Monday, March 18, 2013

Reacting vs. Planning

Some days I'm convinced that the secret of efficiency is a little planning.

When I spend my days reacting to circumstances, I run in circles. Of course, a lot of a mom's life is going to require a lot of reacting to circumstances. The dirty diaper, the spilled milk, the weeping child. But sometimes a little planning could spare me much frustration.

I'm going to share the success of today - only if you don't get some false idea that every day is like today.

Today is worth mentioning because it is unusual. Today I did do a good job of planning. And I'll be able to enjoy the results for days to come.

I have three children approaching birthdays. Birthdays can put me in a bad mood. I don't do birthday cakes well. The grand idea I have in my head rarely translates well into butter, flour, and frosting. It doesn't help when I begin too late and attempt to frost a warm cake. Add in an extra trip to the grocery store for a forgotten item, and then repeating the scenario for a couple more birthdays within a few days and I turn grumpy.

I wanted this year to be different.

It began with Saturday. I actually searched my pantry for cake ingredients before going to the grocery store and acquired all needed ingredients.

Or actually maybe it began earlier in the week when I asked the children what kind of cake they wanted this year. And wrote it down.

This morning my phone rang early. A friend from church had heard that we had all been sick last week, and are still in recovery mode this week, and wanted to know if she could help. What a way to brighten a Monday. I didn't know what to tell her to do, so she said that she would bring over our supper. What a blessing.

Now I had my meal planned and an empty afternoon. How about baking cake?

I pulled out my ingredients, cake pans, and cookbooks. I started with an angel food cake, because it required a clean bowl. I kept throwing ingredients into that same bowl and sliding cakes into the oven. Two hours later, four cakes are cooling on the counter. Sure I had some messy dishes on the counter, but not nearly as many if I had done each cake on different days. I plan to freeze the cakes, making them easier to frost.


Birthdays are already looking a whole lot more manageable.

What are ways you have found that a little prior planning saved you hours of time?



    These two things help me get myself and grandaughter out the door each weekday morning, with much less fuss and frustration and lots more hugs and cheer: I make my lunch for work the night before, and we pick out her outfit for school and lay it out the night before! Little tricks, but oh do they help in big ways!

  2. I think you nailed it with your opening sentence. Planning. I didn't used to be, but NOW I am a list maker. Helps me in my planning stages and allows my to prioritize what gets done first instead of going around in circles. Or going to the same store twice, or buying duplicate supplies. Whenever I sit down to make a list, it amuses me to think that they look creatively similar to the old (old, old!) flow charts we used to make in "computer class" in intermediate school! (pre-computer days ya'll!)

    I hope you share pictures of your cakes!


  3. Great job! I'm sure it is a welcome relief to have the baking done. Now all you have to do is frost and decorate. That is the fun part anyway! Having a plan really does help a lot.

    My biggest stress reliever is my daily menu plan. Not having to figure out what to fix for supper everyday is a huge help for this working mom.

    Happy Birthday to all!!

  4. I am a firm believer in LISTS! Especially at very busy times-even writing down the normal & obvious duties of the day helps to free up your mind. Then you don't need to think in circles of ok so what was I gonna do next? Of course don't be ruled to stictly by the list that it controls you and you get stressed when plans change a little! I am still workin on that one:) I enjoy your blog & your open honesty about good days & the not so good days. We all have em!! thanks! Faith

  5. Boxed cake mixes. I'm not too proud....

  6. Thanks for the reminder! We will celebrate with our b-day buddies next week, so while I have already asked and written on the menu what they want for dinner -- I have forgotten to ask about their dessert choices!

    Another friend and I agree that when you write something down, your brain doesn't *have to* remember it later ;-)

    Plus the make ahead and freeze for special days -- or even just daily days -- so helpful!

  7. I'm reaping the benefits of contingency planning right now.

    We came to the hospital on Monday to have the baby, expecting to go home today. But I set up childcare for two weeks with my in-laws for our other three munchkins, and packed food and clothes for a week.

    A good thing, too, 'cause Jr. is in the NICU for labored breathing. We don't know when we'll get to go home. It could be today; it could be next week. Either way, we're covered.

    He's doing better...but if some of you ladies that read the comments wouldn't mind keeping us in your prayers, we'd very much appreciate that blessing...


    1. I'll be thinking of you and your little one!

  8. I love birthdays and with 5 children plus hubby we have 6 cakes to make in a year. 7 if I feel like making myself one. I've found it helps to make the cake a day or two ahead( they all like carrot cake and that gets better as it sits) and then decorate the day of or day before. To do the baking and decorating all in one day is very tiring and stressful. I used to keep it a surprise but as the children get older they like to "Help" make there OWN cake. It lets them admire it a few hours instead of a few minutes before it is cut. It is fun tailoring the cake towards the different childrens interests. They feel oh so special! Candies, mints ect. can really give a cake color without mixing up so many different colors of icing. Happy Birthday All!

  9. I invested in three laundry baskets, labeled thaem with "white" "dark" and "colors" (with construction paper colors to show yellow, pink, light blue ect) and have them in the bathroom closet. As the children put their dirty clothes in, they are already sorted when i grab the laundry on laundry day. I LOVE IT!

    1. Love this idea! Wish I had room in my bathroom closet for it!

      I have two tubs in my basement, beside my washing machine, one white and one gray. The children take their laundry to the basement, and are supposed to sort it.


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