Large Family Tip #2

Our first dinner as a complete family on the day that K. and Russ arrived home from Ethiopia. (Yes, the rice cooker is on the table and the rice is not in a nice serving bowl; it was a full day.)

As I’ve been considering the things that help me manage my home and family, I have thought a lot about routines. Routines are different from schedules because tasks are not tied to specific times. In the old days I would set a schedule and start each day with high hopes. By the time I had changed numerous diapers, fed the baby, taken care of an overflowing toilet (or whatever else came along that day), I would be off schedule by 9:00 in the morning! Once the schedule was thrown off I felt defeated and I would have a hard time figuring out what to let go of and what to squeeze into the time remaining in my day.

Now I operate by routines rather than schedules. I do many of the same things each day and in the same order, but I don’t worry quite as much about the time. I just begin at the beginning and continue until the work is done or I go to bed, whichever comes first.

I have weekly routines and daily routines which help me keep things rolling. One of the most important routines of my week takes place on Tuesday when I make my menu and grocery list for the following week. This is one of the most significant things I do to make my home run smoothly. This summer I was very blessed when my two lovely daughters, H. and MK., took over the grocery shopping!

My menu itself also has a system that is fluid, based on what I have on hand, but generally looks like this:

Sunday: Feast – We usually eat our best meal of the week on Sunday, including a yummy dessert. However, if we have had a challenging week or we are a little weary and not up for preparing a big meal, we will buy some loaves of good bread, deli meat, nice cheese, and other treats for a simple but tasty dinner. Afterall, Sunday is a day of rest, even for moms. I should note, that although we may eat simple fare on those days – we still have dessert!
Monday: Soup or Chili
Tuesday: Slow Cooker meal
Wednesday: Chicken, Beef, or if all else fails, a Breakfast dinner (which my family likes) This is generally our nicest mid-week meal because the entire family can be here, no ballroom dance practice, no evening classes, and no Boy Scouts!
Thursday: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce (my family likes this once a week – it’s a tradition)
Friday: Homemade Pizza or a very simple dinner if Russ and I are going to have a date night
Saturday: Slow Cooker meal (I like to do this again on Saturday because as a homeschooling mom, Saturday is the only day I have all week to dig into a big project. I never want to stop what I am doing to cook dinner, so if I can get it going early in the morning it is fantastic. We love to sit down to a good meal at the end of a day of hard work.)

As I write my menu, I simultaneously make my grocery list. First of all, I have a master grocery list in my documents on my computer. It has all of the basic things I buy in the order of where they are located in my favorite (read cheapest) grocery store. I also keep a magnetic tablet on the refrigerator where everybody writes things down as they use them up. Those things get transferred to the list. Then as I add something to my menu, I put the ingredients that I need on my grocery list.

It all takes a little bit of time, but one sure way of making my day more challenging is waking up to the dreaded question, “What will I make for dinner tonight?” These routines help me to avoid that problem. However, when all else fails, we can always make waffles!

Lastly, my mother always taught me to put candles on the table – although if you look closely at the photo above, you will see them sitting on the cabinet behind H. Generally you will find candles on our dinner table. It makes me happy and sets the tone for a nice meal.


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. shell
    November 8, 2007

    i am loving all these posts lisa. you are full of wisdom that i can gain, even just over the internet!

  2. Raskell Party of 8
    November 9, 2007

    I love it. I can’t wait to talk more with you.


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