Want to hear something funny about being a step mom? Parent teacher interviews. Each year, my stepson's Mom and I head off to student teacher interviews. We usually arrive around the same time and navigate our way through the hallways of our son's school. Usually, it has been a long time between interviews and we always forget how we will be received as two Mom's. Of course we know how close we are as co-parents, and our husbands are content knowing we are handling this detail of school life. We get along great and are generally really happy to see each other. Naively, we often forget how this translates in these modern times to people who don't know us and would expect women in our position to loathe one another, let alone go take care of parent teacher interviews together.
I am relearning the value of meal planning and organizing my grocery list.
After a few hectic weeks, lots of frustration and a constantly disorganized home, I had to face reality and get back to the basics. I got myself a new inspiring cook book called Eating Forward by local Albertan Sandi Richard and pulled out my grocery list and meal planner. in this book Sandi explains how planning your meals is in fact a way to serenity in ones life. I agree. She advocates that eating together as a family can restore good health, financial balance and happiness.
What I am loving about this book, is it has easy to follow recipes, shopping lists and a well rounded philosophy.
In the back of the book, it has a shopping list for the evening dinners that is easy to put on my grocery list. I fill in the rest for lunches, snacks and household cleaners as needed. After a much simplified grocery shop, we are set for the week. I enter the week with a plan knowing that each day will not be faced with the dreaded, "what am I going to make tonight?"
Each night we pull out the cook book and get busy together as a family.
The meals include not only the main course, but a nutritious compliment of sides, so you can prepare a whole meal. The kids pick one part each to prepare and are happy to be part of the project. They chop, mix and measure and enjoy the time to create. As we get familiar with the recipes and the individual needs of each one, I think we will become better at pulling these meals together. So far we have had some home runs and a few that are borderline. My kids still are at the phase where they prefer their foods separate rather than mixed up.
We are two weeks in, and I am already feeling the tides shifting.
The order in my home is restored and I am feeling like captain of this ship. I have had the brilliant opportunity once again to witness how wonderful the Meal Planning and Grocery List pad I created years ago really does work at any level you are at. This time I needed some new inspiration and have found it in Sandi's cookbook. I needed someone else to take the reigns for a while as my creativity for meals was stuck on repeat.
Now I am finding that as this area of my life has been relieved, my creativity is returning for other areas.
For example, this morning for Halloween, I made some ghoulish Zombie fingers. Made with cheesy biscuits and pumpkin seeds for fingernails, I rolled the dough into long ghoulish fingers. I felt happy knowing I could engage once again at this funny level and bring joy to my family first thing in the morning.
We protect Sunday's for time withfamily. It is so easy to say "yes" to outside requests on Sunday. Saying "no" became a necessity when my husband was working six days a week to run our own business and we were down to one income. It took me years to get out of my old working routine, with the weekend starting on Friday, and going until the end of Sunday.
I continued to plan my time the same way I did well into our marriage, and long after it was working.
I resented my husband working so much and wanted to retain the patterns that had long suited me.
It turned out that having my husband's schedule being what it was, was a great teacher. It forced me to realize we only had a small amount of time together as a whole family and to make the most of it. This soon rose to the top of my priority list and I was starting to make decisions that supported it.
I was learning how to say"no" in the interest of my family's health and my well being as well.
Some may look in on my life and say "poor Kim, has so little family time." On the contrary, we have learned to make the most of the time we do have together. It is valued time and not easily squandered on other activities and commitments. We think twice when making commitments and have learned to put a high value on our time together.
We have become aware that connection as a family is very important, something to be protected and thus do not easily take it for granted.
We chose the life of owning our own business, living on one income and having one parent home to raise our children and this is how we have made the best of a demanding schedule, with our peace of mind in tact. We protect Sunday's to make the most of our time together. It feels like a return to the biblical day of rest in times gone by.
Our home becomes our oasis and the place we choose to connect. Then as the week approaches we are confident knowing our spirits, hearts and bodies are ready for another full week ahead.
Protecting Sunday's has been one more lesson on the journey to being unbusy on purpose.
I sent my youngest off to school today. I expected he would return happily
to his school and be excited to see friends. What surprised
me was he was nervous, feeling scared and really wanted to stay with Mommy. He
grabbed his bag, his coat and announced he would not be going to school. I felt
my heart well with compassion, as in that moment, I too wanted to run for the
hills. To keep him close with me and hope that my love would be enough. That
school perhaps was an unnecessary element of his life.
I was surprised by my reaction, as I have been doing
school for a long time now. Home schooling doesn't seem like such a crazy idea
when your heart is pulled in such genuine ways.
