I really enjoy reading posts about “A Day in the Life of” things with regards to subjects I’m interested in – like homeschooling! And I also know that before I was a homeschooling working mom, I wondered how it could even be possible. So maybe seeing some insight into how I make it work will help someone else out who is wondering how they can make it work.
I’ll preface by saying a few things. First, I have a big family. Seven kids, five of which do school in some form or another (and next year I’m planning to involved all 7!) My eldest, Lilly, has ADHD and so she has serious issues focusing, which presents its own interesting set of challenges. Finally my boys are… loud. They are active. They are most certainly NOT the sit still and do book work type, yet if I don’t include that they throw a fit so… more interesting challenges I had to resolve. I think I’ll do a few posts over the next few weeks about homeschooling and the issues I’ve had to deal with. But for now, on to my day.
I wake up at 6am. My phone is my alarm clock and so I always wake up to it. I resist the urge, some days more than others, to hit the snooze button, but instead hop out of bed. I turn the fan off, and hope that while I’m getting ready in the morning, the lack of white noise will wake up Shane, Mark, and Luke. Usually it just wakes up Luke.
So after I’m out of bed, I go to the bathroom, get dressed, rinse the sink out, and on Monday mornings, I do a quick 5-10 minute clean of my bathroom. This involves windexing the mirror, cleaning the counter and sink, cleaning the toilet, and cleaning the bathtub. If it’s a monthly cleaning day, I’ll do those tasks on Tuesday so I don’t spend my whole morning cleaning. After all I am on a time limit! Either way, by 6:15 I’m up, ready, make-upped and good to go. So I plop back in bed to wake up whoever hasn’t woken up yet. I usually don’t succeed at that until around 6:30, sometimes later. After everyone is up and out of bed, I quickly make the crib and bed (on Mondays I change the sheets so it adds about 5 extra minutes to that routine. Then I gather up the laundry from our hamper (and sheets if it’s Monday) and go rotate the laundry. This is usually the only time I mess with the washer/dryer during the day on a weekday.
After that, I go to the mantle, which has our family charging station, and grab whatever devices haven’t already been grabbed by kids. Usually Jordan and David wake up before me and get their tablets and go upstairs to play video games. I then head upstairs with Luke in tow, popping him over the makeshift baby gate and make sure he gets up the stairs ok. I yell at Lilly and Sierra to get up if they aren’t already up and then to my seat. The homeschooling seat lol. Lilly gets Luke in his seat and I’m getting all the kids started with XtraMath on their tablets. They all have the app on their devices. It was about $4 on the play store, but being able to block the web and still let them do their XtraMath was worth it to me. While they’re doing XtraMath, I’m looking at my lesson plan for the day and pulling out the worksheets that are needed for everyone. I print my worksheets a week ahead and plan lessons several weeks ahead usually. If kids still aren’t done, I open up the various apps and such that will be needed in the next few minutes.
It doesn’t usually take them long to finish XtraMath. Jordan and David usually finish first and so I give them their worksheets for the day. Some days it’s coloring sheets, some days it’s a craft, and some days it’s a find the letters. Today it was a find the letters. They both finished pretty fast and then I gave them their Math activity which today was a cut and paste shape sorting activity. While this was going on I opened up Google Play books and got the Goop Directory ready for their daily character lesson. I also gave Lilly and Sierra their copywork sheets to get started on.
By now it’s around 7-7:10 and Shane has come upstairs with a mug of coffee for me (he’s so awesome!) and he gets breakfast ready. I plan breakfast in advance and prepare 3 days of breakfasts on the weekend. The other two days are grits or oatmeal. Today was an oatmeal day. Jordan loves oatmeal.
