I'm a big believer in eating meals with your family, but I'll admit, it's not easy. It takes creativity and patience, along with a bit of trial-and-error, but it IS possible!
Today I'm sharing my meal planning process. This works for me and maybe it'll help you too.
A MASTER MENU LIST
This is exactly what it sounds like. I created a list of our favorite meals and put them into a table format. My full list is about 2 pages long. Click here to print a blank template.
In the picture above, you can see that I've listed meals on the left. At the top, I've listed the months.
Every time we eat a meal, I put a check in the box for that month. Note - I don't mark the meal until we've actually eaten it. After all, some weeks life gets busy and the plan changes!
And yes, if you look closely, you'll see some of my meals are super-easy. No judgement allowed! Family meals are important to me, but I never said it had to be fancy!
PLAN A WEEKLY MENU
This is where the Master Menu List really comes in handy!
Every Saturday or Sunday, I make a meal plan for the week. I simply grab that list and choose meals that we HAVEN'T eaten recently.
If you're like me, you can get into a rut and make the same thing over and over. That's fine of course, but this system helps rotate meals and I like that.
Planning Tip: I found it helpful to have a rough schedule of when I'll cook and when we'll eat leftovers. After all, some teaching days are so busy that I can't cook big meals. On those days, we'll eat leftovers, I'll use the crockpot, or it'll be something super simple, like pizza bagels.
Here's my current meal plan:
WHAT ABOUT NEW RECIPES?
Honestly, I'm not an adventurous cook. Life's been busy and it hasn't been a top priority.
But THIS year, things are different. I have a Master List of recipes that I plan to try and guess what? I've already tried several of them in the past couple weeks! It's all about spoiling my son before he heads off to college. Discovering new meals is one way I'm doing that.
Over the next few months, I'll share my favorites with you. Some of them have been huge hits with Kevin and Matthew!
MY FAVORITE BREAKFAST!
NOTE: If you don't like oatmeal - STAY WITH ME! My husband doesn't like oatmeal either, but this is more like....granola and he loves it. So does Matthew!
It's called Overnight Oats. I heard about this a long time ago, but avoided it because I don't like mushy oatmeal.
Steel oats is more my style. It has a nutty, chewy texture and I love it!
My overnight oats recipe is for steel oats, although you could use either. It literally takes less than 5 minutes to make the day before. The next day, just grab a spoon and dive in!
Overnight Oats Recipe
Grab your favorite mug (I love this one!) and mix the following:
NOTE: Steel oats are very hard and this mixture needs to sit for at least 8 hours to be soft enough to eat. The best part is that they'll maintain the chewy texture for a couple days in the fridge, so go ahead and make a couple mugs for the week. You'll be glad you did!
If you liked this post, you might enjoy:
This Year I'm Saying YES to My Family
Teach Piano AND Have Dinner With Your Family? YES!
Quick and Tasty Meatballs
Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
Note: Some of links in this post are affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.
Family has always been important to me, but this year, more than ever, I'm putting family first.
My son, Matthew, is a senior in high school and you better believe, I want to treasure this time before he heads off to college.
So instead of teaching most afternoons, I'm leaving time to cook yummy meals and try new recipes.
Is it my shameless attempt to lure him home when he's off at school? Absolutely!
But seriously, my real goal is to simply be...AVAILABLE. If he's free and wants to hang out with me (be still my heart!) I want to be available.
The last thing I want is to look back with regret because I didn't cherish this time.
NOT AFRAID TO SAY NO
Of course, all of this hinges on my ability to say NO and truthfully, that's not easy for me. I'm a "yes" girl at heart. I want everyone to be happy.
But setting boundaries is important. I've written before about the necessity of learning to say NO and this "yes" girl is definitely getting better! Mostly because I'm getting a lot of practice!
The school year hasn't even started and I've said NO to:
Yikes! Just looking at that list stresses me out! But you know what's crazy? Normally, I would have said "yes" to everything without even blinking.
I would have reworked my schedule to make everyone happy and then I would have been completely overwhelmed.
Not this year! My priorities are set.
These are the "yes" decisions I've made:
A SIDE BENEFIT
One of the best parts of this decision is that I feel a huge weight off my shoulders. Since I'm not overwhelmed with commitments this year, my focus will be better. And I'm excited about that!
