All posts by blogabbie

A Day in the Life of a Homeschooling Mama of 7 (going on 8)

Hey guys! I promised you another homeschooling post a while back, and, since then, I’ve had several requests for a post about how I “balance it all.” I have that in quotation marks because, depending on the day, I don’t. But! I will say that we have a pretty good rhythm at our house at this point, and I’m better about saying, “No,” when necessary than I used to be, so I feel like we actually strike a pretty decent balance between chores, school, and play these days.

Of course, I say that now, and we haven’t officially started homeschooling yet (we just did reading + math all summer). That’s this week. But! I can give you a rundown of what a basic day-in-the-life looked like from last spring and what I anticipate it to look like this semester as well.

Monday is our co-op day, and last year, it consisted of my teaching Body Pump at 5:45 AM, then hustling home to shower/change, while the kids made/ate breakfast, got dressed, gathered their co-op supplies (which we had packed the night before), and did their morning clean-up. We were out of the house by 8:15 and finished with co-op (where I teach high school Spanish, and the kids all play or attend various classes all day) by 3:00 PM. I dropped the oldest 5 off at piano lessons, while the little boys and I rushed through a few errands, before picking up the girls for dance, taking them over to the dance studio, then doing a lightning run at the grocery, picking up the girls at dance, the boys at piano, and then heading home to finish dinner, eat, do evening clean-up, a bit of read-aloud, and then bedtime routines. At which point, I usually collapsed in a coma on the couch. It was the longest day of the year every. single. week.

THIS year, the first 2/3 of the day looks the same, but we don’t have piano lessons immediately after co-op (they’re on a different day), and the girls’ dance studio is only 3 minutes from our house this time around, so we’ll be home by 3:30 and have a bit of time to recoup before dance, which is a huge relief.

day in the life3

We *technically* started co-op last week for meet-the-teacher and had to come home and finish all the chores that we hadn’t completed in the mad rush to get our homeschooled selves out the door by 8:15. 

So! Since Monday isn’t exactly representative of the rest of the week, and I just gave you a rundown of that already, let’s go with Tuesday because that’s pretty much the most ordinary day of the week, right?

7:00 AM

I’m usually up between 6:30-6:45 (except for mornings that I get up at 5 AM to teach, which are Monday and Wednesday), and the kids get up at 7:00 during the school year. We eat breakfast, do family Bible reading, and then start morning cleanup. Clean-up usually lasts until 8:30, 9 at the latest…unless we all are dragging that morning.

9:00 AM

The kids and I review our memorization (verses, poetry, etc.) for the week, and then everyone starts on his/her independent work. The older kids do their math, reading, spelling, and vocab exercises, while the twins and I read and do math and handwriting together. They would technically only be in kindergarten this year, since their birthday isn’t until September 24 (they’ll be 6), but we’ll be working on mostly 1st grade work this year, since they are already reading at a beginning level just fine.

I check on the bigger kids’ work and look it over/grade it during this time as well. And Honor and Theo play/fight.

11:00

Since last March, a group of 3-6 girls from our church has been coming to our house twice a week to exercise together. They arrive at 11:15, and I pay Ezra and Simon to babysit their kiddos. At certain points, we’ve had as many as 20+ kids in the house, but the boys handle it really well, and it’s usually more like 10-15 (including mine). The moms are just upstairs, so if there’s a kiddo who needs our attention, we’re right there, but it’s nice to be able to exercise in relative peace and, um, well, not quiet exactly. But, it gets the job done. ;)

12:30 

The girls that come to exercise are usually gone between 12:30 and 1, and we eat lunch.

1:30

Honor usually goes down for a nap between 11 and 12 and sleeps until 2, so after lunch, Theo goes down for his nap, and the rest of the kids and I meet in the living room for read-aloud + laundry folding (they fold, I read; it’s fabulous). The twins are usually drawing during folding/reading, but their job is to take all of the baskets of folded laundry to the correct rooms.

day in the life

 

Clearly, Simon was into both the folding and the book. 

2:00

The twins have rest/play time in their room while the older kids work on co-op homework, science, grammar, and history with me.

3:30

Theo takes somewhere between a 1 hour and 2 hour nap, depending on his level of tiredness, so he’s up by now, usually wanting a snack. Honor’s up too, and, honestly, eeeerrrr’body wants a snack/break at this point. They usually get their own/take care of each other while I start dinner prep, flip the laundry, or just chill for a bit.

4:00

At this point, the older boys go out to water the flowerbeds, and then everybody has free time and usually spends it drawing, playing, reading, fishing, jumping on the trampoline, or helping me finish dinner prep (the twins and Theo are especially keen on that one).

5:00 

Tuesdays are usually our library day, so we  head there for about 30 minutes before heading back home for dinner. (It’s 5 minutes away…one of the many things I love about living 10 minutes closer to town than we used to).

