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Week Ahead Prep

How do you generally feel during the week?  Productive and on top of things?  Or like I do most of the time – frantic and scattered and barely getting by.  From the minute I wake up Monday morning until around 8:00 Friday night I feel like I am doing all I can to just survive.  I love the stage we are in with our kids but man – is it ever busy.  From what I hear talking to parents with kids older than mine, I can see the writing on the wall.  Things aren’t slowing down any time soon.

Because I despise that “barely getting by” feeling I started something a month ago that has helped me manage my time and feel more in control of my week days.  Every Friday afternoon/evening I spend an hour or two preparing for the upcoming week.  This can obviously be done any time over the weekend.  I prefer Friday afternoon because it’s a low key time for us with no homework and little on our agenda.  Plus I like to get it done so that I can relax and enjoy the weekend with my family.  Here are the things I do during my “week ahead prep.”

1)  LAUNDRY – Nothing is worse than remembering late Sunday night that I need to do laundry so the kids have a certain outfit they need for school or so that I have clean exercise clothes to wear to the gym.  Getting all of our laundry done Friday afternoon feels so good!  I don’t need to worry about it over the weekend and the kids have time to fold and put away their clothes.laundry-room-rug

(kids’ laundry room)

2) WEEK AHEAD TO-DO’s – After I toss in a load of laundry I sit down with my computer.  I use an app called COZI for my planner and love it (shared more about it here).  I pull up my calendar for the upcoming week on my computer and print it out.  Then I take a few minutes to look at my week ahead.  I write down anything I need to get done so that I’m on top of our activities.  Things like buy a birthday gift for the party, get a babysitter for the evening event, develop pictures for a school project.  You get the idea!  All those little things that can add stress to your week when you haven’t done them ahead of time.  This just takes a few minutes to plan, but ensures I’m on top of our activities instead of stumbling through them.

3) WISH LIST TO-DO’s – Next I take a minute and write down the rest of my to-do list for the week.  These are the things I’d love to accomplish.  Usually organizing or decorating projects or when I’m going to squeeze in exercise.  I also try to pencil in times to actually make those things happen.  If I have an extra hour on my calendar I’ll write “finish bathroom shelves.”  If I don’t do this, I’ll end up cleaning the kitchen again with that extra hour.  For the 18th time that day.  :)  These are the to-do’s that I care about and I’ve found that if I don’t schedule them like appointments, they don’t get done!

4)  BLOG PLAN – There are so many bloggers who are amazing at scheduling out their posts months ahead.  I’m not one of them.  :)  I’ve always been more of a fly by the seat of my pants type of blogger.  But it IS really helpful for me to take a minute and think about what I want to post in the upcoming week or two so that I know what projects I need to finish and what pictures I need to take.  This goes hand in hand with a lot of my wish list to-do’s above.  It’s important to make time for what you enjoy!  

5) MEAL PLAN – You all know me.  I’m terrible at meal planning.  What “meal planning” means to me is taking a few minutes to write a grocery list of food we need for breakfast and school lunches for the upcoming week.  If I feel ambitious I’ll plan a dinner or two.  :)  I go to my grocery store often throughout the week (usually during the kids’ activities) so a lot of times I come up with dinner on the fly, but I dream of someday having our meals all planned and pre-cooked!  Those of you who are able to do this I applaud you.  I also hope I can be just like you when I grow up.  :)

6) EMAIL CATCH-UP – I take some time to catch up on my e-mails from the previous week so that I’m starting with an empty inbox and clean slate.  (You can read more about getting your inbox under control here.)
stay on top of emails

7) GET THE KIDS GOING!  My kids usually do Saturday chores, but if we have time on Friday and they would rather start early I’m all for it!  They fold and put away their laundry, clean their rooms/bathroom and choose their outfits for the upcoming week.  I also have them clean out their backpacks, file/toss paperwork, and I sign any forms that need to be signed so we are all set for Monday!organized-childrens-closet organized-school-outfits

(organizing kids’ outfits for the week)

So that’s it!  My week ahead prep routine.  I can’t begin to tell you the difference it makes in my week if I take some time over the weekend to prepare.  It doesn’t mean that everything runs perfectly or that I complete everything I set out to do.  Hardly!  I have three kids.  :)  But it does take away that frantic, scattered, barely getting by feeling. I feel prepared instead of like I’m in constant survival mode.

I’ll take it. :)

Everyone’s schedule/to-do list is different, but I hope this post gives you some ideas of how you can implement a week ahead prep into your life!  It has really made a difference in mine.

Is there anything else you do over the weekend to prepare for the upcoming week?  Do tell!

xoxo, Erin
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38 thoughts on “Week Ahead Prep

  1. The clothes organizer w/ weeks clothes is genius, I wish I had those when my kiddos were younger. I find that meal planning lowers my grocery bill. I don’t plan out every meal, but at least 3-4 dinners, that way I know what I have on hand. That wall color in your laundry room is GORGEOUS !!

