Our Homeschool Daily Schedule & Routines

Standard

Obviously every day is not going to look the same, and often I feel like there are a million distractions and little things we have to work through to get it all done (or at least enough done to call it a day). I would probably sum it all up by saying, what we do is to “Do the Next, Best Thing.” All day long, it’s a motto that I keep saying to myself. When something happens and the colored pencils get spilled all over the floor (or purposefully thrown is more like it), I have to remember to just “do the next, best thing”. Throwing in the towel and hiding is not an option for me. My kids need me – even in those difficult moments when they are frustrated or bored or sad or mad or don’t get their way. They need me to be the one that says… “Okay. Let’s calm down for a minute, figure out what’s going on, and then get back to what we were doing and just do the next thing… the next, best thing.”

So here we go. Since this is our Break Week from homeschool, I’m just going to write out what our current, ideal day looks like (without those distractions). It’s more of a routine or general order in which we do things, rather than a rigid schedule of times. The times are really just a guide to give you an idea, but they’re definitely mostly a guess-timate. We don’t do well with rigid schedules… with little ones, they are nearly impossible. But routines and general plans work great!

Our Typical, “Ideal” Homeschool Day
5am – I wake up for my Bible study, blog work, and sometimes I go back to sleep for a few minutes if the kids are still sleeping.
6:30 – If I’m still working, this is the point where I stop and get up to fix everyone breakfast.
(usually something simple like cereal or oatmeal)
7 am – Morning Routine (I’m using the Flylady Plus app right now… I’ll get to that in a minute.)
8 am – I use this time to work on some household chores while the kids play usually. Sometimes we’re overly ambitious and get started on our school work at this time.
9 am – If we haven’t already started school, this is when we must definitely get started. I usually let the kids play for a while if they are getting along good, and the moment they start to argue – we switch to school work to separate them a bit.

For our school work – we have no specific order that we have to get things done exactly, but for the most part, I will get Lawson started on his independent work at the table (Handwriting, Math if it’s simple enough, and Reading).

While he works independently, I go ahead and do Linkin’s work with him on the couch (if he’s in a good mood and ready to work). When Linkin finishes his work, I give him something fun to play with in the playroom while I work with Layten.

The reason I do this is because my boys LOVE to help me teach Layten, which is nice, but also not-so-nice. They tell her the answers as we review things, try to take her crayons, and it ends up being more work for me than help. I also think she needs that one-on-one time with me too, just like they get. So I’ve tried to busy them with something else so I can work with her. When she’s finished, she gets down to play or she can join Linkin in the playroom if I need to work with Lawson. They are free to come and go at this point. Linkin usually plays great on his own, and he would literally play for hours and hours on end. Layten sometimes needs another activity like stickers or something else to color and work on.

I keep working with Lawson to get as much of our list done as possible. Sometimes we take a snack break around 9:30, but lately we’ve been pushing through and having an early lunch instead. That’s pretty intentional.

11 am – Lunch & Quick Clean up
12 pm – CrossFit class / Screen Time for the Kids
This has been great for us because it gives us a good break in our day, and it also helps me to get it out of the way.

1 pm – Layten’s nap / I shower / This is also our family time with Daddy while he has a break from work.
3:30 – We finish up any school work we still have left. / Kids play. / Mama has a little time to work or do some household chores.
5 pm – Dinner Prep / Eat / Clean- up (Kids help)
6 pm – Kids’ baths
7 pm – EHAP (Everything has a place.)  – We all work together to get the house back in order quickly. I use “Our Chore Board” to write down a few things so everyone knows what they can be doing.
7:30 – Lately the kids have been watching an episode of Veggie Tales before bed. If we haven’t finished our daily Bible story, we’ll read and discuss that instead.
7:45 – Kids brush teeth / We pray for them / Bedtime
8 pm – I finish picking up anything I see that needs to be done. I may give the kitchen and living room a final sweep or wipe down if it needs it and start the dishwasher so we can wake up to clean dishes. Sometimes I go ahead and write the next day’s school assignments on our board.
8:30 – We usually are in bed by this time since Daddy gets up so early.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m using the Fly Lady Plus App right now for my Morning Routine. I’m working through her other routines as well, but I just kind of use them as general reminders for what I could do next. I love the app because I can check off the things and just reset it each day. I don’t have to write any of these things in my planner and take up time and space with that now. It’s a pretty good app.

FlyLady’s Morning Routine
Make Bed
Get dressed to shoes
Swish & Swipe
Eat breakfast
Empty the dishwasher
Start a load of laundry
Check your calendar

FlyLady’s Afternoon Routine
What’s for dinner
Drink your water
Declutter for 15 minutes
Reboot your laundry
15 minutes of exercise
Work through emails

FlyLady’s Bedtime Routine
Check your calendar and forecast
Lay our tomorrow’s clothes
Spend 2 minutes clearing off a hot spot
Shine your sink
Wash face, Brush teeth, Bathe
Go to bed at a decent hour

And that’s our day!

