Sometimes I feel silly working on yet another plan, another schedule, even if it’s not one where I’m scheduling every half hour of everyone’s day.
But, I keep coming back to it.
I mentioned my feeling silly about it to my husband, who shrugged, “I thought it was your hobby.” Well, yes, actually, it is. And, generally, I think it’s been a hobby that has benefited myself and my family.
But whether or not it benefits myself and my family has less to do with the plan and more to do with my attitude as I implement it. If my plan is a managing tool that I can wield skillfully, then it is a good thing. If my plan is a taskmaster, wielding me, then I go splat against the realities of a life lived alongside many other little people.
So, here’s my strategy this week for wielding my schedule instead of it wielding me: I will laugh at it. I will laugh at life. I will laugh at myself. And I will do it while not giving up or giving in. I will laugh while rolling up my sleeves. I will laugh while falling on my face. It is all good, because it is all made good by God.
It might take until the next day before I’m laughing about it, but here goes.
Having and executing a plan makes me pretty happy.
Here’s my little morning laundry helper. Previously, the kitchen laundry to fold would pile and pile up in a basket until it absolutely had to be done. Now, we’ve had a little chore-responsibility-switcheroo, and Ilse is now folding the kitchen laundry every morning. This also has removed my barrier to putting cloth napkins at the table for dinner. Now, cloth napkins for the win: because my 5 year old can and will fold them!
And, then, I come around the corner to see this again:
I do just put them back in the drawer and call it good, you know. That is the only sensible option, right?
Having and executing a plan has a funny way of making the day seem both longer and shorter.
Above is my lunch “break,” where I took a big, deep breath and corrected math and Latin in a timely fashion instead of getting lost in a book.
Making a plan that takes into account the actual (limited!) hours in a day is a good exercise, even if it’s never implemented completely. The week, chunked into waking hours, is a lot of time. And also, a day is not as much time as we might think the night or week before. I don’t actually have enough time in one day to give as much time to every responsibility as I would like. But on the other hand, when there’s a plan, I can give more time than I would otherwise to those things that are easy to ignore and shove to the back burner (like, oh, teaching a 5-year-old to read and cleaning the bathroom that three boys and guests use daily).
Having and executing a plan doesn’t harness real life and end unpredictability.
I’ve tried and I’ve tried, and now I think it’s finally sunk in that there is no magical set-up where my home, my kids, and myself will hum along on autopilot, without any real effort being expended.
When I was a newer, younger mom, I clung to the Charlotte Mason quote about securing “smooth and easy days.” Now, certainly a plan and good habits do greatly reduce friction. However, habits are no magic bullets that remove our sin, our messing up, and our need for repentance. There is no system and no habit and no routine – if the Lord is gracious to us – that covers over our weakness and brokenness. We grow in strength and endurance, but we never outgrow our need for grace and forgiveness, no matter how perfect our plan.
Having and executing a plan does help me become a better steward of the real life God sends my way.
Yes, still, having that plan and those habits does reduce friction, and I’ll be happy with a reduction in friction even if I can’t have a total elimination of it. I will be happy with a floor that gets swept once a day, even if you wouldn’t guess it was ever swept at lunchtime. I will be happy with books on every surface and books never put away correctly. I will be happy putting yet another meal on the table, every morning, noon, and night. And it will not be because I’m doing it so well, but because this is the path of sanctification I am on: being brought over and over again to see how inadequate I am so that I can look to the One Who is All-Sufficient.
It is not so much the plan as my attitude: pretty satisfied, a contented sort of happy, enough sense of humor to call life funny rather than frustrating, and real presence of mind to respond with faith and obedience when real life doesn’t go as planned.
I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13, ESV)