Why we can’t let our Schedule Steal our Joy.

It’s mid-morning when my eldest child begs me to go outside and play in the leaves.

Here’s what goes on in my head in the span of about 3 seconds:

(Insert heaving sigh along with a deep groan.)  Really?  Honestly?  He wants to play outside?  We haven’t even STARTED our work (again)… why, oh why is it taking us so long to get anything that looks remotely like ‘school work’ done these days?  We are so behind in writing… oh my goodness.  No, we absolutely cannot go outside… seriously.  We have so much do to- our schedule is FULL today… maybe later but not in the morning.  No.

Here’s what actually comes out:

I heave that sigh and murmur a barely audible, “Ummm“, followed by a look of exasperation as my son begins to get his shoes on at the back door.  The kids gaze at me, waiting for a definitive answer that is somewhat better than “Um”.

I react too quickly.

“No,”  I shake my head, reluctantly glancing at the beautiful morning sunlight out the back window.  “No.  Guys, really?  We have so much to do.  It’s the time of day we do our work.  We haven’t even started… we can go outside later, once we’re done our stuff.”

The kids wilt.  
The eldest pouts. 
And something inside of me doesn’t like my own answer.  That ‘no’ sits sour.

It takes me a few more minutes to finally surrender to what I know is the Holy Spirit leading me to exchange my no with a great big YES.  To put on my muddy old moccasins and run outside right along with the kids and play in the morning sunshine in those glorious Autumn leaves.

To forget about the schedule.

And so (though it isn’t easy) – I surrender and say the YES.

Well, it was more like:

Actually, you know what?

They all turn and look with cocked heads and raised eye brows.

Fine.  Let’s go outside.

Really?”  My daughter is wondering if I really mean it or am just waving the surrender to a strong-willed brother.

Yes, really.”  I smile, though at first, its somewhat forced.  (I’m still thinking about that schedule we’re messing up…)  “Look at it outside… it’s so beautiful.  Let’s go.

The kids are up, dressed, and tearing their way through the backyard in mere seconds.  I can see it in them as they fly, kicking leaves up behind them.  

Pure, glorious, freedom – the feeling of cool air on the cheeks and breeze in the hair.  

Ah, yes… now I remember why I needed this just as much as they did.

As I follow them with a rake in hand, I shake my head and whisper a sheepish:  

Thank you, Lord.

I grab the camera, as I always do when beauty overwhelms me, and snap photos as we play.

The world on our street is a blaze of oranges, deep reds, and golden yellow.  It’s more breath-taking than and picture can capture.  The sun is the perfect warmth.  The trees are raining down twirling leaves.  The crunch-crunch Fall sound is beneath our feet.

It is literally the most perfect Autumn morning the Lord could have created.

And I almost missed it.  We almost missed it.

We almost missed this perfect morning gift waiting just outside our back door –
Because I was obsessed with my schedule.
The do-this, do-that, and put the checkmarks beside the boxes, schedule.

We walk up the lane under a canopy of Autumn colours.  My son is convinced he can make the biggest pile of leaves possible with the use of the shovel and brute strength.  So, looking silly to any onlooking neighbours I’m sure, there we were – hauling leaves with a rake and a heavy duty snow plow.

And I guess it worked, because, boy did we collect quite the pile.

Somewhere between surrendering and saying ‘yes’ and snapping photos of the kids throwing handfuls of leaves in the air and laughing wildly, I hear it deep within.  It’s like I’m asking myself a gut-wrenching question but I already know the answer:

How many times have I let our schedule steal our joy?

Too many.

I think I have these clear ideas of why we homeschool and what I truly long for my days to look like and how much time I will spend in pure enjoyment of the journey – and then?  Then life happens.

All of a sudden, I’m choosing some silly schedule over the most perfect, blissful Autumn morning.  Forgetting the freedom we embraced when we said yes to home education.  Forgetting that the Still Small Voice of our Heavenly Father always (always) knows best.  And He’s always whispering, if I would just stop and listen.

Forgetting the pure joy of letting go and saying, ‘let’s do it’, to an unexpected morning leaf fight.

There was this gift just waiting to be unwrapped and savoured with thankful, giggling, joy-filled children – and I almost missed it. I almost let my schedule steal the crazy joy God had for us all in that special moment.  And friends we just can’t do it – we can’t let our schedule steal our joy – whether its a printed schedule or the one in our head.

I mean, the work got done.

