Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Letting Go of "Normal" Expectations for Life

Do you find that, like me, you tell yourself, Next week, we'll get back to a normal routine? Or After Christmas/New Year's/spring break, etc. we'll get it together? I don't know about your life, but in mine, it just doesn't happen. When I look back at all my weekly reports that begin, "This was a weird week" or "Things didn't go as planned this week," I have to laugh ruefully.

The fact is, it's a weird week when things do go as I expected and planned.

A few weeks ago, I read a post by Mrs. White on her blog, The Legacy of Home. Her words really spoke to me.
Life never lets up.  We often say that tomorrow, or next week, we will fix our routine.  Or when things calm down, we will get back on track. But life will keep throwing us something new to juggle.  The goal is not to wait until things are better, but to do them in the middle of the challenges. 
Well, amen and amen! What a perspective.

I have to admit, friends, that I often let my school plans get derailed by life. That's not to say that I throw in the towel at the first sign of distress; but I have a hard time staying on track in medias res (as per  Greek dramatics).  I lose sight of my short-term goal (as in, lessons to be completed) and find myself backpedaling.

One beauty of homeschooling is, of course, its forgiving flexibility. In times of trouble, illness, and great stress, we can adapt our plans to match our more limited resources. Yet this same flexibility can be a drawback when we continually adapt/rework/put off our school plans due to yet another unexpected event, big or small.

Homeschooling is truly a lifestyle. We educate our children in life, not just schoolwork. They learn -- by watching us -- how to handle the mishaps and unexpected surprises of the everyday. Are we teaching them that upsets have the power to derail our best efforts and plans? Or are we teaching them to roll with it?

As a woman of faith, I want to teach my daughters that God is never surprised by events that spring up, unlooked for, in our day-to-day lives. "Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans," said John Lennon. Put another way, life is what happens no matter what our plans.

I can't keep living for the day when things get back to normal. This is normal. We're all living in the now. So the question is, now that I've made that my reality, what am I going to do about it?

  • Take a hard look at our daily schedule and how we spend our time. Are the girls wasting time? (Yes.) Am I? (Ditto.)
  • Make more intentional decisions about how we spend the time we have. Can we better use our evenings? Does Tiny Girl have to be at the barn early in the afternoon or could she go later?
  • Make room for more flexibility when needed. Could we stretch out the readings on this or that book without getting so behind we'll still be reading it this July?

That's where I'm going to start. Once I get going,I may discover other ways I can ensure that my lesson plans don't get flung into hiatus when life happens.

What about you? Have you found ways to absorb the unexpected in your day-to-day living? If so, I'd love to hear about it!


  1. I recognise myself here, Ellen! (Although I'm not a homeschooler.) With my daughter's illness I was enormously stressed for the first 7 months or so about trying to get her back to school and back to normal. 15+ months on, I've really had to come to terms with what is normal and possible and positive to do every day. As you say, the week that goes to plan, even when my daughter was well and at school, is the weird week! So why do we put ourselves under so much pressure?

  2. We've reached the point when we finally realize that there is no "normal routine" here. Which made me realize that I had to have a plan in spite of the lack of "normal." It's a challenge for sure!

  3. Christine, I think we put ourselves under pressure because we are influenced by the media's pervasive images of women/families and their perfect, organized lives. And by media, I really mean magazine articles and ads. Also we tend to compare ourselves to our perception of other families' lives, in which we almost always come up short. I think our logical side knows these images and perceptions are not true; but something still whispers, "Yes, they are!" and we believe it.


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