After the boys finish their worksheets, I start the android tablet lessons. Usually it’s one or maybe two apps on their, for example the Starfall app to learn about the letter of the week we’re working on. That takes maybe a minute and then it’s back to me. On days when they have math games, I save those for last because they like to linger over the games a bit and I’m on a time limit. The good thing is that David’s tablet is my old phone so it’s pretty good quality and can hold all of the games I give them for school. So after everything else is done I can give Jordan my tablet and David can use his and they can both play their math games at the same time. (Of course he lost his tablet yesterday so we have to find it now…) Just prior to any math games they may have, I do the other thing I save for last – the YouTube videos. ALL the kids like listening to the YouTube videos, even Lilly. She channels her inner preschool and watches. I can’t say I blame her, I pick out interesting songs and videos. I have several YouTube playlists for different grades so I can easily find the videos I need. There is almost always a video to listen to. While the boys are doing their school, I open up Sierra’s math – she’s doing SplashMath on my tablet and she does her daily lesson. If there’s time she plays on the aquarium of the app after her lesson. Lilly will work on her copywork and toast and prepare a bagel for me to take to work for breakfast, assuming Shane hasn’t beaten her to it.
I save the Bible reading for the absolute last. I used to read the Bible to them myself, but I guess I’m boring and they prefer my app to read it. So I open up the LifeTV Bible app on my windows tablet (which is paired to a bluetooth speaker to increase the volume) and play the reading for the day. After that, boys are done. By this time it’s usually 7:20 or so. Sometimes it’s closer to 7:30. At this time, I do a quick Scripture memory review with the girls. They’re pretty good at it. I give them index cards and they glue the verses onto the card and then keep them in their folders for review. Sierra really likes keeping track of her things and reading the cards – she’s really proud of her newfound ability to read. Lilly mostly just looks at it once and then never looks at the card again but still memorizes it over time, listening to me and Sierra recite it. Then, the last morning activity I’m involved in is to do the Hymn study. I’ll play 1-3 hymns depending on time and mood and we’ll sing them together. Sometimes David joins in cuz he’s just good like that.
After all THAT is done, it’s time for me to leave. I open up a Librovox recording of Pinocchio (that’s the book we’re currently reading in literature) on my Windows tablet for Sierra to listen to, and then I try to leave her with another activity. Sometimes it’s phonics, sometimes a game, sometimes Math if we were running behind. It just depends. I leave her with both tablets though and she finishes up those two activities and her worksheets while I’m at work – or at least she’s supposed to. Sometimes she “forgets” and we have to do it when she gets home. She’s pretty good about finishing the tablet work though.
So then I go to work. I TRY to get there by 7:30 but it just doesn’t happen. I usually get to work between 7:45 and 8. I keep facebook messenger open all day for kids to message me questions or work. Next year I have a better system which I will reveal in another post but the current system is facebook messenger. Matthew will do his work independently and then send me attachments and screenshots of his work via messenger. Lilly is SUPPOSED to do that but she keeps forgetting and then I have to have her do her work later. Some days she remembers but a lot of days she acts as though I never before told her to put a screen shot of her work on messenger… even though that’s the way it’s been every day this year. Ah well c’est la vie. Matthew’s assignments are currently in OneNote, and Lilly’s are on my tablet, which she can view when Shane opens up my tablet for her. Matthew usually finishes in a couple of hours, I print out the files he sends me and take them home later. On Mondays, I prepare and print out anything needed for their lessons, in between work assignments! I have everything organized in OneDrive so I don’t have to hunt for things and this takes almost no time to do. I’m really specific in my lesson plans so that I can find stuff later (print page 100 from such and such a book). Then if it’s a boy’s lesson, I know both boys need that lesson.
