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Best-Laid Plans

Posted on Sunday, September 26, 2010 in Homeschooling Multiple Children, Thoughts on Education

When I get a few hours to school plan on the weekend, the chart my husband made for me looks beautiful, complete, a promise of the accomplishments in the days ahead.


On the whole I’ve found it’s incredibly helpful to have specific plans written down so I know my through line when a normal day amongst  our 4 kids muddles my brain.  Here are a few interruptions from last week’s best-laid plans.

  1. A birthday for the new 8 year old(including surprise cupcakes delivered to the tutorial we started in the fall)
  2. 4 colds
  3. 1 two hour trip to the doctor
  4. The baby, with one of the colds, needs extra attention
  5. New(unscheduled) interests pop up

Basically, Life happens.

That’s when amnesia strikes.  I forget any lessons I’ve learned from the last five years of this homeschool journey.

“I failed today” begins in a nagging drone.

School tasks only partially accomplished, chores half completed and a completely grumpy mom and kids by four o’clock. What’s successful about that?

“Failure!” continues, louder and frantic.

A smaller voice, much calmer and steady, “This is a lifestyle.  Don’t you remember?  Your success is not a series of completed tasks.  Your week looks messy up close, stand further back, don’t look for the neat and tidy picture, take a wider gaze.”

I can be so forgetful, in the daily chaos, that the lessons for each of us aren’t contained within that beautiful chart.

This is what I see when I stand back:

Kids who are begging me to read more Shakespeare, acting out his plays and narrating them in detail(not on the plan, not in the scope of our American history this year).

One child read three Little House on the Prairie books this week(it wasn’t on the read aloud list).

Kids who are saving and earning their own money, buying and handling their change and making wise decisions(not math lesson 56 this week).

Miniature newspapers created with advertisements, news reports, contests, and cartoons diligently and excitedly worked on(the day of the two hour surprise doctor appointment).

An eight year old who’s found a new vehicle  to spread encouraging words(and it’s contagious) when she’s struggled so much to be verbally encouraging.  (Though we didn’t get our writing assignment done this week, these came straight from the heart, not spurred on by me).  An example:

“Dear Joshua,

Thank you for the silly band.  I think your kind to give away things like that.  I love you so much Joshua.  You are kind to give me things like that, here is a list of things you gave me 1.silly band 2. two shels 3. shineing silver rock 5. a letter 6. one cent.

You are kind and I love you.”

Thursday night I hadn’t yet heard this quieter voice and I shared with my husband about the joylessness of being a taskmaster and how I needed to drop some of the expecations on myself of housework, dinner on time, etc.   Then I could get down on the floor and play with Sparkles, listen to the kids, and be more present even in school work.  He was so understanding and I was looking forward to revealing the new, more relaxed me the next day.  But by 9:30 the next morning we were headed out for that two hour doctor’s appointment, which threw off my new plan and I was unsettled again.  I had been ready for some changes, just changes that I could control.

A new day arrived.

Yesterday the chores didn’t get done, I spent four hours with my new eight year old, listening, not correcting, delighting together.


I can hear that small voice, but I need it to get bigger before the new week begins.  I need to see the messy picture of our life and realize the best-laid plans are happening.

Just not mine.

Bring on the comments

  1. So, you know I’m a bit of a planner and it’s funny that today should be the day I read this post. Because today is the first day I’ve decided to try our week without a written plan. Our weekend was chock-a-block full of soccer, family visiting, ballet, a sleepover, church, family, choir, etc. Only as I laid down to go to sleep Sunday night did I realize that I hadn’t planned for the week. So I’m winging it. And today has not left me feeling like things were undone. Freedom abounds when I try to hold it all loosely. I’m learning as much (more, dare I say?) than dear A this year. God has so much to teach me.

  2. [...] usually around this time that another voice calmly speaks to my heart.  Our family needed to turn our focus off of ourselves and on to a much [...]

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