    1. SO smart Maurenn! I KNOW I could lower our bill by planning meals better. I’m definitely a work in progress in this area. Baby steps. :) Thank you! xo

  2. I love these tips Erin. I used to do all these things on a Friday (including the fortnightly grocery shop) but now that I’m working on Fridays I’m feeling really behind, & can’t stand doing it on the weekends! Might have to make Thursday the new day!

    1. Yes! Try it Thursday! I’ve found that Saturdays and Sundays can be even busier than the week around here so I love getting it done before then! Hope Thursday works for you! Thanks Jo! xo

  3. I love this! I need to commit to Fridays as well…. that way if I mess up, I have Sat. and Sun. to fix it still! I am using Cozi now and I’m loving it! Thanks for your help with these!!!

  4. All good ideas — I just need to follow-through and plan more! Definitely try to get some things done on Fridays too. Life is busy, isn’t it! Happy Wednesday!

  5. i build the next week’s meal plan every Saturday. The family loves to give ideas and one of my kids loves to grocery shop so this day works best.

  6. Our lives are a bit different – it’s just my husband and I for now, and we both work full-time and live in an apartment downtown. It’s definitely true for us that getting some key things done on the weekend sets us up for the week. Friday evenings we do a load of laundry – it kinda sucks because I want the weekend to begin after a busy workweek, but it’s nice to have that out of the way. We generally grocery shop on Saturday after going out for lunch. We try to shop according to what we’re eating for the week. We don’t always do this perfectly, but it’s nice to not have to think about what we’re eating after coming home from work. Sunday mornings are spent doing the major chores for the week (cleaning bathroom, dusting, vacuuming, etc.) and more laundry. On Sunday afternoon I will usually prep lunches for the week unless we’re just taking a whole bunch of cold cuts and veggies into work to make sandwiches. I sometimes make a big dinner on Sunday to ensure we have leftovers for a few days’ worth of lunches.

    I look forward to owning a home so we have more space, but I’m also aware that it will involve a lot more cleaning/maintenance than a rental apartment. I’m currently de-cluttering in the hope that moving will be easier and life in general will be easier with less stuff!

    1. You are smart to start preparing for your move now Meadow! And yes – so true. It’s nice to have more space, but does bring on more maintenance when you own a home! Love the way you and your husband get ready for the week! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Erin – love this post. Great idea to book these types of things on Friday afternoon because you are so right, it is a quiet time of the week most weeks. I always use Sundays and honestly, Sundays are crazy! Everyone is running out of steam from the weekend, we have been here, there and everywhere or have company – and lately the kids even have sports on Sundays! Yuk!

    I like how you have this scheduled out – will be trying Friday’s for a while!!

    1. Thank you Lynnsey! I feel the SAME way about Sundays. They are crazy and without fail things come up and I just can’t make it happen. Friday is hard too because I’m tired and just want to relax! But it makes such a huge difference when I take the time to do it. Good luck making Fridays work! xo

  8. Thanks for the inspiration. Meal planning is the most important for me. I work full time and have two little ones so it is really important for me to plan our meals. Luckily I work a few minutes from home so running errands and getting groceries on my lunch hour is also a huge help. Have a great day!

    1. Thanks Megan! Nice that you work so close to home for sure. My husband is close too and I love it. Makes it so much easier! Meal planning is still a work in progress for me but I’m getting there! ;) xo

  9. Love this post! This year I’ve started doing a “Weekly Round Up” with myself every Thursday evening to create my to-do list/action plan for the coming week, and it has made SUCH a difference! One new step that has been very helpful for me is taking a quick look at my calendar for the next three months (not just the next week), so I can stay on top of things that are coming up down the line. Sometimes those events or deadlines that seem far off require me to take steps in the more immediate future, and I’ve been way more on top of those things this year. Some of the “Together Teacher” tools have been really helpful for me in getting and staying organized this year. I teach special education and there’s so much paperwork!!

    1. LOVE this idea Luisa! I’ve been thinking about how to do this very thing – be more prepared for things coming in the next few months. Love it! Thank you! And for reasons I haven’t mentioned on the blog, I have a place in my heart for special education teachers. Thanks for all you do! xo

  10. Absolutely love these ideas! Hubby is planning to change jobs to a traveling one, and I think this will really help maximize his weekends home with us!

  11. This is such a brilliant idea to do this on Friday and I can’t wait to start…this Friday! It makes such a huge difference to take some time to plan ahead and usually Friday afternoons are super chill around our house so Friday afternoons are the logical choice :)

    1. Gina it was our conversation that reminded me I needed to post about this! I hope it helps you! I feel a serious difference in my week when I do it. We should text each other reminders every Friday afternoon. ;)

    1. Oh my word! I need to post them! Just haven’t taken the time to photograph them yet. Thanks for the reminder Rebecca! Don’t give up on me.. ;) xo

  12. I’m glad you found what works for you. Everybody needs time to get it together so that everything doesn’t seem so out of control. Life is so busy today for everyone.