Our Homeschool Yearly Schedule & Terms

Standard

Since we do school at home, we are not required to do “school” like the rest of them. We are only required to do 180 calendar days per school year, and that can look however we want it to look. I love the flexibility this gives us. We love to take pre-planned breaks in our homeschool, and it’s also good to have those random days where we just need a day off or want to do something fun with family or friends who are available on a particular day.

Some may call our Homeschool Yearly Schedule “Sabbath Schooling” or even “Year-Round Homeschooling”, though we still take a pretty good Summer break usually, so I’m not sure if this one is the most accurate. Sabbath Schooling refers to the homeschool schedule that is made up of “Six Week Terms” followed by a “Break Week”.

I love this schedule for a few reasons…

#1 It helps prevent Homeschool Burnout. Sometimes, it can feel daunting to have to do school day after day after day. My kids feel it, and I feel it too sometimes. Then of course, there’s the feeling of being stuck at home. We want to get out and do fun things sometimes because it’s not always easy to do them on Homeschool days, or else we just aren’t motivated to come back home and get our schoolwork done. For the most part, homeschooling and being home with my kids is very enjoyable for me, but then there are times when even this mama needs a break. I can try my best to plan for these during our break weeks.

#2 It allows me to do “Incremental Planning”. If you’ve been following me longer than a minute, you know that I love planning. Hence, the name of my blog. And as much as I love planning, you’d think I’d have the whole school year planned out before it begins, all written in my planner and such. You’d be wrong. I’ve tried that before, and it was an utter fail. It was a fail because plans are nice, but plans do not always happen as they are intended to. There are sick days, unplanned fun days, and “I just need a break” days. There are days where my children are frustrated and have emotional days and we end up skipping math altogether. These things just can’t always be “planned for”. So, instead I only plan out the intended yearly calendar, knowing that it will change some too, and I do Incremental Planning. During the Summer break, I select and finalize the curriculum we will be using and make a general idea of how often we will do each subject. Then, I only plan for one term at a time, and loosely at that. So I love when Break Week comes, because it allows me to plan our next term! It’s kind of like a New Year or a new day…. a fresh start for us. Even if we didn’t get as far as I’d hoped in the previous term, I can adjust our pace to make sure we are hitting various progress points throughout our year, and it’s really nice to have that flexibility.

#3 Having a pre-planned Break Week gives us time to plan special things and get household projects done. Break week is the perfect time to plan fun, field trips. In fact, we’re about to have a Break Week this next week, and I’ve got planned for us to go and do something fun each day of the week! All of the public schoolers have gone back to school now, so we’ll likely have the kids’ places to ourselves or with much smaller crowds at least. Can you say #Winning?! 😉 This will also be a week where I catch up on some of the household projects that I don’t necessarily have time for during the school week. I’m excited about that as well. We can all use a reboot from time to time.

Here’s How I Plan our Yearly “Sabbath Schooling” Homeschool Schedule: 

  • I think about when I’m ready to start school. Usually, we tend to start in July because we love the routine that homeschooling gives us. This was the case this year, especially, because we will be having a new baby in the month of December so we will definitely be taking a longer break for that – probably at least a month or so, but we’ll see.
  • I think about when we’d like to finish school (ideally, of course). We definitely don’t want to finish school after the public schoolers do. It’s no fun to be stuck inside doing school when everyone else is out playing (or so it seems). Unless, of course we were too excited to wait and start in July like we usually do. That’s an exception to that “stuck” feeling.
  • I look at the calendar and enter our “Break Weeks” first, based on holidays or big events.  Some of these would include the week of Thanksgiving, the weeks surrounding Christmas, and this year – our baby’s due date.
  • Set our terms. This is where it’s really helpful to have a dated, yearly calendar to glance at – one that has multiple years actually. My teacher planner is perfect for this! But I also like to view it all on one page like the one shown from Pam Barnhill’s Plan Your Year. I usually start out by counting backwards six weeks from Thanksgiving to give us a Fall Term. Then, I add in a Break Week and count backwards again to give us another term if we need it. It doesn’t always have to be exactly Six Weeks for our terms. Some weeks may be five weeks, or seven weeks, or possibly even three – depending on how the calendar lines up. The most important part is to make it work for you, and that’s exactly what we do.

    Here’s Our “Flexible” Homeschool Schedule for the 2018-2019 School Year:
    Summer Term (Light-Schooling to Reintroduce Subjects one at a time) July 5 – August 10
    Break Week (Field Trip Week!) – August 13-17
    Fall Term (All Subjects) – August 20-September 28
    Break Week – October 1-5
    Second Fall Term – October 8- November 16
    Break Week (Thanksgiving) – November 29 – 23
    First Winter Term (Mini-Term) – November 26 – December 14*
    *This one could change depending on when our baby decides to come.
    Christmas Break – December 17 – January 4
    Second Winter Term – January 7 – February 15
    Break Week – February 18-22
    Spring Term – February 25 – April 5
    Spring Break – April 8-12
    Final Term – April 15- May 3, potentially
    (We may need to go a little longer than this if we haven’t quite hit our 180 days.)

    Here’s how I Track our Attendance:
    On the monthly spread of my teacher planner, I just write a large number to count up the days. I also note the pre-planned break weeks.

