The Simple Tool That Orders Our Days & Saves My Sanity {Kind of}

I hit a squirrel on the way to the middle school this morning so I’m sitting in Starbucks right now drowning my guilt and horror in Holiday Blonde Roast. 

Sometimes the week seems to begin with fail despite our best efforts and intentions to begin with win.

I’ve been {attempting to} get up way earlier for many weeks now. I succeed about one-third of the time. 

Today was not one of them.

Time in the morning before the rest of the family bombards me with words and the need to be fed {the nerve of them} provides this weary mom with desperately-needed time to wake up, pray, and, on a good day, spend time studying Scripture. 

Even though I don’t succeed more often than I do, I keep trying. I’d like to say that I’m kind to myself on the fail days. I’m not. Thankfully my husband is. He brings me coffee in bed and prays with me before I can even acknowledge what day it is and scrounges for the boys’ matching socks in the laundry basket that has yet to be sorted. Because he’s been waking up next to me for 18 years, he understands that early mornings are simply easier for some than for others. I’m still try to accept this. 

I’ve only been a stay-at-home mom with all of my kids in school for three months but I feel like I should have a better grasp on how to do my days. I prioritize and make lists but on most days I consider how the hours and tasks and relationships have transpired and then figuratively bang my head on the piano a la Don Music from The Muppets: I’ll never, never get it! Never! {Anyone?}

This thing of ordering our days and prioritizing and living from a well of grace is very much in process for me but I recently realized that there is actually one practical saving grace in the midst of all the crazy. {One saving grace besides my husband who brings me coffee.} 

It’s something super spiritual and profound. Ready?

This $4.99 weekly planner decal

Martha Stewart Home Office™ with Avery™ Dry Erase Weekly Planner Red and Gray, 5-7/8in. x 15-7/8in.

Ours sticks to the front of the fridge. I’m not affiliated with Staples or Martha Stewart in any way. I’m just a scattered mom sharing real-life hacks that work for me. Well, let’s be honest, the one real-life hack that works for me.

I stumbled upon this gem when doing back-to-school shopping with my daughter. Though I keep my calendar on my iPhone and set alerts for everything, I’ve found that the whole family needs a large visual of the week. Each day has plenty of room and I write out our dinner plans at the bottom. 

There’s something about only viewing a week at a time that’s helpful for me. It’s like a manageable bite instead of an overwhelming buffet. 

I fill out the upcoming week’s calendar each Saturday and think through our meals at the same time. The whole thing takes five minutes. 

One week I failed to fill out the calendar and was shocked to find that things went really badly. I couldn’t believe how much difference this simple tool made in keeping us on track.

When I filled out the calendar this weekend, I discovered that we have to be at three different places at 5:30 today. Seeing this dilemma in black and white on the front of my fridge helped us plan for it in advance. Crazy how a simple stick-on calendar has helped to eliminate surprises like that.

It’s also helped me incorporate margin on weeks that are full. I talked a little bit about creating margin in this post. It’s simple really. If there’s too much black scrawl and not enough white space, I think about what I can rearrange or even cancel altogether. If our calendars don’t have white space, our lives won’t either. And that just makes for a life that’s jerking us around instead of a life that’s lived with some intentionality.

Different systems work for different families and different personalities. This just happens to be the one that’s helping us out right now.

I wish there was a $4.99 tool to help me navigate everything else, including spastic squirrels that run across the road when it’s just too dang early to deal with death.

What about you? Any real-life hacks and simple solutions that are working for your family? Let’s dish in the comments. 

{If you don’t live near a Staples and would rather order one from amazon, I found this similar calendar.}

Interested in having each post from a la mode delivered to your e-mail inbox? You can do that near the top of the right sidebar. Just enter your e-mail address in the subscribe box. You can unsubscribe anytime you like. 

*product links are affiliates except for Staples calendar


  1. says

    “If our calendars don’t have white space, our lives won’t either. And that just makes for a life that’s jerking us around instead of a life that’s lived with some intentionality.” – wisdom from the Scooper

    Do you remember that HUGE write-on/wipe-off calendar that we had in the kitchen in Greensboro? I had a love-hate relationship with it and am just now beginning to fully understand why. It did help us know about and manage (somewhat) the schedules of a family the size of ours (the LOVE part), but there were some months (more than I liked) that just simply wore me out just by looking at them (the HATE part).

    Your little tool could have cut that last part by 75%!!!

    And your little reference to Don Music . . . priceless! My favorite Muppet!


    • says

      Mom, I DO remember that calendar and I thought of it as I wrote this post. I’m only now beginning to appreciate the juggling act known as your life back then!!!

  2. says

    Yes. To the whole thing. I noticed your little planner in another post and have been wanting one since. And I live right down the street from a Staples :). I still don’t feel like I have a handle on what my life is supposed to look like right now. Even with all of this supposed extra time, I’m left at the end of the week with more undone than done. But you are so right about white space, how we need it. I don’t tend to write healing or rest on my list often and I should.

  3. says

    Love the idea of weekly calendar. While I am past your stage of life, I have entered another with a mother who is losing her short term memory. I got a similar calendar for her fridge. I use COLORS. Red for dr. apps, green for residential activities, blue for church, and black for all else. Kind of helps her to see if she is going outside the home or staying in. As for margins, we need those and definitely know we can’t mix too many colors on a given day. I want to get your weekly calendar and try to write some daily menu suggestions, too. I does help the “didn’t you remember??” questions which are frustrating with and to her, but sometimes end up in a quarrel with children/spouses.

    Long ago, we knew a guy who was one of 10 children. He told us his mom required them to file in line thru the laundry area before supper. Each child had to match and fold X number of socks before sitting at the table to eat. I think his mom was a genius! And as my husband has often said, “Hunger is a powerful tool. Use it wisely.”

    As for the squirrel…many of us would PAY you to kill some near out home! Still, gross death early in the morning is a bit unsettling.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *