Flexible Planning a.k.a. Planning on Water

I have always felt that the phrase Firmly Flexible fit with my style. I like to have a structure, a schedule, fully planned out, rigid times set in stone that I know very well. With this plan in place I know where there is wiggle room, and I know which things can be moved to a different day, hour, and I can be spontaneous. Within that stone structure.

However, life doesn’t really work that way in this season of my life. I have two kids with changing sleep schedules and I live in a country that would like to be a first world country, but hasn’t mastered that quite yet and I am in a major transition in so many areas of my life. Therefore I am pulling an Opposite Day (which will probably become an Opposite Season and Beyond!) Instead of being rigid and having flexibility within that. My new visual is of planning on top of water.

Planning On Water

Everything is always moving in water. Constantly, and the hotter the water, the faster the movement. Since it is coming up on a hot summer, I feel this way. The “plan” for each day is like I wrote in pen on a nice sheet of paper and set it down in water. I bet you can already see the visual of this metaphor.

But I am taking every thought captive, and recognizing that this IS the way it is, so I need to learn to function within this new world. So I am beginning with flexibility and ending with flexibility, and in between we have some light boundaries and structure.

I felt that I was spending more time planning than doing anything else because of the constant adjustments to the schedule. I would say okay 9:00 take a shower 9:30 Memverse 10:00 Homeschool with Davy and at 9:05 Kyrie would start screaming, so my shower loses its calm, and at 9:07 the lights go out. So, I spend the rest of my shower in the dark determining if I should get dressed and help Kyrie or get dressed and take care of the lights first. All the while Davy is standing at the door to my room crying because Kyrie is crying and the lights are out and he is hungry.

And something like that happens every day. I tracked what I did every minute for a week, and I found that I spend about 30 minutes every day in a frustrating situation like that. Then, my mind is constantly checking if what I am doing is worth doing because there might be something better.

Louis intervened, God intervened, and I finally said ENOUGH! Enough to my brain, enough to succumbing to living this frenetic way, and enough to wishing I didn’t have to get up today. I have passions and a calling, and I am going after them! So, I now plan less, and differently. I am learning to be in the moment of what I am doing with no regrets. If it turns out I should have been doing something, oh well, I did this. I loved on my kids and I prayed and I read and I wrote, and I rejoiced. I wasn’t rejoicing ever, and today I rejoiced. So take that negative Nellies, which is mostly just that other negative Annie pretending someone is mad at her to give her justification to feel guilty. My new method of planning is super simple!

This Ain’t Your Momma’s Planning

Or this Momma’s, but I am growing in flexibility. Here is what it looks like:


I have written down my Ideal List of what I want to get done with my time each day, and how much time I would like to spend on each thing. Then I put them in order by what needs to happen in each section of the day instead of using the o’clock method.


When we teach the incoming interns about culture we talk about the status of time in the culture. It turns out kids and Arabs function in similar ways, 6:45 doesn’t exist. There is morning (or as Davy would say, “When the sun is up”), afternoon (either “the sun’s been up a LONG time” or “the sun’s going away”), and evening (“the sun is gone”).

Then I have a secret fourth section of the day: Mommy Time in the night when everyone goes to sleep. This allows me to take the temperature of my day throughout the day. If we sleep in because we stayed up late with a teething baby or having coffee over at someone’s house, there are certain things that just will not happen the same. Breakfast will be something super fast, and the breakfast I had planned on cooking will be served for lunch.

When the Waves Hit

Davy’s Bible Story of the week is The Wise and Foolish Builder, so I want to have a strong foundation instead of sand. I want the waves to crash without causing damage. I want to be wise. One of the things I am tightening up in my house is the time between when my feet hit the floor out of bed and getting to Memverse. I call all of that time Waking Up in my general planning for MORNING because I barely am present for it, but it takes too long. So, I am working on not getting distracted by dishes, which can wait until lunch, or attention for the kids who both like having a quiet time in the morning anyway.

This is a time of constant flux, and I am learning to move with the boat instead of fighting to stay still and getting sea sick. As I said this is a time of becoming more decisive, and being positive that what I am doing is the right thing. When I can just sit in the task, moment, relationship, and event I find myself enjoying it more and also being much more productive. I am not wasting 10% of the time thinking about what else I have to do. There is time for that later.

Besides I am sure there is something super “important” my negative voice thought I should have been doing instead of having this tea party with Kyrie:

Meanwhile in Davy’s Room… Hey, Negative Self-Voice! This IS what’s important! These kids, these few short years until they grow up more. Like, tomorrow. So, Worry, wait outside please. I have to have a tea party for the next 17 years.


Author: Annie Liss

Currently a mother and a wife who loves reading. Formerly a middle school math teacher who kept too busy and stressed out to read. My husband and I are missionaries in Lebanon.

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