I am at peace. My mind can focus happily as I write this note. It is not wrestling with little nagging thoughts that flit in uninvited and interrupt the flow.
How did I achieve this happy state?, you ask.
Yesterday I took five minutes to make a list of meals for this week. This morning I simply glanced at the list, popped the potatoes into the slow cooker, and went on with my day, at peace.
I don’t know about you, but if I don’t have any idea what we’re eating for supper tonight, it will bug me all day. I’ll think, Oh, yes, I need to figure that out, and then I’ll get busy doing something else. That nagging thought will return at intervals all day, disturbing and distracting me until I either come up with an idea to placate it or realize I can’t put it off any longer, it’s supper time now!
Days like that wear me out.
Whether it’s meals or housework or schoolwork, a plan can make life easier. Once you have a plan, all you have to do is run it. In fact, you can get into a sort of rhythm when your plan fits well. Each day unfolds around those comfortable regulars, those pre-planned routines.
Charlotte Mason put it well: “It is desultory, unorganized work which fatigues both body and brain, while the rhythmic regularity of prescribed effort is wonderfully easeful” (The Story of Charlotte Mason, p. 258).
We don’t often see that word desultory. In fact, I had to look up how to pronounce it. (DEH-suhl-tor-ee, if you’re curious.) It means lacking a plan or purpose, unfocused, haphazard.
It is those days when you don’t have a plan for schoolwork, when you’re flying by the seat of your pants, that can be the most wearing—on you and on the children. But a simple plan that prescribes what should be done next will make your days go much easier.
I encourage you to take some time to make those plans. Yes, it takes some effort, but it might not be as difficult as you think. I usually dread making meal plans and then finish sooner than I expected. And the peace that reigns because that plan is in place is priceless. (You’d think I would learn!)
If you would like some help with your planning, our free SCM Curriculum Guide will give you our suggestions for each grade and each subject, even listing our favorite resources for those. This series of articles on Planning Your Charlotte Mason Education in 5 Simple Steps might also help, and the book and DVD by the same name will walk you through that process with lots of examples.
Keep in mind that you’re not chiseling these plans in stone. I have the freedom to switch out meal ideas as needed throughout the week. But if I didn’t have the plan to begin with, I’d be scrambling to come up with ideas every day. No thanks. It’s much easier to tweak something that already exists than to create it from scratch under pressure each day.
So set aside some time this summer to plan. Then as you walk through those first few weeks of school, you will discover for yourself that Charlotte was right: “the rhythmic regularity of prescribed effort is wonderfully easeful.”