I came across a blog post yesterday written by a homemaker mom that was all about menu boards and menu planning for family dinners. I found it quite funny – maybe even charming – that I was excited by this post, and then realized how much I longed for the routine of meal planning again.

Summer brings with it a relieving break from routine: later bedtimes, (some) sleeping in, more casual meals, unscheduled mealtimes… heck, unscheduled everything. We had an amazing summer – despite the cool weather – and we could have gone with two more weeks to strike off everything we wanted to get done on our list. But alas, school beckons.

And I do admit that I get great comfort from having planned our first “real” week of meals. Due to various circumstances, the past few weeks had been a miscellany of take-out, frozen or make-shift meals, with maybe one or two home-cooked meals thrown in for good measure. In an effort to return to a back-to-school routine, I cooked dinner the past three nights in a row (pizza, macaroni & cheese and prime rib roast if you must know) and it felt like home again. I get a kick out of the orderliness of carefully planning the week’s meals and shopping list. There is an inexplicable joy for me in using my hands and fresh ingredients to create a labour of love. There is pure pleasure in the aromas of a home-cooked meal wafting throughout the house. DQ was able to identify from upstairs what was cooking in my kitchen – love! Nothing is more rewarding than your family being happy to sit down to your meals.

September is already turning out to be a very hectic month on the home-front, what with birthday parties and extracurricular activities already going into high gear. And I better get back to some serious work to pay for all these birthday presents and activities! Schedules and routines must be adhered to if we want to stay on track. But I do find routine is grounding and gives us balance after a somewhat chaotic summer.  I suppose it’s the ying to summer’s yang.

DQ is excited about the new school year, too.  When I think back to a year ago this evening, our old house would have been in shambles, half-packed for our move, and DQ was mentally preparing for a new school, unfamiliar territory, a foreign schoolyard. “What were we thinking?!”, I wondered as I snuggled with DQ in bed tonight and watched her doze off. Tonight, she drifts off knowing that she is going to see a lot of familiar faces, that she will know all the school drills and routines, and that she will feel like part of a community. It’s the joy of routine, even for a seven-year-old.