I am not one of the organized homeschool moms. People tell me, “I don’t know how you do it! I could never do it!” as if they think I am (a) organized or (b) working with a tidy, flowing-peacefully schedule. I smile, laugh, and answer, “One day–sometimes minute–at a time.”
It is true. Every day is not like the one before or after. My best laid plans and brilliant insights into my brain and my children’s personalities and needs are often blown away like papers in a gusty wind…every day. We tend to fall into a basic rhythm, sometimes a solid routine, but a schedule? Ha.
For example, it used to be that my 6 year old was the first to wake, between 6 and 6:30am. The girls don’t wake until 7:30am at the earliest on a good day. We haven’t been starting school until 9am, always with our “morning time” first. By the time we pray, read from a read-aloud, practice our poetry and Bible verse, as well as anything else, and I chase the toddler around and out of trouble, an hour has passed. Then I need to work on individual lessons, snacks, lunch… It gets a little crazy.
I had a brilliant idea a few weeks ago. So amazing was my idea that I thought for sure I would succeed. I would have breakfast, feed the boys AKA the early birds, then get their part of school knocked out of the way, all before the girls finished breakfast.
6:30ish–I wake up. No one is awake. Cool. I really like to be the first one up. The peaceful quiet of the still dark house and world outside is soothing and refreshing.
7am–I can hear Fence up and getting ready. I have water boiling for coffee in the French press.
7:30am–Hubs leaves; boys are now showing up for breakfast. What?! Already my genius new schedule is smashed to bits, before I can even begin.
8am–All 5 kids are awake. Moods are shifting like the sands in a wind storm. Already?! Monday, be good to me. I’m working on prepping parts of dinner that can be done in advance.
9am–Trying to herd cats round up the crew for morning time.
9:15am–We are gathered. Since it is the month of the Holy Rosary, I start us with a decade, and remind our 4yr old that we are supposed to say 10 Hail Mary prayers.
10am–Morning time comes to a literally stinky end, when I need to go change a diaper. Slightly irked that no one has had individual attention yet, I challenge Monday to a duel. I am determined to make the best of the day not end up a stressed crazy lady by lunchtime.
10:15am–Diaper changed, kids gathered at the tables. I have divided them up: girls in the dining room, boys in the school/playroom. It gives us more working space.
10:17am–Lessons with the boys. We manage to complete phonics, reading aloud, and math. I call it good.
11ish–Moving on to the girls, we have history, math, Latin, grammar, and science on the agenda. I teach them together for history, and separate for the rest. While I teach math to one, I have the other do a lesson from their grammar book or Latin. It’s sort of a coordinated dance as we move back and forth between independent work, instruction, and working together.
Noon-ish–Lunch. We all are hungry and boys are approaching cranky.
After lunch, we clean up, do some other chores, and split up for play, rest, and naps (ideally, Firecracker takes a nap).
Also after lunch, the girls usually have some work to finish up. A bit of Latin, a bit of math, some independent reading…whatever they didn’t finish before lunch. My ideal afternoon includes an hour and a half of quiet time, in which the kids are quietly reading or playing, and I am able to blog, sew, read, whatever. I’ve had about 3 of those ideal afternoons. Our actual afternoons typically include more chores (because I’m always chasing the toddler out of trouble and messes, which he is always busy with), errands, unexpected doctor’s appointments, blah blah blah. Basically, the things I wish I didn’t have to do, but they need to be done.
I try to have all the things done by 3:30pm, so I can spend the remaining few hours doing afternoon chores and preparing dinner. The kids have chores to do at this time, also. I’m looking forward to the day I don’t have to remind them 58 times to get those jobs done, but as we are still in learning phases, I remind myself that repetition is key and this will all pay off one day!
This time of day is also witching hour time…so to avoid crankies and crazies as much as possible, we have a snack, play fun music, and Firecracker ends up on my back in the baby carrier so he’s out of trouble.
Following all that is dinner and cleaning and baths and prayers and bed. Whew.
It’s taken me a week to finally finish this up, and as I’m looking forward to a new week and tomorrow being Monday. Monday is a great day to try again at making a schedule work. Or so I tell myself…chances are the will still look a bit like a slightly organized chaos.