image courtesy of iCLIPART.com
In my quest to stream line and organize life in this very busy season, I am quickly coming to the realization that it is important to do things the way that works best for our family. I have read countless books and magazine articles that all promised that if I followed their schedules and charts, I would be able to run the household without a hitch. Unfortunately, those ideas that looked great on paper did not transfer too well to my actual life. I had to discover that each family is unique and what worked for someone else might not necessarily work for me...
....and that it was okay.
There is alot of pressure on the shoulders of mothers, whether you are a stay-at-home one or not. We are not super women, we are not celebrities who have nannies and personal chefs. We are only human and we do get tired! Instead of racing through life holding a candle that is burning on both ends, I am trying to slow down, and give myself permission to be a wife, a mom, a homemaker in a way that brings glory to God, rather than aiming to meet the expectations of society.
One aspect of homemaking that seems to demand alot of time and energy is food preparation. Everyone has to eat to live, but so often it seems like everything in our world revolves around food. I want to provide my family with delicious, nourishing, healthy meals, but there is just not enough time to cook elaborate multiple course meals every day.
Prior to having children, I regularily made detailed spread sheets of meal plans and grocery lists, and even had an impressive stack of new recipes to try every week. But, it is no longer possible for me to do things exactly the same now. When I have hungry little mouths clamoring for food and my time is spread so thinly, I am having to modify my previous approach. This is hard for me, since old habits die hard. :) I still aim to be organized in this area, but have had to take a step or two back and realize that there needs to be a more modified plan in place.
It is difficult to find that happy place of a balanced dose of enough organization to keep things running smoothly, and also an equal dose of relaxed simplification that allows for the unexpected.
This is what I am doing for now: my goal is to have a supper plan in place every morning--and it does not have to be anything fancy! I still like to experiment in the kitchen and make the effort to present my family with special treats that take that little bit of extra effort. BUT, instead feeling obligated to do that every day, I am aiming for a couple of "nicer" meals every week, and then on the other nights making simpler fare.
I do have a rough meal plan in place for each week, and plan my shopping accordingly, but I don't assign a meal to any particular night. I just have the ingredients on hand to make the meals, then see how the week goes. If the morning goes well and the children are playing nicely, then on that day I might do some extra cooking and baking. I can get meat marinating, peel potatoes, make a batch of dough for rolls in the snippets of time over the course of the day. However, if it is a hectic, totally crazy day, then I have the flexibility to reach for something quicker.
I have actually found that easy, economical things such as spaghetti or an occaisonal frozen pizza go over great with our family, and paired with vegetables on the side, are nutritious, well rounded meals. I have now given myself permission to take short cuts in the kitchen, to improvise and use convenience foods in my recipes...and yes, even to serve unexpected things such as pancakes or waffles for supper! (At first, my children thought it was a little funny, but they gobbled them right up, especially when topped with fresh berry sauce. :)) Who says those foods can only be served in the morning?!?
Keeping things simple is good. There is no need to feel guilty about not cooking everything from scratch,...or even occaisonally eating out!
After all, the most important "ingredient" (even in waffles!), is love.