This week I’ve realized that as I’ve been working on these schedules and plans, I’ve been neglecting to live in the present.
I keep thinking “As soon as I just finish all these schedules, THEN I will be better.”
Unfortunately, we’re not guaranteed tomorrow. We’re only guaranteed the one moment we’re in right now.
SO I’m praying to find a better balance between working on the things that will help me tomorrow, and still giving my very best during every moment today.
I don’t want all this scheduling to become an idol in my life, instead of becoming a tool to help me be better (like I originally intended).
And this is my prayer for you too – that if you are also working on better scheduling and planinng your days, that you too can find balance, and determination to live your very best day today – even if you have no plan.
With Christ’s strength, we can do all things. ALL things. So chin up sisters. Keep your eyes looking up, and your heart in today, while we continue to work together on how we can be better every day.
All that being said, today is the third, and final part of the Essential Family Life Habits series. Today I’m going over the monthly, semi-annual, and annual activities to do with your family. Here they are:
Essential Life Habits for Your Family
Eat dinner at your favorite restaurant – one night a month, have dinner out (and ice cream too) at your family’s favorite restaurant. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive, but picking a regular place can be a fun tradition that your kids will look forward to every month.
Date alone with each child – one day or night every other month, have Dad take one child on a date, while you take your other child out. If you have more than two kiddos, rotate who gets to go on the dates each month. Again, this doesn’t have to even cost money! Be creative with what you take your kiddos to do (something they personally enjoy), but remember that what they will love the most is just getting to spend quality alone time with you!!
Date alone with each child and spouse – every other month (alternating with the dates alone) try to also take your kiddos on individual dates with both you and your spouse. This could also be a good opportunity for your other kiddo(s) to have a special day or sleepover with their grandparents, if they live close enough.
Spend time with other family – if you have other family members living close to you (siblings, parents, grandparents, etc.), visit them once a month. You could get together for dinner or an afternoon just hanging out, but make it a priority! If your family does not live close enough for monthly visits, make time to travel to see each other as often as you can.
Kids’ sleepover with grandparents – my girls love to have sleepovers with their grandparents. It’s fun and important for them, your parents, and you! Occasionally having a night with your kiddos away can really help to refresh everyone!
Volunteer – once a month, try to find a kid-friendly way or place that you can volunteer as a family. Here are some seriously awesome websites that will help give you a starting point and lots of ideas:
Make Christ the focus of holidays – start by asking the question – why do we do what we do?? Are you following any holiday traditions simply because it’s what you’ve always done or because it’s just what our society does? Challenge yourself to research and think about why you follow the traditions you do, and whether or not you want to pass them on to your children. Be bold and create your own family traditions that make Christ the center of it all! I hope to someday blog much more about this topic, but for an awesome resource in the meantime, check out: “Creating Family Traditions” by Shirley Dobson – I highly recommend it!
Give gifts to neighbors – this is an easy way to teach your kids to serve others. This year, the kids made bread and handmade cards at Easter, and fun baskets for May Day. They thought it was extremely fun to run the gifts to all our neighbors, and they got so excited when they saw everyone’s faces. One of the coolest parts was when one of our neighbors dropped off little thank you gifts and cards to the girls a few weeks later – they about peed their pants! 🙂
Write thank you notes – I am honestly horrible, awful, terrible at this. I don’t know if it’s my short attention span or what for sure, but I just often neglect to write these important notes! There have been several times, in fact, where I’ve written almost all the notes, but by the time I get close to finishing them, I feel like it’s too late to mail them! Anyway, I know it’s important to thank people, and this is an old habit that I want to teach to my kids. I think next time we need to write the notes, I’m going to focus on keeping them simple, and sincere, and letting the kids do most of the work!