    And that’s it. That’s how we plan our Homeschool Year into terms!
    For more in this “Not” Back to school Homeschooling Series, you can visit my Homeschooling Page!

    Whatever you do, Let’s make a Plan to Be more Purposeful!  

Our Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Standard

Here are our Curriculum Choices for the 2018-2019 Homeschool Year…

Layten Bradleigh – (currently 21 months old; Tot School)
She wants to do everything her big brothers do, including “school” so I decided to start working with her early, and she absolutely LOVES it! Basically it’s just a little planned out, intentional time that I spend with her each day to color and talk about things like letters, sounds, vocabulary development, counting, shapes, colors, etc. I’m not expecting her to master any of this right now, but she does do pretty well with it, even at such a young age.

Our curriculum choice is Tot School Printables, and it was a free, printable download curriculum which I have used with both Lawson and Linkin. I laminated and saved what I knew I could use again with my next kids, and I’m really glad I thought to do that. It seriously takes us about five minutes a day, and it’s very simple, but this curriculum is awesome and covers all the bases. I recommend it for toddlers Layten’s age, and it would even be great for toddlers that are a little older.

Linkin – (age 4; Pre-K 4)
Linkin does NOT really enjoy “school”, and his learning style is very different from his siblings. However, I’m learning to work with him to teach him both in ways that are more his style, and he works with me on learning things that are more my style as his teacher. If I were to classify his preferred style of schooling, it would be “unschooling”. Basically it’s following your child’s lead in whatever they are interested in. This can work really well if they have a particular interest that you can follow their lead in, and I think it may work well for us as he gets older and finds more things that he’s interested in and passionate about. However, right now his interests include Rescue Bots, Transformers, and Paw Patrol. I can make that educational in some ways, but then I begin to draw a blank on what else we can do with it. Actually, the most educational thing I’ve found that falls into one of these categories would be the “transforming letters and numbers sets” we played with at Excel by 5. He REALLY loved those!

The main curriculum I use with Linkin is called Raising Rockstars Preschool. It’s also available as a free, printable download. I love this curriculum because we are still reviewing the alphabet with it, but it takes it to the next level. Each letter has a corresponding Memory Verse and a page of how we can apply that verse to our lives. It’s basically a list of affirmations where he can see who God made him to be and all the things he can do because of that. We are working to write letters a little more this year, but it’s still very basic tracing lines. We do some cutting practice and gluing each week with our Memory verse strips, and each week has a song that goes along with it, which of course he loves. I think his favorite part is the little mini book that is included in each week though. It corresponds with the letter of the week and introduces a new sight word. He can memorize it based on the pictures and “read” it to me all by himself. I think this excites little ones to learn to read and gives them the confidence they need to have in order to learn the skills to do so when it’s time.

Linkin really loves numbers, singing, small objects, and he loves to play. Most of his learning takes place doing these activities, and these are all “unplanned” things actually. After he does his “planned” curriculum with me each day, I let him have time to play freely (when Layten naps usually) with our Math U See blocks or puzzles or something else with small parts. He really enjoys having time to work with these things when he’s not bothered by his little sister, so during her nap time works best.

Bible: Bible Roadtrip Level Preschool/Kindergarten
We just started this curriculum, and I LOVE it! It was exactly what I was looking for in a Bible Curriculum. Giving my children a biblical foundation is one of the main reasons that we homeschool so having a good Bible curriculum is a must for us. I wanted something a little more in depth than a devotional Bible study, but not too much so that they couldn’t understand it. This one is perfect. For Linkin’s level we use the book 365 Great Bible Stories. We read the short stories and discuss them a little bit, and there are weekly crafts and usually an episode of “What’s in the Bible with Buck Denver” that we watch on our Jelly Telly app.

Memory Work:
With memory work, I don’t really “test” them in it because I can kind of tell what they know and are still working on. I’m really not too concerned that they memorize EVERYTHING that we work on, but that they get a general knowledge of it. I do test Linkin on his weekly Memory Verse with Raising Rockstars, and I want him to learn all of those verses and have them in his heart. For the other things, I just want him to be present with us (in the same room) and hopefully take in what he can from it. Ideally, he would repeat it with Lawson and answer the catechism questions, but like I’ve already said school is not his favorite thing so he doesn’t always participate. HOWEVER, there was one day that I had him alone and I was shocked to find that he actually has learned a good bit of our memory work and knew them very well (especially for a kid who rarely ever says them aloud with us). So this is why I’m not too concerned with it. Also, I’ve asked him questions in our Bible lessons recently that corresponded with Catechisms we’ve learned, and he correctly answered the questions and knew things I really didn’t even expect him to know at this point. He was able to apply the catechism questions and answers that we’ve memorized in a practical way. That’s how I know it’s working, and I’m a full Memory Work believer for sure!

As I’ve mentioned we are working to learn “A Catechism for Girls and Boys“. We are working through Part One right now which are Questions about God, Man, and Sin. I don’t know how many we’ll get to this year. I’m just kind of taking it as we go and trying to make some progress towards completion… a little more each week.

