Blocking Time for Family

There is a phrase I often hear that I avoid because it implies we can have everything equally balanced…

family/work balance

With family, career and everything else that demands our time, it is rarely (if ever) a ‘balanced’ life.

Instead, the goal is to seek family/work prioritization. For example, if your work life is 9-5, you can’t then counter that with an equal amount of 8 hours a day of family life. However, you can determine the most important things to do as and/or with the family, and make sure the hours available after a 9-5 job have time dedicated to family priorities.

When we don’t take steps towards this kind of time blocking, chaos begins to take hold and soon everyone feels they are over worked or under served.

FAMILY TIME BLOCKING SYSTEMS

The goal is to find a system that fits your family age level, communication style, and resources. In addition, it needs to be a system that is easy to manage every week by more than just one ‘calendar keeper’ and visible to all parties. Here are a couple to consider…

STICKY NOTE SYSTEM:

What you need:

  • Square sticky notes in a variety of colors
  • A large poster board, project board or wall (chalkboard or white board wall to post your notes)

Set Up:

  • Assign sticky note colors in the following ways:
    • A color for each adult (for noting work time)
    • A color for the entire family (for noting dedicated family time)
    • A color for each child (for noting specific child activities)
  • On the poster board or a wall, draw out 1 week or a 31 day calendar.
    • Some prefer blocking out a month at a time, others are good with just a week at a glance

The System:

  • Determine one day a week as the day to manage the sticky notes so that it become a family habit
    • When possible, make it a family time project. If not possible, don’t overthink it…just do it with whoever you can!
  • Fill in the upcoming week with the specific sticky notes
    • Adults
      • write your work/gig time on your notes and put them on the days that you need to work.
      • write out other time commitments that don’t involve the family (meetings / errands / events…)
    • Kids
      • write out activities other than normal school hours on your sticky note colors and post them on their appropriate days.
      • Kids not old enough to write will do it with a parent. It’s still great to involve them as soon as they are old enough to understand the concept of time.
    • Family
      • On the family color, write out the family events planned or time to be dedicated to family time and place on their days.
  • Step back and take a look. What do you see?
    • Is the family color there, barely there, or missing?
    • Take a moment to evaluate how satisfied you are with the % of family time color represented on the board.
    • If you don’t like what you see, ask these questions and take appropriate steps:
      • Are there notes on the wall that can be done another time?
        • If yes, put them in a location on the board called ‘parking lot’ and come back to them another week
        • If no, have a family talk about what purpose the other priorities have and discuss ways to find more time next week.
          • Is the calendar full of work/side gig obligations? Talk about how this is to grow funds for something that will benefit the family.
          • Talk about some family activities everyone would love to find time to do next week and discuss ways to plan ahead to make sure that will happen

The Purpose of the Sticky Wall:

  • It’s a visual reminder of your commitment as a family to be united about time priorities.
  • It’s a great visual to remind impatient family members of when the next family time  or their time is scheduled.

COLOR CODED e-PLANNER:

An e-version of the sticky note calendar is color blocking on a virtual calendar (like a google calendar / outlook / etc…)

Follow the same outline for the sticky notes, making the following adjustments:

  • Instead of sticky note colors, you will assign font or highlight colors
  • The virtual calendar should be accessible to all family members (age appropriately)
    • For a family with younger children, the online calendar can be shown to them when they are wondering about ‘their’ time or complaining about not enough time with you.

At the end of the day, if your family is feeling neglected; if you are feeling stretched; if there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to get everything done, doing a time blocking system, even if for just a season, can be very helpful. 

If nothing else, it forces you and the family to take stock of how you are dedicating use of the time you have and if you like what you see…or not.


Do Something On Pur•pose today…

  • Ask the family how they feel about the amount of time typically available for family fun and bonding.
  • If there is a desire for it to be better, ask the family this question – “What does quality family time look like to you?”
  • With those answers, discuss ways to find more time to do more of those things.

No Alarm Chili

Growing up my mother served a great bowl of chili over rice pretty regularly during the cooler months. It’s one of those meals that can bring back childhood memories with just one spoonful.  This seasoning blend is very close to the recipe I grew up with.  Not too spicy but full of great flavor. It can be made with or without beans so it appeals to all chili lovers!  

Here’s an idea…

Heat level on a scale of 1-10…. probably 3

MAKE A MIX: Follow the recipe instructions for packaging the dry ingredients in a sealable bag or container and stock your pantry shelf with several of to prepare quickly for a variety of occasions.

Blue Ribbon Chili

My friend Bonnie Adams shared this chili recipe with us many years ago and it won our company wide chili cook-off.  We tweaked it a bit to make it packaging friendly and it remained a blue ribbon chili for years to come. I’m sharing with you today both the packaged version and Bonnie’s original recipe!

First I’ll share how I tweaked it to make it ‘mix’ friendly.  This is the version of the recipe I keep on my pantry shelf to use like a packaged mix, only better because it’s homemade!  Then scroll below the photos to find the original recipe first submitted by Bonnie all those years ago!

