In preparation for our school year, Mark and I sit down for an annual planning meeting. Not a date. A meeting. You know, pens, planners, calendars, coffee. We usually get a sitter or swap kid-free days with another family (as was the case this year) and use the time (about 2 hours or so) to discuss and set our goals for the school year: the framework for how we’ll parent, teach, disciple, manage our children and home. It sort of sounds ridiculous, not to mention a terribly boring and unromantic way to spend kid-free time, but these meetings chart the course for our family’s year, affording me and Mark more time during the school year to do the things we love (including NON-logistical conversation). It also helps us to manage our time and money more efficiently: two commodities always easily wasted.

So after praying for wisdom and discernment from the Lord, that’s just where we start: money and time. We discuss goals in both areas, reviewing our budget and un/planned expenses, rehearsing the various ways we are using our [alone, couple, family, friend, community] time, and any ways we may choose/need to plan that time differently. Although it may seem strange to include this as a part of our “get ready for school” plan, our aim in these two areas greatly contextualizes our parenting goals and homeschool. Not to mention, it provides the foundation for the mini-conversations we have throughout the year. (I’m wooing you, right?)

Eventually our conversation comes around to the kids, where we discuss each one in roughly three different areas: spiritually, academically, and their home responsibility (chores). These areas are artificially separated for the point of conversation; in our daily life, all three areas regularly intertwine with the other (although how well depends on the day). Because Mark works full-time outside of our home, I am the one who plans the specifics of my day with the kids and sorts through/researches various curriculums, but during this meeting, he helps me identify the aim of those days and to refocus me during the year when I’m frittered away with details of home-life. Each child obviously requires something a little different from the other, so we spend time on each one deciding what they might need and how to lead them in the next year. I take notes during this time, pocketing our decisions for my personal (and more specific) planning for the school year — I’ll save that for another post though.

Planning always makes things sounds easier than the reality ever is. Even as I write this now, I can’t help but smirk at the idyllic nature of it all. I know, just as you, things won’t always go as imagined — no matter how good the plan. I have to beware of the false sense of peace it can bring me, trusting my plan and strategies instead of the Lord. Mark stenciled “menō” the Greek word meaning “abide” on his planner, and I suppose, more than all of this, that word sums up the true nature of our parenting and plans: simply learning how to abide.

10 replies
  1. Sara Martin
    Sara Martin says:

    This is great. I think a lot about this sort of planning in my professional life, and I get a lot of benefit from it. But I don’t apply the same principles to my personal life and, after reading your post, I intend to give it a go! Why waste my prodigious planning skills on work goals only?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • cloisteredaway
      cloisteredaway says:

      Yes! I read an article in Real Simple a few years ago by a man talking about this same exact thing you mentioned. He talked about managing a family with a business model — completely fascinating. It completely changed the way I thought about home management in a really good way. Obviously, we are different than a business; we’re a family, but using a business model to establish a family “mission statement” and plan was so helpful for me. Thanks so much Sara for stopping by and sharing. I’m glad you were inspired.

      Reply
  2. thehomeschoolmomblog
    thehomeschoolmomblog says:

    I love it and frankly think it is a wonderful idea; this meeting. It is a shame more parents don’t sit down and have them! To know that you are on the same page is very freeing. While my husband and I don’t necessarily have a yearly meeting… oh, wait… I suppose we do! I usually figure out where I think the Lord is directing myself and the kids (right before summer starts) and then ask him when he has some free time to discuss it. We go over everything, he backs me up or helps me understand things more clearly, and we are good for the year. Hmmm… never really thought about it before.
    Okay, back to the original statement. Good for you! I love the idea and hope many others read your post and are encouraged. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

    Reply
    • cloisteredaway
      cloisteredaway says:

      Thank you for your encouragement, Christina! We usually have these sorts of meetings at the beginning of the summer, too. But this year, I was so burned out and needed the summer to repair and get excited about homeschooling again. And it worked! We’re heading into the new year now with fresh enthusiasm and goals.

      Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] between planned and unplanned learning occurred. I even shared some of that process here and here. But this academic year, I didn’t really plan much at all. I felt exhausted and almost […]

  2. […] *We were encouraged into this come-to-Jesus planning sesh by our high propensity to say YES! to everything right now, and this post. […]

  3. […] the beginning of each school year, my husband and I plan out our goals for our family and children. Then I create a plan, usually in table-form (pictured above). […]

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