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.
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.
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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