We are also working to learn Psalm 139 right now, and we just work a little at a time. I add in a few verses each week that we practice, but we always review the entire scripture portion. I’ll slow down adding verses if I see that we aren’t really learning it as fast or becoming more familiar with it. My memory schedule is very relaxed.

We also review things we’ve already learned periodically such as The Lord’s Prayer, The Pledge of Allegiance, Simple Mottos to Recite and Live By, our Home Address and Phone Numbers, Manners for Kids, Safety Rules, and previously learned verses and poems.

Knight Training: This is based on the book Knights in Training by Heather Haupt. I heard her speak about this concept on a podcast, and I fell in love with it. We are losing the art of chivalry in our society, and I love that this book helps me to teach it to my boys… things such as obeying those in authority over you, defending the weak, respecting the honor of women, and pursuing excellence in everything they do… just to name a few. I’ll have to do a post solely on this topic, as it’s something that’s become a big part of how we are raising our boys now.

Lawson – (age 6; First Grade)
Lawson and I have been doing “school” together for quite some time. I have always loved homeschooling because of the intentional time that it gives me with each of my children. Lawson has his days like all children, but for the most part he does not mind doing school. He wants to get it all done so he can be free and do his own thing, and he does really well with whatever I give him at this point. He doesn’t seem to have much of a preferred style that he’s voiced other than I noticed him getting bored with Math U See worksheets. so we did make a math curriculum switch this year.

Language Arts & Literature: The Good and the Beautiful Curriculum by Jenny Phillips
This curriculum includes Phonics, Reading, Spelling, Writing, Literature, Grammar and Punctuation, and Art Appreciation. I LOVE that it combines all of these in a very simple and easy way! It includes Easy Reader Books, Phonics Cards, and more. It was actually a free, download curriculum that I had printed and bound at our local print shop.

Math: Master Books – Lessons for a Living Education
This curriculum is simple in the fact that it is just one book and doesn’t include manipulatives. Instead, Lawson actually makes all of the manipulatives that he needs himself, and that’s what makes this “living math”. He has made his own flashcards with silly story pictures on them, his own clock, and his own calendar. This really helps him to apply what he’s learning in a hands-on way, and he really enjoys it. It requires a little more planning and reading ahead on my part than our Math U See curriculum did, but it’s okay because it works so well for us. I flipped through the textbooks at our homeschool convention this Summer and decided to start Lawson in Level 2, because we’d already covered most of the things in Level 1.

Handwriting/Penmanship:
Actually for this one now, I actually just make up my own assignments for him. Based on what we are learning in other subjects, right now I give him a portion of scripture from his Memory Work to copy in cursive. Sometimes I have him answer a question for me or give a narration of something else he’s learning. I will write down what he says and then have him write it in cursive for his daily writing assignment.

Bible: Bible Roadtrip Level Lower Elementary
This is the same curriculum I’m using with Linkin as mentioned above, but it’s the 1st-3rd grade Lower Elementary level for Lawson. We are learning the same scriptures and Bible stories at the same time so it really does build on each level. For Lawson’s level, he reads from the ESV Children’s Bible. It’s really cool that he is able to read from the actual Bible all by himself now. This bible does have some pictures, but for the most part it’s columns and words just like any adult bible would be. We also use the books 66 Books, One Story and Window on the World that were highly suggested in the curriculum guide. For Lawson’s level, we do a bit more discussion with the questions listed for each reading assignment. Then we do some notebooking work to apply what we’re reading and studying. We work on memorization a little bit, we pray through the word, and also do bible crafts.

Apologetics: Who is God? by Apologia
Helping our children to establish a Christian worldview is important to us. This curriculum has been amazing to help us to explain why we believe the things we believe and why we do the things we do as a family and as Christians. We began this curriculum last year, and we’ve been slowly working our way through it. It’s a lot of read aloud and activities so we just work at our own pace through it.

Science: Botany by Apologia
I love that this is a Christian science curriculum, and we especially love the hands-on projects that go along with it. We started this curriculum last year as well, and we’re still slowly working through it. Science is considered an “extra” at this age so we don’t do it every day. Like the Apologetics curriculum, this one is also heavy reading and assignments so we can’t always fit it in after we’ve done our main subjects. It will be easier to go through these courses when Lawson is a little older and reading more independently.

Read Aloud:
Since learning the benefits of reading aloud (even to older students who are already reading on their own), it’s something I’m really wanting to work into our homeschool day. To be honest, I’m not the best at finding time to read aloud. Sure, I read to Layten pretty often, and whenever someone brings me a book, but my children are active and busy, so this doesn’t always happen. It’s one of my homeschooling goals though so I’ll continue to work to get better at it. One area where we’ve seen some success though is on our weekly car rides to the coast to grocery shop… I will turn on Audible and play one of our books that way so we do make some progress there during that longer drive each week. We are currently working through the Read Aloud Revival Reading List. Lawson will also be working through a First Grade Reading List this year.

