Welcome to May, the season of perpetual motion, when parents of school-aged children do their level best to keep it together, a white-knuckle grip on sanity, desperation lurking just below the paper-thin veneer of a smile, and a calendar so full even heads of states would struggle to compete.
I see you, and we are going to survive.
As we effort to understand why every extracurricular activity requires a goodbye party, an awards ceremony, and a themed costume after-party, may I share one small nugget that is serving me well during my current avalanche of activity?
I assume your people are a lot like my people in that even when life is full and we are running in no less than fourteen thousand different directions, everyone still gets hungry and expects to eat dinner. So annoying. Yet, as parents, it makes sense we should continue to care and provide meals for the very children we are celebrating multiple times per week this month.
But who has time to cook in May? No one. (If you do have time to cook this month, maybe keep that to yourself while the rest of us frantically flail from one activity to the next doing our level best not to implode.)
In times of stress and overflowing activity, the dinner solution I rely on is meal planning without meal cooking. We often assume that meal planning applies only when we are going to cook, but no! Meal planning simply means deciding from whence you will find food to feed your hungry chicks when they flutter to the nest needing nourishment.
Meal planning can include cooking, but allow me to broaden your horizons with the revelation that meal planning does not have to include cooking. You can meal plan and never cook! Hooray!
Meal planning is you looking at the coming week, refusing to spin out as you take in all the overlapping events, and knowing what to do next. You are going to lean into easy meal solutions and convenience options that get the dinner job done, thus having your ducks in a row enough to know what your people will eat, but requiring little to no effort on your part to create the meal.
Meal planning without cooking is every bit as intentional as meal planning with cooking because you are in fact providing a meal for those you love. You simply are not the one cooking the meal. See how that works?
I will plan how to feed my people in May, but I will not be cooking for my people in May.
My meal planning without meal cooking line up includes freezer meals, salmon, and rotisserie chicken from Costco, pre-marinated grill-ready meats and sides from Central Market, oven-ready meals from Hurley House, Taco Tuesday at Rosa's, drive-thru Chick-Fil-A on the night when we have three concerts and will be away from home for six hours, pizza on Friday, and lots of leftovers in between.
There is no shame in this game. This is how we make it through. This is how I show up well for my people, making sure they are fed while also making sure we can be where we need to be, gifts and costumes and instruments and projects and jerseys and themed socks in tow.
May will not last forever (praise Him). There will be time to cook again, and schedules will return to their relatively calm pre-May state. But, when the calendar fills up, or during seasons of extremes, or when circumstances keep us from our regular routines, meal planning without meal cooking is a simple solution ready to ease some of our stress without sacrificing the care we want to provide for our family.
As for the endless requests, the parties and parades, the gifts and gestures, the concerts and games and tournaments and events, remember this truth while breathing deeply: May cannot last forever. It will end, you will make it, and June is just around the corner.
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