Create regular family traditions – in addition to keeping Christ at the center of holidays, also work to create other non-holiday related family traditions that will create memories for your kiddos to remember when they are older. This can be as simple as having spaghetti for dinner every Friday, or reading books before bed every night. Think through the activities you already do as a family, decide which ones you could commit to do on a regular basis, and make a tradition out of them! Or, again, check out the “Creating Family Traditions” book for many other ideas.
Go on a mission trip – once a year, try to do some bigger kind of serving/volunteering opportunity with your family. This could be overseas, or down the street…expensive, or free. For a super awesome resource, check out Adventures in Missions: http://www.adventures.org/
Take a vacation – like a mission trip, you can make this whatever you want. It could be a trip somewhere, or a simple camping weekend in your backyard. Whatever it is, commit to not working for a whole weekend, or week…completely unplug, and spend some important quality time together as a family!
Kids’ yearly doctor checkups
Kids’ semiannual dentist visits
Here’s the recap of the complete habit list in case you missed it in the last two posts:
If you’re working on your own list of habits that are important to your family, here’s a blank template you can use.
Once you finish your list, I think the next step would be to use it to make a monthly family habit calendar, and then daily schedules.
I stayed up way too late the last two nights working on all of this (not smart)! I know it doesn’t look like much, but you know how things take WAY longer to finish when you’re half asleep?? 🙂 Here’s our monthly habit calendar for next school year:
When I started working on our daily schedule for next school year, I decided our days vary enough that it would be easier if we had a separate schedule for each day. So far I’ve just finished our schedules for Monday. I did one for me, and one for the girls:
The last couple of weeks I’ve been struggling a lot with letting Satan beat me down. It’s hard to post about how to do better as a mama when I keep listening to the lie that I’ll never be good enough.
The world is so full of perfect, pretty pictures of life and motherhood, and sometimes I just feel so overwhelmed by my shortcomings in comparison.
Often the most discouraging things can be those meant to encourage – I’ve read many times that at the end of the day, all that really matters is that I showed my kids that I love them. But what if I didn’t? What if I spent the entire day messing up – one sin after another – and I shut their door at night certain that I’ve destroyed them?
I’m convinced that Satan lives behind my bathroom mirror. When he attacks, I’m usually there. I hear his insults one after another: “you don’t deserve to be a mom, your kids deserve better than you, you are so ugly, you’re a terrible friend, wife, daughter, everything.”
And while I know Satan doesn’t literally live behind my mirror, I also know that he absolutely does attack us. BUT, if we’re suited up – with the armor of God – we are much more able to stand against his evil schemes. So it makes sense that my weakest, hardest days are those that I don’t start with God. The days that I don’t tell Satan to leave me alone in the name of Jesus! The days that I don’t begin with a plan…and I leave too much space for Satan to invade.
The Bible tells us: “…there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1
Lysa TerKeurst explains it like this: “If I’m hearing thoughts of condemnation, these only come from Satan. There is no condemnation from Jesus, only conviction. It’s important for us to know the difference. Condemnation leaves us feeling hopeless and worthless. Conviction invites us to make positive changes in our lives.”
So when I believe all these lies that leave me feeling completely hopeless – those are not God convicting me to change anything other than my relationship with Him – my Father, the One who will lead and guide me on this journey, if I just sit quietly at His feet.
So what lies from the devil are you believing today? And what things are you truly being invited by God to change?
Today I’m sharing the second part of my essential family life habits, which is really just the list of things I know God is truly inviting me to do…to change, and to make a habit of, so that I too am changed – for His glory.
“Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I hope that my list might work for you too, or at least be a starting point for you to think about what habits God might be asking you to sow in your own life.
I truly believe that if we can create healthy and Godly habits, schedules, and plans for our days, we will leave less space for Satan to come in.
If you missed the first post, the top of this list shows a recap of the habits to make for ourselves, as mamas, and the bottom shows a summary of the family habits, which we’re going to look at next:
So it doesn’t get too long, today I’m going to go over the daily and weekly family habits, and my next post (the third and final in this series) will cover the monthly and yearly ones. Here we go…
Essential Life Habits for Your Family
Do chores (and keep a chore chart) – have a chore chart for your kiddos. Make time each day for them to complete their chores, check them off their chart, and put up a sticker. My housekeeping post has the chore chart we use, and more info on how to use it.
