This weekend marks the official end of my Summer o’ Leisure. While JJ returned to school this past week, I had the week off to tote the kids to all ends of the earth – we made outings every day. Yes, the grocery counts as an outing. I’m in the midst of anticipating what our regular routines will look like and have been trying to see how I can conserve energy and effort with everything I’d like to do. Thus far, here’s how I’m saving myself from a meltdown:

1. Making my bed, everyday. This summer I solidified this habit and have been thrilled with the results. The room, even if there are clothesbaskets unsorted and shirts unhung on the chair, seems cared for. Not to mention I can fool myself into thinking it’s New Sheet Night without all the pesky work of changing sheets. Related: I do less laundry washing sheets. 
2. The kids’ routine of getting ready. After breakfast (because inevitably someone spills something) we all go upstairs. We brush teeth, pick out clothes (with H Boy, he chooses either the shirt or pants and I match something with it. With Miss M, she chooses form – skirt, dress, pants. Baby C has no vote), make our beds – they LOVE to help – and do a quick pick up. I question if the efforts of picking up are worth it, but I love coming home to a picked-up house, so when we make outings or as the pre-school/sitter days start, I appreciate it more. 
3. Prep once, cook twice. This mantra has revolutionized my cooking life. I’m trying to be a better steward of our refrigerator, using up what we have before filling it again, so as I use a product I try to consider how I might be using the rest of it before the end of the week. Example: Saturday night is steak. We’re grilling 2 and the leftovers will go into fajita marinade for tomorrow night. The dinner will be fresh, but the chopping and prepping will be minimal. 
4. Dinner-time lunches. Lunches are my thorn because we’re eating so much at dinner we rarely have enough leftovers. So I tried out this method earlier this week and loved it.  While preparing dinner, I also made the vegetable curry that was to be lunch the following day. But because it has to be ready before JJ leaves for school, I started the crock at dinnertime (on high for a few hours, then low) and stuck it in the fridge before bed. It was completely cooked and I just put it back in the crock the next day to warm for myself and the kids to enjoy refuse at lunch the next day. The process was definitely a time-in-the-kitchen maximizer. 
5. Embracing “mostly.” We mostly eat super-well, so the Wendy’s we had to eat (on the floor of the rental house, mind you) shouldn’t nag at me. The kids mostly get along and play well together, so when they can’t agree on something, I can chalk it up to “they’re 2 and 3 years old!” without the mom guilt. The kids mostly play outside and use their imaginations, so when they have a Saturday morning cartoon break while I make lunch, I can rest easy that their brains aren’t melting. I believe always and never to be dangerous words, only to be used with caution, so I’m trying to live my high standards by mostly
Photo credits: 1) Stock xchange, search “bed” and browse through 3 pages of flowers; 2) stock xchange, search “child clothes”; 3) stock xchange, search “chop vegetables” 4) Jennie Good of Jennie Good Photographs. She’s amazing. Hire her. 
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