There will be TIME. Because I'm MAKING time - for the things that matter most.
I'd love to hear how you're making time for the important stuff!
In the Upbeat Piano Teacher Mastermind, we talk a lot about goals. I love goal-setting. But there’s a downside to setting goals.
If you really want to achieve your goals, you have to get good at saying no.
Here are some comments from our group. The topic was about putting students on a waiting list.
"Saying no is the worst!!! How many are on my waiting list? None. That's because I keep creating new time slots for them all!!!!!!!!!!! Aaaaghhhhh!"
"I love teaching and have a difficult time turning people away. In my mind I'm saying "It'll only be a couple hours," but I know it'll ruin my whole day off."
"I have a real tendency to say yes to all students - and then my home life gets crazy."
MY PERSONAL STORY
That last quote is from yours truly. Yes - I confess - in the past, I’ve added students AFTER all my slots were booked, thinking..... It’s just 30 more minutes.
True . It's 30 more minutes of work and 30 more minutes away from my family. I always regretted it.
But recently a friend looked at me and said "You've gotten good at saying no." Really? I hadn't noticed. My immediate concern was "Have I been rude?"
But then I thought about it and decided to take her words as a compliment. It meant that I was keeping my priorities and that's everything to me.
My 5-STEP STRATEGY FOR SAYING NO
Here's a basic formula to help you have some backbone! I'll follow it up with a couple examples.
How does this play out in real life? I asked my Upbeat partner, Sara Campbell, to weigh in with a couple examples. She does a fantastic job of putting on her "business hat" when necessary!
EXAMPLE 1: SCHEDULING REQUESTS
Let's say a family wants to have lessons on Saturday mornings, but you don't teach that day.
Glad we’re connecting about the fall schedule. The studio is not open on Saturdays, but here are three options for you: Tuesday at 5pm, Wednesday at 3:30pm, or Thursday at 4pm. Let me know which works best for you and I’ll get that on the schedule! Thanks so much. Looking forward to seeing you and Sam at lessons soon!
EXAMPLE 2: MAKE UP LESSONS
Let's say a student chooses to miss her piano lesson.
I’ll miss seeing Cindy in person today! I hope she has a nice time at the amusement park! During her lesson time I’ll record a short video assignment that she can watch tomorrow at home. This will help keep us on track during this busy time of year! Thanks again for letting me know about her absence. If she has any questions about her assignments, have her text me! I’ll be happy to help.
ONE FINAL TIP
Don't delay giving an answer because you feel bad.
Being wishy-washy isn't fair to the other person and it won't "soften the blow" at all. in fact, it'll make things worse and cause hurt feelings.
If "no" is your answer, go ahead and say "no." (Confession - though I strongly believe this, I still struggle with it. Hey, I'm far from perfect!)
How do YOU say "no" when necessary? I'd love to hear!
NEED MORE HELP WITH YOUR BUSINESS?
Upbeat Planning Academy is only held ONCE a year and we're about to start!
It runs July 2nd - August 10th. (Between June 26th and June 28th, you can get it for less than half the regular price! Yay!)
Upbeat Planning Academy is a LIVE Coaching Class filled with practical solutions to help you ditch the stress and overwhelm of running your own business and learn to revitalize your studio instead.
Here's what you'll learn in the Academy (It's different from all the business info you're used to hearing!)
Space is limited in the academy, so click here and register now!
Going after goals isn't easy, but hey - you can definitely increase your odds of getting there faster. Yay! ✅ Start practicing these simple steps and you'll bust out your goals in no time!
Let's get right to it!
1. STOP FOCUSING ON RESULTS
Gasp! But what about goal setting?! Can't I think about that?
Stay with me - I'm not saying to ignore results. In fact, I always START there during the planning stage. BUT... once the planning is done, it's time to shift gears and think about RESULTS.
Real success comes when you get laser-focused on the actual PROCESS of reaching your goals.
Here's where it gets exciting! Let's take a real-life example that all of us are familiar with: Going to the dentist.
No one wants cavities. Or a root canal. Just the thought is painful! Yikes! 😩 No, we all want to leave the dentist office with good news at every checkup.