Play together – if you ask your kids what they most love to do with you, I can almost guarantee it will include the word “play.” Few things mean more to our kids than when we take the time to sit down on the floor to play and show that we love them. Schedule it in, and make it a priority everyday. And if your kids are older – still make time for this…doing whatever they enjoy.
Have a ‘free play’ time – it’s also super important that our kiddos have free play time – time for them to just play unstructured, and on their own. This helps them to use their creativity, solve problems, and many other beneficial things. It also allows for you to get a few things done, so it’s a win-win for everyone. Check out this article for a complete report from the American Academy of Pediatrics on just how important it is.
Go outside and get fresh air – rain or shine, it’s important for all of us (mamas and kids) to get at least 20 minutes of sunshine and fresh air everyday. Sunshine is a natural producer of Vitamin D in our bodies, and can help with mood, and many health conditions. And as you know, being outside can help kids to run off some energy too! Here are some of my favorite outdoor activity ideas:
go for a walk
play at a park
play in the backyard
draw with sidewalk chalk
go to a spray ground
go to a pool
build a snowman
go ice skating
look for bugs and birds
go flower picking
play in the rain
Snack times – schedule a morning and afternoon snack time each day. This way the kids will know when they get to eat, and they won’t be bugging you for food all day long!
Rest time – if your kiddos have outgrown their nap time, still make time for them to have a one-hour rest each day. You need it, and they do too. Have them go to their rooms and rest in their beds, or work on a quiet activity. If your kids are still napping, here’s a guideline for sleep requirements, and how many hours they need each day:
Serve each other – each day, encourage your children to serve each other, and you, in some way. Also, make sure you are serving your spouse (and others around you) – leading by example is the very best way to teach them to have a servant’s heart.
Bible time & prayer – if our faith does not extend from Sunday into our daily lives, we have little hope of passing it on to our kids. So make time each day to read the Bible with them, and pray together. We just bought a book, “Window on the World: When We Pray God Works,” and it is AWESOME!! It goes through an a to z list of countries, with cool information about each one, and how we can pray for them. I can’t recommend it enough! Teach your kiddos the importance of prayer (for everyone and everything), and point it out to them when you see God answer! And if you’re looking for a resource for family Bible study, check out Family Bloom, a GREAT guide from Jelly Telly. Focus on the Family also has a LOT of excellent resources on encouraging spiritual growth for our kids.
Eat dinner together – y’all know how important this one is, so make it sacred. Sit at the table together, and without distraction (no TV or phones)!
Read books together – I’ve come across several sources that say we should read to our kids for 2 hours everyday. That suggestion overwhelms me, but I do agree that reading books with our kids is an important habit to make time for everyday. It helps kids learn, and it makes time for you to sit close and be together. If you don’t have time during the day, make a point to read at least one book at bedtime every night.
Give allowance – have your kiddos complete chores simply because they are part of the family, then you can also give them an allowance just for being part of the family. We do $0.25 for tithe, $0.25 for give, $.025 for save and $1.75 for spend each week. You can indirectly attach the chores to their allowance by paying yourself (with their money) for any chores they don’t complete. Giving allowance will teach them how to be good stewards of what they’re given, and how to save and be selective in what they spend money on!
Attend church service together – being with our church families is a crucial part of our faith, so lead by example, and make it a priority every week.
Have a family day – as I’ve been working on our calendar, I decided that it could be hard to have a family day every single week, but if you can, try to make it happen, or at least have a family night. Here are some activity ideas:
pizza and movie night at home (or out)
dinner out and ice cream
have a picnic
go ice skating
have a game night
have a family sleepover
Cook/bake together – taking the time to let your kids help in the kitchen teaches them important skills, builds their confidence, and gives you quality time together. Curious Chef has every kitchen tool you could imagine for kids, and all their products are also for sale on Amazon.
