Planning Undone

“The best-laid schemes of mice and men oft go astray and leave us naught but grief and pain for promised joy.”   ~ Robert Burns

A few years ago, my life was pretty scheduled.  My workday was planned from Monday to Friday.  Before and after work, there was yoga classes I taught or took, there were things to do, places to go and people to meet.  I wore a watch, watched my watch and was on time with everything.  I felt that this was balance and it worked very well for me.

Then I conceived my first baby.  In my excitation to prepare for my new bundle of joy, I read the typical books on raising a baby.  These books appealed to my structured life.  If I provided the baby with structure and routine, which to me meant making plans for baby, I would have an easy time with my new baby and motherhood would come into my life with grace.  I even made a “schedule” of my baby’s day on poster paper before the baby was born.  (Insert laughter here!!)

Then my son was born.  I was determined to stick to the book’s plan for feedings, nap time, diaper changes, play time and bed time.  This would make a happy baby and a happy mommy!  It worked for so many other parents, as the book reassured, so certainly, for someone like me who thrives on structure, this was going to work.

However, my son had other plans.  As the weeks progressed, and his little personality started to shine through, I started to struggle with my plans for us, specifically for him.  I found his feeding times were constantly changing.  Every day, a round of hiccups would start up just as his nap time was upon us.  During “play” time he would fall asleep.   And all of this would throw off the schedule.

Naturally, with my plan, my son would eventually adopt it like the book said, right?  Why was this not happening as the weeks and months passed?  What was I doing wrong?  How could I get this to work out the way I planned?

The more I clung to “the plan” the more exhausted, disappointed, discouraged and frustrated I became.

Yet, I was resisting a fundamental given of life is a very big way during a very significant moment in my life.  I was resisting that THINGS DO NOT ALWAYS GO ACCORDING TO PLAN.

It didn’t take long before I ditched my watch and the clock in the baby’s room.

I realized that I was trying to impose or force something that was against the natural flow of things.  Perhaps my scheduled life before baby worked well for me, now the reality was that my best laid plans were not working and were causing me a great deal of stress.

I sort of had it right, in that babies do well with structure, however what I didn’t get was, that for some babies, my son being one of them, it’s THEIR routine that needed to be respected.  This was HIS life that I was facilitating, after all.  Since he couldn’t specifically tell me what he needed, I really needed to follow his cues, not mommy’s schedule.  This was common knowledge to me prior to meeting my son, however it was a whole different thing to me in practice.  It was a very humbling realization in my life.

Much to my surprise, his cues where right on time for him.  I had to give up my control, or expectations of how it should be, and say “YES” to the unknown or the unpredictability of  my newborn son’s needs.  Also, he depended on me to tend to his needs with loving kindness and acceptance, no matter how unexpected or unpredictable the situation at hand was.

I realized that as I was going with the flow, we were both being taken care of even in light of the unknown and the unplanned.  There is nothing wrong with structure and routine, however when I had such concrete plans and specific expectations, I felt a great deal of stress and disappointment when things didn’t go as I wanted them to.

My son is growing and is a happy little guy.  I still am mindful of his cues.  Regular meals, regular activity, regular bedtime as regularly as we can.  We keep home life simple, with open hearts and open minds and try to be considerate of everyone’s wants and needs.  Everyday we work on a balance with a good measure of acceptance and flexibility.  The majority of times, this has helped us roll with it, and be happy, even when things have not gone according to plan.

And on that note… Here are a few excerpts from “The Five Things We Cannot Change: Chapter 2 – Things Do Not Always Go According To Plan” by David Richo.

page 20-21:

We make plans expecting to be in control of what will happen.  Perhaps we fear natural happenings, things turning out contrary to our wishes.  We are challenged by life’s “mind of its own” to let go of having things come out our way.  We may act with precision, and self-discipline, expecting the world to follow suit and grant us our reward.

page 22:

Error and errancy are not tragedies.  They are ingredients of and directions to discovery.  They show us paths that humble us, startle us, and point us to new horizons.  

page 23:

Things are not always as we would like them to be, nor do plans always work out our way.  The fact that we are not in control means that the proper bearing for life on the raft of this world is surrender to what is as it is, how it is, when or where it is.

page 30:

Things do not always go according to plan evokes the archetype of synchronicity, which reveals itself in a felt meaningful coincidence.  To say yes to this given is to trust that the universe has a plan for us and that things are unfolding in this life just in time for us to grown into the beings we were meant to be.

page 29:

The balance of nature is not always harmonious, however.  It includes room for occasional confusion and disorder.  …Yet, there is something in us, too, something that is never spent and that irrepressibly survives the tumult of life.



  1. Julie · August 16, 2011

    Thanks for posting the egg
    plant recipe, I’m going to try it with the ones from our garden! Also, I ordered the book: The 5 things you cannot change…looks enlightening! Thanks, Julie.

    • Dr. Laura Imola, BSc, ND (Licensed) · August 17, 2011

      Hey Jule, My pleasure! I hope you enjoy it! And… the book is a good read and very insightful. I would highly recommend it to anyone.

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