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    A Day in the Life Of A Charlotte Mason Mama, Night Owl Edition

    September 14, 2017 by Virginia Lee Rogers

    We all love them, posts that give a peek into the daily happenings of another CM homeschool mama. How does she actually balance multiple ages, laundry, narrations, meals, math lessons, laundry, diapers, dictation, phonics lessons, laundry, and deep discussions with older children? How does she spread the feast, love her husband and children well, and keep her house from falling down around her ears?! If we could only see a normal day for her family, maybe she’s discovered the real answer to balancing it all?

    I’ve most definitely not learned to balance it all. But I have learned that my family can love each other and learn together, while living in relatively managed chaos. This is because the real answer is to embrace the who God’s given you to love, the where God’s put you, and realistically set your expectations based on those things. So here is a peek into a CM homeschooling mama of five, ages 12 to 1, average day. Full disclosure, I don’t get through a day without the Psalms, a large quantity of sweet tea, and a healthy dose of sarcasm, even if it’s directed at myself. 😉

    Below you will see an Average Day’s Schedule for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and most of Friday. Wednesdays we have nature study and Bible study, so they go differently. Friday evenings my oldest son and husband are at our church for a middle school Bible study. That’s new for us, I’m still fleshing out how I want those evenings for those of us at home to look.

    7:30/8:00ish Wake Up 

    Yep! That’s right, this is when we all wake up. No, I do not get up before my children. My 1 year old wakes us up. If she didn’t we’d probably sleep even later. =)

    8:00ish to 9:45ish Morning Things, Breakfast, Bible, Table Chores

    Children randomly come into my room and snuggle between tidying their rooms (they have nothing in there but clothing, bedding, and books). I snuggle children, talk to hubby about his schedule for the day, throw on clothing, run a brush through my hair and over my teeth (I bathe at night).

    We make a big breakfast; protein is a must. The one year old eats anything she can get others to feed her while preparations are under way. My 9-year-old unloads the dishwasher, my 7-year-old sets the table, 4- and 7-year-olds help with breakfast prep. Older kids might take a quick shower or get dressed. There is normally much noise. I still have not convinced people that talking before 10 am is wrong. But since I’ve convinced them to sleep in, I’ve decided to live with the noise. My hubby is getting ready for work and putting out periodic fires during this time. We do have morning squabbles because we live in a real family made up of real people. It’s normally over ridiculous things, and my husband is more empathetic than I am.

    When breakfast is ready we eat, hubby reads Bible during breakfast, we discuss, we pray, and messes are made. Sigh. I have not figured out how to have a tidy breakfast with 7 people of varying ages. But I have given considerable effort to training children that are responsible for kitchen and dining room clean up. So the more mess they make, the more work they will have. They seem fine with that arrangement.

    After breakfast it’s table chores for children 7 and up while I get little people ready. I’m supposed to throw in a load of laundry (it happens 50 percent of the time). I gather my mind for the day. Basically I get my clipboard, say a quick prayer for patience and control of my tongue, remind myself that I’m trying to raise children who care and not just get ‘er done effectively, and kiss hubby goodbye. He leaves around 10 am.

    10:00ish Morning Time

    I set my phone alarm for 9:55 am. This allows me to give a 5 minute warning so my children who stress if they haven’t wrapped something up know to do so. Morning Time in our home is all ages and lasts about 1.5 hours. My one-year-old takes a very reliable morning nap during this time. Not all of my babies have been that way; some have. I love MT whether I’m juggling a baby or hands free. I have learned to ignore silliness and grabby hands. I will stop for rudeness or disobedience: I discipline, and then move forward again. A good chunk of our lessons are done during this time. Art study, composer study, grammar, geography, poetry, hymns and folksongs, some natural history, some literature, recitation, memory work, Shakespeare, a little Latin, catechism, specific prayer. I’m a BIG believer in littles learning by hearing what Bigs are doing, and that Bigs still love Robert Louis Stevenson’s and AA Milne’s poetry.

    11:30ish Math for All, 7 Year Old’s Work with Mom, Bigs’ Independent Lists

    MT binders are put away, my 12 and 9 year olds start their math, then they move to their independent work lists. I do math, copywork, and phonics with my 7 year old at this time. My 4-year-old has a school basket that he may only use during this chunk of time, on a school day. My one-year-old wanders around “helping.” I make sure she stays within our living room where I am, or our dining room where my two oldest are. This cuts down on messes and she is near us to get hugs and have people let her “help” them. She loves to play with math manipulatives. When I had 1-year-olds that majored in destruction I used a playpen, an Ergo, or an older child assigned to them. My current 1-year-old is pretty easy going.

