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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Sleep Is
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Chicago Review Press

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

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Meal planning and more

If you're interested, here are some Momversation videos. You know, if you want to. I'm not going to push them. You are free to do as you like.

The first one is on meal planning. In this one, Karen refers to an article about a woman who plans her family's meals a year in advance, and wonders if any of us do anything similar, albeit less insane. I had some opinions.

If I seem judgmental, you should have seen the raw video, where I insisted that the woman in question was either a "liar" or a "dangerous criminal." Then I amended that to "dangerous lunatic." I STAND BY MY PREVIOUS ASSERTIONS. Don't try to convince me otherwise, because I'm not hearing it. I hate the idea of meal planning, hate it hate it hate it, I have better things to do with my time and you can't convince me that meal planning is important and virtuous and we should all know exactly what we're going to eat every day of the year. Not listening. My fingers are in my ears. La la la la la. I can't plan a week in advance, even. I've tried that, and I can't, and I'm not going to feel bad about it. I have far more important things to feel bad about.

Then, how do we teach our kids to be grateful?

Me, I take away every single one of my son's possessions every morning and then I make him earn them back. That'll learn him. Also I wake him up first thing in the morning by screaming AT LEAST YOU HAVE A BED. Or sometimes while we're playing together I'll shriek BE GRATEFUL! if he looks even a tiny bit surly. So he's always sure to be extra-grateful all the time, because this prevents The Screaming. Maybe. Sometimes I scream anyway, for the heck of it. I'm fun that way.

Reader Comments (48)

Having to cook a set menu would be my own private version of Hell. Yes it would be healthier, though. I just keep a well stocked chest freezer and a well stocked pantry. Whatever Mr. Stang pulls out to thaw, we cook.

I enjoy shopping more this way, too. Everything goes into my magic chest full of possibilities and I never have to commit to any of them.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMustangSally
I'm an AWFUL meal planner... would rather eat cereal or sushi take your pick. Now that I had a daughter who would like nothing better than to eat Mac n cheese for the rest of her life, with the occasional chicken nugget thrown in for good measure, I've planned a meal or two...this week. Mainly because there was a blog out there with a few good recipes I wanted to try (prep and cook time 40 minutes or less)... My daughter, by the way, still had mac n cheese.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa
A year in advance? A year? A fucking year? I thought my OCD was bad, but I bow down to Mrs. I'm better than everyone else and I plan my meals a year in advance.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJen
Love it. And you.I have, on occassion, taken all my son's toys away. All of them. If I find dismantled Transformers EVERYTHING goes up. If I step on Legos downstairs (forbidden zone), the Lego bucket goes up. And he can earn them back. I suppose that's less about teaching gratefulness than learning to take care of what you've got, although they link together. My daughter is just hitting the age where I figure she can understand taking care of her things... and I'm glad we have numerous high shelves.

As for meal planning, I'm guilty. Only 1 week at a time though. I got tired of trying to think of what to make. I got tired of wasting food. And money. It's nice to know that when I drop the boy off at cub scouts I can then start meal X and it will be done the same time he is. Or that on Wed when he's home late and I tired I've got Y all set to go.AND FOR THAT I'M GRATEFUL! :D
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTinkersdamn
I don't meal-plan. no thank you, that's not for me. That said, I often have a vague idea of a few things I will make in the next few days. Also, I can understand people who plan a week ahead. BUT A WHOLE YEAR? That's craziness. Craziness. I actually think this woman is stretching the truth. It means that she can't ever get local produce at her farmer's market. It means that if she sees beautiful leeks half off at the supermarket, she can't get them to make soup because it's not on the yearly meal plan. I guess I find it more sad than anything The rest of your post made me giggle.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbeyond
I AM LOL!!! Especially about how you can totally plan Henry's meals a year in advance. My daughter is the same way. Still laughing..
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterpaige
I've tried. Tried to plan meals. But there's something about writing it down that turns me into an oppositional two year old who isn't going to do what she's told. Even if I was the one telling myself.

Trader Joe's is my meal planning. They have nice size main things. Like salmon and turkey meatballs. Not together. Things that can defrost quickly and that can turn into meals with just some added veggies or starchies. Then I don't get all defiant.

We eat out a lot too. I love eating out. I'd eat crap I'd never in a million years buy or cook at home.

PS -- husband and 15 yo son sidled by as I was watching the video and you even got a grin and a bit of a giggle from the 15 yo. I proudly told them that you are the only one of these bloggers that I read (or I might have said know. or have as a best friend.)

PPS I also can't clean or organize and I maintain a facade of goodness only for people I don't see very often.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJen
Jen: exactly. ExACTLY. The minute I see my meal plan written down I'm practically holding my breath and having a temper tantrum. I always decide what I want for dinner about an hour or two before I have to make it. (Or order it, as the case may be.) 

