Coping with Sick Days and the Unexpected

sicknessThis past week was supposed to be one of much accomplishment! Co-op is over for the semester, which gives us an extra day at home, and I had plans to catch up on a couple of things as well as do some fun lessons.

Sunday evening I printed and planned and went to bed, ready to enjoy homeschool the next day. At 3 a.m. I received a dose of reality. A little voice next to my pillow whispered, “Mom, I just threw up.”  It was the seven year old, and 3:15 a.m. saw me stripping sheets and settling him on the couch with a bowl handy. By 3:30 I was back in bed, and at 4:00 the toddler woke up to nurse and snuggle until 5:15, leaving me just fifteen minutes to “sleep” before my alarm went off!

So much for plans! Hurray for coffee!

So, what do we do when our best laid plans are thwarted by sick days, random occurrences, or friends needing an emergency babysitter? How do we adjust, rework, and continue with the day?

Hold plans loosely in the first place.
James 4:15 says, “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’” (ESV). I find it is so easy to say “Lord willing” when I’m writing out my lesson plans during the summer, and so difficult to accept the things that disrupt my plans as actually being of the Lord! Daily giving of my plans over to Him—and then accepting the way that they must change to accommodate the vagaries of life—makes a world of difference in my ability to react well to those changes and trust Him for the outcome.

Realize that learning doesn’t always come from books.
If I want the children to grow up and be able to manage their households and lives well, then they need to learn how to adjust to the completely unexpected, and how to plan for the predictable “unexpecteds.” If I know that at some point during the winter, some child will likely be sick, or that at some point I’ll be up for hours with the baby, then I can see how the children’s helping me to keep things going is also part of their education. I try to keep ingredients for a couple of meals that they can cook on hand—as well as be willing to trim the day down to essentials—everyone will have been safe, loved, and well fed! The children learn here, too, even if some of the learning is less obvious than when it is the four times table or the important figures of the Thirty Years War.

Model the giving and receiving of grace, graciously.
Sometimes I can minister grace to another mom by watching her children, taking her a meal, or otherwise lifting her burden. Sometimes I’m the one who needs my burden lifted for a bit. Either way, I need to be kind and gracious in my words and attitude. Saying “please” and “thank you.” Accepting with a cheerful attitude the bags and bags of carefully thrifted and cleaned clothes, brought over by the kind older lady from church—even though we try to keep clothes to a minimum and can’t use most of them. Trying hard to bless those who bless us is an invaluable lesson for the children and a sanctifying spiritual discipline for me.

Remember the Good Samaritan.
When I interact with sick children, am I doing a perfunctory care while resenting that they’ve messed up my plans? Or am I doing the little things in love that serve them? It’s all too easy to be the equivalent of the Pharisee and the Levite, “passing by on the other side” by ignoring the needs of others. Instead, I need to reach out and offer what I can in love.

Don’t let your planner and calendar rule you.
It’s so easy to become anxious over assignments that are undone or incomplete, or days passing without school having happened. But who is in charge? Can’t I just extend school a week or two if I need to? Or decide that an assignment can be skipped in the interest of finishing before the HEAV Convention (my annual goal)? Lessons and school are good servants—but a poor master!—and I need to remind myself of this frequently.

The unexpected will happen, and the way I react will teach a far more powerful lesson, and have a more lasting impact, than all the schoolwork the children will ever do!

This article originally appeared on the HEAV website and is used with permission.

Author: Kyndra Steinmann

Kyndra Steinmann blogs at Sticks, Stones and Chicken Bones about living in a houseful of young children, special needs, discipling hearts, and abundant grace! As a homeschool graduate, she has an especial burden to encourage mothers to know and enjoy their children. Follow her on Facebook, and Pinterest.