    Noonish Outside School

    The 4- and 1-year-olds play outside while I do AmblesideOnline readings with my 7 year old under our shade tree. My 12- and 9-year-olds can do school outside, or stay indoors if they need to work on something with less distractions. This helps my 4- and 1-year-olds have a change of play space, and gets the rest of us some outdoor time. It also cuts down on indoor messes.

    12:30ish Lunch

    Lunch is very low key here. We eat a big breakfast, so we do things like chips and beans, veggie tray and cheese and crackers, frozen pizza. Big kids or I make lunch, whoever is available. We use paper plates. I often hear some oral narrations at this time from my bigs. Once lunch is ready kids, 4 and up eat outside. The one-year-old and I eat in the living room. I may listen to a podcast, listen to my Voxer messages, or pop a post up on IG for @charlottemasonirl of which I’m one of the 9 curators. This is my time to refresh a bit, and if it’s been a particularly hard day I’ll read the Psalms and pray.

    1:15 Chores From Chore List

    I have an alarm I set on my phone for 1:10 pm. It makes me stop and get back to what should be done. Around 1:15 pm I want kids doing table chores, I do laundry, the kids 4 and up do one chore from their chore list as well (clean a bathroom, pick up living room, mop dining room, wipe light switches and door knobs…).

    2:00ish Naps and Nap Time School

    My one- and four-year-olds take nap. This is our quiet, uninterrupted time for mom to work with Bigs. Plutarch with my 12-year-old, Dictation with my 12- and 9-year-old, Iliad or other harder literature selections, History with my girls, Keeping, etc. I know many moms rely on nap time for their time to recharge. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But for my crew, what works for us, is having a certain amount of uninterrupted discussion time with my older kids. We wake up later and have slower mornings, and I also get that 30 minute chunk at lunch to do a quick recharge. So it is very, very worth it to me to do nap time school.

    With kids in Forms 3 and 2 so many of the books they are reading and discussing are what I would read during nap time on my own anyway. It’s even better because I get to share them with my children. They are my people, and I feel blessed to get to feast alongside them. It was different when I had all littles. Nap time was the only time in the day where someone was not talking to me, touching me, or needing something. I needed to fill my heart and mind with truth, beauty, and goodness so that I could go pour out again. Yes, I still have littles, but I also have bigs. It’s a pretty blessed place to be, and I don’t want to loose one minute of time with my people. So nap time school makes quality and quantity time with my bigs possible. And my littles never need to feel like they should just stay busy and out of the way so that school can get done.

    3:00 Independent Bible

    I once again set an alarm on my phone. I don’t want our Bible time to slip by. The 4- and 1-year-olds are still sleeping. This is the time 7 and up spends independently with the Lord. My 12-year-old reads his Bible, works through a commentary, and journals. My 9-year-old reads her Bible and journals. My 7-year-old listens to audio Bible with headphones and journals (she draws). I read my Bible and pray, work on a Bible study if I’m currently in one, sometimes I read Spurgeon to get my mind focused before I dive into the Word.

    4:00ish Littles Up and Spend Time with Mom, Free Time 

    This is where my bigs finish anything they did not get done from their independent lists due to lollygathering or foolish choices. Bummer, but real life consequences work better than Mama nagging. If you stayed on task and made wise choices you get free time. This is normally when they play outside, garden, do free reading, draw, Legos, etc. I like to read picture books to my littles here, or we wander the yard and I listen to my 4-year-old’s stories and watch my 1-year-old’s fascination with dandelions and the neighbor’s sprinklers. On Mondays we have piano at 5:00 pm and our piano teacher comes to our home. I know, we are spoiled and I wish we had hundreds of dollars to pay her for her kindness.