EXTREMELY RANDOM TANGENT: Did you know that there’s an actual thing called the Mariko Aoki phenomenon, which observes that being in both libraries and bookstores has been linked with the urge to, ahem, poop. I observed it for myself when I noticed that Honor gifted me with a stinky diaper pretty much every time we visited the library, and then, when I posted about it on social media, I got sooooo many “mine toooo’s” that I had to investigate. Wonders never cease.

ANYWAY.

6:00

Dinner. It doesn’t take us an hour to eat, but we usually spend a good 45 minutes around the table.

7:00

We have an Alexa timer set for after dinner clean-up. We’ve been doing this consistently for over 8 months now, and I absolutely LOVE the difference it makes in all of our moods (but, let’s face it, mine the most) to go to bed with the dishes done and the downstairs picked up at least.

7:30 

The kids usually do something fun with Shaun at this point. He works from home, but he’s not usually available between 8 AM and 5 PM (at least), so this is the kids’ time to roll around on the floor or play ping or darts with their daddy. Honor goes to bed around this point as well.

8:00

Bedtime routines. During the summer, we don’t usually start these until 8:20 or so but we try to stick to 8 during the school year. Bedtime routines consist of teeth-brushing, potty, water, kid Bible reading (the older boys read a story to the younger kids and briefly discuss it), and any other nonsense, er, reasonable rituals that the kids feel attached to (i.e. making sure they know where their favorite sleep toy is). It usually takes about 20 minutes, so, most nights, everybody is heading to bed by 8:30.

8:30

With kids in bed, dinner stuff put away, and the house in decent shape, Shaun and I have some time to chill on the couch and talk about the day. We usually read or watch a show starting around 9 (our repertoire is very small, since we’re picky about what we watch, but we recently finished watching the first two seasons of The Man in the High Castle on VidAngel…wouldn’t recommend it unedited, but it’s an interesting watch with all of the junk edited out).

10:00 

By this point, we’re at least headed to bed, but when I don’t get up at 5, I usually manage to find something to occupy myself (ahem, catching up on Instagram) that means I end up going to sleep closer to 11.

day in the life1

This has nothing to do with what we look like when we are vegging on the couch, but this was how we felt the other day when my mom had the oldest 6, and Shaun, Honor, and I got to sneak out for a croissant at a local bakery when Shaun got back from a work trip. 

Aaaaaaaand there you have a typical Tuesday in our house.

Obviously, there’s a fair bit of flux in our schedule, depending on whether we have appointments (for example: my midwife only takes appointments on Tuesdays, so we’ll be adding that to our schedule this fall). And when Shaun’s gone on work trips (which he always does more in the spring and fall), Tuesdays are our nights to go to the gym for a bit after the library and then Chick-fil-a for dinner.

day in the life2

Honor might be a slight fan of Chick-fil-a nights…even if he does miss his daddy something fierce. 

And I think it’s pretty obvious that there are no hard and fast scheduling rules here. Some days, we finish all of our schoolwork in 4 hours (the older ones), and some days, it takes longer. Some days, shorter. We’re out of the house some days more than others, but, I’ll be honest: the majority of our days are spent at home. We wouldn’t be able to get everything done if they weren’t.

In case you’re wondering, Wednesday looks very similar, except that I teach early in the AM, the girls don’t come to exercise, and my mom comes to help with homeschooling around 10 AM. She leaves at 3. Then, at 4:30, I teach another class, usually while the kids stay home and watch a show (which is one of their only opportunities to have screen time during the week) and fold clothes (Shaun is home but working in his office, which is on the bottom floor).

Shooooo-wee! That was a lot of words about the boring stuff I do all day (boring in the “ordinary” sense…I don’t find it boring).

What about you guys? What does a day-in-the-life look like for you? Anything I skipped that you were dying to know? I’m happy to answer!

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):

To the Mama Who’s Embarrassed to Announce Her Pregnancy

Since sharing that we’re expecting #8, I’ve been kind of blown away by the outpouring of love and support in response to the announcement.

I know that many of you have followed along here for ages and probably feel as if you know our family personally (I feel the same about certain online “friends”), and I expected you to be kind (and you were!).

But I also know that 8 (!!) sounds a wee bit batty to lots of folks (20-year-old Abbie would have thought so, certainly). So, I expected at least a few bemused responses and maybe even a few downright hostile ones (I’ve received it and seen it elsewhere before).

And yet, the reaction has been universally positive–effusively so, even.

I say all of this both to thank you for your kindness but also to establish that I know exactly what it feels like to press publish on a post (blog or otherwise) with trepidation in my heart and a tremble in my fingers.

jason2

Photo: Jason Stitt Photography

It is hard to expose such a tender part of your heart to the world, only to have it handled roughly by strangers.

Imagine then, how much harder it would be to receive unwelcome responses from someone close to you. (Some of you don’t have to imagine because you’ve already experienced it). Not a stranger, but someone who knows you well and still chooses to receive your news of joy with a sneer or a smirk.

A sweet reader recently messaged me asking how to cope with that fear of what others will think when they reveal the news of “yet another kid.” Had I ever dealt with that? What did I do?

