So here we are again – we’re just about to kick off our “week on” with my three stepchildren.
For those of you who are just starting to follow along, we have a “week-on/week-off” access schedule with my stepchildren – switching every Monday after school.
Before I get into the point of this post, I’d like to just say, I hate the term “week-on/week-off” – In my personal opinion, there are no “weeks off” when you’re a parent. When you’re a parent, you’re a parent.. every damn day!
I also hate the reference “my time with the kids” – we’re talking about people here, not a time share. Anyways, that’s a different topic for a different day.
As I’ve said before, our lives look every different from one week to next.
One week it’s just my husband, our toddler and I with quiet dinners, quiet nights and minimal laundry. The next, week we have a crazy house. It’s all about balancing the schedules of four kids, often trying to figure out how to be in two places at once, while staying on top of the mounds of laundry.
As I’ve said many times before, prepping for our “week on” with the kids really makes a huge different in how our week goes … especially for me. It’s the KEY TO SUCCESS!
Over the years I’ve realized that doing certain tasks on Sunday and Monday of our “weeks on” makes for a less chaotic week
So, here are the 7 things I try and do before the kids come.
Not only does it set us up for a more organized week, it allows me to spend more time with the kids, and less time trying to keep our head above water!
Before I dive in, I’ll be straight. I don’t do this EVERY WEEK! Sometimes life happens and I fall off the rails. However, when I do… the week goes a helluva lot smoother than when I don’t.
1. ORGANIZE OUR SCHEDULE
With extra curricular sports, appointments, and after-school jobs there can be a lot of running around. At the beginning of the week my husband and I take a “week at a glance” approach and decide who is doing what and when. It prevents the last minute scramble.
2. I (TRY) AND GET LAUNDRY UP TO DATE
Well, as up to date as I can get it. I do what I can (and shove the rest in baskets) so that I’m not UBER overwhelmed with laundry when the boys start piling their stuff on the laundry room floor!!
3. MEAL PLAN
Time and time again, meal planning saves my butt. I take a look at the schedule and then plan our meals according to what we have going on that night. I’m a huge fan of crock pot chilli, and taco Tuesday! Simple, easy and kid friendly!
I’m not going to lie, this isn’t always happen – but when it does, it makes a world of difference (for our health and our take-out bill)
People often ask if we change our meal plans according to what the kids like. My answer? You bet we do. For the most part, we make kid friendly recipes like the ones I listed above. Life is busy and complicated enough – meal time battles are not worth my time.
4. GROCERY SHOP
I try and hit up the grocery store Sunday evening or Monday morning so that we are fully stocked for the week.
I meal plan, make the list and get it all done in one shot!
5. I MENTALLY PREPARE MYSELF
This is a REALLY important one.
With the “week-on” comes an increase in our stepfamily stressors. Whether it be dealing with age appropriate issues with kids, differences in opinion on parenting, kids forgetting belongings at their Mom’s house or just more chaos – I mentally prepare myself for what the week is going to look like.
I also look ahead and predict any issues that may come up, and decide how I am going to react to them ahead of time.
For example, say my husband and I aren’t on the same page with bedtime and there regularly is a disagreement about when the kids should shut it down. I decide ahead of time how I am going to approach this topic (or not approach) so that I am reacting with my head, not my emotions when it happens.
My husband and I also touch base to try and get on the same page about rules and expectations! As much as the kids need a reminder after a week at their Moms, we need a refresher as well.
When I said “or not approach” I mean that I think REALLY hard about whether the issue warrants a reaction, or whether. can just bite my tongue and take on a “don’t sweat the small stuff approach”
Let me tell you, this approach has been a game changer in our stepfamily life!
It’s really important to ask yourself “does this REALLY matter?”
6. SCHEDULE TIME WITH YOUR HUSBAND
Even when we have the kids, my husband and I try and schedule in some time together. Whether it be a movie in bed, or a night on the town, we still feel like it’s important to make our relationship a priority. I know many Dads feel like when they have their kids, the focus should be on the kids – and to an extent I agree. But I also believe it’s important to model a healthy relationship with your children’s stepmother, and show your kids that she is a priority too! Like everything it’s all about balance!
It can be difficult to “find the time” – but we really try and make this a priority because we know that at the end of the day it makes us better parents!
7. SCHEDULE IN SOME SELF CARE
When I first became a stepmom, I was all in. Like maybe too “all in”. I wanted to be there for everything, so when the kids came I basically cleared my schedule.. My nights consisted of doing stuff with them, for them, and helping my husband in any way that I could.
After a while I started to resent it. One day, in the heat of the moment, I said to me husband
“I gave up everything for you guys. I used to go to coffee shops, I used to go to yoga several times a week, I used to meet my girlfriends, I used to have more fun”
His response? “No one asked you to do that Jamie, you did it all on your own. We are fine here without you… you don’t have to have your finger on EVERYTHING”
He was right. I did that. I stopped doing the things I love. It was at that moment that “me time” and self care was put back on my “to do list”.
I don’t need to got about the benefits of doing things for yourself because as moms and stepmoms, we know it – we just sometimes forget to actually do it!
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