Parenting and homeschooling six children has been, by far, the wildest ride of my life yet. The month of January was a particular roller coaster-ish one. When Jamie mentioned that we were sharing our “day in the life,” I inwardly cringed. I would have loved to present a picture perfect image and a schedule to match.
But, alas, that is not my reality.
In fact, the first month of the year was one of great reflection, introspection, readjustment, and a lot of “fighting the funk.” As a result, I’m currently undergoing an extreme home(school) makeover and trying to figure out what’s most important for our homeschool. I’ve realized as my family grows in size and age, things won’t always go according to my lovely plans. Life is subject to change.
And I want to enjoy that life fully, despite the hairpin turns and the loop-de-loops that make my jowls shake in the wind. Just for fun, I kept a running log one day to see what really happens around here. I found it quite amusing.
Here’s a day in my life with a 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, & 14-year old:
3:30 am – My five-year old daughter wakes in the night and comes to join us in our room. I put her to rest on the chaise lounge in the corner, visit the bathroom, and go back to bed, hoping that the sore throat I’m feeling is just a result of dry, furnace-fueled air and not something worse.
5:00 am – Hubs gets out of bed and gets ready for work. I try to grab a few more winks. These dark winter mornings leave me wanting to stay abed as long as possible.
6:00 am – Three-year old comes in and cries that she needs help on the potty. I help her with her bathroom issues and climb back into bed. She joins me as does her sister. Three of us in my bed now, but the house is still quiet. My girls are the early risers.
6:30 am – All three of us are up. I check emails on my not-so-smart-phone. I fire up the laptop to answer the urgent ones. I print out a recipe that I’m testing for the second day in a row.
7:00 am – I hide in the bathroom reading The 100 Thing Challenge, contemplating the hold that stuff has on my life. When will I find the time to start ditching some of it?
7:45 am – Make scrambled eggs, toast, and yogurt with maple syrup for the kids. I slice cheese for breakfast sandwiches and for our lunch later. Orchestrate the morning jobs. Nine-year old is listening to our family playlist while he works.
8:15 am – Mix up the muffins I’m testing and get them in the oven. I get the kids’ feedback on the recipe from the previous day.
8:25 am – Seven-year old is fighting with somebody. We have a talk about appropriate language and behavior. He offers a trade, “lots of work in exchange for Wii time.” I say, “Go read your book. Today’s not a game day.”
8:50 am – Pull the muffins from the oven. Place them on a rack to cool.
8:55 am – We read Bible, History and Science together as a family. Don’t have a flower for dissection that is called for in the science lesson, so we have to postpone Science. Nine-year old fights me about doing the work. Roll eyes and pray for patience.
9:55 am – Serve muffins. Start a load of laundry. Think about how nice it is outside. Why are we in? Email hubs on my phone to see if he wants to go to the beach later.
10:45 am – Give haircuts to two kids (11- and 7-year olds)on the front step. Notice we’ve got issues with dandruff/shampoo residue. Scrub their heads with baking soda and vinegar as an experiment. Get eleven-year old son to read Chapter 2 in One Bite at a Time, the task about going ‘poo free.
11:30 am – Five-year old daughter says that she wants me to shave her head, too, so she won’t have any more tangles. We talk about alternate solutions to tangles. I hide the buzzers just in case she decides to experiment.
12:00 pm – Realize that it’s almost time to go pick up the produce box. Find activities for everyone to do while I run around the corner for the pick-up. Assign fourteen-year old to clean up the hair on the driveway/front step area.
12:20 pm – Five-year old and I climb into the van. Only it won’t start. Battery is dead. Apparently one of my minions left the back door slightly ajar overnight. Fourteen-year old and I roll it out of the driveway and park it on the street. No small feat with a standard transmission and a wimpy mom.
12:35 pm – Take other car.
12:45 pm – Pick up produce box and 20 pounds of apples. Find out that they’ve replaced the bad broccoli from two weeks ago with extra carrots, pears, and oranges. Cool.
On the way home, five-year old starts asking questions about divorce and why her grandparents didn’t stay married – 40 years ago. Interesting conversation, answering what needs to be answered and leaving out information that is superfluous to a kindergartner.
1:00 pm – Lug boxes and bags into the house. Sort produce with fourteen-, five-, and three-year olds. Discuss microclimates of Southern California with fourteen-year old. Laugh when five-year old says we can even grow noodles here. Laugh even harder when I absentmindedly say, “Uh-huh,” and fourteen-year old says, “Really?”
1:15 pm – Give fourteen-year old a lesson in washing spinach while I make lunch: cheese, crackers, and apple slices. Serve lunch to 5 kids.
1:30 pm – Take 6th child out to the hammock to talk about his behavior thus far, fighting again. Our hammock time results in a chat about this wild and crazy, out of the box, homeschool/big family life we’ve chosen and how he’s an important part of it. When I mention how thankful I am that we chose to have many kids, he says, “You mean you can choose? I thought kids just popped out.”
