I feel like it’s been a long time since we talked. You know, really talked.
My last rotation was at the beginning of quarantine which feels like years ago. So much has changed and not changed at the same time. We are in this new normal that feels off and unnatural, especially this time of year when school starts.
But that makes the planning of meals even more important. Many families are gearing up for school with a good portion of kids staying home for distance learning. This means parents are home working while their kids are learning at home. I know for me organization with meals is key.
Otherwise right when I’m deep in a project I hear, “Mom’s what for lunch?” My kids need to be able to make their lunches except for days we decide to do a family lunch.
I completely dropped meal planning when this all started. I’d get what I could get at the grocery store and make it last as long as I could. Now that more is available, I’m going back to my rotation model.
In my last rotation post, I mentioned my goal to revamp my recipes and meal planning. I made The Family Dinner Solution e-book free and got started reorganizing my stuff. All went well and now I’m at the try new meal phase and it’s been slow going.
I’ve made another Bolognese recipe and it was good but not great, so I moved on. How do I know it’s a keeper? Kid approval helps a lot, but I also look to the hubs. He’ll eat anything but there’s a certain reaction I look for. When I ask him how it is and he shrugs his shoulders, I know it’s just okay. But if I get a “pretty good, Mare” that means it’s really good.
I’ve also attempted an instant pot red beans and rice that was missing that kick. I’ve also made a couple of new salmon recipes that have been keepers. It’s been slow but at least there has been progress.
That’s how things have been going overall. I’ll feel highly motivated for a short time and then it wanes. But now that we will be having some type of normalcy, I’m throwing in a new recipe most weeks to get the ball rolling.
My new meal plan formula includes Mexican Monday mainly being taco night, Tuesday is one-dish meals, Wednesday kids make their own/scrounge night, Thursday is vegetarian, Friday mostly fish (but not always) and Sunday is Square meal night.
Here are some meals we’ll be trying:
Easy Chinese Style Instant Pot Fried Rice
One Pan Steak and Veggies with Garlic Herb Butter
Deep breathing: who knew?
I’ve kept up with my meditations the whole time during the pandemic. But in May, I started using the app Insight Timer. I love that you can search for different topics and get a wide variety of meditations. My fave meditation guru is Oliver Jenkin. In each of his meditations, he includes deep breathing.
Now my previous meditations always started with some deep breaths, but these include it the entire meditation. And all I can say is: deep breathing where have you been all my life? It feels so darn good. I knew deep breathing had benefits, but I didn’t realize that doing it for 15-20 minutes would have such an amazing effect on my body and mind.
Now I do deep breathing meditations all the time. There’s the 5-minute alignment that gets me breathing and back in sync with my body. There are ones to start and end your day and before sleep.
I’m sure we could all use some deep breathing right about now. The calming benefits of deep breathing are real, and they last all day long.
How is your breathing?
Screentime and the Trust Tree
I came across this article where a Standford psychology expert recommends kids be in charge of their screentime. I realized that this is how we do things.
Screentime has been a huge challenge during the pandemic with so many kids stuck at home. No doubt, my kids have gotten more screentime than they did before. But they are in charge of it and I think that makes a big difference.
Deciding the details usually starts with a family meeting when there’s a change in schedule, like with school starting. I always start by asking them why we have to be careful with screen time, so they understand why it’s important to them. I take their ideas on how much and when. Sometimes I agree right away and other times I come back at them with a modification. We come to a solution, together, and the kids are left in charge.
In the movie Old School with Will Ferrell, there’s a part where he’s in counseling with his wife and the therapist said, “Think of my office as a nest in a tree of trust and understanding. We can say anything here.” Then Will Ferrell’s character shares something and the therapist judges him, and he asks: “I thought we were in the trust tree, in the nest. Are we not?” I’m not sure why this has stuck with me, but I use the term Trust Tree with my kids quite a bit.
For instance, all I have to do is say “Trust Tree” and my kids know that I’m trusting them to do their part. But things don’t go perfectly. For example, my daughter might tell me when she stayed on her phone too late and regrets it. I keep my part of the Trust Tree agreement when I don’t judge (I try not to say: “you did what??!”) and help her resolve challenges.
I use this same strategy with my kids and sweets. I’m not in charge, they are. They typically get sweets on their own, sometimes with reminders for me of what they ate earlier. In short, I trust them to make the right decision. But when I see that things aren’t working; I communicate with them about it and sometimes we change the strategy.
Read: How to Strengthen Your Child’s Self Control Muscle by Avoiding this Common Feeding Mistake
No doubt they would do less screen time and likely eat fewer sweets if I tightly controlled them, but they wouldn’t be building their self-control muscle and getting the benefit of independence. Recently I sent my daughter many reminders about using her phone that night as I went to bed and she said: “I have self-control, mom!”
Then I said, “Of course you do” and backed off.
One last trip
Instead of our usual summer routine of one small trip and one big trip, we’ve taken three small getaways. Our latest was a trip to Big Bear California. It’s so beautiful there and it was great to have a change of scenery before this strange school year begins.
Nature and being outside really is the way to go. And with all those bears everywhere, I just had to hug one of them!
Well, that’s it for now. I need to get my home ready for the school zone starting next week. I hope you are doing well, staying safe and sane.
Want to build your own family dinner rotation including a dinner formula that makes meal-planning easy? Get The Family Dinner Solution. The e-book is FREE!
Gotta try some of these recipes …I really like “make your own meal” night! Your salsa is always a “good job mare” winner. Big bear is fun!
Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD says