Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Parenting as a Recovering Listaholic

I like lists.  I like calendars and planners and organizers.  I have a stand specifically made to hold my Daytimer (only that brand will do) for which I have a lovely binder to hold my lesson plans.  I love to plan out my day and then check off items all day long.  I have an app that plans out my FlyLady zones.  I have another app that tracks my to-dos.  I feel wonderful when I've accomplished all my goals.

Children, however, do not fit into neat and tidy lists or schedules.  I've seen the books that purport to make children fit into boxes, but I don't own any.  I've glanced at the websites, but it's a bit like an alcoholic stopping in front of the bar on the way home.  I try to walk past as quickly as possible.  Probably those books and websites help those who find scheduling a mystery or a burden.  They inspire *my* soul with a zeal to make my day conform to my plans, and that zeal does not make me a good mom.

I have to lean the other way.  I have to consciously focus on what we have accomplished rather than on what we have not accomplished.  I have to take moments as they come and enjoy them, not overshadowed by the knowledge of what we should be doing instead of what we are doing.  When I make plans and then try to force us to fulfill them, I shut out opportunities I could have had, opportunities that come unexpectedly, and in their place I create lifeless accomplishments no one will treasure.  My children need to see that people matter more than things, but also that people matter more than accomplishments.  It is less important that we get the kitchen clean than it is that we treat others with kindness and respect.

I do make lists.  They help me to target my free moments towards tasks that need to be done.  They help me to prioritize my time.  I do use schedules.  They allow us to know what needs to happen for our important goals to be reached.  But I have to make the lists and the schedules subservient to life, to the real needs of our family and the individuals in it.  I keep my goals small and targeted, and I have to remind myself that it's ok if we don't meet them every day.

What I am learning is humility, and it's not easy.  Humility means accepting that my big goal for the day just blew up because I need to calmly and pleasantly teach a couple of siblings how to resolve their differences peacefully.  Humility means graciously redirecting my goals to account for the overflowing toilet (usually a victim of a child) or malfunctioning washer (most recently killed by Legos).

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds."  Becoming "mature and complete" isn't a pleasant process, but the end result is beautiful.


  1. Thanks for writing this, Kathy.

  2. "Children, however, do not fit into neat and tidy lists or schedules" So true!

  3. Oh, Kathy. You have no idea how encouraging to know that I am not the only one.

  4. I've many times told my children people are more important than things, but needed to read that people (relationships) matter more than accomplishments. Thanks for that!

  5. I lost my comment! Second try! The Lord taught me this lesson when trying to "teach" my baby to sleep through the night using "God's way". I was a failure. Baby cried from 2-5 every night no matter how exactly I implemented the formula. But baby didn't get the memo or read the book. As soon as we moved and she could have a room to herself, she slept that first night! I guess it was God's mercy to give me children who never fit the neat boxes. But it is so hard to seek the Lord for each situation and child and wait on Him. It does require humility and laying down our agendas.
    I've been making lists since I was a little girl to help me clean my room! I, too, tend to legalism and my own plans, though because of my health, have not always been able to follow my own rules--this too is God's mercy! Now that my big kids are out of the house with classes and work, I am having to re-learn how to stay on top of my house cleaning. Have you found a way to make FlyLady work for you flexibly? My schedule is very unpredictable with caring for my father in law, my hubby traveling or not traveling, or the littles and I traveling with him. I'm not very techy but I do think implementing FlyLady to some degree would be helpful for me. I found my old control journal from 12 years ago. I've got more children now, a father in law, and a different house. Need to apply it all to my life right now. Thanks Kathy! Love, Ana Betty