THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. MY DISCLOSURE POLICY GIVES YOU MORE DETAILS.
Do you get that feeling of dread on Sunday night just thinking of returning to work and school Monday morning? I used to, until I created a Sunday routine that helps me take charge of the week and empowers me to enter the week with a feeling of super readiness!
Let’s face it– being a working mom on a Sunday night means you’re getting your whole house ready for the next day, not just yourself. I typically need an entire weekend to rest, relax, and restore from the prior week as well as plan for the week ahead. All that puts a lot of pressure on the poor weekend when it should be full of fun and rest.
My solution? A Sunday routine in three parts that has my meals planned and cooked, my bags all packed up, and my head in the game for Monday morning.
Why three parts? Putting many things into one routine batches them together and makes them easier to achieve (and remember to do!). I made a list of everything I wanted to do over the weekend to get us ready for school and work on Monday, and then I grouped them by location. It turns out, there are three main areas of my house that are the epicenters for organization on Sunday night. Centering a routine in a location means that it’s more likely to get done because you are in that location seeing the things on the to-do list. Let’s use all those visual cues to our advantage!
My three Sunday routines are centered on the kitchen, the entryway, and my planner.
0. Morning Prep
Early in the day while The Girl is eating breakfast or we’re roaming in and out between the kitchen and the deck, I’ll hover over my cookbooks for a few minutes and plan out our meals for the week. I’m not a huge cook, so I do this pretty fast, and we eat lots of the same things each week. It takes me about 10 minutes to decide meals, check the pantry for ingredients, and make a shopping list. Oh, and take anything out of the freezer that needs to be defrosted for later meal prep.
Later in the day we grocery shop!
When we get home from grocery shopping, I always start the Kitchen Routine which involves cleaning out the fridge, putting away groceries, and starting the meal prep for the week. The important thing about the Kitchen routine is DO NOT LEAVE THE KITCHEN, as in “I’m staying in here until I’m ready for tomorrow.”
Why does this work? Well, you’re already there cooking dinners for the week. Might as well load up the coffee maker, chop some veggies for snacks, and wipe down the counters. See? You can get so much more done just by virtue of standing in a place for while.
Let’s face it: the kitchen isn’t a fun place if you’re a lady like me who sees cooking as work. But when you leave with your meals prepped and your fridge cleaned and the hand towels washed, you know you’re a rock star.
When I have a complicated series of things I’d love to do but have a limited amount of time, I make sure I have the “must-dos” highlighted so I know what HAS to get done.
Here’s my kitchen routine in order:
• Decide which meals (if not all of ’em) you’re going to prep right now. Put the groceries for those meals on the counter.
• Bring the rest of the groceries, a stool, and a wet rag to the fridge. Have a seat in front of the fridge.
• Unload the groceries into the fridge, and at the same time:
-remove any spoiled veggies, close-to-empty containers, or lunches that didn’t get eaten (and now shouldn’t be)
-wipe down any spills in the fridge, wipe down produce drawer
-fold paper grocery bags and store
-take any items in the fridge or freezer needed for tonight’s mealprep out and put them on the counter
• Meal prep for the week. For me, this almost always includes a crock pot meal. Chop, put into the crock pot, and then get busy doing everything else. I typically make two entrees for dinners and lunches across the week, plus I pack lunches for my daughter for the whole week.
• Chop up vegetables for healthy snacks, line up after school snacks in the pantry, or wash fruit. Get your snacks lined up that support your healthy eating plan so you don’t have to think about it all week.
• My kitchen is near my laundry room, so I throw the bin of cloth napkins and dish towels in the washer while I’m cooking. Sometimes that starts me on a laundry tear, sometimes that’s as far as I get. But batching this chore with the kitchen routine helps get something laundry-related done Sunday night.
• Clean up from meal prep, load the dishwasher, and run it.
• Wipe down all counters and surfaces.
• Load up the coffee maker for Monday morning.
• Pack your lunch box and put in the fridge.
2. Command Center
The command center in our house is the epi-center of organization. Clipboards for school newsletters and outgoing mail, write on-wipe off monthly and weekly calendars, notecards and checkbook, a cabinet that holds house keys, a drawer for sunscreen and bug spray, winter scarves and hats, hooks that hold our dance bags, my work bag and purse, and The Girl’s activity backpack, and file folders for mail and important papers. Basically, this is where we organize our life.
The entryway has quite a few Sunday Routines connected with it. Your life (and command center) might be very different, but you may want to consider batch processing by locating some of the weekly organizational and communication routines in the same place. Here is where I update our calendars, communicate with the village of people that help me run our house, and prep our bags for the week.
Command Center Routine:
• Walk through the house and gather anything that belongs in the entryway, most importantly your phone, computer, planner, purse, and workbag.
• Take out all your calendars. I have my work calendar on Google Calendar, so I like to open that up on my phone or computer and synch all the calendars together.