    I do a few things to keep things under control. First, I have a pre-printed list that has my daily routine on one side (it goes from top to bottom lol). There is a lot of stuff to do every day. This sheet has everything from cleaning to meals to taking care of my son. I try to do laundry every day otherwise I would get behind. On the back of the sheet I usually write two or three days to do list at a time. (I have a to do binder categorized by subject of things that would take more time and that I can’t fit on the list.)I try to do the most important things each day. Phone calls are the absolute worst in my opinion. Ninety percent of what I do is medical related and it just really takes a lot of time. I feel that I work from the time I get up until the time I drop into bed and even then I’m up during the night. I try to not take on so much that I can stay focused on doing a good job and being a good mom. It’s not easy though.

    One thing that I do absolutely every day is to keep my desk clear and to keep everything filed. I really don’t like filing and it would build up way too fast if I waited to do it once a week lol. I also run errands only once a week. Everything from grocery shopping to anything else I need to do is done in one day. I don’t go to the store more than once a week. I was never a great meal planner either and one thing that helped me was instead of trying to create specific meals on a certain day of the week, I simply purchased 1 pound of chicken and 1 pound of beef and then that way I have different recipes that would utilize the chicken or the beef and then I don’t have to stress over exactly what I’m going to make that day. I know that with a pound of beef I can make any one of five different recipes. That helps a lot.

    Oh, one new thing that I tried this year that I am just in love with is having my groceries delivered. Out in our area we have a service called Peapod and they will deliver your groceries. They have a two month trial period where they will deliver them for free and for me it is a real luxury not have having to go to the grocery store. You just go online and order and you can use last week’s list and edit it for the following week. They are surprisingly fairly competitive. So that is one treat that I really enjoy doing. I have them delivered on a day when my ex husband is over and then he ends up putting them away so its a win win lol. I can’t tell you how excited I am when I don’t have to spend an hour at the grocery store.

    Glad to hear someone else is tired too lol. I’m trying to focus on taking some time for myself this year I’m trying to do little things here and there but it’s not easy.

    1. Oh my word – you are supermom! Seriously!! I don’t know how you do it. I can only imagine all the time the phone calls alone take. SO many great ideas in your comment! Thank you! I’m sure my husband wishes I only when shopping once a week.. ha! ;) xo

  13. I used to be better last year with doing a lot of things on Fridays…especially my grocery list because I would get out first thing in the morning Saturdays to grocery shop while the kids and hubby were still sleep. I desperately need to get back to that!!! this list really helped nudge me to get back on top of things! Thanks Erin!!

  14. Great suggestions! I would love to see a post sometime on how you get your kids involved in the organizing and cleaning process. My kids are a bit younger, but I have no idea how to get them started on something like cleaning their bathroom. We are getting to the point where I feel they need to be helping out more and taking care of more things on their own. But I’m not quite sure how to get them started on bigger tasks like this.

  15. Definitely going to check out that family planner. Our Google calendar has gotten overwhelmed!
    Take a look at Their meal planning gives you a full week of healthy options with recipies, and it’s really affordable. I can’t tell you how much I save when using their meal planning, both in time and money. And it’s all guaranteed healthy eating. :)

  16. Love the Friday idea! I always save it for Sunday and then it never happens. Thanks for sharing how you do things, it really helps me because I don’t naturally think about organization. I just run around like crazy all the time! :)

    1. Same thing was happening to me! Then I realized Sunday was just too busy of a day for us and if I put it off until Sunday it would never happen. Thank you Evaly! Such a sweet comment. Made me so happy! And btw I run around crazy half of the time too. I think all moms do! :)

  17. Love this post and today’s time management post. Time management is really the first thing anyone should do who is trying to organize their life. Can you tell me where you got the adorable I love lists notebook? I want to get one for my friend and mom!

    1. Thanks Melissa! Those were actually from TJ Maxx! They always have fun notepads. Same with Marshalls! Both are places to check for fun to-do pads.

  18. Fridays…that’s genius! Seriously always heard Sunday or night before…by then I want to collapse! I would also love to know how you get the kids involved. My girls are older-elementary and middle school but they need my support in others ways as they mature and would love to know to get them involved in laundry etc.

    1. Hi cutie! Did you see today’s post? I use charts for the kids they have to check off each day and laundry is on their list! I have the kids sort all of their clothes (taught them how to do that) and then I wash/dry everything and lay it in a big pile for them to fold and put away. Having a daily checklist is a huge help and they learn what to expect each day quickly! xo

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