    6:00/6:30ish Supper

    Mostly crockpot or one dish meals here in the Jolly Rogers’ abode. I focus on yummy and lots, not fancy. Then table chores, I help littles get ready for bed, and we do a family read aloud. Right now it’s a biography on Gladys Alyward. We did Secret Garden this summer. I’ll tell you, this is my hardest time to stay faithful. I could easily feed everyone sandwiches or cereal and let us all read and do our own thing here. But I try to remember that time flies and I will not always have these people around my table. I’m not perfect. Some days we eat cereal and I hold back the hurry ups. Don’t feel bad for me; it’s not because I’m tired or have naughty children, it’s because I’m selfish and want to take the easy way out and do what I want to do. Just keeping it real.


    Bedtime for the one year old is 7:30 pm, others go down around 9:00 pm. From 7:30 to next bedtime I read for pleasure, Vox, and do any computer or phone work I have for my IG bookstore @thejolly_reader. My kids get ready for bed and read or play. My husband gets home at 9ish. He often pops in to see older kids for a bit. This is when I do my work for Mystie and Simplified Organization. A little after 10:00 my hubby and I talk about the day or watch a BBC show. We may be addicted to British television. We try to be in bed by 11pm, it happens 90 percent of the time.

    And that’s a normal day in our life. The days that are not normal, well they just make life interesting.

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  • Reply Our Homeschool Weekly Schedule with 5 Kids | Simply Convivial December 28, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    […] Virginia Lee’s 2017 edition (night owl version) […]

  • Reply Hannah September 22, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    Your rythm is very similar to mine, but my oldest is a 7 year old year 1 student. I need to better train my kids to dochores though!thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Jennifer September 21, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Thank you for sharing this! I am only HS’ing one form III/ Y7 girl, but it is so helpful to imagine how others are doing it! We, too, are doing AO and I am also enjoying reading along with my daughter. Although I had a great education in both high school and college, I’d not read the vast majority of her books till this summer and they are delightful!

    • Reply Virginia Lee Rogers September 22, 2017 at 7:34 am

      AO has done a spectacular job in choosing books. I agree with you, they are delightful. Sounds like y’all have a wonderful homeschool. We will be doing Y7 next year with one of my sons. It’s the year I’ve been looking forward to the most. 🙂

  • Reply Claire September 17, 2017 at 4:57 am

    I saw the morning schedule and thought, “She starts at 10am like me and she *still* gets finished by lunchtime???” I was so relieved to see the afternoon schedule appear! In fact, your rhythm is very similar to ours, except that we have a 5yo who doesn’t nap and so unfortunately he does feel that he has to stay out of the way so school can get done :/ I really wish we could consistently get school finished ‘on time’ so he had some people to play with!
    I love your way of doing Bible time for everyone, too. I need to think about that.

    • Reply Virginia Lee Rogers September 17, 2017 at 11:32 am

      Hi Claire,

      No, not done by lunch. ? When I’ve needed to, I rearrange my schedule so that an older kid is assigned to a younger child while I do school with another child. That way the little one has a playmate. Something fun like playdough or hose play. The good thing is that CM lessons are short. So even if you do that you can work it to be 30 mins or less normally.

      Or I encorporare the little, especially if they’re 5. They can often listen while building trains or coloring and I even give them a turn to “narrate or comment.” But I let them know it’s a big deal to get to be doing school w big brother/sister, so they have to stay quiet and listen while I’m reading.

      Or I still do nap time school and the 5 year old has quiet time. Which can be an audio book w headphones and a coloring page. They have it in their room just as if they were napping.

      Basically, it depends on what the 5 year old needs. All of the above still respect their personhood, and show that we love them. Hope that might get the ideas flowing on your end. 🙂

  • Reply Hayley September 16, 2017 at 10:33 am

    I love your 3:00 Bible time! I’d never thought of that before. What a sweet habit to be in. I also love your late start. We are a late starting family also… on paper we start at 9, realistically it’s 9:30 and we just adjust as we go along. There is such beauty in having a natural ebb and flow. My husband used to not talk before 10am either but over the years our babies waking about 7am have continued to nudge him to interact with real people before he’s ready. I love so much about your post — it made me giggle along with great ideas and a dose of encouragement. Thank you so much!

    • Reply Virginia Lee Rogers September 16, 2017 at 5:58 pm

      Yes, I love having an ebb and flow! Extreme structure does not work in a family of multiple ages and personalities very well. I’m so glad the post made you laugh and gave you some ideas. That’s the best compliment. 🙂 And yay for late start homeschool families! ?

