I don’t go out to eat frequently. With working at home, eating out for lunch isn’t much of a thing, and with five kids it’s often easier (and much cheaper) to eat at home at nights and on weekends.
But this week featured a lot of meals out — all with other adults or only older kids — which was a fun treat!
Sadly, there was also another less fun food episode this week … where some folks I was partly responsible for feeding did not get the adventure they’d planned on. My 13-year-old went camping with the Boy Scouts over the weekend. He was assigned to buy food for the group. We bought quite a bit — more than would probably be needed, since they shortened the trip by one night because it was so cold. He had to leave by 8 a.m. on Saturday, and my husband was off running a half-marathon, and I was juggling the baby while getting my camper out the door. I put the food from the fridge in the cooler…but not the food from the freezer. This was not discovered until the night when my husband sent me a text asking about the chicken patties in bags…
So, big parent fail there. They had enough calories (since we bought for an extra meal) but it didn’t quite work as meals as intended.
Anyway, my entire family is excited about the short week coming up. I am not hosting Thanksgiving, so we are only responsible for wine and a few side dishes. I will not leave these in the freezer!
Here’s how I did on the 9 Tranquility by Tuesday rules last week. (These are my nine favorite time management rules that I highlight in my most recent book. I can track my adherence pretty easily since I track my time; you can too!)
Rule #1: Give yourself a bedtime. I’d rate this week “pretty good.” I stayed up a little later on Thursday night because I was hanging out with my husband, and on Saturday night I wasn’t quite tired at 11 p.m. because I’d woken up at 7:15 a.m. But on both of those nights I was asleep by 11:30, and every other night, I observed my lights-out time.
(Since I’ve tracked my time for 7.5 years I can look back and see what time I used to go to bed. Let’s just say that the last week that started on Monday, November 14, which was 2016, was a disaster for sleep. My now 7-year-old — then 22 months old — was up in the middle of the night or early, like 4 a.m., most days, and I wound up going to bed before 10 p.m. each night as a result. Wow…memories. Life is a lot better now on the sleep front!)
Rule #2: Plan on Fridays. As always. I made sure to plan out the kids’ activity schedule on Friday this week too. It is blessedly light for the upcoming week! Then it is going to get crazy again as the 13-year-old just got promoted to a new fencing class that is 2 hours long, and the 11-year-old will be in the middle school musical.
Rule #3: Move by 3 p.m. A perfect score! I walked or ran before 3 p.m. on six out of the seven days, and on Saturday I participated in toddler swim class, which was its own very active experience. My son absolutely did not want to get his suit on, then relented and got dressed, then did not want to do the activities, then proceeded to blow bubbles perfectly well. I guess he just feels the need to fight everything first.
Rule #4: Three times a week is a habit. My piano playing was definitely helped by the acquisition of a book of Christmas carols. It’s not perfect — the music does not stay open well and some of the arrangements are strange — but owning this book of songs has made playing more interesting and hence more appealing. I played multiple times this week.
I ran three times a week, though not long any of the times. I was planning to run on Sunday as my third time for the week, but the day was cold and oh-so-windy. I was despairing of running outside. So my husband and I went to the gym together! We do not do that often, but we had a sitter for afternoon-into-evening, so that was its own little adventure.
There was only one true family dinner (Wednesday night; breakfast for dinner night) but dinner on Monday and Thursday was sort-of eaten together, in the sense that it happened in shifts. On Monday (pasta), my husband didn’t make it downstairs until after at least one of the children had eaten and left the table. And then Thursday (sushi + pan Asian delivery) most of us were eating simultaneously, but some had to start and end early due to various commitments.
Rule #5: Create a back-up slot. My version of self-employment involves a fair amount of control over my schedule. Whenever possible, I will concentrate time-bound commitments (e.g. calls, podcast interviews) to certain days, so I can leave other days open. That strategy paid off this week when a new friend suggested getting together for lunch (more on that below) and I was able to do so on Wednesday.
Rule #6: One big adventure, one little adventure. I think almost all my adventures this week were food related. First — a fellow preschool mom (who has been listening to Best of Both Worlds!) suggested she take me to a local Persian restaurant (her particular background). I love food and, not being familiar with Persian cuisine, relished the idea of being introduced to it by someone who knew what she was doing. So we met at a place called the Persian Grille and she ordered many, many dishes, which I tried (and then she took the leftovers home for dinner for the next few nights). It was much fun, and tasty, so definitely an adventure there.
I met another friend for curry on a different day, and made a spontaneous McDonalds trip with my 13-year-old when we realized we were about 20 minutes early for fencing and there was a McDonalds nearby. That may not sound adventurous but I rarely eat there…and it just hit the spot. We split one of those extra value meals, with him having the cheeseburger and Coke and me eating the fries.* Hot fries in a cold car was just…magical.
I also took my 15-year-old and 11-year-old to a Brazilian steakhouse on Saturday. That was an adventure to have people slice cut after cut of meat on our plates. And then my husband and I went out to eat for our date night on Sunday night — Mexican. So quite the culinary trip around the world this week!
Rule #7: Take one night for you. I went to choir rehearsal as usual on Thursday night. I was quite tired at the beginning, but singing several choruses from the Messiah perked me right up. That is the reason this rule exists. We draw energy from fun things. And so when we commit to something fun, we go even when we are tired…and reap the benefits of this active self-care.
Rule #8: Batch the little things. I made an official “punch list” on Friday and plowed through it. This week’s list included, among other things, returning forms to the middle school, canceling an annual subscription I forgot to cancel last year, and paying a few bills.
Rule #9: Effortful before effortless. My screen time function showed me spending a lot of time online. So I’m not saying that didn’t happen. However, I did make space for a lot of effortful fun. I finished my autumn puzzle (and the missing piece was found!). My Christmas-themed 1000-piece puzzle showed up in the mail so I’ll start that this week. I also started the Lego Christmas Village with my 13-year-old and 11-year-old. We’ve just finished bag #2, and I think there are 8 or 9 of them. I played the piano as described above. I finished Edward III in my Shakespeare reading project,** and started on Timon of Athens. This is…not my favorite of Shakespeare’s works. However, as a little reward for all my Shakespeare reading, I went to a performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream at my son’s high school (with him and the 11-year old). The young man who played Bottom was just enjoying it so, so much, which is really what makes the play. Having read almost all of Shakespeare’s works at this point, I can now say Midsummer Night’s Dream is my favorite for sure. Just comedic perfection.
How was your week?
In other news: I am this week’s guest on Best Laid Plans! Sarah and I recorded this episode on our retreat last week. Lots of fun to do that in person.
*He may be the only person on the planet who doesn’t like the fries.
**Much debate on whether Shakespeare wrote that one — it’s not in my anthology, so I read it online — but it was on the reading calendar I’ve been following, so I read it.