Wonder if I can backpedal out of this one. Dodge the bullet for now, explaining very basic details about medicines that can stop you from having more kids. Make a mental note to research good resources for age-appropriate, God-centered sex ed. Holy smokes!
1:55 pm – Grab a few slices of cheese and crackers on my way back into the kitchen. Check email on my phone to see if hubs has written back. Make sure everyone is eating or working on something educational.
2:00 pm – Fourteen-year old works on his math via Chalk Dust. Nine-year old eats lunch and reads a book. Seven-year old asks again what he can do to get game time. Put him off by telling him to do his kitchen job. Eleven-year old escapes the noise to do math in his bedroom.
Girls need help with their Barbies. Stop to help them put on princess dresses that have way too small arm holes for Barbie princesses with jazz hands.
2:08 pm – Fourteen-year old scolds, “Stop it,” three times to the nine-and seven-year olds who are goofing off. Five year-old insists that she’s ready for a short haircut. Also asks about when her chest will start developing.
2:10 pm – Fix Barbie dress. Again.
2:15 pm – Give five-year old a trim. Seven-year old comes out to whine, “What can I do?” Tell him, “go do your handwriting.” Three-year old wants a haircut, too.
2:30 pm – Done with haircuts. Clean up more hair. Decide not to give three-year old a nap since I’m hopeful we’ll go to the beach for dinner and she can sleep on the way. Instruct girls to go play.
Grab some lunch. Finally: spinach, apples, almonds, feta cheese, balsamic vinegar.
2:39 pm – Sit to eat. Assign dish pick-up to eleven-year old, cutting off at the pass the “it’s-not-my-job” complaint. Three littles play duplo. Call nine-year old off the piano practice and book reading that he likes to do in exchange for the things he hates, like math.
Read the newsletter from produce co-op while scarfing down lunch. Article is about fertility and fertilizer…. something you add to something else to make it grow and flourish. Thinking we need some o’ that around here.
2:50 pm – Finish lunch. Brew a cup of coffee and eat a muffin before moving on. Email hubs again since I haven’t received a reply yet.
2:57 pm – Assign nine-year old to loading dishes. Sit with seven-year old to do math. Scramble for supplies and move a mess of markers and colored pencils.
3:00 pm – Hear crying, then laughing. Choose to ignore.
3:03 pm – Get after 11- and 14-year olds to finish their writing assignments.
3:06 pm – More crying. Turns out 3-year old was doing something unsafe.
3:10 pm – Finish coffee.
3:15 pm – Finalize evening plans with hubs: street hockey, then dinner, then bonfire at the beach.
3:40 pm – Call bigger kids to clean zones. Still working on math with 7-year old. Wonder how bad the kitchen looks. Regret not giving three-year old a nap. She’ll now fall asleep on the way to the beach after dinner and then be crabby and/or get a second wind. Oh well.
3:47 pm – Finish math. Switch to 2nd grade grammar.
3:55 pm – Done with 2nd grade school. Eleven-year old still growling over his math. Nine-year old hasn’t touched his math or grammar but he’s done music, science, history, Bible, and typing. Go over list with him as well as Greek pronunciation of Iliad and my justification for making him read it. (He loves the Odyssey, but says the Iliad is “too gruesome.”)
4:05 pm – Check the damage in the kitchen.
4:19 pm – Zones are tidied. Kids are playing. Decide to finally exercise, then take a shower.
4:45 pm – Off the bike, after one interruption to clean up spilled water before banishing the little girls from my room. Cool down. Make the bed. Yes, at a quarter ’til five. Change laundry.
4:53 pm – Hop in shower.
5:10 pm – Showered and dressed. Hubs is home from work. Start making dinner while they play hockey.
6:05 pm – Serve dinner and eat.
6:25 pm – Dinner is over. Clean up begins. Hubs and I decide we’re too tired to do the beach tonight. Check emails. Answer urgent ones. Delete the junk.
7:00 pm – Kitchen clean up is done. Do math with nine-year old to redeem some time.
7:30 pm – Done with math. Veg because I finally can. Hubs has fallen asleep on the couch.
8:15 pm – Begin bedtime routine. Girls in jammies, teeth brushed, and a story.
9:00 pm – Corral the boys and head them off to bed. Lock up. Turn off lights. Turn down the furnace to ward off that sore throat.
9:30 pm – Chat with hubs while we get ready for bed. Hit the hay.
This day in question wasn’t exactly “typical.” I don’t daily give haircuts, push a dead van, talk about divorce and the birds and the bees, or have to convince a child that, “No, today is not a video game day.” But these twists and turns of my roller coaster day exemplify my roller coaster life.
Sometimes the ride is exactly like I expect it to be, and other days it definitely throws me for a loop.
But, it’s definitely an E-ride. Most definitely.
What helps you enjoy the roller coaster days of homeschool life?