Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Day In the Life...

In the few years that I've been homeschooling, I've noticed a few things.

One thing is this: the hardest part isn't figuring out which curriculum to use or how to get your kids to learn things (that actually happens pretty easily).

The hardest part is figuring out how to get your day into a workable routine - how to get school done while keeping little ones out of trouble AND remember to spend quality time with them AND get the laundry done AND nurture each child's spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical growth AND find a little quiet time for your own sanity, all while maintaining a healthy marriage, an intimate walk with God, and a warm, loving home that is just clean enough to keep Child Protective Services away.

The other thing I've learned is this: it's impossible to get it all done, but it's easy to get depressed thinking that everybody else does.

So in the interest of full-disclosure, I'm sharing a day in the life of our very real family, as well as a few little things we've discovered that work for us:

1. Spend time with the youngest first

I was given this advice by homeschool moms older and wiser than me: Because the older children get most of your attention during the day, spend time with the youngest child first.

This is not a problem in my house because my little one gets up long before anyone else in the house would even consider opening their eyes (fortunately it's gotten a little better since we've found our sleep solution). Anyway, he and I usually have "coffee" together in the morning.

2. Four Befores

These are four chores that must be done (with a happy heart!) before breakfast. Every family has different morning chores they teach their kids to do first thing, but ours are:

1. Make your bed
2. Get dressed
3. Pick up your room
4. Pray for your day

They really do pretty well with it, and sometimes even remember their chores when we are away from home:

3. Devotions

After breakfast we have devotions and then everyone "writes" in their journals, even the little ones:

Now lest you think we are a super-spiritual family, I will give you an example of a discussion that we had one morning when one of my children was three.

Me: Tell me about what you drew.
Child: Oh, it's a goat
Me: A goat, hmm?
Child: Yes, well, I think... (brow furrowed)... I'm pretty sure God is telling me to worship a goat.

Sometimes they get it. Sometimes they don't.

4. School

After we clean up the kitchen from breakfast (and everyone has a specific job to help with that), we spend usually an hour and half to two hours on school. I have a curriculum I am using with Grace, and Caleb usually sits with us soaking it all up like a sponge while he puts puzzles together or plays educational games.

As tempting as it can be to get them started and then take off to get some laundry done, I try to remember that the main reason I homeshool is to spend time with my kids, so as much as possible, I sit right with them during school time.

And what does my two-year-old do during this time? Well, when you read the advice of all of those homeschool veterans older and wiser than me, they suggest having special toys just for school time or having them sit with you at the table doing play dough or stringing beads.

So I do that with Joshua and it works pretty well - for about three or four minutes (I think those people who say your preschoolers will sit still with your for an hour or more must all have little girls). Then Joshua is off to do head dives off the fireplace, invite the neighbor cats in through the back door, and rummage through the pantry until he finds expired food to snack on.

I know. You do not have expired food in your pantry. You are a better housekeeper than me.

And I'm okay with that.

5. Housework.

After we finish school, we all work together for a little while on cleaning the house.

Yes, I am the meanest mom in the world to make my kids do housework, but I think they'll survive (and maybe learn some good habits in the process) and yes, it would be easier if I did it myself, but I also think that if I keep training them it will pay off someday when they can do by themselves while I put my feet up and eat bon bons :)

We mainly focus on one job each day. For example, one day to vacuum, one day to clean rooms, one day to sort laundry, one day to fold it... We all dread laundry-folding day, so I have just decided that that is the day we get to have cookies or ice cream for a snack when we are finished.

6. Exercise and Fresh Air

This usually leaves us with a little time before lunch, and if the weather is nice, we will take a bike ride, walk to the park, or just play in the yard. Gotta make them tired for nap time.

7. Lunch and Rest Time

Ah, nap time. This is the sacred part of the day. It's not that I don't love spending time with my kids, but as the mother of a large family once said, if we don't take time every day to come apart, then we will come apart!

8. Afternoon

After rest time, we often do an art or drawing project and I read aloud from a chapter book. We are currently enjoying the Little House series.

The rest of the afternoon, they are free to play, and they often spend the time building forts, giving dental cleanings to the stuffed animals, generally running wild, or maybe hunting imaginary lions with nerf guns.

So that is the way a typical day progresses if all goes as planned.

There are always days we end up doing spelling in the car or math in the doctor's office while someone is crying.

Some days - okay, lots of days - we have to forget about schoolwork or housework (or all of it) due to doctor's appointments, speech evaluations, premenstral syndrome, a nice day that makes the park too hard to resist, a sale at Old Navy...

Yes, I know. Everytime you keep your kids home from school they are really sick.

But I'm not a perfect mom.

And I'm okay with that : )


debby94 said...

Thanks for keeping it real. You are an awesome mom. I admire you for home schooling. I don't think I could do it.

Vik said...

We think you are a great mom! Can I come eat bon bons with you one day???

stephanie said...

can i come live at your house?

seriously, i need you to do an inservice for me. i'm a crazy mom and my house is falling apart!!! :)

Kristi said...

This was fabulous! I have a 3 and 1 year old and we're planning to start homeschooling more formally soon... this was SO helpful to get a glimpse into your day and help me feel like it is actually doable! :)

Lisa said...

Great post. I often wonder how other people manage...

DairyQueen said...

awesome post! i think most of us homeschool moms can appreciate that one.

I love how you and the little one have coffee together :)

Jenny said...

Hi. I was just surfing around some blogs, and I came across yours. It’s pretty nifty and I’m really enjoying my stay here. I’ve bookmarked your site for daily visits, and I hope you’ll visit me. I’d love to have you. :) Have a great day and I’ll see you around the blogosphere. :)

Kathy said...

Thank you so much for sharing that! Thank you for your honesty and great writing and for being so "cool." Let's be friends :)

manhattandoula said...

Thanks for posting that! We've been contemplating homeschooling (well, we've been experimenting already with our older child), and I often wonder what it would actually look like. Thanks for this snapshot! And I love your sense of humor. :)