Our Homeschool Curriculum Wishlist: 
Ask any school teacher or homeschool mom, and I’m sure they have a list of some things they would LOVE to have and do for their students, but just can’t right now for whatever reason. Usually it’s budget. Here are a few of ours, and we might possibly add these in this year as well if we find some extra room in the budget to make them happen at some point. 😉

Skill Trek – This is a supplemental curriculum that fills in the gaps of any education. It teaches “Life Skills” such as tying your shoes, using a blender, balancing a checkbook, and changing the oil in a vehicle. It introduces skills based on ages and levels, of course, and it would be such a fun addition to our homeschool that I think my kids would really enjoy and appreciate it.

Kids Cook Real Food – I think this would also be one of those fun, supplemental things my kids would enjoy. They always want to help me in the kitchen, especially when I’m baking or making loaves of bread! I think this would be a fun way for me to intentionally include them in the kitchen, where I normally am a pretty resistant to do so, if I’m being honest.

Our Story of How We Decided to Homeschool

Standard

One of the areas that our family has chosen to be intentional and purposeful is our decision to homeschool our children. It’s amazing how God puts these desires in our hearts… it’s not something I had ever really considered before, but here’s a little back story for you on how we got to where we are now with our homeschooling decision.

I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl, and “playing school” was my favorite thing. I even had my own podium, large dry erase board, and I LOVED school supplies (still do!). I bought grade books, teaching resources, and taught my Beanie Babies. Teaching was always what I wanted to do, but as I majored in Music Education, then Elementary Education, I quickly realized that working in a school setting with all of the mandated tests and requirements was not what I wanted to do. I was working through college as a Preschool Teacher, which I loved! It’s really where all the fun is – where children are allowed (and encouraged) to learn through play, the way it really should be. Don’t get me wrong – there was still plenty of time for planned, teacher-directed learning as well – in the form of stories, art activities, and related science and sensory experiences. Writing lesson plans and planning experiences was a fun process for me, and implementing them with my students was amazing too! At this point, I decided to switch gears and become a full-time preschool teacher while pursuing Early Childhood Education online.

As I mentioned earlier, homeschooling was not really something I’d ever considered before, but as I transitioned out of the preschool classroom setting and into the home and caregiver setting as a full-time nanny, I couldn’t lose those things that I loved so much about teaching. I began to teach the twins that I cared for, and really in a sense, we were homeschooling. As I planned lessons for them, researched ideas, discovered Pinterest, and found homeschooling blogs, I fell in love the idea of homeschooling. I knew that one day I would homeschool our own children.

I got pregnant with Lawson and had an in-home daycare for a while. Then, when I got pregnant with Linkin, we decided to close the home daycare and begin my journey as a full-time stay at home mama. It was a big leap of faith because it meant that I was walking away from bringing in any income at all on my part, but we’ve been blessed in ways that money could never compare by the decision of being home with my children. Yes, some days are hard. Yes, some times I lose my mama cool and need a little time-out. But for the most part, it has really been the best decision, and I can’t imagine doing anything else – at least not anything that will take me away from being home with my children.

Homeschooling has just been one of those things that has allowed me to both be home with my children and teach them too. It also allows me to do many of the things that I really love and enjoy – planning, organizing, researching, teaching, and administrating all in one! God has just stirred up a desire in us to teach them and give them a great, biblical foundation here at home – with as few outside influences as possible. I’m not saying that we will homeschool forever because we really don’t know what God has in store for us, but for now, it’s the best decision we could’ve ever made. Our children are close, and they play well together. I love that I don’t ever have to ask my children how their day went because I already know the answer. I love that we are free to do this as we choose to. I don’t have to have a degree to teach my children. I know them better than anyone else on the planet. I’ve studied their little personalities and learning styles to create what I think is the best education for each of them, individually. Of course, this will ebb and flow as they grow and we all change, but it’s a really beautiful thing that we get to do here. We absolutely love homeschooling!  

Whatever you do, Let’s make a Plan to be more Purposeful! 

New Series… “Not” Back to School

Standard

This is the time in our area where most of the kids are going “Back to School”. We are a homeschooling family so we’re not going Back to School, per se, but we do like to celebrate the beginning of a new school year for us at home as well.

I thought it would be fun to share some glimpses into our homeschool this month in a series I’m calling “Not Back to School”
.

Some of the Posts you’ll see in this Series…

  • Our Story of How We Decided to Homeschool
  • Our Homeschool Curriculum Choices
  • Our Homeschool Organization & Space
  • Our Homeschool Yearly Schedule & Terms
  • Our Homeschool Daily Schedule & Routines
  • My Homeschool Planner (This one might be my favorite to share!)
  • Our Favorite Homeschool Tools and Resources
  • Our Homeschool Record-Keeping and Portfolios

    What else would you like to see? I think this will be a really fun series because homeschooling has become one of my favorite things!

    Whatever you do, Let’s make a Plan to be more Purposeful!

My Winn Dixie Shopping Trip 8/3/18

Standard

Do you always wonder what things other people buy for groceries and how much they spend?? I know I do. I love to see breakdowns like this, but I also feel like sometimes it’s been unattainable for me because either we don’t have the same stores available to us here or we eat and use totally different products than the things they do. I think I just need to see the whole process from start to finish in order for me to grasp the entire concept.