BUT...it's not something that we think about on a daily basis.
We don't think "You know, I really should brush my teeth tonight so I don't have a cavity in September." No way! We just do the daily habit of brushing our teeth, trusting that we'll get a good outcome at our next dentist appointment.
That's how it should be with ALL goals!
Stay committed to focusing on the PROCESS and eventually you'll get the results you want. 😃
Let's run through a few scenarios related to teaching piano:
Example 1 - You need more students.
The fastest way to see real results is to focus on the PROCESS daily. What does that look like? You could:
Now focus on one step every day and you'll be registering new students before you know it! 👊 Click here to get the planner pages to help with this!
Example 2 - You need more money, but don't you want to teach more hours.
Instead of stressing out over a lack of money, focus on the PROCESS. You could:
Okay! Let's keep going! But first, I've got a worksheet just for you to help you map out YOUR ideal steps to reach those goals.
2. STOP DREAMING ABOUT YOUR GOALS
What? You don't want me to dream anymore?!
Well...it's good to dream. Just don't stay there! 😃
Here's the truth: When it comes to goal-setting, one thing that people miss is writing down their goals and reviewing them daily.
Oh, we all know we're SUPPOSED to do that. But few people ever do.
Real success comes when you actually WRITE DOWN your goals. (Don't roll your eyes at me. 🙄This really works!) Put your goals down on paper.
Here's a great exercise I want you to try. You'll see in no time how it helps you push past "dreaming" and gets you seriously focused on what you REALLY want.
Truth bomb! The second day I tried this, I literally couldn't remember what goals I wrote on Day 1. 😳 Embarrassing yes, but I'm keeping it real.
That's when I realized there was POWER in writing down your goals. It gives you the opportunity to process what you REALLY want. And REMEMBER what you wrote down. ✅ Cause some of us need that! 🙄
If you're after serious results, don't skip this step!
3. STOP LISTENING TO YOUR FEELINGS
Oh I know this sounds crazy! But hear me out! Many times in life we WANT to do things, but we don't FEEL like doing them.
Serious results come when you focus on what you WANT, not what you FEEL like doing.
Feelings come and go. Often, they'll lead us AWAY from our goals. Let's go over a couple examples and you'll see what I mean!
Example - You want to get in better shape.
I'll be the first to admit that some days I complain - I don't want to work out!
But WAIT! That's not really true. I WANT to work out. I just don't FEEL like it. There's a big difference! Don't trust your feelings when it comes to going after goals!
Here's another example - You want to rewrite your studio policies.
Most of us won't cheer "Yippee!" at the thought of working on this project. Nope. More than likely, you won't ever FEEL like working on it. But you know you WANT to get it done.
This is when you have to be a grown-up, ignore your feelings, and do SOMETHING. It'll bring serious results in no time!
Grab your Upbeat Planner Pages + Goal Setting Guide here! Before you know it, you'll be getting serious results in EVERY area of your life!
Here's a question that often comes up in Online Lesson Academy: Do you charge less for online lessons? (Not make-up lessons, but students who are 100% online students.)
It always makes me smile because my online students actually pay MORE than my in-person students. Gasp! MORE? Yes - they really do!
I'll give you the nitty gritty details on that in a minute....but first....
SHORT ANSWER - DON'T CHARGE LESS
Many teachers feel a little.....guilty about online lessons and want to charge less. I'll be honest, I don't get it.
Here are the facts:
WHY YOU CAN CHARGE MORE
Online lessons allow you to teach students who live absolutely anywhere. You have a lot more freedom when it comes to pricing.
When we lived in the Dallas area, my rates were higher. After we moved to a smaller city, I needed to lower my price, but I kept my Dallas students at the same rate. Even though they transitioned to online lessons.
If you want to build your studio (and your income!) you can do the same thing by adding online students who live outside of your area.
It's a great solution for teachers who live in small towns. You're able to teach students who live anywhere in the world - and yes, you can charge a higher rate.
HOW I STARTED WITH ONLINE LESSONS
When my family decided to move, I was faced with a big decision: try online lessons or lose my entire studio.
Believe it or not, I let my fears get the best of me - and I told all my families to find a new teacher. I really did.