I thought I would relish a few hours to myself, but
instead I sat practically catatonic looking at old photos and wondering where
the time has gone. The old fear of "my babies are getting older" scares me a
bit. We have had such an amazing experience together this summer that I did not
realize how hard it would be to say "good-bye."
To assure him that school is a good place, we make special plans for lunch after..
Mommy will be waiting, I infuse into my last hugs. The only full promise
I can give as he takes one more step into the world of his making. "I love you"
I whisper as he agrees to go in. "Mommy always comes back" is my last assurance
that all will be okay. I leave as tears well and my heart strings pull. Love
this deep is amazing and terrifying at the same time. I choose to walk forward,
not looking back, and wait to be together again soon.
Now I sit watching each minute ticking by, desperate to
not be late. I am first in line at the preschool, waiting to make
sure he is okay. Sure enough he is smiling and pleased to share that he had an
awesome time. What a relief. We giggle, share and head off for a celebratory
lunch. I am amazed with him and am totally enthralled with his tales of the day.
What a wonderful feeling to be present with my child and share in these early
Simply Mom Approved
I believe in good food; food that tastes good and is good for
you. To feed my family of five, I had to get organized, to feed them the way I
wanted. I created a list that could work with my changing tastes, and level of
organization. This is my list and I hope it works for you too.
Kim McCrimmon B.A. M.E.des
1. Get the right tools - Find a meal planning and grocery list tool that works for you. Consider using a tool like
the Unbusy on Purpose Grocery List and Meal Planning pad so you can keep track of what you need, delegate jobs, and easily see your list as you do your shopping.
2. Get out your recipe books - Pick the recipes you would like to cook. Plan for leftovers and freezing options. Keep track of the page numbers.
3. Shop the sales - Get out a big sharpie and grocery store flyers. As you look through the flyer, circle the
items that are of interest to you. Keep track of these items on your grocery list. My neighbour makes a spreadsheet with the list of stores on top and items down the side as a tool to compare prices. I just choose the store with the best overall sale to suit my needs. My favourites are buy one get one free. I have saved hundreds of dollars buying non perishables that way.
4. Stock up and save - As you are shopping the sales, pay particular attention to non- perishables, paper products
and meats. I rarely ever pay full price for toilette paper anymore. Whenever I see it on sale, I buy in bulk. Meat is another great way to save. If you stock up on the meat on sale, you can freeze it. Each week if you do this, you will
have a freezer full of an assorted variety of meat.
5. Keep freezing bags and pans on hand - Make sure to stock up on various sizes of zip lock freezer bags and
tins to freeze your favourite meals and leftovers.
6. Make a plan - Use a meal planning tool like the Unbusy on Purpose Meal Planner pad to map out how you would like to eat for the week. Include spots for leftovers, eating out and special events. Here you can plan what you need for school
lunches and dinners before evening activities.
7. Make your list - Use a grocery list like the Unbusy on Purpose Grocery List pad to keep track of all
the items you have chosen. Easily navigate the grocery store, make more nutritious choices, save money and time and better reflect your eating preferences.
This year renovations were on our to do list. Lots of them. As a result, we needed
to invest our time and money into the home. What
happened was the unexpected decision to stay home for most of the summer and not
do all the day camps we had done in years past. It felt like jumping off a cliff
into the oblivion of keeping kids occupied, stimulated and active. What I
discovered was we ended up having a wonderful and relaxed
We did lots of activities close by, met with friends
and did a whole lot of exploring right in our back yard. Our climbing tree was a
star performer with the kids spending hours a day creating imaginative
playgrounds in her branches. They were thrilled each time we found a new berry
on our bushes, tomatoes on our plants or squirrel racing through our
I kept thinking they would nag me for more, but it
turns out they were quite satisfied with the experience of less doing and more
being. Collectively our minds quieted and our senses were enhanced. Each day was
a trip into the unknown, with no plans but a desire to follow what wanted to
unfold. We were in harmony with one another and content to relax into the lazy
days of summer.
Sleep ins, big breakfasts and regular trips to the farmers markets made for a
delightful experience of summer. Our home became our
oasis and we lived each day as if we were enjoying life in a remote cabin.
I was amazed to discover the ease of living this way. I
find myself wishing for more summer rather than praying for school to start. We
got out of the rat race and loved it. No packing for big trips, counting the
days to escape our lives. No coming, going, then going again. We stayed still
this year and look forward to other kinds of adventures life will bring in the
future. What we discovered is our kids became much closer to one another, we had
the time to learn how to work together harmoniously, and our home has come into
order as our spirits had a chance to rest.
The experiment worked and we discovered that who we are, and what we do is enough
for love to thrive and bloom
Getting unbusy on purpose has been a process. I'm here to share some of what I have learned and the tales of its making.
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