It’s my last day at school and I’ve got summer rhythms on my mind. As a teacher, of course I love a schedule. I think that most kids thrive when they know what to expect in their day. Summer is supposed to be fun though!! Throw the schedule out the window. Structure be damned!! You’re right, sort of. For me – if I go totally schedule free – it’s hard to toe the line between fun, carefree and go with the flow without losing my marbles on my three little boys. I’ve learned that the hard way. I like to meet somewhere in the middle between the rigidity of a schedule and the fluidity of free range parenting. And that’s where a rhythm comes in. What’s the difference between a rhythm and a schedule? Not much. A rhythm to me is more of a guide to your day. A schedule is more firm and typically has times.
Our rhythm may vary slightly from day to day because *hello* I still do want to be spontaneous and fun summer mom. I just don’t want my kids to wind up sitting in front of a tv all day because I haven’t thought of anything for them to do. The core piece of our summer rhythm is – in the morning we do a field trip outside of the house, and in the afternoon we stay home and get in the pool. The only firm times on my rhythm are that we need to be home from our field trip by 11am so we can have lunch and get Lukey down for a nap around noon and that dinner happens around 6pm. The other thing to remember is that my kids get up early. Like 6am early. So if your kids sleep in (you lucky duck), this outline might need some shifting to work for you!
Summer Rhythm 2023
Goals: Be flexible, have fun and live outside.
The Morning: Work out first thing – take whoever is awake in the running stroller. Shower and get ready before husband leaves for work. Breakfast Morning Chores Art/Worksheets/Reading Time Field Trip – home by 11am Lunch Nap & Quiet Time for boys – Prep Dinner now!
The Afternoon: Pool & Water Play Indoor play or movie while I make dinner. Planning to do lots of grilling/easy dinners during summer, so minimal kitchen time will be needed. Bikes, Chalk and Scooter play on the sidewalk while we wait for dad to get home from work. After dinner walk or evening swim.
That’s it guys – that’s our summer rhythm! I think I’ll do a couple more *summer* posts this week – lunch and dinner ideas, field trips, activities/art projects, summer reading, etc. Nothing but fun with the occasional meltdown thrown in. Lol.
What about you? What do you do for summer? Any special schedules/routines you follow?
That time of the month in which I choose everything I’m going to try. Mostly 4 things per category with a few exceptions for a bonus if we have time. You can choose any categories you like! These are just things that are important to me. And choose more or less depending on how much time you have!
In May I want to be outside, be present, and be focused on my family. I do have two little personal goals for the month – everyday blog posting and everyday workouts. I am the type of person who thrives when doing something every day rather than once in a while. I’ll keep you updated on how it’s all going!
Bake (for the weekend)
Last Day of School Bake – Last year I did donuts, the year before, a cake. I’m feeling a pie this year. What do you think?
Every new year I sit down and write a lengthy list of goals. Last year I did it stream of consciousness style on a Google doc. Most years past I’ve used a notebook to jot things down. Neither are a bad way to do it, and it’s always nice to read back through to see what I was working on last year.
But I’ve become a bit more methodical (in my old age) and typed up a big numbered list on google docs this year. 32 things! Eek! But I have to tell They’re not all hard. You might even look at it as part to do list, part list of goals. For example, one is “clean out my closet”, another is “repaint the back porch floor”, and “teach Charlie to ride a bike”. These are just (kind of mundane) tasks that really do need to be done and I can cross them off and not think about them again for a good long while. But others need a bit more doing. Things such as “run 6 miles without rest” and “read 80 books” and “find inspiration, but stop mindless scrolling”. This is all fine and good to say those things, but how do you get there?
So this year, I took my list, and under each item I added “HOW?” And then I jotted down some notes for each.
How am I going to make sure that I make it to a yoga class each week? I need to communicate with my husband to see what night works with his schedule. I sent him a text to see for this week and went ahead and signed up for the class this week. Done
How am I going to make sure that we potty train Luke? Well I know that this summer would be ideal. If we do it in June then we’ll have a nice long chunk of time that we’re off school and we can just be home and near the potty. I wrote it in all caps in my planner.