Later.  When it clouded over and we all sighed deep and whispered how glad we were that we drank in all that morning sunlight.

That’s just it.  There is always a later for that crazy schedule and there will always be things that are left undone and there will always be more we wished we had of done.  But these children?  They won’t stay young forever.  They won’t want to run wild and crazy in leaves forever.  And it won’t be like this forever – Mama and my young ones, begging me to just say YES and play with them.

Just say YES and build a deep rooted relationship with them.

Just say YES to how the Lord longs to bless us this sunny morning.

Just say YES to the trails of blazing leaves dumped in our back room.

Just say YES to unexpected, unscheduled joy.

Because, the best things in life, you just can’t schedule.  

I’m convinced that much is true.


  • Lisa

    This is something I struggle with daily….that AO schedule (for 5 children in 5 different years) staring me in the face..and my type A personality screaming in my head, "stick to the schedule!"
    I am working on trying to relax more, but it's not easy. Thanks for this post. πŸ™‚

    • Cassandra

      I am only one person… but, 5 children in 5 different years of AO is absolutely CRAZY to me! I have no idea how you can even possibly be enjoying that… πŸ™ Keep in mind, AO is just a site created by people just like you and me…their schedule is just a product of their imagination and creativity + what they know about the basic principles of of Charlotte Mason. Have you read this? http://www.unplugyourfamily.blogspot.ca/2015/10/what-ive-learned-about-curriculum-and.html ? We moved to a family learning schedule and it has been way more enjoyable and peaceful for all… (love)

    • Lisa

      You are right – it IS crazy, and I am not enjoying it, at least not as much as in our early days of AO. But back then, I had only 4 children in AO, and 2 of those were in the same year, which made things easier. I read your blog faithfully and follow you on fb, but rarely have time to leave a comment. However, the post you mentioned really struck a chord with me..we began our CM journey with me choosing the books since I didn't know AO existed. When I discovered AO, and visited the site for the first time, it was overwhelming. And that is a major understatement. I found "seasoned" AO mom who helped me sort it all out. I got the books, printed the schedules, and eagerly waited for the first day. Unlike you, it didn't fall to pieces back then; my children and I LOVED it! Those living books are so rich and wonderful!
      But now, in our first year of having 5 different levels, I feel as if I am treading water and ready to "sink" at any moment; my children seem to be doing fine…loving their books, learning so much, etc…but I. Am. Wiped. Out. And it's only the 9th week of term 1!! How I will ever survive 27 weeks of this is beyond me…it will only be by the grace of the Lord. I would like to veer off the AO schedule a bit and do some of our own stuff, but I am not sure how to start or where to begin the process.
      And I won't even mention the elitist attitude that I have encountered from some AO moms (but I did blog about it and it caused quite a stir! lol).
      Our oldest daughter is just beginning to home school her daughter, and I am NOT recommending AO too strongly, but I am recommending the CM philosophy. It's the philosophy that matters the most, in my opinion.
      Sorry to write a novel here, but your blog is an encouragement to me to step out of the AO box, while still keeping the CM philosophy. Now, if I can just let go of my "all or nothing" attitude and figure out how to do that. πŸ˜‰
      Have a great day. πŸ™‚

    • Cassandra

      Lisa (hug). I have gone through so many ups and downs with homeschool, even over the past YEAR! I think we've changed gears about 4 times since Spring. I just feel like I'm not having that deep peace promised to those who rely completely on the Lord's leading and provision… so I understand… we do love many of the AO books, but we read them at our own pace and on our own timeline. I can't follow a rigid schedule the way they prescribe. Our kids would go crazy with the way it is laid out (and I've mentioned!). I am a very relaxed 'CM' person, I've come to realize. I hear a lot of the 'kids need to buckle down and do what is required' thing, but, that's not really my style. (ha). I know there are certain things we need to do, but for me, those things are fairly limited, actually. I long for our kids to find their passions and follow them. So, if a book or topic is really not at all of interest, I don't really push it. (With the exception of Language Arts and Math). For me too, family learning is a big thing… we switched to more of a "Simply Charlotte Mason" method (for lack of better reference) where the family learns together for most of our stuff… it is SO much easier! I would encourage you to pray about where God is leading you. If you are feeling totally exhausted and lacking peace, it might really be a sign of a needed change. I am also reading Robin Sampson's book, "Heart of Wisdom – the Bible-based teaching approach" right now, and I'm loving it. πŸ™‚

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