• Update the write on-wipe off calendar in the entry way so the babysitter knows which days I need her and I can internalize what events are happening that week.
• Write any notes to the babysitter about the week. Text the babysitter or dad to make sure that I’m clear on all of our plans and handoffs
• Update the big calendar with any birthdays or events that have come up
• Check the communication from school–am I on the snack list this week?
• Write all the checks for the week for the babysitter, house cleaner, or special school items like photos or field trips.
• Pack my bag for the week, which includes:
-Empty out my work bag and file or toss stray papers
-Make sure my bag has my computer plug, headphones, and iphone cord (these go missing all the time WHAT GIVES)
-Check my bag to make sure I’m stocked with pads, advil, and sea sponge (you get the idea).
• Prep other bags for the week:
-Audit The Girl’s gymnastics bag for gym notices and stray rotten food
-Pack my workout bag and make sure there’s clean workout clothes and my heartrate monitor
-Unpack The Girl’s backpack and make sure there’s no rotten apple at the bottom. Throw away stray papers and toss rocks and sticks into her nature basket.
-Find The Girl’s lunch box and put in the dishwasher
3. The Planner
Finally, I get out my weekly planner and synch everything I’ve now internalized about my week into the planner that I carry with me. And yes, I have both a digital and written system. I know, not advisable. But it works for me. I find that writing things down helps me internalize everything and actually remember what’s coming up during the week.
I use the TUL planner and I have a one-page organizer sheet that summarizes my week. It has landing spots for any to-do items for work and home, a tracker for habits I’m working on, a two-week calendar strip so I can instantly see my daily appointments and nighttime events, and a place to set weekly priorities.
• Update your planner. Make sure important events are there and double check that the babysitter knows all about them!
• Transfer last week’s unfinished to-do list items to this week’s fresh list. If you’re like me, you first go through the old list and cross off everything you’ve finished. Hooray for crossing things off your list!
• Schedule the forgettable stuff, like workouts, medicine pickups, and friend phone calls. Put them directly in your calendar.
• I manage lots of leaders at my job, and on Sunday nights I set priorities for my meetings with each of them that week. The reason I do this is that I occasionally can’t sleep on Sunday night thinking about all the things I want to do with my team during the week. This gets it all out on paper and I sleep like a baby.
• Get out a sticky note and write a small list of the first to-do list items that you need to accomplish from your master to-do list on Monday morning. I tend to forget about reviewing my organizer sheet on Monday, but the small sticky reminds me of my priorities. Often this is personal stuff, like “call the contractor” and “print return label.” These are the things I always forget in the rush of work on Monday, so this little sticky is a good reminder of what needs to happen to make the week go well.
Final Bonus Routines
Here are some bonus items that I tend to just habitually do each Sunday night. These tend to make my week go better, and leaves me with a calm feeling at the end of the evening on Sunday.
• Walk the house and clear as many surfaces as possible. This will make you feel good on Monday to know that your house has been reset.
• Depending on your neighborhood schedule, take out your trash and recycling.
• Sunday night is a great time to remind the kids about the chores you’ve assigned them. Making sure they hang their jacket up in the right place, put their toys away, and help with the cooking can all be reinforced on Sunday night. (Especially if you’re like me and you forgot to talk to them about the jacket all week.)
• Empty the trash from your car and replace the trash bag with a fresh one.
• Head back to the kitchen and unload the dishwasher. I find if it’s unloaded on Monday morning, I’m MUCH more likely to fill it with dishes during the week instead of putting them in the sink. We have our cleaning helpers come on Wednesday, so if I’ve done a good job on Sunday through Tuesday of filling the dishwasher, then I can run it Tuesday night and they’ll unload it Wednesday. This is an example of a system that isn’t crucial, but really helps the week go well if I just take the few minutes and do it.
Below, you can take a peek at how I organized my Sunday routine into a list for the fridge. I also include a blank, editable PDF for you to batch plan your own Sunday routines so you can simplify and organize your life for the week ahead! There are five possible routine location you can create, and I would suggest have no more than that to make sure it’s a routine you can keep.
Heya Mommy, this is a great post. I agree your point that Sunday is for relaxing, but I have also always wanted to take charge of my week. One of the best ways to do that is to make a list of everything that needs to get done during the week and then prioritize the list. That way I can get all the big tasks done without forgetting to erase the marker board or do the dishes. Also, I really like your idea about keeping a baby book. My wife and I are expecting our first child, and I think we’re going to implement this idea; it will be fun to look back on our experiences as parents.
I agree– taking charge of your week is so great. and ALSO congratulations!
Great tips! I don’t have a command center and that’s what I think is missing at my home! I need to find the perfect one though! I have twins and I work from home but Sunday’s are my prep days for sure! Thanks for the tips!
Check out my workshop on setting up your command center! I hope it helps!