method for planning your days? Tell me about it in the comments below.