Here’s an idea…

Heat level on a scale of 1-10…. probably an 8!

MAKE A MIX: Follow the recipe instructions for packaging the dry ingredients in a sealable bag or container and stock your pantry shelf with several of to prepare quickly for a variety of occasions.


Serve this spicy chili with a side of my family’s favorite sweet cornbread to balance out the heat!

Bonnie’s Original Recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 15 oz can chicken broth
  • 1 15 oz can beef broth
  • 1 46 oz can tomato juice
  • 1 10-oz can diced tomatoes with chilis
  • 1 15 oz can chili beans
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Brown the ground beef with the diced onion and drain. 
  2. Place the cooked ground beef into a large stock pot along with all of the other ingredients.  Bring to a simmer and cook as long as it takes to come to desired consistency (if you like it thick it may need to cook all day long) 

Sweet Cornbread

This recipe makes a lightly sweet and fluffy pan of cornbread that is sure to please everyone at the table.  We’ve been known to eat the leftovers for breakfast the next day, drizzled with a little honey butter!

MAKE A MIX: Follow the recipe instructions for packaging the dry ingredients in a sealable bag or container and stock your pantry shelf with several of to prepare quickly for a variety of occasions.

Taco Dip

Did you make the Taco Soup Mix from the other day? Here’s a bonus recipe using that dry blend. Fresh and flavorful, this easy dip recipe is great for veggies as much as it is for chips.

Try it as a spread for soft tacos or burritos for an added pop of flavor.

Here’s an idea…

MEAL TRAIL IDEA: Try it as a spread for soft tacos or burritos for an added pop of flavor. If you have left over soup, drain the liquid from the soup and use the veggies (and optional meat) to make a soft taco or burrito.

  • Spread the dip on a soft tortilla (flour or corn)
  • Add a portion of the drained soup
  • Top with avocado and/or cheddar cheese
  • Fold as a taco or a burrito

Taco Soup

I was inspired to create this favorite blend of seasonings when my family raved about a Taco Soup served at a church potluck one Sunday afternoon. After asking my friend for the recipe, I realized it was one that used so many packaged seasoning blends and canned goods that one recipe could feed an army.  I rose to the challenge and set out to dissect the ingredients for each of those seasoning packets and set out to create a recipe that made just enough soup for one family at a time. 

This is still one of the few meals my pickiest eater will always get excited about!

Here’s an idea…

MAKE IT A SOUP MIX: I like to keep several bags of single use mixes on hand to whip up a fast batch of Taco Soup on a busy day.  My ‘picky eater’ can make this on his own more easily when I have a bag he can just cut open and pour into a pot with the liquid ingredients.  I print the soup recipe and place it in the basket where I store the bagged blends so everything I (or he!) need to know is right there.     

Make a Meal Trail:

Leftovers of this soup make a great baked potato topper!  For this reason I like to make a double batch and plan a meal trail that week.  Split open the baked potato and use a slotted spoon to scoop out the reheated taco soup, getting a generous portion of the vegetables and optional meat, but very little of the broth. Top with a generous portion of shredded cheddar and some sour cream and enjoy a delicious meal with the family!

Pecan Pie Mini Muffins

This is one of my most asked for recipes. Who knew that  three simple ingredients could make something so amazing! It’s a sweet treat that keeps you coming back for more…ok, one more…and then just… one.. more!

Here’s an idea…

MAKE IT A MUFFIN MIX: Follow the recipe instructions for packaging the dry ingredients in a sealable bag or container and stock your pantry shelf with several of to prepare quickly for a variety of occasions.

  • Need to bring an item to a pot luck…these are fast, easy and will be the hit of the buffet line!
  • Is there a teacher you need to thank?  Deliver a plate of these at the start of the school day and she’ll greet you with a smile when school is out!
  • After school treat!  Kids love these.
  • Need a dessert dish? These cross the dessert / muffin barrier.  They go both ways!

MAKE IT A GIFT:  

Jar the dry ingredients and gift it with a hand written recipe card (or print the one above). 
Make it look nice by layering the dry ingredients with brown sugar on the bottom and the pecans as the final layer on top. 

Slow Cooked Pot Roast

When life is busy and you need a meal ready to eat as you walk in the door, this is your answer. Whether it’s a family meal or a dinner party, this meal is the perfect answer. 

Fill the freezer for easy options later

Prepare a larger roast than needed for this meal. A 6-quart slow cooker will hold up to a 10 pound roast, and you don’t need to use additional seasoning.  Take the leftover roast, shred it and save (freeze) it in 2-cup portions in freezer bags to use in other recipes. Shredded roast is great tossed into a vegetable soup, a favorite chili recipe or reheated with a favorite BBQ sauce and served on buns.  Our family favorite is to make French Dip Sandwiches using the left over roast and juice.

Use the search bar or the category menu in the footer to find the seasoning blend used in this recipe. Just search or click ‘Roast Seasoning Blend’.