Answer: Yes! The thought of what others would think has (sadly) been among the first that have popped into my head every single time I’ve seen a positive pregnancy test result. To be fair, that worry has lessened each time because 1) hey, if they haven’t figured out that this is how we roll by this point, nothing I say is going to change their response, and 2) the older I get, the less I twist myself into knots over whether people like my decisions as long as both my husband and I know them to be godly ones. 

Truth is: it doesn’t take a whole lot of negativity for the doubt to creep in. One woman in particular comes to mind each time I’m pregnant, and I inwardly groan, dreading Mary’s (not her name) finding out and making another comment about how I “already have quite the litter.” (Yup. Litter).

My family? Completely positive. Shaun’s family? Same.

And I KNOW what a blessing and how unusual that is (from so many of you writing to ask how to deal with resistant family members).

But here’s the thing: maybe you’re not announcing Baby #5 or #9. Maybe it’s your first and you’re getting blow back because of the timing (I can still remember the lady who chirped: “Oops! Accidents happen!” upon finding out that we were pregnant with our first only 3 months after our wedding…who was not an accident, by the way). Maybe it’s your second, and they’re close together, and your Aunt Mildred says something like: “Didn’t we just do this?” (We, Aunt Mildred? We? I don’t recall your taking a turn when I was pushing this baby out).

Maybe it’s Number 3, and the first two are boys, and you’re maybe sorta hoping for a girl but happy with whatever God gives and yet dreading the exclamations of condolence if it turns out to be “yet another” boy.

The thing is, negative responses to kid numbers (of any size) don’t just stop at pregnancy announcements, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. A teenager at the gym daycare the other day exclaimed, “Oh, I’m SORRY!” when I revealed that I actually had 7 kids on the outside and one baking (Honor and Theo were the only ones with me). (My response: “Don’t be! I’m not!” With a big smile, of course).

So, given the fact that we are guaranteed to encounter some kind of negativity to the number of kids we have (whether 0 or 20), how do we respond?

jason1

Well, first, let’s go with how we don’t respond.

I wish, for example, that I could take back the “announcement” email I wrote to my fellow fitness instructors when I was pregnant with Theo, sheepishly saying something like, “I’m afraid we’ll be adding another little ankle-biter to our crew around Christmas, and I’ll be needing some subs for my classes.”

I wasn’t afraid of any such thing, y’all. I’d just allowed a few condescending remarks to undermine my confidence and felt hesitant to own my excitement at adding a sixth baby to our crew.

What I wish I’d said: “You guys! Exciting news! We’re having another sweet baby around Christmas, which means you guys get to earn some extra money covering my classes. Thanks ahead of time for your help and support!”

Do you know how they would have responded? With cheers! Because the tone I had set would have determined theirs.

When we are ready to tell the world about the children (regardless of the number) that the Lord has gifted us with, we should boldly proclaim our excitement, joy, and anticipation of the amazing things he is going to do with us and through us and this new life.

Being pregnant inside marriage is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a part of God’s plan for humankind (although, I know many who are still struggling to find their place in that plan and hope that you can read this with as little pain as possible). And it is a GOOD plan.

Every single baby is a good, good gift. And I have found that each time I put the focus on that truth and conveying that joy to the rest of the world, the world tends to join with me in rejoicing. (Not always the case, I realize, but often true).

Each time I present the blessing I’ve been given in a back-door, apologetic way, I’ve been met with people who feel free to say things like: “Ay yay yay, again?” and “Better you than me!”

So, here’s my encouragement to you: if you feel led to have lots of babies, have the babies the Lord gives you and announce their imminent arrival with ecstatic confidence. Same answer if you’ve been called to a smaller number. EVERY. BABY. IS. A. BLESSING.

Side note: Several years ago, after a kind lady told me what an encouragement my positive response to her compliment on my “beautiful family” had been, I started making it a practice to respond super positively to as many comments (good, bad, neutral) as I can about my children. I say things like: “Yes! They are fun” and, “I really like them!” It throws people way off. Because when they say something like, “I don’t know how you do it with 7. I’m losing my mind with 2,” they are expecting a similarly frazzled response. Thing is: you may be feeling frazzled in that very moment. Kids are expert frazzlers. But just by choosing to focus on the positive (“It can be a bit chaotic, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything!”), your perspective shifts, and you are able to see your kids for the blessings they are. AND! You have given that other frazzled mom something unexpected to chew on, instead of the usual elbow nudge of negative solidarity. Who knows? It may help her to view her kids in a different light or just lift her spirits a bit.

Choosing joy when we’re dreading others’ not joining in is hard. But hard is not the same thing as bad, and the more joy we choose, the more permission we give for others to do the same.

Speaking of pregnancy announcements, where my other pregnant mamas at? I’d love to know your names, due dates, etc. so I can pray for you and rejoice with you (just like you’ve already done for me).

Like what you read? Like M is for Mama on facebook (pretty please?):