How am I going to make sure not to buy any clothes new for me or the boys this year? I’m going to pick a day to thrift each week after school.
If it helps you to see exactly what it looks like in my document, here are a couple:
Do Duolingo every day.
Pick a specific time and stay consistent.
Set a reminder on my phone.
Read 80 books.
Aim for 2 books a week.
Have books on hand at all times to read. Utilize audiobooks and e-books when needed. I should be able to read 2 books every week. This would be 104 books. This is something I do most weeks. Read before bed, audiobooks at school during shelving and on runs.
Post monthly reading posts on emetamily.com to summarize and help keep track.
Continue posting weekly reviews on instagram on Mondays to stay motivated.
Continue placing holds and making weekly library stops.
And how to make sure I keep up with it all for the year? Well, I took a look at all of my goals and then I wrote a separate little list at the bottom of my document:
– Things to fit into every day: Workouts, Cooking, Meditate, Reading, Duolingo, Playing with the boys, etc. – Things to fit into the week: Yoga, Library visit, Baking, Weekly Dates, etc. – Things to fit into the month: Friend Dinners, cocktails with my sister, etc. – Things to fit into my year: Knit a sweater, have our ceilings redone, sign the boys up for sports, power wash the house, etc.
This really helps me visualize when/how I’m going to get these things done. Is it reasonable? I already know it is because I’ve taken a look at my schedule and scheduled things in. Every day I’m going to do five minutes of Duolingo right when I wake up. I’m going to meditate for ten minutes right before I get in the shower every night. I’m going to a yoga session at 7:30pm tomorrow night. I read 70 books this year at a pretty leisurely pace, so I should be able to read 80 this year. We had a guy come yesterday to give us a quote for our ceilings and he’s going to begin work in the middle of the month. I’m going to ask my dad to paint the porch floor when they visit for the month of February. Boom. I’ve already made progress.
Really the only thing to do next is to form the habits. Dig in and stick to them. Stop being lazy, and really get nitty gritty with the details. Set an alarm on your phone every month “monthly check in!!” to hold yourself accountable. That’s the way to make sure you get stuff done. Just hold yourself to it. Don’t rely on someone to nag you. Make it your goal to keep your promises to yourself and just make it happen.
I remember when I started trying to figure out how to work, and be a mom, and still do things for myself. I was feeling very overwhelmed, so I wrote up a little schedule “An Ideal Week”. I wrote down all the half hours in the day and days of the week, and I filled in what I would ideally be doing each day at that time for an entire week. From 5:30-7pm I wanted to put my phone away and have family dinner and play with my kids. At 5am I wanted to be up and wanted to eat my breakfast, drink my coffee and be alone before I had to start getting ready for the day. On Sunday nights I wanted to have a check in with my husband on what his week is going to look like. And those are the things that to this day I do! That’s something you might try if you’re struggling with figuring out how to have time to do more for yourself and for your family. We all have the same amount of time in the day. We just all use it in different ways.
I also do think that my Making Every Day Special document that I made a few years ago might be helpful if you’re struggling to form home habits (like doing laundry every day, or celebrating minor and major holidays).
A post I’ve wanted to write for a while, but am just now getting around to. The overwhelm when it comes to trying to choose a functional, well laid out, everything I need in my life planner is a lot every year. I spent years making and printing my own planning sheets out because I just felt like most planners didn’t cover every base. But then Golden Coil came into my life. A fully customizable planner from front to back. If you just want exact details – scroll to the very bottom of this post and I walk you through exactly what I chose this year and what I’m doing differently next year.
What do I need in a planner?
a place for meal planning – longer than just a few lines. I like to have space to write down ideas for the next week, things to bake that week, things to drink, snacks to have on hand, breakfasts we’d like to have. A tiny little box just isn’t enough for me.
a place for social media planning – as my following has grown, I’ve needed more space to plan ahead, to jot down brainstorming, collaborations that are coming up, things to follow up on.
a place for home – with so much going on, I need space to jot down things we need for the boys at daycare, sports, things to pick up, etc.
a place for school planning – I like to see my weeks laid out in full calendar format and each week. We have a six day fine arts rotation so it gets confusing unless I have it all written out.
a place for to do lists – I am a list maker extraordinaire. It was nice to use my planner rather than trying to use a notebook and a planner. I still do use my notebook, but less than I used to! But with a planner that also has room for lists, I just have to have one book on hand.