So that’s exactly what I’ve done with this series of posts. (If you missed my planning and preparing process in part one, you can find it here.) I’m taking you from the very beginning to the end. Who knows? We might even have a continuation where I show you what meals I cook from the things we buy and how we use the purchases we make! Maybe that would be really helpful? We’ll see what I can get done for you.

For now, I hope you enjoy the breakdown of my trip to Winn Dixie this week. Here goes! 

Here’s my Winn Dixie grocery list for this week. I like to mark it up and make notes all over it as you can see. I add in quantities I want to buy. I add in coupons I have. I highlight the ibotta rebate offers so that I remember to submit them. I add up about how much I will be spending to make sure I’ll be within my budget. Of course the starred items are the ones that are priced based on pound so I don’t take those into account when I add it all up, and I just know that these will add to my total a little bit.

Here are some of the coupons I printed and clipped for this week’s shopping trip. I haven’t started buying the Sunday paper again yet, but I really need to.

Here’s my car full of groceries! I was kid-free when I shopped so I was able to use my entire backseat to hold everything. (You can also see the freezer bags and the broccoli from my Sam’s trip I made right before this trip.)

Here’s what all I bought today. I thought you might enjoy seeing it all spread out. It was definitely fun for me to set it all up this way to show you.

And here’s the breakdown of today’s shopping trip!

I bought…

4 boxes of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran Crunch Cereal – B1G1 $4.29 ($2.14) x 2
*I had a digital coupon loaded to my Rewards Card for $2/4.
*These will definitely last us at least a couple weeks or more.

2 boxes of Krusteaz Pancake Mix – B1G1 $2.89 ($1.44)
*This should last us at least until they go on sale again in a month or so.

2 boxes of Quaker Instant Grits – B1G1 $4.49 ($2.24)
*I haven’t had grits in a really long time so I’m really excited about these. 🙂

2 boxes of Lance sandwich crackers – B1G1 $3.29 ($1.64)
*I got these to fill our snack box since it’s getting low. It wasn’t on my original grocery list, but it’s okay because they were on sale. These will be good to grab for on the go snacks like when we go grocery shopping next week!

2 containers of Planter’s Peanuts – B1G1 $4.49 ($2.24)
*This isn’t something we buy on a regular basis, but I got them to use for our favorite “Snickers Oatmeal” recipe. We can also eat them for snacks, and these should last us a good while!

2 jars of Hormel bacon bits – $2 each x 2
*I used a $1/2 coupon for these.

2 containers of soft Philadelphia Cream Cheese – $2.50
*I earned 100 SE rewards points for buying 2 of these, and I needed them for an upcoming recipe in a few weeks so I grabbed them now since they were on sale.

4 cans of SE Grocers fruits – $1/each

3 packages of Seasoning Blend – B2G1 = $3.18
*I didn’t originally plan to buy these, but I saw the deal and decided to grab them. I love to always have these on hand for various recipes.

2 packages of Dole Salad Mix – B1G1 = $4 ($2)

Fresh Snap Beans – $1.49/lb = $4.10

Fresh Strawberries – B1G1 $4.99 ($2.49)

Fresh Plums – $1.99/lb = $2.47

Fresh Zucchini – $1.49/lb = $2.19

2 packages of Gorton’s fish fillets – B1G1 $6.99 ($3.49)

3 lbs. of Butterball Ground Turkey – $3.50
*I planned to buy 2 of these, but when I was in store I saw that one package had been marked down by $2 additional for a quick sale so I grabbed three instead. We’ll use the quick sale one first, and I can freeze the others to use later unless I’m planning a meal with them this week.
*I used a $0.75/1 paper coupon of this and also a $0.75/1 digital coupon for this.

1 lb. Butterball Turkey Sausage – $4.99
*This was also marked down for a quick sale and savings of an additional $2 so I grabbed it too. My kids love sausage so I knew it would be a good buy for us.

Pork Chop Ribeyes – B1G1 $9.44 ($4.72)

Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausage – B1G1 $4.99 ($2.49)

Ball Park Franks – B1G1 $3.99 ($1.99)
*We’re planning to build a campfire soon with the kids as it’s on our Summer Bucket list, and I thought it would be fun to roast these over the fire.

1 half gallon of Tru Moo Chocolate Milk – $2.50
*I planned to get this anyway because one of my kids LOVES chocolate milk. It was marked down for a quick sale so I found the one with the latest date, and I knew it would be fine because my family will definitely have it gone by then anyway.

2 pints of Halo Top – $4.50 x 2
*My husband loves these so I got them as a treat for him. They weren’t necessarily “cheaper” but I earned 120 SE Rewards points by purchasing two of them. And this is one of those things we would run out and get if we have a craving anyway… so now we won’t have to. Totally worth it.
*Let’s see if my husband actually reads my posts…. I hid these in the back of the freezer for him and haven’t told him yet. I’m waiting for a good time to let him in on my secret little purchase for him. 😉

Tropicana Essentials Probiotic Orange Mango Drink – 10/$10
*Did you know that if something says 10/$10 in a sale ad, you don’t actually have to buy 10?! It’s true. I’ve been craving orange juice lately, and so I grabbed this since it was also on sale to drink on the way home from my shopping trip. Fruits from all my labor and efforts! (And still better than the jumbo bakery cookies they’ll try to tempt me with at the register.)

