Category Archives: Motherhood

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!

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Homeschooling Q&A (Part 2)

Aaaaaaand we’re (finally) back with Round 2 of our Q + A with some follow-up questions that I get asked often here and on social media.
Q: So, what’s happening with your little kids while you homeschool?
A: I get asked this A LOT because (I assume) I have a lot of kids, and many of them are fairly small, and I keep replacing the littlest ones, soooo…it stands to reason that there’s always an ankle-biter or two around to gum up the school-works.

Surely, I have some sort of ingenious entertainment system going for the littles by now, right?

Eh, sort of.

Truth is, in my almost 9 years of homeschooling, I’ve never worried too much about doing something particularly special with the little ones…because I haven’t had to.

Either they’re playing or eating or sleeping.

honor

Behold “the cup drawer”–AKA: entertainer of all the babies. 

Can they be disruptive? Yes. Do I often teach with a baby on my hip? Yep. Have there been times that I have turned on a show for an hour just to get some peace and quiet with the older ones? Definitely. But that’s not the norm. We don’t do any tablet time, so for the most part, my littles have to learn from an early age that they need to play relatively quiet near us, or they will need to go in their rooms and sleep/”read”/play alone. Obviously, this could backfire very quickly with a 18-month-old alone in his room, so the solo play option typically starts around age 3. Up to that age, there’s a lot of napping, coloring, snacking, and “reading” going on.

At this exact moment in our homeschooling journey, Honor goes down for a nap around the same time that the older ones start their independent work (10ish). And Theo is fairly content to play with a toy or two or “read” or jump on the trampoline or eat a snack or play with play-doh or color or have me read to him in between helping with math or sit on the floor and half-listen when I read aloud to the others, etc. Usually, it’s a steady succession of all of the above because, let’s face it: he’s little, and nothing holds his attention for very long.

I’m not the mom who scours Pinterest for toddler activities. As in pretty much every other aspect of my life, I do better with the basics. But if you are, you’re amazing! Seriously.

Also, remember that we hire my mom to help with the kids (especially the older ones) two days a week, which is super rad. I don’t feel particularly crazy with the smaller two around most days she’s not there, but I’m certainly not complaining about the help. Sometimes, she’s home with all the kids by herself if I have an appointment (I hurt my back a couple of months ago and have had regular chiropractic appointments on one of the days she comes), and it’s amazing to have someone who can hold down the fort while I’m gone.

Again, I don’t feel like we would die without her help, but I sure wouldn’t want to find out for sure! ;)

Moving on…

Q: What kind of teacher training–if any–do you have? How do you teach subjects that are not your strengths?

A: I have a Double BA in English and Spanish with a secondary teaching certification (which never expires in Texas). I ran across a thread about my blog one time while I was trying to search for a specific blog post on Google, and the participants were–how shall we say–skeptical about my ability to school my children well, given my qualifications (or lack thereof, in their opinions). The one thing they did approve of was my hiring my mom to help (although they were further skeptical about whether I ACTUALLY pay her–I do), since I had mentioned that she has a teaching degree.

Well, let the record show that so do I.

But let the record also show that I do NOT think that matters or is necessary in any fashion to teach your own children. Is it helpful? Probably. Certainly can’t hurt.

But I can honestly say that some of the most creative, innovative, and effective homeschool moms I know have zero experience in the teaching world. Some have no formal degrees whatsoever. And yet. They are teaching their kids excellently.

Of course, neither am I saying that a lack of teaching experience or degree is some kind of badge of honor or learning authenticity. I’m just saying that I haven’t found it necessary for success in homeschooling in my experience (both as a homeschooled student, friend/observer of fellow homeschoolers, and homeschool teacher).

As far as subjects that I struggle with, I haven’t found anything (YET) that I can’t conceptually teach. But! My oldest is only in 6th grade. And there are definitely areas where I am weaker in terms of interest/ability (advanced math and sciences come to mind…I’m a word girl).

Thankfully, as my kids get older and continue on to more advanced subject matter, I have massive resources at my fingertips to help me–homeschool co-op teachers, my husband (who is an advanced math guy), my mom, THE INTERNET (seriously, YouTube has some pretty awesome videos on just about every topic under the sun), video courses, dual-credit college courses. The list goes on.

I skipped my last two years of high school and started community college when I was 15 because my mom didn’t see much point in my repeating Biology, A&P, Chemistry, Algebra, etc. It worked for me, and I excelled in that environment (I’m a nerd who is the daughter of a nerd, and school has always come easily to me). It wouldn’t necessarily work for everyone. It doesn’t have to. Flexibility and customization are two of the beauties of homeschooling!

Basically, I’m happy not to have to be the sole source of information for my children’s education.

Q: What do you do when your children fight–either with each other or you?

A: The shortest answer is: they don’t really. Oh, sure. They occasionally pick at each other or drag their feet. But they do not fight with or talk back to me. It’s not an option. The closest they come is whining. But even that is rare at this point. I would attribute this primarily to how intentional we are about child-training. Well, that and we TRY (don’t always succeed for sure) to make the focus on rejoicing always and having a thankful heart in whatever we’re doing. We also start 90% of our days with Bible reading, which helps set a great tone for everything else we do. Whatever all of the contributing factors, my kids don’t do too much belly-aching about school.

Neither to do they bicker very much. In fact, if I am occupied changing a diaper or giving Theo a snack, I often have the boys help Della with a math question or Della help the twins with a reading snag. They kind of love the responsibility and are generally happy to help.
The (general) lack of bad attitudes definitely makes our school days both more productive and more enjoyable, and I am grateful for that. Also, my kids are a product of a straight-A geek (Shaun) and a straight-A nerd (me). I think academics is in their blood. I wouldn’t say that they love “doing school” (the math problems, the vocab drills), but they do love to learn, so they tend to hustle through the necessary parts without too much complaining to get to the parts they like (science and reading, for example).

At this point, our biggest teeth-pulling is writing. At least with the boys. Della loves to write (as long as she can write whatever she wants).

swing

When you find three of the littles swinging in the “girl cave.” And you just want to ditch math and crawl right in with them.

Please hear me on this: I am NOT saying that my children never do anything wrong or that either they or I am perfect. We’re not. Not even close. I am simply trying to answer the question as it has been posed to me. Our biggest homeschooling woe is not fighting. I would say it’s laziness or sloppiness. (Which, if you think about it, is another form of a bad attitude so…).

Well, that wraps that up for now, but I’ll be back again soon. As before, feel free to ask any questions you still have or ones that were raised by this post. I’ll get to them all eventually. ;)

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