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.