2 containers of Purex Laundry Detergent – B1G1 $4.99 ($2.49)

2 boxes of SE grocers plastic spoons – $1.50 x 2
*I earned 40 SE Rewards points for purchasing these. I like for the kids to grab and use these to eat their disposable yogurts or fruit cups with so that we don’t dirty up any extra dishes for those snack times. So, sadly we aren’t a “green” as we could be in this area…. but it’s one of my “mama conveniences”.

2 packages of Quilted Northern Toilet Paper – B1G1 $4.99 ($2.49)

Fresh Grapes – $2.49/lb = $5.90

I’ll let you in on one of my secret little pleasures. It’s so fun, yall! When you start shopping sale cycles at a regular grocery store, you’re going to have to try this one too. They always try to ask me for my reward card first thing, but I never pull it out too quickly. Instead, I leave it in my purse and wallet tucked away until the end. I let them ring up ALL of my items, and I watch that number get really big. Today it was over $200! Seeing that number go up and up and up used to scare me, but now it totally THRILLS me!  (When that number goes up and up at Walmart, it’s a different story. Am I right?) But anyway. Let the cashier finish, and look at the big number. THEN they scan your loyalty rewards card, and all of your sale items register and the price drops way low. It’s super fun to see! And finally, you can hand over your additional coupons, and you can choose to use your rewards points balance for even more savings. It’s just really fun to see how much you are actually saving by shopping grocery sale cycles.

Total – $126.54
Coupons – $16.00
Points Used – $5.26
Final Total – $121.28
Today I earned – 322 points + $3.75 in ibotta Rebates
Today I saved – $102.68

Ibotta App
If you don’t already have or know about the Ibotta app, I’d like to share that with you. This app will give you rebates from purchases from TONS of stores. It doesn’t matter if you buy the item on sale or full price – whether you used a coupon or not. Chances are – you could (and should!) be getting rebates on many of the things you are already purchasing. Shopping online? Shopping in stores? Always check the ibotta app before you shop, and watch those rebates add up – which is money in your pocket later on. You can choose to put it on a giftcard or transfer it to your Paypal account.

If you’d like to sign up for ibotta and earn your savings, here’s my referral link!

This is my Rebate earnings from this particular Winn Dixie shopping trip!

And this is my lifetime earnings. Do you SEE that amount?! This is money that I have been able to transfer to my Paypal account over time! It’s REAL money, and it’s been nice to have a little bonus cash, or what I like to call “Free Money” just from buying things I was already buying anyway.

If you’d like to sign up for ibotta and earn your savings, here’s my referral link! 

In my next posts I’ll be sharing with you the breakdown of my shopping trips to CVS and Sam’s Club!

Whatever you do, Let’s make a Plan to be More Purposeful! 

My Meal Planning and Grocery Sale Preparation Process

Standard

When we first got married, I used to love couponing and shopping for good deals. Of course, we also lived in a bigger city and had a multitude of stores to choose from. AND I didn’t have children so it was easy for me to just run in a store pretty much any time I wanted to. When we moved to where we live now, we were at least a 30 minute drive away from the good stores. I tried to make it work for a while, but after a while it just got to be too much. Maybe it was when I had my home daycare and just couldn’t find the time to get there to shop, but at some point I just gave up trying to coupon and embraced Walmart’s “every day low prices”.

Fast forward to now. I am a stay at home mom. We live on one income, and we are expecting our fourth child. A few months ago we had our little family budget meeting, and my husband told me that I had to cut our grocery spending somehow. I wasn’t really sure where to even begin because I was already struggling to make what I thought was a low budget work for us. Even just getting to the store was a challenge for me. But I decided to work on it. I made the decision to say goodbye to Walmart, and begin shopping at actual grocery stores with sale cycles again. I also bought us a Sam’s Club membership and decided I would also tackle drugstores again, but I would only focus on one right now… CVS. So while it’s still not perfect, and it’s taken me a month or two to get back in my groove… I think I’m figuring it out again. I’ve already cut our grocery budget category down by more than half! Before we were budgeting $450/pay period for groceries. Now I budget $200 per pay period for my grocery trips. (Sam’s Club and Drugstores have a separate budget line now, and I’m in the process of deciding exactly how much these amounts should be. I’m in the gathering stages right now, and I’ll track my patterns over the past months to get a good idea.)

And we also now always have food. We don’t run out of things as easily, and I seem to always have a back-up of whatever the item might be… I have a small stash now of extras and things like Ranch Dressing, Ketchup, Dishwasher Tablets, Laundry Detergent, Pancake Mix, Shaving Cream, My favorite Lotion, etc. It’s also been really nice because there are some weeks that I don’t even have to grocery shop! I’m not even kidding! We have plenty of food, and there might not be anything on the sales list that we really need so we just skip it. This was the case one week when we went out of town in June and another week in July when we just wanted to wait and make a larger trip the following week instead.

