As a working mama, my days tend to be so incredibly scattered. For the first few years of the working-with-kiddos thing, I couldn’t seem to find a chunk of time to collect my thoughts in the evening, before I fell head-first into bed. Between packing milk and lunches, paying bills, ordering on Amazon, filling out daycare forms and permission slips, and scheduling appointments, I wound up in a state of mama-meltdown on the kitchen floor more times than I’d like to admit.
Fortunately for my mental state, my husband and I came up with the idea of a weekly meeting and a so-called “Saturday Basket” that sits on top of our microwave. What goes in it? Bills, birth announcements and birthday invitations that need responding to, forms to fill out, lists of things we need to order, retirement information that needs reviewing, a list of meals for the week. You name it.
I find that mundane, frequent, and annoying tasks seem to take up WAY less of my emotional energy when they go into the basket. And I love that they are temporarily checked off my to-do list during the week, as it keeps them from spiraling around my head!
Then, every Saturday evening, my husband and I have the hottest date ever: what we call our Saturday meeting. After the kiddos are in bed, we take out the basket, tackle what’s inside in one big swoop, and go step-by-step through a checklist that we keep in the basket. That checklist includes:
· Planning out our week (including ensuring that our calendars and commitments match, and figuring out who could take the kids each day if they get sick)
· Bills and money
· Anything we need to order
· Scheduling weekend activities (and preserving a few weekend days per month with NO commitments)
· Getting our parents’ helper on the books
· Scheduling a monthly date night
· Carving out time for exercise during the week and putting it on our calendars
· Making sure each of us is getting sufficient time with friends and sufficient time alone
· Reviewing our respective business goals
To do some longer-range strategic planning, we also block two days a year – one in December and one during the summer – to take a longer view of our calendars and commitments. I call this the “Saturday Basket on Steroids,” and it’s an opportunity to size-up things like family travel commitments, money, and wellness holistically, and take stock of the direction we’re heading.
Do we make it through our entire Saturday Basket list every week? Nope. Does the meeting always happen on a Saturday? Nope. (We simply move it to Friday or Sunday, if Saturday doesn’t work.) But the basket and the meetings are still worth it and have changed our lives dramatically. They’ve given us the gift of space – both physical and emotional – and time to consolidate chaos and help us be more present during the rest of our crazy working parent weeks.