You’ve seen article, books and materials everywhere to help you organize and schedule your day, I’m sure. I use to love that kind of thing. The idea of having a daily plan and know what exactly should be happening when was so appealing to me. And then I married a farmer. Then we had children.
Mark’s work schedule is very unpredictable and full of variables. What he is doing for the day and how long it will take depends on weather, animal health and reliability of equipment….among other things. He is often in and out of the house a number of times every day, but I really don’t have any clue when that will be. In the early days of homeschooling, particularly, this could be a great source of frustration. If Mark didn’t come home at my desired lunch hour, I would feel like the school schedule was completely disrupted and that we were getting off track with the whole day. He might stop in with the tractor and disk to work up the last field for the year and ask if someone could ride along with him. So much for getting Arithmetic finished by 11 AM! Arithmetic can be finished in the afternoon. I finally began to realize the benefits of NOT scheduling my day or having any kind of a plan of what should happen when.
So how do we manage homeschooling, toddlers, 2 businesses and a household without a schedule? I write a list. My list is my secret weapon. 🙂 Whenever possible (not usually when I am pregnant – I am too tired), I get up about an hour before the children are up. This gives me a little while to have coffee and read my Bible, throw in a load of laundry, make sure the dishes are all done, defrost any meat I might need for supper and to write my dream list for the day. I say dream list because I know that truly is what it is. I prefer to write down all the things I would love to get done, knowing full well that unless some amazing miracle happens, I won’t come close to finishing it. I would rather have a selection of things to get done that I can chose from than to underestimate and not write down enough to keep me going for the day. (I do tend to be one of those people who writes things down just for the joy of crossing them off my list, though….) Having a dream list enables me to get things done when I can without ever feeling like anything is an interruption. I can start a blog post when the baby goes down for a nap, but if she ends up crying instead of sleeping, I can leave that in the draft folder and tend to her, knowing I can come back to that at a more convenient time.
I am reminded often of the life of Jesus. God had a definite plan for Christ’s life, and yet think about how we lived from day to day! He was always available for interruptions – and there were a LOT of them! He had a ‘ family ‘ of 12 bickering, arguing disciples who seemed to need a lot of attention. People always needed something from Him, just when He was about to get a few moments of quiet time. When someone needed to be healed, He didn’t first whip out his daily planner to check to see what town he was suppose to be in that day. He went wherever He was needed.
I have begun to look at my day as a ministry of interruptions. Being available at a moment’s notice has led to a much more joy – filled life for me. I begin my day with a list, but I plan on not finishing it. The next morning I sit down with my cup of coffee and look at the list from the previous day. Any unfinished tasks I reassess and add to my new list if I need to.
There are a few things that usually happen during certain hours in our home, but those are all subject to variability. Essie usually takes a nap sometime after lunch. I usually use that time to sew if she does. If we have somewhere we need to go, she skips her nap and sleeps in the car. Or I might serve lunch an hour or so early and put her down for a quick nap then. Lunch happens anywhere between 11 and 2, depending on how the morning goes and what we are having. Supper can be anywhere from 5 to 8, again depending on the day, if we have anything going on in the evening, Mark’s work schedule, etc…If I know we aren’t going to be eating until later, I will just try to make sure the children have another snack around 5:00.
Another benefit to having a flexible day is that it has encouraged our children to be flexible. Naptime isn’t always at 12:30 PM, so if we are out somewhere, we don’t run into a big problem if Essie is still awake at 2:00. She is use to variables. Many times during my day I will be working on something and be interrupted repeated by children who need attention. I might not ever make it back to what I was working on. That’s okay. My ministry to my family comes before a list of accomplishments. My goal is to live my life as a ministry in flexibility.