I’m definitely not an extreme couponer. I only buy what we use and love. I only buy what’s on sale… at least for the most part. And it’s been working really well.

Today, I’ll share my planning and preparing strategies with you.

(My strategies and things I take into account might be a little different because I almost always have my kids in tow. So you can just take those kinds of tips into consideration when you are making YOUR plans.) Then, I’ll come back and share with you my actual shopping trips with you… what I buy, what I spend, and how I make it all work. I hope you enjoy, and I hope you get some inspiration.

Wunderlist App 
We use this app for some of our church lists, and I thought it would be great to have as a “shared grocery list” for Justin and I. It works out so well because both of us can add things to it and see it at any time on our phones. I also especially love those times where he runs to “get a few things” from the store, and I can see where’s he’s checked things off that I added to the list. It really makes my heart go pitter patter inside. 😀

Being real though, this is kind of my “catch-all” list for needed items instead of writing it down in random places or not writing it down at all and forgetting we need something. If I notice we are running low on laundry detergent or I see that we need poster board for a school project, I add it to our Wunderlist. I also made a Household Staples Sub-list and a Grocery Staples Sub-list which I can glance at to make sure we have our basics covered each week. Obviously this Grocery Staples list needs to be updates since our shopping style has changed dramatically in the past few months. (You can imagine how expensive my Walmart grocery bills were from purchasing all that.)

My Planning Process
1. I go to SouthernSavers.com, and make a grocery list based on the weekly sale ads. I’ve been using this website since my couponing days nearly ten years ago, and I love that Jenny pairs all of the applicable coupons with the actual items that are on sale. It makes things really easy! I also make a list for drugstore shopping. Winn Dixie and CVS are my preferred choices right now.

2. Print and clip any applicable coupons.

3. Write out a meal plan based on the sale items and what’s already in our fridge and pantry. I jotted down a quick plan (in messy handwriting) to give you some ideas, but most of what I planned to buy I knew that we would put up in the freezer for later actually. I like to plan the main parts like the shopping and the deals, and then I’m more laid back and “go with the flow” during the week based on how busy our days are and my moods and how I feel, which aren’t always predictable. Can anyone else relate? 😉

4. Check Wunderlist, and add any items we need that aren’t already on the sale lists. Usually, we we run out of things, they go on sale pretty soon after so it works out, but it’s not always the case.

5. Add any other meal components we need for the weekly meal plan to my shopping list.

6. Go back through the lists, and add up the total costs. It won’t be exact, but this way I can know about how much I will be spending before I even put anything in my shopping cart. You can see how I’ve kind of done this on the lists below. Of course, it’s not exact. Sometimes things are unavailable in stores, and sometimes there are extra deals that I stumble upon and decided to get. Also, I starred the items that are priced by pound because there’s no way to determine an exact cost for those ahead of time so I knew these would be added to my totals that I have shown written in pencil.

7. Go back through the lists and eliminate things we “don’t really need” from it if we are over-budget.

8. Print my lists, and organize my coupons. (Obviously, sometimes I change up the order of these steps. I really like to just add things or cross things off and make notes with pen or pencil once I’ve already printed my list.)

    

Getting Ready for Shopping Day
1. Gather my shopping lists, coupons, store loyalty cards, Extra Care Bucks for CVS if I have any from previous weeks, freezer bags for cold items, etc.

2. Grab my cash envelope wallet and system. Make sure I’ve gone to the bank and filled it based on what our budget allows so I’ll have some money to spend. This is really helping me stay on track with our budget.

3. Clean out my car and make room for the groceries. Right now, they mostly have to fit in my front seat because I have car seats on the two back rows, and that takes away all my trunk space. It’s especially difficult on Sam’s trip days, but we just make do with what we have right now. (When December comes, I don’t know what we’ll do with adding another car seat, but I’m praying about that for sure. Maybe I can find someone to keep the kids once a week, hire someone to shop for me, or maybe somehow God will bless us with a bigger vehicle. I’m not too worried. It will all work out.)

4. Prepare for the day with my littles. They are always with me, and I’m learning to embrace this and make it work for us. There was a time when one of my kids could NOT come with me because he had severe anxiety and meltdowns in stores. Now that he’s a little older, we are learning how to manage this a little better and be prepared for it. To prepare for the day, I fix water bottles, prepare sandwiches or grab snacks to have in the car. I make sure I have my Tula carrier for my squirmy toddler. I grab a bag of candy to use for good-behavior rewards. They each get to choose one piece to have after each store if they listened and behaved well. while we were shopping. If I had to stop shopping to discipline them or something, they lose their candy reward. I have only had to do this one time in the past month of shopping so it works like a charm! I’m not above bribery here, but I make it work for me.

5. Plan the order of stops to make based on location and practicality. Sometimes we plan to do something fun like go to Lynn Meadows or the park while we’re out, but we definitely need to do that before we make our big grocery store haul with all of our cold items. Planning ahead is definitely necessary.

Once these steps are completed, it’s time to hit the actual stores! You can see the breakdown of my actual shopping trips in those posts that will be coming soon.

Whatever you do, Let’s make a Plan to be more Purposeful!