When my three boys were little, I used to jokingly say I worked from “son” up to “son” down. These early birds would greet the still-dark morning with the kind of energy it took me a couple espresso shots to ease into. At night, I would be asleep before my head hit the pillow – that is, if I wasn’t already dozing in the nursery rocking chair. Today, these guys sleep much longer, as most teenagers who stay up late playing video games do. But, somehow I feel busier than ever with all this (ahem) free time.
From football practice and robotics competitions to trombone auditions and Boy Scout outings, I’m coordinating, managing and troubleshooting a houseful of hectic schedules that aren’t even mine! But, there is no contrived busyness in my jam-packed days; I am not busy just to fill my time with stuff to do. Every carpool driven, every hour spent helping with homework, every disappointment patched up with a hug, every trip back to the store for yet another gallon of milk are all time purposefully spent. My purpose isn’t to be busy for busy’s sake but instead to tackle the tasks it takes to raise up my boys into great young men. You see, a purpose gives my time meaning and keeps me focused on a goal greater than what’s just happening in the moment.
Offering hearty, healthy meals for my family is part of my purpose. There is noticeably less chaos and cranky moods at dinner time if I’ve planned ahead on hectic days. My recipe for Busy Day Taco Past Bake is a go-to choice for eventful evenings – it’s filling, flavorful and feeds a small army. When I know I can’t be home in the late afternoon to get this meal started, I simply prepare the casserole in the morning, stick in the fridge and have it ready and waiting for the final 30 minutes of baking as soon as I walk in the door.
My purpose as a mother is also to teach my children how to become self-sufficient. This easy pasta recipe is the perfect “entry-level” dish for any budding chef – I recruit my kids to brown the ground beef, boil the noodles and assemble the dish. Since the sauce and seasonings are mostly pre-made (including Litehouse Southwest Ranch Dip and Litehouse Salsa), this recipe can be mastered by even a younger teenager. When I look at my men-in-training and this family-style meal we created together, I am thankful to have a lot on my plate -- and I mean that in every sense of the phrase!