I leave work around 4 every day. Assuming I have no appointments, I head home. I’m usually greeted by our Labrador retriever, Bruce. I pet him for a few minutes, and as soon as the little guys hear me, they all stream out of the bedroom to greet me. I had one my coffee mug, and one my lunchbox because they like helping and they scurry off to make my lunch (which just involves putting the stuff I already made into my bag. I make my lunch a pay period at a time so that lunch making is super fast). I then have to go see Luke because he’s screaming his head off at being left alone in the room while the other guys all hopped the gate. So I pick him up, drop my purse off in my room, sometimes change clothes if my work clothes aren’t that comfy that day (they usually are comfy lol), and then I plop on the bed for a bit and hang out with kids and Shane. Talk about our days, etc. After that I get dinner going, unless it’s a crock pot meal in which case there’s nothing for me to do usually because we prepped everything ahead of time, so I get on my computer. I spend a few minutes playing my game (World of Warcraft… lol what can I say!) and then Sierra will come ask me to do school. Usually there’s a game or something independent I can give her – sometimes it’s PE depending on the day so I’ll send them outside for a while. Just depends on the day. Yesterday it was PE. Today it will probably be tangrams on my android tablet.
I spend the next hour trying to play WoW, hold Luke who climbs up and down, across my computer, and being a general nuissance, cute thing that he is, and working with Sierra on her school. After work, I generally have to read her her science and history lessons, and have her narrate, and then she reads her reading lesson to me. There is also usually another miscellaneous lesson. Yesterday it was an artist picture study. Today it is health and music study. She’s supposed to listen to the music compositions during the day with Lilly but that doesn’t always happen. So I play them after work. Sometimes her lessons take until bedtime. It really is flexible depending on the environment of the day. If Luke is really fussy, or if kids are acting like maniacs, or if there are a lot of chores to be done, then my after-work-routine varies a lot. Add in to that my game takes precedence on Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 for in-game events, and it adds to the interesting factor. I have done school while playing my game with Sierra during the downtime. It’s pretty funny to see it happen. But she’s good to go with the flow. I try to finish Sierra’s school early in the evening though so I can dedicate the rest of my attention to helping Lilly finish her school. On a good day she’s done before I get home. On an ok day she can finish before bed time. Sometimes though, we just have to carry over school to the next day. Today, for example, Sierra and Lilly both have makeup work from yesterday to do because they were busy with chores. Shane was making sure kids did chores correctly for once so there wasn’t much time for school. Even still, the little boys finished, as they always do.
We usually eat dinner by 7. I TRY to get dinner done by 6 but it just almost never happens. It kind of sucks too because Luke is usually screaming his head off by 7, but sometimes life just doesn’t cooperate. After dinner, Matthew and Lilly clean up the kitchen while I get Luke in the bath and send boys in turn to the shower and brushing their teeth. I put Luke and Mark in bed between 7 and 8 usually and send the Jordan and David to bed as soon as their showers are done, or as soon as I get done putting the little boys to bed, whichever is later. After dinner cleanup, Lilly an Matt fold up the clothes I set to washing and drying earlier in the morning and if I still have school with Sierra I finish it up during this quiet part of the evening. I send Sierra to bed around 9 and then have 1-2 hours to myself. I TRY to get in bed by 10 but a lot of times it’s closer to 11 before I actually close my eyes because after I close my computer for the evening, I take a shower or bath and brush my teeth before bed, so that takes a bit of time. Plus if I opt for the bath rather than the shower, I’ve been known to watch Netflix on my tablet for a few minutes at the same time… Multitasking and all lol.
Finally around 10-11 I climb into bed. I check the calendar for tomorrow and make sure all of my to-do list items were checked off that were completed. Then I zone out until another day.
So as you can see my morning routine is really structured, but my afternoon/evening routine not nearly so much. Whatever we don’t finish during the week we finish up on the weekend. There have been weeks where Lilly is still doing school on Sunday. I really try to push her to finish by the end of Saturday but you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink. Same thing with homeschooling. You can present the lessons and sit them in front of the work, but you can’t stop the daydreaming and not doing the work. We can motivate her in various ways to finish (no playing on the computer till you’re done) but it only works so well as her desire for that activity versus her desire not to do her work! What works for us may not work for everyone, but that is how we make homeschooling work with me as the primary teacher and the sole breadwinner.