Start, Finish, Repeat – A Lesson In Planning

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planning and diligence


Ahh mornings. Sometimes the way I get up you’d think my alarm signaled the start of a 5k race. I’m writing mental to-do lists as I shower. A brief tour of my living room on my way to the kitchen expands that list. Then my kids start adding requests for the day, then I clean and cook, then I check my email, then I’m checking their morning work, then….then… then!! Before breakfast is on the table, my to-do list day is a climb up Mount Everest without oxygen. What’s worse is I’m not realizing it. And then three hours in comes the fallout. There’s so much I didn’t accomplish that it’s hard to even appreciate what I did do. And lately I’m noticing a secondary fallout– my kids are hovering from one thing to another without finishing anything. We have a lot of started projects, but few that we see through to completion.

Dear reader, it’s so tempting to over plan. But, as the scripture says, commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established (Proverbs 16:3, ESV). How much better it is to do one thing well, than ten things halfway! Diligence is a skill of patience, and in organizing homeschool and the home environment, that old Aesop’s fable is right on- slow and steady wins the race! The immediacy of our media saturated culture prevents kids from learning how to focus on one task until it’s well done. This is infuriating at times, but I’m attempting to follow these simple principles, and I hope these lessons I’m learning from the trenches of my life will benefit you as well.

Give your mind to the Lord early. Our mind is where the day is won or lost. When I wake up overwhelmed, as I often do, I have to bring that to the Lord immediately. It’s counterintuitive, but I’m learning that planning isn’t how to tackle a pile of to-do’s, rather it’s done by seeking the Lord for wisdom. If my heart attitude is to honor the Lord with my day, whatever I do accomplish is done as a cheerful offering and not as a drudgery.

Start and finish one task before planning. Sometimes I feel like I’ve accomplished something when all I’ve done is plan. I have beautiful to-do lists that have never been realized, because in the sheer writing of it I felt accomplished. Now, I think of one simple morning task I can start and finish easily. Like making the bed or putting in a load of laundry. Just starting and finishing something in the morning helps the tone of my day.

Teach the kids to finish one thing early. Just like it sets the tone for my day, it sets the tone for my kids as well. If I let them wake up and just do play time, their school time is a fight. So, they now have a morning routine, my older three can get dressed on their own, so I have them dress first thing, then they have simple bible lessons to complete. I keep it easy and they have to finish it before they have free time.

Mix it up and be flexible. Doing the exact same thing every day can stifle your creative child. But if you just switch the order of your day, you might find that’s all they needed. A friend

suggested I send my kids outside early on nice mornings. I love this. They celebrate a sunny day right away and run around in our backyard before bible work.

May the Lord give us grace and peace and His perfect wisdom. Each day belongs to Him after all, we’re just stewards!


Carole Ruffin is wife to Jesse and mom of five wonderful kids. She’s the author of Kids, Crayons, and Christ early elementary art curriculum, and also a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art. She vlogs art instructional videos for elementary students. Here’s her vlog:

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).