  • Reply HC... September 15, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    Hahaha, I second Sharron, I love the realness of your day. I have evenings just like that……”Some days we eat cereal and I hold back the hurry ups. Don’t feel bad for me; it’s not because I’m tired or have naughty children, it’s because I’m selfish and want to take the easy way out and do what I want to do. Just keeping it real.” I love the way you’ve humoured it all…….oh how I wish I could, then I wouldn’t be so grouchy. x

    • Reply Virginia Lee Rogers September 15, 2017 at 4:59 pm


      I can definitely get grouchy too. A mama told me once the key to joy is to repent and then count your blessings. That when you are looking at the situation, what you’d rather be doing, the struggle, or even just at yourself God seems small. That to make God big we have to look at him. (It really, really works!!) Then He changes our hearts to love our calling (in our case motherhood and homeschooling.) It took a bit of practice, but I can honestly say now that I love being a mama and I love homeschooling. Sometimes in the evenings I just really have to be intentional to look at God. Because really, the people He’s blessed us with are pretty amazing. But oh, my flesh, it can get loud in the evenings. So I hear you.

  • Reply Mystie September 15, 2017 at 9:26 am

    What a great peek into your rhythm! It’s good to find what works for you and your family and be free from feeling guilt over trying to fit into other people’s expectations. Husbands’ work schedules *should* impact our daily rhythms – sounds like yours is worked out so he can still be part of the day.

    I have noticed you’re often starting work about the time I’m wrapping up and heading to bed – and you’re in a later time zone! It always makes me laugh. 🙂

    • Reply Virginia Lee Rogers September 15, 2017 at 11:24 am

      We are all such night owls my husband actually shifted his schedule. We didn’t shift because of it. ? I’m always grateful he’s at a place in his career he can do that. We had many years of early mornings and they were *hard.* This way when he’s with us it’s quality time. Praise God!

      It makes me shake my head in wonder when I see what you and Brandy get accomplished by 10 am. So yes, it’s good to find what works for your family and let guilt go. Because if I had to make my bed and get steps and have anyone talk to me at 6 am, well, I don’t want to be responsible for the consequences. ?

  • Reply Sharron September 15, 2017 at 8:33 am

    So very realistic and encouraging! Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply Virginia Lee Rogers September 15, 2017 at 8:51 am

      Thank you, Sharon! I’m so glad it was encouraging. =)

  • Reply Alexis September 15, 2017 at 4:56 am

    I have gotten so much inspiration from your blog and your start here book. Even when I didn’t think I could make our day any better, you gave me a few new ideas. I love the independent bible study time (so amazing!) and the eating lunch/doing schoolwork outside. My kids spend a lot of time outside, but I hardly get a chance to go out so it would be nice to have some extra vitamin c and less mess inside! Great ideas! I cannot wait to implement them next week. thanks for all the inspiration

    • Reply Virginia Lee Rogers September 15, 2017 at 11:27 am

      Hi Alexis. This is actually a guest post I did on Brandy’s blog. But she posted her Day in the Life post last week. She gets up at a crazy early time. So it’s nice to see how Mason’s methods can work in all types of families with many different personalities. And yes, Outside School and lunch is wonderful! We live in Colorado, so we take full advantage of it before winter hits. 🙂

  • Reply Carol September 15, 2017 at 4:09 am

    ‘…the real answer is to embrace the who God’s given you to love, the where God’s put you, and realistically set your expectations based on those things.’

    Loved your thoughts here, Virginia Lee. I’ve never managed a consistent wake up time, but we just went a bit longer if we got up later. A couple of my children, after being early risers when they were little, would sleep all morning if I let them once they got to the teenage years. Funny, I always felt that early risers were considered more virtuous than those of us who weren’t, but I’m very hard to live with if I have to get up any earlier than about 7.30am.

    • Reply Virginia Lee Rogers September 15, 2017 at 8:50 am

      Hi Carol! I don’t know if we would have a consistent wake up time if it were not for our current one year old. That’s when she wakes up, rain or shine, so that’s when we all wake up too. =) Although I do not have teens yet, so it will be interesting to see if they do what some of your kiddos did. That will be a lesson in faithfulness for me, because I’d be tempted to let us sleep the day away and stay up to all hours. Thankfully I have a husband that would probably put the kibosh on that after a bit. =) I used to struggle with the fact that I was “supposed” to get up before my kids and have my time in the Word. Isn’t it funny the things we can decide in our minds that are”right” or “virtuous” and all they end up doing is putting something between us and the Lord, or us and our relationships here on earth. I have such fruitful time in the Word or in conversation with my children if we all just get the sleep we need. For most of us, that means sleeping in. Lots of talk right now about staying true to the principles and not becoming legalistic to systems or practices. That really applies to all areas of life. Although it seems we can learn that in one area, and be so blind to it in another. Good thing we can repent and start again. =)

  • Reply Jen September 14, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    So fun to see how others do it! We are early risers here, so this wouldn’t be a good fit for us, but still gleaning ideas.