And no, I do not hate you week-in-advance meal planners! You are all fine and not at all crazy. Carry on. 
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlice Bradley
My mother planned meals a week in advance but only until my brother was in the first grade and she no longer had to drag children to the grocery store with her. In the summers, though, even when I was in middle school, the little "M T W Th F" in the top left-hand corner of her grocery list would reappear because she knew someone would have to come to the store with her (if not all of us!) and she would not want to do that twice in a week, oooooh no.

I however weep at the thought of planning meals in advance. Hell, I routinely forget to buy cat food. Probably another good reason I do not have children.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmazonqueenkate
I make a rough plan of what I want to make for the week ahead, just so I don't have to haul a screeching 2 year old to the grocery store more than once in a 7 day period. Can I get an AMEN?

I keep it flexible though. If someone decides they are craving a burger, fine, lets have those instead...or shoot, lets order takeout cause I don't feel like cooking.

Planning your meals a YEAR in advance actually makes me... really sad for that family. Like Mom is troubled. A massive control freak, and her life is terribly unhappy. Food is supposed to be fun too, isn't it? Those poor kids. Just bein' honest.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKate
I'm not the laugh-out-loud type, but you make me laugh, Alice. Often. I love it. Thank you for contributing to my mental health :)
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCresanna
Hey, I plan out my menus a year in advance, too...

Easy: since my boy eats exactly the same.dang.thing every freakin' day, 7 days a week.

Seriously, you can see the meal chart up on the wall for the year 2010:

Breakfast: cheerios and apple juice.Lunch: ground chicken burrito, apple juice, applesauce.Dinner: turkey burger on bun, apple juice, applesauce.

There, a years worth of meals, all planned ahead.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandra
I don't even plan meals when I am making them. Cereal. I put milk in. That is planned.

My kid's not grateful for a damn thing. I'm not sure that children can be grateful. Compassion can be nurtured in children but gratitude is a different attitude and requires a certain life experience.

February 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterozma
I can't even plan dinner that morning. My microwave's primary duty is defrosting things for dinner when we decide what we feel like eating.

Planning out a year in advance? That' I don't know if I am in awe in a good way or a bad way.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterErin (Snarke)
Is a momversation like a staycation? If so, I think I will pass.
February 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth Howard
Meal planning: Oh, puh-leeeeeeeeeeeez! (Followed by eye-rolling.)

Gratitude: You can theoretically appreciate a thing while you have it, but it's only when you experience its absence that a space is created in your heart called "gratitude" (closely linked to a thing called "compassion"). Harsh? Maybe. But it's a pretty accurate picture of what people are really like.

I don't worry about teaching my daughter gratitude. We're stretched thinner than butter on bread, and she goes without all kinds of stuff. She's often told "No," and it's not fun, but another part of me knowsthat this won't hurt her. And when we do have plenty, we celebrate and share!
February 10, 2010 | Unregistered
We're still trying to figure out who will cook the meal let alone plan it! Plus we bought a beautiful dining room table that we walk right past and eat at the coffee table. I aspire to be that mom but plan a year in advance????? Never!

Thank you for the weekly musings - Loving it!
February 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJodi
I think I'd become very ungrateful if someone woke me up with AT LEAST YOU HAVE A BED!!!!!!! Although it'd be funny. As a one time thing, you know.
February 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBelle
I am lucky if I plan a meal an hour before we eat, let alone a week or a YEAR for pity's sake. Interestingly enough, I tried to plan our meals for a week this past Sunday and we have already severely deviated (yes, it is only Wednesday). Just goes to show what happens when I go down that avenue of Crazyville.
February 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJen
If I don't plan meals, we'd spend a freaking fortune on eating out. The kids have Taekwondo four nights a week (a lot? maybe, but they can KICK ASS) so with that plus homework, I need to know plan what is going to be made a week in advance. Plus, the kids plan and cook dinner for the family on Fridays. Gotta have the groceries for that.

But a year's worth of planning? That's crazy talk.
February 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercandace
"Also I wake him up first thing in the morning by screaming AT LEAST YOU HAVE A BED."

This made me do a full-on LOL.

That lady that plans her meals a year in advance... I'll bet she screams like a banshee if the kids don't line their rubber boots up according to size, too. SCARY.
February 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDawn
Yep, I agree. Planning a year in advance is cooky.

But I have become a meal planner - a week in advance. It saves me time and money. I also think it helps us eat more healthy, and wonder if you can eat as healthfully if you don't plan. Does less planning result in consumption of fewer vegetables? I think for me there's a direct correlation between amount of time spent planning and amount of vegetables consumed. Not just because I'm more likely to buy veggies if I know how I will use them, but it's also likely that they'll be prepared in a way that makes them taste a lot better if I'm planning and even using a recipe.

Anyway, enough said... Great post.
February 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKatherine
No offense, but the woman whose husband cooks all the time isn't a very good representative for the argument for cooking family meals. If I had a spouse who cooked all the time, I'd be a fan of at home meals too.
February 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn Elefant

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