I think I achieved pretty much everything I was looking for this year in my set up. The only thing I will change this year is my weekly spread and a few of the “add-on” pages. I thought it would be nice to have three squares – one for school, home and social media, but I didn’t end up using it as much as I thought I would. I chose a different spread for this year that I’m looking forward to seeing! I shared exact details at the bottom of this post!
Love the monthly spread. Shows you what is up for the month. You can’t change this selection in the planner. It comes standard.
This is an add on “month at a glance” page that I have at the beginning of each month. I use it to plan out blog posts, social media, and my monthly list. Below is a (halfway) filled in month.
The Ideas page is an add on that I have at the beginning of each month. It’s called “Brain Dump”. I often use it for meeting notes, lists for when I have too much rolling around in my brain, and for ideas for the future.
This is an add on page called “Fillable List”. I show below how I use it for meal planning.
I chose the Weekly Double Spread – Vertical 2. It was great for having three different sections of my life – School, Home & Social. I’m choosing a different one this year that I share below!
To sum it up, here’s exactly what I chose for this planner and what I’m choosing for 2023:
Neutral Linen Cover. Getting the exact same again. I’m either very boring or I just know what I like. lol.
I chose a Monday start page. I’m going to choose Sunday this year!
USA Holidays. Nice to have it all written in there for you.
This year I used Weekly Double Page – Vertical 2. For next year, I’m choosing Weekly Single Page – Horizontal 2. I didn’t realize this about myself, but now I know that I prefer looking at the week from the top down rather than from left to right. Not sure why, but I think I’ll like it better top down! I like that the week outline is on the left, and the whole right page is just for notes. I am a list maker at heart, so this is helpful for me.
Added Pages – I’m getting all the exact same this year. I loved these extra pages so much.
Year at a Glance 3 – Start of Planner – helpful to have a full year on one page to glance at. I like having all the dates listed out.
Month at a Glance – Monthly – I use this for blog and instagram planning. Lots of people wouldn’t need this one, but it helps me plan out a full month of ideas on a page. I like working by the month. And when you choose this, you get a blank page on the right of the page that I use for my monthly list. Bake, Treats, Projects, Cocktails, Meals to try, Crafts all go on this page to help me visualize the month ahead and actually Get Stuff Done.
Brain Dump – Monthly – Again, I’m a list maker. When I have a rush of ideas, I jot them all down on the “Ideas” page for the month. I can also use this page for meeting notes during the month.
Fillable List – 2 Monthly – For meal planning each week. I write the dates at the top and then I write down what I plan to make, what we need, etc. If you add two of these, that gives you 4 pages – enough for a month. And I like that they’re all right next to each other so I can look at what we had the previous weeks, or jot down things for the next week when I have meals on my mind.
Added Pages that I used this year and won’t be next year.
Holiday Gifting – Didn’t even glance at it once. I’ve been using a notebook for list making for the holidays, and am eliminating this year.
Weight/Measurements – Thought I might use. Didn’t even a little bit. lol.
New Added Page this year
Goals – Start of Planner – I love making new year goals, and this seems like a good little spread to have to think things through at the beginning of the year.
To sum it up – I am a Golden Coil for life user. You can use the code BLACKFRIDAY for 15% off through November 18th!
Sunday – Lasagna with Caesar Salad. I use this recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook. I’m sure there are much more complicated ones out there, but when I’m looking for a classic recipe I always look to Betty. She’s never steered me wrong. She keeps it simple enough that it’s manageable and she offers lots of tips and tricks. She’s very much for normal people like me.
Monday – Leftover Lasagna. Work smarter, not harder, friends.
Tuesday – White Chicken Chili. I’ve never tried this recipe before, but I love that it can be made in a crock pot. I love coming home to a meal already made. Feels like someone else has made dinner for us. I feel like white chicken chili is all about the toppings. Pulling out the corn chips, avocado, cilantro and sour cream to top it off here.
