After ensuring your family's religious obligations are met, all you have to do is: orchestrate three meals a day for the next seven days, make sure everyone's drawers and closets are stuffed to the brim with clean and folded clothes, and last but not least, brief everyone living under your roof on any mandatory appointments or deadlines.
- First and foremost, get thee to an early church service. Not because you want to get it over with, but aside from a long walk on a cool, bug-free morning, there's really no better way to start your day. There, I'm done preaching.
- If you couldn't squeeze in laundry yesterday, order the biggest kid in your house to transport the overstuffed hamper to the laundry room. Instruct the rest of the humans in your domicile to collect stray articles of dirty clothing, rake stray socks out from under beds and couches, check cars for smelly discarded athletic wear, and deposit them in the laundry room.
- Host a "sorting party." What better way to teach your offspring the value of washing whites with whites and colors with colors, and to scan labels for phrases like "Dry Clean Only" and "Air Dry Flat." Be sure to keep evidence of past laundry blunders on hand as visual aids. My favorite is the white designer blouse I got for a song at an upscale department store sale. After getting mixed in with a load of dirty blue jeans, it ended up a blotchy blue and two sizes too small. Award points for placing like fabrics together.
- Take stock of your pantry, freezer and refrigerator.
- Check current grocery store ads for sales on items you need to make enough favorite recipes for the week. Identify the gaps in your food inventory against what you plan on making and, voila' - you have your grocery list. Points awarded for each meal that doesn't require contacting a takeout restaurant.
- Before having your kids transfer contents of the washing machine into the dryer, remind them to remove any and all articles of clothing destined for air-drying (see step 3).
- Head to the store. If possible, bring at least one child along to retrieve things that you might not realize your had forgotten until you're in the check out lane. Tip: On your way back home, call ahead to let the rest know you're coming so they can assist with unloading and unpacking.
- Host a "folding party." With the first dryer load done, get your kids to fold the clothes and deposit them in their intended repositories. Mark points off for any stacks of folded clothes or pair socks left on beds.
- Prep your kitchen for cooking lessons. Preheat the oven and plug in the crockpot. Match your kids', uh, students' skill level with their station. For example, I don't let my boys man the vegetable shopping station until they've earned their "Totin' Chip" in Boy Scouts (because, really, who wants to interrupt their busy day with a trip to the emergency room?). Once you and your crew have a weeks' worth of dinners baked, stewed, roasted and/or grilled, refrigerate or freeze as required.
- Finally, synchronize your calendar with your spouse's and your kids'. In the event of a conflict, make arrangements for a workaround. Possible options include: rescheduling the appointment or determining if you or your spouse could take a personal day or work from home. Points for squeezing trips to the mechanic, doctor and dentist all in the same day. Extra points for finding a doctor or dentist with in-house mechanics on staff who can change the oil in your car while you lounge in the waiting room reading year-old Time magazines.
Now, if you're anything like me, you'll head to bed wishing your day had really gone this smoothly. Points for dreaming...