Take a field trip – try to take a field trip out of the house once a week. It doesn’t have to cost money! Here are some ideas:
go to the park
visit the zoo
check out books at the library
go to a children’s museum
go to the theatre
go swimming – at a pool or at a free spray ground if you have them
go garage sailing
check out one of the many (often free) activities offered by your local community center
Have a play date – an important time for the kiddos to socialize, and for you to have some mom socialization time too!
Serve others – try to find some (bigger than your daily) way to serve others – whether you take cookies to a neighbor, or buy a meal for a homeless person you see, try to find an intentional way to serve with your kids each week.
That’s it for this week. Please remember that these habits are not meant to create more work for you (at all)! They are meant to help organize and prioritize our lives, so we don’t waste time on things that don’t matter.
If we schedule-in and make time for the most important habits first, the only things we will run-out of time for are those that are less important!!
And like I said in the first post, remember to take it one step at a time. It’s unrealistic to try to master a whole new list of habits all at once, so start slow, and master just a few right now. Like life, and our walk as Christ-followers, it’s a journey. You can’t get from the start to the finish in one day.
Paul said it best: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” – Philippians 3:12
Until next time, may you press on toward your goals sweet sisters…
I want to be better at doing the things that matter…better at intentionally living my life, and bringing glory to God in all I do.
I know the only way (at least for me) to have this kind of intentionality is to plan it. SO, I’ve been working away…writing, and praying – for God to show me what’s important – what to plan. I wanted to make a list of the most important activities to do as a family each day, week, month, year…
As I started to write it out I realized that to be better for my family, I have to first take better care of myself. So I decided to break my list into two parts: habits for myself, and habits for my family.
This post is part 1 of these essential habits that I really believe God is leading me to focus on, and I’m starting with the things we should do for ourselves. Even Jesus made time to rest, be alone with God, and take care of Himself, and if we’re going to follow Him, we need to take care of ourselves too.
So here we go sweet sisters. Stick with me…I really believe all these things are important for us…
Essential Life Habits for Yourself
Bible/prayer time – start your day with a quiet time (alone) before your kids wake up. Study your Bible and pray – for your day, your family, and others. If you start the day with Jesus, it’s easier to stay focused on Him throughout the rest of your day.
Plan your day – after your quiet time, or the night before, plan your day. Use a daily docket or planner to write out your to do list, daily cleaning items, and a rough schedule for your day. This will keep you on task, so you don’t get lost in distractions. Here is the agenda I use.
Shower & get ready for the day – get dressed in something other than pajamas and fix your hair. When you get ready for the day, you will feel much more motivated to accomplish the tasks before you. Check out FlyLady for more helpful tips. She recommends dressing to shoes even when you’re staying home all day!
Feed yourself healthy food – it’s easy to spend so much time preparing healthy food for your kids, that you don’t take time to feed yourself well too. Don’t make this mistake…eat plenty of fruits and veggies, and drink plenty of water!
Daily cleaning/chores – schedule time everyday to do your daily cleaning tasks. If you run the dishwasher and do one load of laundry (wash, dry, fold & put away) everyday, you won’t get so behind that it feels impossible to catch up! If you missed it, check out my housekeeping post for a house cleaning list, and a schedule that breaks it down into manageable parts.
Reply to emails/messages – set a specific time or times each day that you will reply to e-mails, calls, texts, etc. Don’t let your inbox become an all day distraction, but don’t procrastinate it either. Like the laundry and dishes – if you keep up with it everyday, it won’t overwhelm you. Here is an awesome article on essential e-mail habits.
Free time – schedule time into your day to do the things that might otherwise be a never-ending distraction (social media, TV, etc.) It’s so easy to get sucked into these things, and lose countless minutes or hours doing nothing, but if you plan short times throughout your day, then you can still enjoy a little, without wasting your time away.