Wednesday – Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce. I bought the ravioli from the store because I’m a working mother, not a wizard. My husband is notttt a fan of butternut squash nor ravioli. He’s traveling this week though, so I won’t feel guilty making this for just the boys and I.
Thursday – Leftovers. Most likely the chili from Tuesday!
Cocktail – Hot Buttered Rum. Had it on my November list last year and never did get around to it! So I’m going to get to it this week!
Bake – Cinnamon Rolls. These are the best I’ve ever made. There’s another recipe that I want to try from Sarah Kieffer, but I’m so scared to deviate!! I KNOW these are always good, so why try another? But what if Kieffer’s are better. Ack! The indecision – I’ll let you know on Instagram what I decide!
Treat – Chex Mix. My mom always always had a tin full this time of year, so I’ve always kept with tradition and had it around the house for my family too. Don’t you love tradition?
Happy eating this week, friends! Please share if you make anything amazing this week!
Monday – BLTs with tater tots and salad – I always try to keep Monday nights easy, so I’ll make the bacon in the oven (at 400 on a foil lined pan for about 20 minutes), slice up some heirloom tomatoes, add iceberg lettuce because it has the best crunch, husband will put a fried egg on his, I’ll throw a quick salad together and there will be clementines and tots with ketchup for the kids. If I have a little extra time, I’ll make this very yummy herb mayonnaise, or maybe I’ll just sit back with a drink and a book with that extra time instead.
Tuesday – Sweet Potato Tacos with black beans, quick slaw and pickled onions – I buy frozen chopped sweet potatoes and this is basically the easiest taco Tuesday ever.
Wednesday – Lemon Ricotta Pasta – I’ve wanted to make lemon ricotta pasta since reading One Italian Summer (which wasn’t all that good, but the food descriptions took me there!) and I searched high and low for a recipe that seemed worthy. This one has great reviews. I’ll probably add some pan fried chicken for my husband and some pillsbury rolls with jam for my little guys.
Saturday – Cheeseburgers on the grill with sliced veggies & dip (we usually mix one container of cottage cheese with a packet of ranch seasoning) and oven fries (just slice up potatoes to the size you like best, roll around in olive oil and seasonings – we either use steak seasoning or garlic salt with Parmesan, place in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes, mixing around half way through.).
You guys, I was looking through my blog this morning as my first *School Year Is Starting, But I’m Not Working Yet* order of business, and I really thought I had more on here than I do. Ha! It’s a bit bare bones isn’t it? I have pages and pages full of post ideas. One of my goals for the school year is to get this little spot up and running with regular posts each week. I do still love Instagram, but I know there are mixed feelings on it. This could be a really cool spot with a little more time dedicated to it, couldn’t it? On to this August to do list though!
If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know that every month, I make a list of things to do in certain (favorite! fun! exciting! whimsical!) categories (Bake, Treats, Cocktails, Meals, and Home). Typically, I do four things under each category and then I pick one from each category every week. So every week I’m crossing something off from each little list. I find that if I list everything out like this at the beginning of the month, I automatically eliminate the need to make any crippling decisions during the month. I do it all at once, and then I’m just left with time to actually do those things on my list! It works, trust me. I’m much more productive since I’ve starting planning my months out like this. You could obviously make the categories anything you’re into. And maybe you could just do a couple under each category if you think it’s unlikely that you’ll do something every single week. This is just what works for me. Make it your own!
So (drumroll please) the August LIST! Just click on the text for a link to the recipes!
Feels a little late to be sharing this, February being a short month and it already being the 9th, but better late than never! But I can imagine this coming in handy next year when I’m looking for monthly to dos. I think I’ll share every month (but hopefully a little earlier next time!).
