How do you stay 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!
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 an engineer by education and 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.
RELATED: TOOLS TO MINIMIZE CHAOS WITH KIDS
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?
We know what the kids should learn, when they should learn it, and and how they should behave as they learn it!
We also know precisely how our home should look. We know exactly where the Konmari 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 us us to the reality that we are essentially making idols out of our expectations!
The idols of unmet expectations trip us up and disrupts not only our day, but even how we feel about our life and worth as a 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 discouragements. 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, or 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!
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.
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps.”
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!
5. Teach your kiddos to have a high contingency tolerance.
During our time as missionaries in Guatemala our plans were just constantly disrupted.
Road blocks meant that trips were delayed or cancelled. Power outages meant no internet. The water going out meant stinky people and no way to wash dishes.
Once, during a nationwide protest, all major roads were blocked. A visiting friend couldn’t leave our house for days. He had other plans, but didn’t seem phased that his plans were going up in smoke like the tires that were burning in the road. We were amazed at how even keel he was, absolutely at peace.
He had what another missionary friend called a high contingency tolerance.
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?
Because of his great trust in the Lord, our friend had no problem moving from plan A all the way to plan D, E, or even F! You see, he was a missionary kid in Guatemala and learned from his childhood that interruptions and failed plans were 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. I can use even small disruptions as a way to teach my children this concept. I can teach them to have this high contingency tolerance! I can use disruptions as a way to build faith in my kiddos, but I have to be intentional.
When things don’t go as planned in your homeschool day, it can truly throw you for a loop. If you aren’t expecting the disruptions, or if you have set up our 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 by ultimately learning to trust the Lord more with your days, you can thrive in the midst of the crazy!
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Jenny Scott is the founder of Fully Charged Mamas and Thriving Mama Academy where she helps mamas gain life-giving perspective and create routines to help them thrive in their mothering journey. She is a pastor’s wife, mother to 4 awesome kiddos, and a veteran at making her home life run smoothly. After graduating with her degree in Industrial Engineering, Jenny jumped into motherhood and after a lot of trial and error, learned how to put her engineering skills to work in managing her home. After 10 years in Guatemala serving as missionaries, Jenny and her family moved back to the United States where her passion for seeing mamas thrive in their marriages and homes has grown exponentially. Jenny’s heartbeat is that every mother learns her worth in the Lord Jesus Christ, and leans into Him: trusting Him with their successes and failures, rejecting self-sufficiency, and embracing their inadequacies. Jenny has been teaching and discipling women for over 17 years, and is excited to share what the Lord has taught her.