Picture this: It’s 5 o’clock and you’re juggling the remainders of a chaotic day with your littles. There’s laundry hanging out of the dryer and a trail of toys leading from room to room, each one doing its absolute best to trip you. The kids are asking for more snacks, the dog needs to go out, and the TV is trying to entertain your two-year old while he’s banging on the drums to play along. The baby needs fed, the floor needs vacuumed before the pretzels become a part of the carpet, and the shower water is running because a tiny tyrant decided he wants to “take a bath.” You have equally strong desires to run far, far away and take a nap, but you’re hanging on by one precarious thread because Daddy should be home shortly. And then you realize-dinner hasn’t been started and you have no idea what you’re going to make (not to mention you have no desire to lift a finger, let alone cook a meal). At this point, your options are to order pizza, warm up the leftover cauliflower rice which no one liked, or cook up some boxed mac-n-cheese for the third time this week.
You guys. The life of a mama is challenging. Overwhelming. Rushed. Emotional. Sweaty. It’s a top-knot, I’ve-worn-these-yogas-six-days-in-a-row, did-i-brush-my-teeth? kind of life, and the last thing you should be doing is complicating it.
We’ve all been there. The frenzied five o’clock hour is no stranger to us, yet we continue to make it difficult. Day after day, we cross our fingers and hope that our brains will suddenly know exactly what to make, we’ll magically have all the ingredients, and the kids will miraculously sit still, not needing a single thing from us while we prepare a beautiful, Pinterest-worthy dinner. Oh, and did I mention it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo, and Whole30 compliant?
You should be laughing by this point because the idea that any mama can pull this off with zero planning is ridiculous. Yet, the image exists and we continue to rake ourselves over the coals for not living up to this outrageous standard.
You guys, there’s a better way. Insert meal planning here.
In my own journey of mamahood, I have found that a little bit of planning goes a long way. The goal of meal planning is to take the guesswork out of that panic-driven five o’clock hour and replace it with calm, because you’ve already put in the brain power!! By mapping out your meals for the week, you’ve simplified the busiest part of your day and created a no-brains-needed moment (every mama needs these). Yes, you still have to cook, and yes, you might still be fighting the tired babes, but at least you can pretend like you have your act together.
Ok, so remember that scene from the beginning? Let’s say you meal planned and knew you were making lasagna that night. Enter mama beast mode. You shut off the water in the shower and close the bathroom door. You sit the baby in the bumbo with some toys, leave the TV on (let’s fight one thing at a time), and let the dog out the back door. You set the oven to preheat, grab the meat you already set out that morning, and start the frying process while you grab the various herbs, sauces, and spices. Within 10 minutes, your lasagna is ready to go and you haven’t even broken a sweat!!
Meal planning is worth it. While it may take 30 minutes at the beginning of the week, you’ll save significant amounts of time by skipping the frantic cookbook search or the crazed phone calls to your mother asking her what she plans on making for dinner. You can do this!!
If meal planning seems completely overwhelming, read my post on how to meal plan which gives you ideas that are guaranteed to stop the brain block!! And while you’re here, sign up below to get the list of my 5 go-to recipes for those days where I’ve forgotten to set out the chicken (oops).