8+ hours of sleep – this is SO important. If you don’t get the sleep you need at night, you won’t be able to give your best to anything else. Go to bed early and without distractions – turn off your TV, and leave your computer and cell phone far from your bed. The radiation from your phone is harmful, and does not allow for a restful night of sleep. Also, try making your room as dark as possible – when you sleep in the dark, your body is able to produce melatonin, which works to prevent cancer and other diseases!
Exercise – I don’t know about you, but I think exercising sucks. I really dread it, but once I’m done, I feel so much better. It’s crucial for your health, so make time for it – 3 times a week if you can.
Review your calendar – before you go grocery shopping, take time to go over your calendar for the upcoming week. This will prepare and organize you for what’s coming up, and help you plan your meals.
Plan your weekly menu – after you go over your calendar, plan your menu out. Here’s a weekly menu planner to print and fill-in each week.
Update your master to do list – each week, print a new master to do list. Move some of your long-term items to this month, and some of your items for this month to this week.
Weekly cleaning/chores – in addition to your daily chores, make time to do your weekly chores too. If you follow my cleaning schedule, you will only have to do about 2-4 weekly chores each day.
Run errands – make a list of the errands you need to run, try to pick one day to get them all done for the week, and don’t get distracted! Go into each store, get what you need, and get out! 🙂
Stay in touch with your friends – if you have kiddos, it can be so hard to make time for your other relationships, but it’s so important. Call, e-mail, text or Facebook, and connect in person. We weren’t meant to do life alone. If you study the Proverbs 31 woman, it clearly states that she had help! God made us to need each other, so take care of your friendships, and do life together!
Prepare a monthly calendar – at the start of each month, fill out the plans you know you have, including regular activities like date night and time with friends (see below). Keep your calendar updated throughout the month as new plans are made. Here’s a monthly calendar and one for June if you prefer a paper calendar that you can hand write.
Prepare your monthly cleaning schedule – print a schedule for the month, fill in the dates, and add your semi-annual and annual chores. For the month of June, try to wash your curtains and windows, clean your oven, and launder all of your rugs, pillows and comforters.
Date night with your spouse – make it a priority. One of the best gifts you can give to your kids is a healthy marriage, so at least one night a month, get away alone. This could be a good opportunity for the kids to have a sleepover with their grandparents!
Spend time with friends – make a point to connect in person at least once a month. Get together for a family dinner, a night out without the kids, or even a weekend camping trip. Sometimes it can seem like a big effort, but investing in friendships is so worth the time you put in!
Finish a long-term to do item – each month, try to complete at least one task from your long-term to do list.
Enjoy a favorite hobby – don’t forget about the things you loved to do before you had kids. Make time at least once a month to do something you really enjoy.
Scrapbook/sort & print photos – set aside time each month to sort/file all the photos you’ve taken from the previous month. Print them, share them with family, and hang them up or get them in a scrapbook or album. By the way, my kids are 4 & almost 6 and neither of them have even one picture in their scrapbooks. If your kiddos are still babies, start now! 😉
Semi-Annually & Annually
Prepare a yearly calendar – at the end of each year, prepare a calendar for the coming year with dates that you already have planned (kid’s activities, birthdays, vacation, etc.) Also, begin to schedule in important activities that you want to make sure you have time for – like dates with your kids (check next week’s post).
Plan your budget – at the start of each year, make time to plan a budget. Check out Dave Ramsey’s website for tons of helpful forms, and all the info you need to get started. God shows us in the Bible that money is the root of many evils, so take the time to plan and be a good steward of all that God provides.
Weekend away with spouse – pick one weekend a year to get away with your husband. You don’t have to go anywhere expensive – you could even stay at home and just plan some fun activities together – as long as you’re spending quality time without your kiddos!
