MealPlan_IMG_2894When a stomach virus ripped through our household like a tornado this week, knocking 6 of the 7 in our household down, it became clear that we had fallen apart, and not just physically.

This virus was bad, all stomach bugs are, but this one had some extra kick. One minute you’re fine, the next you’re really, really not. I’m talking the delirious, crawling to bed kind of not-ok.

The only one who escaped was my dad, who’s recovering from knee replacement surgery and wasn’t exactly fit to nurse us back to health.

In it’s wake, the virus left some of us in a dark, contemplative, wholly-unpleasant headspace which I’m hoping will prove to be a catalyst for change. What’s become clear over the past few days, is that things are not working.

As if to drive that point home, on the first night in many that we were more or less able to eat, we all sat down to dinner together and had a horrible time. Sid started screaming 5 minutes into the meal, as he does, which set Rose off, as it does. Dinner devolved into a chaotic noisy mess of shushing, threats, reprimands and general unpleasantness.

But it wasn’t just that we weren’t feeling well, this is what dinner has been like for us all the time lately.

We have 7 people in our household now. The four of us, plus my mom and dad, and my aunt Gail (the saint) who has come to help out during my dad’s convalescence. When you have 7 people under one roof, you need to get organized, and that’s what we’re going to do.

The morning after the “bad dinner”—it was actually an excellent dinner, food-wise, which Shane totally rallied to get on the table—my mom called a family pancake breakfast meeting. It was agreed that things are messed up and we decided to do the following in order to fix them:

  1. We have to eat earlier so the baby doesn’t freak out causing the big kid to get all hyper which starts the downward spiral towards a terrible mealtime experience for everyone.
  2. We have to plan our meals ahead of time, so we’re not scrambling, and so that we can eat earlier.
  3. We have to be nice and polite to each other at the table.

Three things. We can totally do this.

I am not going to be able to cook on weekdays and I have to accept that. When I get home, baby Sid wants me. He wants to be held by me and no one else, and he will not tolerate being put down for one second. And I get that. Poor kid is thinking his mom has been who-knows-where for the past 11 hours and he wants some physical contact, dammit. Fair enough.

After our breakfast meeting I sat down and made a meal plan for the week, and my mom started the two-day process of making elaborate vegetable lasagnas to freeze for busy weeknights.

The good news is that weekly meal planning is not entirely new to us. We went through a similar overhaul (which you can read about here and here) when Rose ramped up her gymnastics training last year.

This time around, the weekly plan is a bit more complex since I’m no longer working from home and there are many more adults and caregivers in the picture. The matrix for this week shows meal times for each day, and has a space to fill in who’s responsible for shopping, cooking or ordering pizza, there’s a list of ingredients for each meal as well as recipes and instructions.

Below is a preview of Wednesday’s meal. I’ll let you know how it goes.