Sixty percent of caregivers also work outside the home. Between caregiving tasks, family tasks, keeping up their household and work, there isn’t much time left over for handling personal tasks and keeping their head above water. I’ve started setting aside time on Sunday to get myself ready for the week and want to share how this can help make your week flow better.
I like to start my Sunday prep before anyone is awake. I don’t have a home office, so before I go to bed on Saturday, I gather any mail that needs to be dealt with, appointment reminders, flyers, etc. so that I can just jump in when I get up.
Here’s what I do, but obviously, tailor this to your family’s needs.
- Update calendars: I keep a paper planner, a wall calendar for the family and an electronic calendar on my phone. The first thing I do is check all three to be sure I know of any appointments or deadlines and update all three calendars. I have a week-in-view page on my paper planner, which gives me an overview and I also enter appointments on the actual dated pages.
- Decide what can be added to your week. Once you have a clear picture of what is already on your plate for the week, you can decide if there are things you want to add. Does your parent need a haircut or need to go to the doctor? Is there space in your week/weekend to squeeze that in? If not, is there someone who can take them? If you use a service, write in the phone number and all of the details for both the service and appointment so that everything is in one place and you won’t waste time looking for information later. Do this for anything else that needs to be scheduled during the workday. If you have a lot of calls to make, create a separate call to do list with all of the details and paper clip any backup info to your list. Doing this now will save you loads of time during the week!
- Go through the mail pile, reminders and flyers. Try to set a goal to touch each paper once. If it is a bill, set up the online payment on your bank website or write the check now with a post it on the outside with the mail date (or mail it first thing Monday morning). Are there any flyers for events you want to attend? Put them in your calendar now and if you need to keep the flyer, paperclip it to your calendar or take a picture with your cell phone. Do this for any reminders, flyers, etc.
Once you’ve gotten yourself set up for the week with your to dos, calendar updates and scheduling, you’re ready to move on to food prep.
- You don’t need to get crazy, creating an elaborate spreadsheet to plan out your meals. Review your calendar again and determine if there are days when dinners are covered or when you will be short on time to get a healthy meal on the table. If you are also in charge of your parent’s meals, review their schedule as well to determine which days they have meals covered.
- Once you know how many meals you need to prepare and which days there is no chance that you’ll have time to cook, decide whether you’ll pre-cook meals for those days or decide on what take out you will order. The less you have to think during the week, the better.
- Write out the meals for the week and check your refrigerator and pantry for ingredients to create your shopping list. I personally like to do a pasta dish and a chicken and vegetable casserole on super busy weeks since those two meals taste great reheated and provide several servings. You can make double batches of these types of meals to put in your parent’s refrigerator. Some weeks, we only eat pasta and casserole dishes that I cook on Sunday and other weeks, I might make a simple dinner on one night where there isn’t an activity or appointment. Cooking ahead has made a huge impact on my family’s health and our wallet, since we’re not constantly buying dinner on the road or eating out.
- Cook and prep. Once you’ve done your grocery shopping, cook up whatever advanced meals you’re making and chop and prep anything else that can be done in advance. You can peel and chop veggies in advance or pre-make breakfast for the week. I usually eat one of my three minute breakfasts, so I don’t need to pre-make anything, but occasionally, I’ll hard boil a few eggs for the week or make a frittata for the week.
Clear Some Chaos:
Take a bit of time to get yourself ready for the week by doing these simple things.
- Clean out your purse and wallet. I am guilty of not following my own advice here, but when I actually do, I feel so much more organized. It’s amazing how something so small makes such a big difference.
- Do my three minute trash challenge. Take 3 – 9 minutes to power through decluttering. If you only do one trash challenge, do your car. Like your purse, you’ll feel so much more organized with a clean car.
- Throw out any old, expired or rotted food, preferably before you go grocery shopping. Clearing out the junk will make room for the casseroles and pre-chopped produce.
I sometimes prefer to do my Sunday prep on Saturday instead of Sunday, especially if I know the next week is busy. Sometimes, Sunday just needs to be reserved for family time and rest, not barreling through a to do list. I’m not perfect so there are many weeks where I don’t take the time to do my Sunday prep and let me tell you, those weeks always feel more chaotic and I am frazzled by the time the day is over. We are much better off when we plan ahead.