Join a Bible study – make an effort to attend at least one Bible study a year. You will learn new things from your group, and will benefit greatly from the fellowship time. If you have it in your area, I so highly recommend Community Bible Study – an interdenominational and national bible study that has an amazing children’s program, and the most awesome in-depth studies of the Bible that I have ever done.
Read a book – decide to read at least one book each year – it increases your knowledge, keeps your mind sharp, and helps you improve yourself!
Yearly doctor visit
Go to the dentist
That’s it for this week. If you’re ready to start working on your habits too, remember to take it one step at a time. If you try to do it all at once, you will set yourself up for failure. Pray and then prioritize what’s most important for you right now, start there, and then begin to work your way down your list.
Also remember that this is my list because these are many of the things I am not doing. I feed myself terribly, often stay up until 2:00 am, wear the same clothes I slept in, and go months without making time for my friends. Not to mention that I’ve only been to the dentist once since my oldest was born 6 years ago.
So know that I’m doing this right along with you…working on the things that I want to become habits, and eventually change who I am. I want to give my best to God in all I do, to ultimately bring Him glory and praise.
Here is a summary of today’s habits, and a peek at the family habits that will be in next week’s post.
I am SO sorry this post is late. I’m not sure why I thought I could finish all of these in a week, but boy was I wrong! I have been eating, breathing and sleeping these darn printables, but I’m so excited to finally have them done (after 5 years on my to do list) and to share them with you!
I recommend putting all of these in a home management binder OR on a cute clipboard.
Here we go…
Weekly Menu: the day before you go grocery shopping, plan out your menu. This will save you considerable time and money. Plan breakfast, lunch and dinner for every day of the week. Note any plans/events you have for each day, so you know what meals to prepare (i.e. if your kids have a sport/activity until late one night, you may want to plan something quick and easy OR have take-out).
Shopping List: add to your home management binder or clipboard, and keep track of items as you think of them. Here is the Word file, so you can customize your store names: Shopping List
Master House Cleaning List: I included every chore I could think of, and divided them up by frequency. Note the colors at the top, as they coordinate with the next printable. 🙂
Monthly Cleaning Schedule: print each month and write in the dates/month. This took me the absolute longest to finish, but I’m so excited about it! Each chore is underlined in a color based on frequency (see above)…the yellow underline indicates a once-weekly chore, and the blue a once-monthly. There are also purple and pink blanks for you to fill in 3 semi-annual and/or annual chores. At the bottom, I listed the daily chores to complete every day, and the annual chores broken down by suggested months. I put a ton of thought into how to split everything up, and make it the most manageable – I hope you like it 🙂
My Daily Agenda: fill one out at the start of every day, OR the night before. Copy over your meals from your Weekly Menu, and your Daily Chores/Other Cleaning from your Cleaning Schedule. Make your to do list, set a schedule for your day, and get to work! Stay focused and work as well and quickly as you can on each chore, so you have more time to do the most important stuff (like spending time with your kiddos). “Wherever you are, be all there!” ~ Jim Elliot
Master To Do List: this goes a long with your Daily Agenda. Print a new page each week, and try to move at least one item from your ‘Long Term’ list to ‘This Month,’ and a couple of items from ‘This Month’ to ‘This Week.’
Responsibility Chart: this one’s for the kiddos! Instead of paying them, have them complete chores simply because they are part of the family! Then you can also give them an allowance just for being part of the family. For my 3 & 5-year-old we do $0.25 for tithe, $0.25 for give, $.025 for save and $1.75 for spend each week. You can indirectly attach the chores to their allowance by paying yourself (with their money) for any chores they don’t complete. This is a blank chart for you to print, and write in your child’s name and chores!
And Happy Mother’s Day to all you mamas out there!!
*NEW UPDATE 9/12/15* Monthly Cleaning Checklist: similar to my monthly cleaning schedule, but this checklist groups the chores by week instead of day, which allows for more flexibility in your routine! Pick which one works best for you and your home!