    Curious…when you don’t have nappers, will anything change (specifically that nap time school), or is this an ideal rhythm anyway?

    Also, for your kids’ independent Bible time, are they doing AO selections?

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel September 15, 2017 at 9:04 am

      You might be interested in my version? We are all early risers, too. 🙂 Of course, I have all big kids, so it’s different in that way, too. 🙂

      • Reply Jen September 15, 2017 at 10:24 am

        Yes, I’m always gleaning ideas from you and your schedules, Brandy! Your blog has been one of my biggest helps!

        The difficulty with Littles…Right now we are trying to find a good time to have conversations about books, but once nap/rest time hits, we are all mentally tired, so nap time school sounds ideal, but we can’t seem to function. Maybe we just need to get used to it?

        Virginia Lee, curious if they do AO bible schedule at Bible time?

        • Reply Virginia Lee Rogers September 15, 2017 at 11:42 am

          Sorry Jen, one other thought. Could you have those conversations outside where littles could play? I know in my house if I turn on the hose it’s so absorbing my littles are very occupied. Or during a meal while littles have occupied hands and mouths? Or in the evening once Dad is home? I’m sure you’ve thought of these ideas, but just incase I thought I’d throw them out there.

    • Reply Virginia Lee Rogers September 15, 2017 at 11:33 am

      Hi Jen,

      We do not do AO’s Bible. My oldest is reading through the Bible w a commentary from Starr Meade, so he follows that reading schedule. My 9 year old daughter is reading the gospels currently because my husband has been working through the OT each morning with our family. My 7 year old is listening to all of the major Bible stories (straight from the Bible) but we wanted her to have a better familiarity with them all. My 4 year old and 1 year are with us for the OT in the mornings and then sleeping in the afternoon. There is nothing wrong with AO’s Bible schedule, this just fit better for us this year. And we wanted my 12 year old to use a commentary from a Reformed perspective, and AO doesn’t schedule that. 🙂

    • Reply Virginia Lee Rogers September 15, 2017 at 11:36 am


      When I don’t have nappers I truly don’t know what we will do. My youngest is 1 and who knows if we will be blessed with other kiddos in one form or another one day. When we can no longer have kiddos of our own we’d love to do foster care. So I imagine we will have nappers for many years yet. ?

  • Reply dawn September 14, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Fantastic, VL! Your day is so very full! I love how you have it scheduled 🙂

    • Reply Virginia Lee Rogers September 14, 2017 at 7:25 pm

      Thanks, Dawn. The days are full, but pretty wonderful! 🙂

  • Reply Heather September 14, 2017 at 9:37 am

    thank you for sharing this! kinda love hearing you’re not done till later in the afternoon- we have a big family too & no way can I be done early in the day for hours of outdoor time. I use to have guilt about that but then I realized this was where God wanted us to be! 🙂

    what’s Table chores?

    • Reply Virginia Lee Rogers September 14, 2017 at 9:59 am

      I think CM would be just fine with our out of door time and free time happening at lunch and in late afternoon and evening. She just thought it was very important to have, not that it had to fall between 3 and 5 pm. Ha! =)

      Table Chores happen after breakfast, lunch, and supper here. My 12 year old wipes counters, does trash and recycling, and sweeps kitchen and dining room. My 9 year old unloads and loads dishwasher and wipes out sinks. My 7 year old clears table, wipes table, wipes high chair. My 4 year old shakes out rugs and wipes fronts of dishwasher and anything else he feels like wiping down. He really likes to wipe things. =) Adults put away food and inspect. If we stay focused it can all be completed in 20 mins or less depending on size of meal. Hope that helps.

      • Reply Heather September 15, 2017 at 9:40 am

        Makes sense! Clean up with big families is definitely interesting & takes my crew FOREVER! In always shocked by the mess they can make! ?

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