Now before I dive in, I should explain that I have a little monthly planning hack to help myself get more crossed off of my dreams list. Every month, I go through my calendar, and count how many weeks I have in which to fit a reasonable number of fun things. It’s generally four. So then, I have categories for things that matter to me. Baking, Treats, New Meals, Cocktails, and Home. Sometimes I change the categories, like if I want to focus on organization, for example, or marriage, mental health, physical health, the boys, outings, etc. What I’m saying is that you can choose any category you like. Then, for each of those categories I pick four things (or however many weeks we have) to do. So at the beginning of every new week during that month, I pick one thing from each of my categories and cross them off of my list. Doing my months this way makes me feel like I’m still getting to do what I love and I don’t get overwhelmed with the number of choices out there. Decision fatigue is real! Phew. Maybe I’ll have to post this little monthly planning hack again as a stand-alone post, but (drumroll please), here’s my February to do list – complete with links!
If you follow me on instagram, I’ve talked many times about a document I made several years ago after having my first son, Charlie. To give you a little background – I was just going back to work after maternity leave and felt so sad about it all. I wanted to stay home longer with him, quit my school librarian job, throw caution, our family insurance, and my pension to the wind, but I just couldn’t. But after I had a second son, and then a third, I’ve since come around to being a working mom and I’ve actually found that I am a much more balanced and happier person this way. Now…of course, I am on a teacher schedule which I highly recommend if you have kids and are looking at work options. I have summers off, long holiday breaks, I get off at 3pm every day, and I don’t take any work home (Let it be know that I often did have to bring work home my first few years of teaching and of course I have no homework, papers or tests to grade).
Ok but that’s right now – when I started back at work after that very first maternity leave, I was struggling emotionally and just with figuring out routines and how to make days meaningful when I was so tired all the time from working all day and then caring for a child all night. I would sit in my office while pumping and watch the online video feed of my son crying at daycare and I would cry too. I would get so upset about how unnatural it is to separate a mother from her child at 12 weeks when he was just so tiny and helpless and needed his mama. Phew! I’m getting emotional just thinking back on it.
Well…I soon got pregnant with a second son and decided that something had to change. I had to figure out a way to manage it all – to make childhood magical and special for my kids even if I was so freaking tired I couldn’t even think about how to get to bedtime every night. I wasn’t depressed. I was just struggling with how to do it “all”. And no one was going to figure it out for me. If I didn’t make the memories happen – they just weren’t going to happen. My husband is wonderful, caring and everything one could want in a partner for life but he doesn’t really care about having green milk on St. Patrick’s Day, God love him. I found that things were passing by without me noticing. I forgot St. Nicholas Day, I forgot to send a homemade card from the boys to my mom for her birthday, I realized my husband’s half birthday had been the week before. These things matter to me. All these special, (seemingly) silly little moments passed me by without me doing anything about it. My life was being lived. Not celebrated. And not to mention that we didn’t have clean laundry because I kept forgetting that I had to do a load of laundry every day, and I had to make dinner every night and also somehow keep the house clean and get the boys to daycare and myself to work on time?? After many weeks (or was it months?) of floundering – enter, The Document.
As a librarian, I have a mind that likes to put things into categories. (I live by the Dewey Decimal System after all). So I started to think through what things are important to me. Tradition. Family. Celebrating major and minor holidays. Baking. Acts of Kindness. Food. Having a clean house. Predictability. I am a huge believer in rhythms. If you know nothing about rhythms or the importance of routine for small children, try reading Simplicity Parenting. It’s one of my favorite parenting books and gave me so much inspiration for what I wanted my own parenting to look like. Anyway. I could go on at length about all of these ideas, but I wanted this post to serve as a little introduction to these ideas, and where Making Every Day Special came from. I especially wanted to have a place on here for this spreadsheet that I made to manage our life. It may seem a little structured and boring to you at first, but I feel like it has helped me so much in just wrapping my brain around doing “it all”. I’ll probably use this space to talk through some ideas for celebrating life every day, but now this document has a place to live!
Just click on this link to make a copy of the Making Every Day Special that will go directly to your Google Docs. If you don’t have Google Docs – Here is the Word Document.
I left my text in there to give you ideas for things we do and celebrate, but make it your own! I usually go through throughout the year and add and delete things for the new year. Delete everything that doesn’t speak to you, and add new columns for things that are important to you.