Do we plan every minute out, or get up in the morning and see where the day takes us? I will tell you that my natural inclination would be the later. I am that artsy free spirit, an adult with ADD if you will. I think that by getting up without a plan, I am living by faith. Less plan = more faith. However, I have found that for my kids and for myself, that was simply making life more stressful.
Structured Day vs. An Unstructured Day
God is a God of order. He ordered the stars, planets and moons to orbit in the sky just so, giving us our days and months and years. He even has a whole book in the Bible dedicated to numbers!
When I realized that my current ‘system’ wasn’t working for my family, I set about planning. Planning down to the minute. Planning every day. Planning, planning, planning.
But guess what – or who – I left out. Oh, I had quiet time in there – for me, for the kids, for the family.
But guess what. God shows up when you least expect Him. In a interesting insect, in a family in need of help, in a beautiful day after a week of rain.
And guess what. He usually doesn’t check my schedule. He’s God – He doesn’t have to. He knows when we need to stop and admire His creation, or stop and turn our focus to others or stop and just revel in the day He has given us. He know so much better than I do. He is the master planner.
Leave Room for God
So these days, I still have a schedule, but instead of being a slave to it, I use it as a tool, a guideline if you will. And I leave room for God. Instead of putting on my blinders and being so focused on the next thing, I pause and ask,’ is this an interruption or an invitation from Him?’ Instead of saying, “no, kids, we don’t have time to stop and examine the nature lesson God has dropped in our laps, we need to get these worksheets done!”, I say, “let’s have look – the worksheets will wait.”
Since I am prone to distraction, I find that if I do get off track, having a schedule helps me know where I left off. Ditto for when life throws a monkey wrench in your day. We simply pick back up where we left off.
When I set about planning for the school year, I went away for an overnight so I could focus and hear myself think. One of the most important things that I started out with was our daily schedule because it determines what we can accomplish.
In leaving room for God, there are a few things I considered in making our schedule. I:
- Sought His direction – what would please Him in our homeschool, in our home? What would honor His word and what he has set before me as a mom?
- Looked at the natural ebb and flow of our day – when do the kids need a rest? When do I need a rest? When are we able to get the most done? What activities are we participating in?
- Was realistic in what we could accomplish – I can put it on paper, but if it’s not realistic, it ain’t gonna happen. And then I will feel like a I’ve failed.
- Left room for life – I built in some buffers. We will never finish on time every time. My children are usually done eating in 10 minutes for lunch, but I’ve set aside and hour for a true lunch break. The kids can have a little outside time, I can check email or return a call or just sit in my closet for a minute of peace.
- Gave the kids choices – We’re in this together. I want them to feel like they have some freedom to make a choice or two. It’s a great learning opportunity, too, but I don’t tell them that. For instance, at lunch break, they can get started on their chores if they want to so they can have more free time in the afternoon. We have an hour block in the afternoon where they have to rest quietly, but can choose to read a book or play with a small toy on their bed. It gives me and them a much needed recharge for the rest of the day.
- Made sure it worked with my husband – He is at work most of the day, so much of the schedule doesn’t affect him, but I value his input and ability to see things I might miss. We’ve also made sure to set aside a family time in the evening and a date night for us because we’ve found that if we don’t, something else will come along and fill that time.
After doing this, I took it my shiny new schedule out for a test drive, then I tweaked it where needed. It may need a tune-up part way through the year as life changes, but for now it is working well for us. You can get a peek of our schedule over at my personal blog.
As a treat, we do have days every now and then that we just get up and see where the day takes us. Don’t tell, but these are my favorite. I am glad to get back into our routine after having a day off.
I encourage you to find the balance for your family if it seems like your days are filled with too much uncertainty and stress. Structure is important, just remember to leave room for God.
-originally published October 2009 and updated February 2021