My Tyrant, the Planbook: One Mother’s Solution

by Diane Lilleberg, Educational Consultant

A teaching mom once described nearly driving herself and her children crazy by being driven to adhere to a detailed daily schedule she felt she needed and that was provided by the curriculum she selected. When she realized that the frustration and pressure of those detailed plans were canceling any positive results on either family life or their school experience, she made one simple change. To keep herself accountable, she rewrote less specific plans for longer periods of time, leaving the daily entries in her planbook blank. In those blank spaces, she wrote down what occurred daily as each school day closed. She was amazed at the difference it made in her sanity. Even more amazing, her husband and children seemed to suddenly recover their sanity at the same time.

We have used her experience and solution frequently as an illustration, because parents who feel most secure with detailed plans are also most susceptible to be driven by them. For many families, a good flexibility/structure compromise can be provided by planning backwards, beginning with larger blocks of time.

Record what you want to accomplish in a month, then divide monthly goals into weeks. Many planbooks have six columns. If you don’t have one, you can make one in a notebook with a two page spread. Record your weekly goals for each subject (or student) in the sixth column as something to work toward during the week. Record what you accomplish daily in columns one through five as a record, after you do it.

This method gives you a To Do list for the week, and a Did list for each day. A Did list provides good direction when you resume and has a special advantage in both recognizing and recording the learning that might not be listed on any schedule.

Instead of a focus on what you did not get accomplished nagging at you each day, you might find recording what you did accomplish, both planned and unplanned, a healthier and more soothing focus. You can remain completely accountable by your daily record, and your notes can provide you with insight for priorities as you compare what was planned with what was actually accomplished.

The rest of the story, by the way, is that the mother reported that they ended up accomplishing more of the scheduled curriculum detail with less detail in planning. Reducing pressure can have unexpected results. No one thing works for everyone, but if detailed plans are driving you crazy, you might want to consider this mother’s solution. Give the “Weekly To Do” and “Daily Did” a try.

Permission to copy, but not for commercial use.