I’m often asked what a typical day looks like for us. In my dream world I respond with something like, “Well, every morning by 7 am, we are dressed, fed, flossed, and have finished a 30 minute devotion.”
Let’s all laugh together.
In my real world (homeschooling a 7, 6, & 4 year old, keeping a 2 year old from pending doom, and 7 months pregnant with baby #5) our “schedule” is so loose there’s almost nothing to put down on paper. There’s about 365 versions of what a typical day looks like; which is to say that there’s lots of variables. And through the years, I’ve learned to loosen my white-knuckle grip on what it all should look like and embrace what it actually does look like.
Before I share an example of a typical day, I’ll share what are becoming my guiding principles. At least for now. I realize these may change as kids get older, I regain energy, or I hire the Downton Abby staff to help carry the load (a girl can dream), but for now these work for us:
- Unless we have an event that requires a firm time (doctors appointments, school co-op, or a pre-arranged meeting with friends) I don’t really stick to times.
- Instead, I give myself windows within which to accomplish something. For example: by 10 am, we are dressed and fed. By noon we are done with school. By 3:00 we’ve cleaned the house. By 8 pm the kids are ready for bed. It feels more successful- and grace-filled- to have a larger window. Less stress, less yelling at kids to hurry up, more flexibility to handle spur-of-the-moment crises like diaper blow-outs or flesh wounds or has anyone seen the toddler? You get the idea.
- The night before, I make a list of what I’d like to do the following day- everything from errands, chores, self-care, phone calls, emails, etc. The more I do this, the more I’m getting in touch with what’s realistic in a day and what’s just absolutely insane. In other words, the lists have gotten markedly shorter.
- I ask the kids what they would like to do the next day, and I tell them what might be possible. No promises, no guarantees. Just a truthful “we might be able to try that tomorrow”.
- I give myself permission to throw in the towel on a portion of the day, or the whole day, for any number of reasons, including: I’m a hot mess, one or all of the kids are a hot mess, we’re tired, the weather is too yucky to go out, the weather is too nice to stay in, I’m too tired so we’re all going to stay in pjs and watch movies.
- Less is more. Four kids provide enough interaction, education, entertainment, frustration without needing much supplementation. At least not right now or at these ages.
- Kids are up by 7 am. Sadness for the parents, but we’ve learned to embrace
- Breakfast is informal and usually done around the table to Netflix playing on the laptop. Possibly even something school-related. This allows Micah and I to sit in the other room and have a quiet, enjoyable breakfast with HOT coffee and semi-uninterrupted conversation before it’s game time.
- We get dressed and brush our teeth by 9:00 and tidy up (kitchen, dining room, bedroom, whatever has been destroyed already.)
- We finish school by 10:30 (we only do about 30 minutes of school officially sitting down. The rest, about another 30- 60 minutes, is scattered throughout the day via cd’s, youtube, library, parks, etc.)
- we skip school and go to the YMCA because I’m already feeling maxed out. We stay until lunch, allowing me plenty of time to regain my composure, and then we’ll tackle school when Judah naps. Maybe.
- we run errands or go to the park or to our homeschool co-op or another social venue where I/the kids are less tempted to loose it. Sometimes onlookers and change of scenery is all it takes to snap out of it!
- Lunch is low-maintenance and boring: yogurt with granola, veggies, fruit, toast, smoothies, etc. Things that don’t require much energy and time.
*roasted seaweed is currently a big hit with the herd
- Afternoon (1-4ish): Judah naps, kids play/read books/watch movies/color/paint/go to friends’ houses/help me with chores. I nap, talk to friends, shower, relax, read, etc. This is sacred Mommy Time and the kids know to honor it!
- Dinner: we eat around 5, then have a “Speed Clean”….anywhere from 10-60 min of all hands on deck…vacuuming, laundry, cleaning the house, whatever needs to get done.
- Home Stretch (6:00-8:00) kids play or watch a movie, take baths, floss & brush, and go to bed. We approach this in a slow and steady manner to minimize stress and frustration. Sometimes we read to them before bed, sometimes we don’t. We take time to let them talk about their day, concerns, questions, frustrations, dreams, whatever is in their precious heads and hearts, but we don’t draw out bedtime….”goodnight, we love you, it’s Mommy and Daddy time.”
I don’t have 5 children, but I will soon be experiencing job loss. I keep wondering how I’m going to tackle family and job searching when I’m home. I was wondering if a rigid schedule or something more relaxed would be more likely to deal with. I am afraid if I allow too much flexibility it’ll cause laziness. So a schedule like yours that’s a little more relaxed may be a good idea for what I’ll be needing. Thanks for posting. This may be the answer I’ve been looking for.
Lorena, I’m so glad you found this encouraging! I’m sorry about your job loss, but hopeful that so many other doors can open for you. I would love to hear how it goes for you 🙂
I’ve felt so nervous about “how I’m going to do it” when my kids are old enough to start homeschooling, and this was so encouraging to read. It’s nice to realize it doesn’t have to be strict. (And thus that much more stressful!)
I wondered if our loose schedule would sound refreshing or terrifying to people. I guess it depends on what works for each person. Anyway, I’m glad it encouraged you…and I can’t wait to hear what YOU discover when you enter the homeschooling journey 🙂