Confession 1: I’m a planner. It’s in my blood. I covet the calm sense of control that accompanies a well laid plan. I love organization. I love labels and own more plastic totes than I care to admit. Possibly the best purchase I ever made was the machine my hubs deemed “Jen’s fancy paper-cutter.” Some of y’all know what I’m talking about. You drink the nectar too. I’m addicted to my Silhouette Cameo and may be apt to label the children if they’d invent a vinyl that sticks to sweaty, sticky toddler skin. Yup, that one’s mine. J-A-X-O-N
Confession 2: I have 3 small children that could give a rip about my “plans.” Their fuel: chaos! I also serve a God who’s less concerned with my plans. For I know the plans I have for you declares the LORD. So while I’m going to throw out some best practices that have assisted me in keeping a semblance of control within the confines of my day/month/year, I am fully aware that He could show up in any moment to dash those plans for His.
As our brood grew and grew some more, there were a few areas I really struggled to keep together. It was downright hard for me to enjoy my children or a Raney day because I was so consumed with the lack of order in my day. This section of my blog is devoted to spelling out some of the ways I found calm in the storm. Let’s begin:

1 | The Meal Deal. Really, this is more like Confession 3. I HATE (and that’s not a word we use in this house), but I HATE meal planning. I won’t dwell on this, but I married a picky eater and I’m raising picky eaters. As a result, meal planning is such a challenge. Often, I’ll roll up my sleeves, pinterest the pants off the best darn plan I can drum up only to put a meal on the table no one eats. A couple of years into our marriage, I learned something had to give. Enter The Meal Deal. This was quite a bit of work up front, but paid huge dividends in the last several years. I meal plan once a month…for the whole month. I previously planned weekly and found that I was dreading the act and touted a bad attitude for several days leading up to planning day each week. So why go through that weekly? I compiled a huge list of hubs approved meals on my Pinterest Tried & True board. I start there and pull the bulk of the month’s meals from this list. I’m allotted 1 new recipe/week and fill the remainder of the month with easy’s like spaghetti, tacos, leftovers, or pizza. I map our calendar, post links to each recipe, and then revel in the joy of being finished with the task for the whole month. My favorite part of this system is the ease with which I pull up the recipe each afternoon for meal prep and once a week when compiling the week’s grocery list.

2 | The Schedule. Again, our fam is 3 kiddos deep and I struggle on the daily to fit it all in! It is a well-known fact that I am currently in the best shape of my life. Why? I discovered something. Our local YMCA will literally watch my children and let me shower BY M.Y.S.E.L.F if I log a few miles on the death machine!! WHAT?! YES!!! So it’s come to this. How do I fit in a shower? I go to the Y. How do I keep my house tidy (we strive for tidy ’round here…clean is a myth)? I schedule what I can and delegate the rest. How do I manage the onslaught of papers that accompanies a large family? I developed a file and paper management system that serves us well. Arguably the most important question…How do I spend meaningful, present time with my children? I prioritize, draw a firm line in the sand and let go of that which does not land above the line.

3 | Time. For the last 2 years, I’ve stifled my real answer when the hubs asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I’m going to take a risk and share it with y’all. What I really wanted was one night. One night…in a quiet hotel room. By myself. I know, I know. It sounds so selfish even in typed format. Gosh! I share this somewhat embarrassing Confession 4 because I suspect I’m not the only momma out there that struggles to “put her own mask on first.” It’s hard. It’s hard to go through the motions of motherhood day in and day out without carving out devoted time to breathe and refill your cup. There are some practices I’ve developed along the way to take care of me. And this is so important. Why? Because when I take care of me, I take better care of them and I serve Him better. It is that simple and that important.

I plan to share many of my best practices on these topics with you. My hope and prayer is that it equips new mommas to better march into motherhood with confidence and encourages old pro’s to keep on keepin’ on while giving you some tangible ways to thrive amidst the chaos.

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