How are you staying sane when things don’t go as planned in your homeschool? We ALL have days when things just don’t go according to our plans and I’m sure we can all use help to do even better! Can you relate to this scenario?
How do you handle it when things don’t go as planned?
You wake up in the morning with grand plans to start homeschool right on time, conquer every lesson with infectious joy, take an Instagram-worthy trip to the park, and have a carb-friendly, kid-friendly, veggie-laden dinner on the table at 6.
You climb out of bed and step smack into reality: the dog threw up on the carpet and the Roomba worked right through it.
Breakfast starts late, and you end up eating cold cereal in an attempt to get back on schedule.
The baby wakes up with a fever, the 4-year-old’s pull-up leaked, and now you’ve got an extra load of laundry that will just end up on the couch with the load from yesterday that never got folded.
You finally sit down with some lessons and realize you don’t have the book you meant to check out from the library, one kiddo took his math to his room and lost it, and the science project takes twice as long as the manual said it would.
After struggling all day to find a rhythm, you get ready to make dinner but you realize that you forgot to thaw the chicken.
Nothing goes as planned.
When moments, days or even weeks go on like this, we can get so discouraged. In that place of discouragement, we simply aren’t the mamas that we want or need to be!
Here are 5 strategies for staying sane when things don’t go as planned:
1. Expect the unexpected.
Dave Ramsey is a personal finance guru, and if you are familiar with any of his courses, you know that there is no such thing as an unexpected expense. It is a given that at some point the car will break down, the fridge will stop working, or the kiddos will get sick.
We don’t know WHEN unexpected things might happen, but we know that they WILL happen, so we budget for those things.
The same is true for life’s interruptions. We don’t know when things will go wrong, but we do know they will. So we can “budget” our time for them by having margin in our day. Margin is like white space on the page of your day. We don’t fill up every second of every day with something that has to get done. (This one is REALLY hard for me because I am a planner by nature — I want to be productive!)
Take a look at your day…do you have any margin built-in?
When we expect and plan for disruptions, we temper their shock factor so they don’t throw us for a loop.
2. Topple our idols of perfectionism.
When things don’t go as planned, frustration occurs because we think we know how things should go. I mean, we planned the lessons, right? Also, we know what the kids should learn when they should learn it, and how they should behave as they learn it!
We also know precisely how our home should look, for instance, we know exactly where the matched socks belong and how the plates should get loaded into the dishwasher. We are the managers of our home, so this makes sense.
If things aren’t done our way and we then experience a very high level of frustration or stress, that clues to the reality that we are essentially making idols out of our expectations!
The idols of unmet expectations trip us up and disrupt not only our day but even how we feel about our life and worth as homeschooling mama.
Ouch! I don’t like to think that I have idols, but I do. Anything that has a hold on my heart (evidenced by the power I give it over how I feel and how I treat my family) is an idol!
So let’s topple those idols and put them in their proper place…at the foot of the cross!
3. Turn our expectations into intentions.
Unmet expectations lead to disappointment. Disappointments piled up over time lead to discouragement. Discouragement, when left to fester, can turn into full-fledged depression.
And as homeschooling mamas, we tend to get pretty rigid with our expectations. The stakes are high, right? That is why so many of us spend too much time discouraged!
The key problem is this: We put expectations on people and situations that we have zero control over! We can’t control the weather, when our kiddos get sick, or our children’s attitudes.
But as much as we can, especially regarding expectations that we have on ourselves, we can turn our expectations into intentions!
How do I not plan everything? Instead of expecting that I will get this math lesson completed today (discouragement danger zone), I intend to spend as much time as necessary working with my child until they understand this math lesson. (No opportunity for disappointment!)
Instead of expecting my kiddo to go and clean their room on their own, I intend to encourage and teach my child to follow instructions so that they can clean their room when asked.
This perspective shift can mean the difference between discouragement and peace.
4. Ultimately we must trust that God is sovereign and God is good.
What we perceive as disruptions can actually be divine interventions.
Remember the idols that I mentioned above? If we are truly trusting the Lord with our day, then we can be confident and rest in the plans of the Creator of the Universe!
Conversations happen that wouldn’t have happened, precious teaching moments pop up, we hone spiritual disciplines (like patience and endurance), we are forced to trust the Lord more, and we end up in places we never would have gone.
So settle into God’s plans (even if they don’t seem to make any sense) and keep your eyes on an eternal perspective. We truly can trust the Lord with our day, missing library books, dog vomit, and all! Remember, the key is learning the skills to stay sane when things don’t go as planned and executing them when things get out of your control.
5. Teach your kids to have a high contingency tolerance.
We’ve all had times when our plans were just constantly disrupted.
A contingency is “something that might possibly happen in the future, usually causing problems or making further plans and arrangements necessary.” Does that sound familiar?
Our great trust in the LORD allows us no problem moving from plan A all the way to plan D, E, or even F because He is to be trusted. Failed plans are not only an expected part of life but also precious opportunities to learn to trust the Lord.
I know I want this kind of trust for my kiddos and can use even small disruptions as a way to teach my children this concept. I can teach them to have this high contingency tolerance! Disruptions can be used as a way to build faith in my kiddos, but I have to be intentional.
When things don’t go as planned on your homeschool day, it can truly throw you for a loop.
If you aren’t expecting the disruptions, or if you have set up your own plans as idols, these disruptions can cause serious discouragement that bleeds over into all areas of your life.
But with a strategy for staying sane when things don’t go as planned in your homeschool, by changing your perspective, turning your expectations into intentions, and ultimately learning to trust the Lord more with your days, you can thrive in the midst of the crazy!