Pandemic Planning - Lessons in Letting Go

Pandemic Planning - Lessons in Letting Go

It’s March. The past twelve months, time has both dragged on, and flown by, and it’s hard to believe we’ve known and lived in a global pandemic for a year.

We’ve seen pretty much every type of plan we’ve made need to be cancelled, postponed, changed. There’s been a lot of disappointment. Learning to let go of our plans has been a lesson we may have needed. My children, maybe like yours, like to look forward to things! They count school days to get “100 Day”, they look forward to a playdate, a birthday party. We as moms look forward to plans big and small. Looking forward gives us a feeling of hope, both the near future and towards our eternal future.

If you’ve spent any time in church over the years, or followed Christian influencers, authors and speakers on social media, you’ve heard the idea of ‘holding your plans loosely’. But what does that mean when you apply it to your day to day?

In the fall, I shared about margins, and that is one way to hold loosely to those plans, leaving space and time to react and respond to needs around you. (https://www.momscafecochrane.ca/planning-in-the-chaos/)

Another way is to not be so reliant on your future plans that you feel great failure if they do not come to pass. As a planner, with my colour coded pens, my theme stickers and my long range list making …this is outside my natural skills. I want the investment in my planning to be worthwhile! We look forward to the things we plan. From things we plan that may be small, like a walk with a friend next week, getting our favourite hot drink on the way to get groceries – some may be big, like an overseas family safari or where and when we hope to retire. There is a sense of disappointment when plans don’t come through, the hope we’ve felt as we looked ahead feels lost. Plans give us small hopes during the monotonous days of motherhood. These hopes are small compared to the grand hope of heaven, but they do impact our day to day, and I know that the God who cares about sparrows, does not turn a blind eye to our hope for our friendships, hot coffee or adventures in the world He created.

Summer 2020 was a summer of …. Nothing*. Holding tightly to my plans, I was not happy they were upended. My reaction told me more about how tightly I’d held those plans than anything else. We had planned to be in another province, spending our ‘once every 3 years’ summer with the grandparents and cousins. A trip my family looks forward to for three years! We had no other plans, as that was the whole summer’s plan. It felt like a big loss, and at the time we said, “we’ll go next year”. This winter as I started to look ahead to Summer 2021, I knew there was a possibility that the trip would again be postponed. This is where I needed to blend my desire to plan, the need for our family to have a summer to look forward to, and the ‘holding loosely’ part that I don’t naturally enjoy.

We’re planning two completely different summers. One where we do get our road trip, camping along the way, to visit the grandparents and cousins, and another where we do more camping right here in Alberta. We know we’ll have to cancel one set of plans, and there will be a few reservation fees we won’t be paid back. We decided that was worth it for us, for this summer. In a time where getting a campsite reservation is much like a game of chance combined with fast internet, we opted not to leave this to the last minute. We’re reasonably confident that one set of plans will at least partially proceed. Making no plans isn’t a match for my personality, but I’m learning to be flexible and not quite so stressed when plans fall apart. I’m not sure I’ll consider it joy just yet if it all gets canceled, but we’ll have a moment of sadness for the plans we can’t follow through with, and be able to move on with a better attitude.

Write your plans down, let yourself feel the hope that comes with making them, have a back up plan and maybe stick with pencil until closer to the events! 

*To be clear, it wasn’t actually ‘nothing’. It just felt a lot less than we’d hoped! We built a climbing wall in our back yard to have more fun vertical space, we had endless bike & scooter rides at a nearby empty parking lot – sometimes even meeting friends and bringing chairs for moms to supervise with coffee! We went on one camping trip for a few nights. We went to a lake and paddled kayaks, we hiked. We did more than ‘nothing’, but still felt like we missed the bigger summer adventures we’d normally have!

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