But then, as our move date got closer, reality hit. I didn't want to lose my students. We'd invested SO much time together. Fortunately, I decided to get brave and go for it!
Thank goodness I did!! YOU CAN DO THIS TOO!
ONLINE LESSON ACADEMY OPENS SOON!
Do you want to add this option to your studio, but find yourself hesitating? You're not alone!
Lots of teachers are worried about technology. Or lack confidence with all the equipment. Or they're afraid they won't know how to troubleshoot. That's the very reason Sara and I created Online Lesson Academy.
The LIVE Group Coaching is all about equipping you to successfully add this option to your studio. You can click here to learn more and read teacher reviews.
Registration opens May 1st and I hope you'll join us!
Note: Last time we sold out of both academies, but this time we're only holding ONE academy. If you're interested, make sure you get in soon. When it's full, the doors will close until fall. (You can get on the waitlist here. We'll even send you the first part of the workbook!)
Have you ever gotten an idea and launched right into it, without stopping to think it through? This happened to me just a couple weeks ago.
Because my son will be a senior in high school this fall, one of my goals is to lighten my teaching schedule. I really want enjoy this last year with him before he heads off to college!
It occurred to me that hosting group lessons once a month in lieu of private lessons would be the perfect low-stress solution. Idea planted. Done!
But then I talked with my Upbeat partner, Sara Campbell. The first thing out of her mouth was "Will planning that every month actually be more stressful for you?"
Hmmmm...I hadn't considered that. I was only thinking about "teaching" time.
And then I realized....I hadn't really looked at this from every angle. What I really needed was to STOP everything and do some serious thinking.
Here's the point: When we take time to really think over new ventures BEFORE we dive in, we increase the odds of success.
Are you considering a new venture that involves preschoolers? I hope these questions will help you figure out if it's the right move for you!
1. DO YOU LIKE WORKING WITH YOUNG CHILDREN?
It sounds like an obvious question, but the truth is most people have age preferences. For example: teenagers. Some people LOVE teaching teens - and other teachers will avoid them at all costs!
Take the time to think about what ages YOU like to teach.
Yes, adding preschoolers might be great for your bottom line, but if you don't like this age group, you'll never find the success you're looking for.
2. HOW WILL THIS OFFERING BRING VALUE TO YOUR STUDIO?
Adding preschoolers will help YOU in several ways:
But this option would also benefit your students. Take the time to think about this option from the perspective of your families. How will it help them? What will they gain from preschool lessons?
One thing's for sure - you'll be helping youngsters develop a love of music early in life. That's invaluable!
3. DO YOU HAVE TIME TO INVEST IN A NEW VENTURE?
Starting any new venture is exciting! But there's always a learning curve. Do you have time to research everything?
You'll need to think about:
If reading that list got you excited, then teaching preschoolers is probably a good move for you!
4. HOW WILL YOU ADD THIS OPTION TO YOUR STUDIO?
I'll be honest - when I started teaching preschoolers, I didn't give this question enough consideration. I simply launched into what I was already doing - private lessons.
But there are several options to mull over: private, group, or partner lessons. Each choice has pros and cons. Write those down. Play around with them in your head.
I encourage you to think about what type of lesson YOU would enjoy the most. If YOU'RE happy and having fun, your preschoolers will too!
5. WHAT METHOD WILL YOU USE?
The GOOD news - There are LOTS of methods to choose from.
The BAD news - There are LOTS of methods to choose from.
Seriously though, take the time to do your research and find a method that fits your personality. Ideally, I suggest that you find a couple methods you would feel comfortable teaching.
The truth is that all kids are different. You might find that certain students would benefit from a different method. I know that often happens in my studio with older students. Preschoolers are no different. (See this post for more.)
ARE YOU SAYING YES TO PRESCHOOLERS?
If you decide that preschoolers are right for you, make sure you check out Playing with Preschoolers. Sara and I interviewed 7 teachers who are having great success with this age group. Click here to find out more!
Do you have any preschool questions? If so, let me know!
Hi there! I'm Tracy Selle. A Christian wife, mom, and author of 101 Piano Practice Tips. I'm also a piano teacher and founder of Upbeat Piano Teachers.