Written by Kara Fleck
I got a kick recently out of looking back at our day in the life post from a few years ago. Some things are the same, but so much is different. For one, my kids are all older and for another my husband’s sister, a special needs adult, lives with us now.
I almost don’t recognize those days from three years ago.
To begin, I’m an early bird. I blame 5:30 swim practices from high school. My typical start time is early, and twice a week I make an effort to get up even earlier.
Are you ready for this? 4 a.m. Yes, I know. That’s crazy talk.
But it gives me a solid block of time to myself and having those two super early mornings helps me balance working from home with motherhood and school.
It also gives my husband and me a chance to talk in the mornings before he leaves for work, kind of like a standing coffee date.
My younger kids, ages 4 and 7, usually wake up around 8 a.m. and my son, who is 9, around 8:30. My teenager usually sleeps until well past nine. The goal is to have everyone fed, dressed, teeth brushed, and ready to go by 10:30 at the latest.
The three oldest kids and I work at the dining room table. But some days, depending on the level of squabbles and distractions, one kid works in the dining room, one at the kitchen table, and one in the living room.
My first- and third-graders begin with what we call morning pages – one page worksheets with a variety of short tasks like math problems, handwriting practice, and grammar. Some years I make these, but this year I am using sets from Teachers Pay Teachers.
While they are working on their morning pages, my eighth-grader is doing her free reading. She’s currently reading The Return of the King and I ask her to read at least two chapters a day.
I should back up and tell you that we use assignment notebooks, something I learned from Sarah Mackenzie. It is such a simple concept but it has made a major impact on our school days and improved my record keeping, too.
The kids are allowed to do their lessons in any order. I have one who always chooses to do their least favorite first and others who pick their favorite subjects first.
My first-grader moves on to math with my help and my third grader moves to the computer where he is using Teaching Textbooks for math.
Once she has finished her free reading, my eighth grader begins history. She has a daily reading assignment and then I ask her some questions. Today I’ve also got a Crash Course US History video for her to watch.
My third-grader still struggles with confidence in reading and also comprehension, so over the course of the day I like to assign one book he reads in his head (he just finished reading Frindle), one he reads aloud with mom (currently Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), and then his history book I read to him.
My eighth-grader works independently through her list and my third-grader moves on to handwriting and spelling using a fun set of Star Wars themed workbooks.
While they work, I spend some one-on-one time with my first-grader. We are winding our way through The Alphabet Path. Today’s lesson is a short story, a song, and then drawing a picture to add to the booklet of letters we are making.
This morning my eighth-grader is working on economics. She finished up the pre-algrebra math curriculum at the end of the year and while we’re saving up to purchase the next level, I’ve created a mini economics unit for her to work through.
My first grader finishes the morning with Little Acorn Learning and then spends some time cleaning her room. And, yes, that last task was written in her assignment notebook.
I write all the kids’ chores down, almost eliminating the need to remind and nag. Handy things, those notebooks.
My eighth-grader reads through and does the exercises in her logic book and then we take a break for lunch.
After lunch my first-grader and her little sister are off playing and my third-grader and I sit down in the living room to work through his history reading (A Child’s History of the World) and to take turns reading aloud from Harry Potter.
Aunt Angela usually sits where she can listen in. We stream the Harry Potter soundtracks on Spotify while we read.
My eighth grader is working on her Peace Hill Press writing workbook and also in her English and Grammar workbook. Then she is done for the day. She plays a few rounds of Oregon Trail on the computer and then goes to her room.
Like her mother, she is an introvert and likes downtime after school before she’s ready to socialize with everyone again.
My third-grader and I finish up with a short science lesson on herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores.
We’ve finished with lessons around 3 p.m. and the afternoon now belongs to the kids to fill as they please.
My third-grader heads to his room for the daily Lego maniac attack, my eighth-grader spends her time sketching and watching YouTube videos, and the youngest two are playing with the dollhouse. They also spend some time playing with the unexpected hit of Christmas: their small white boards and dry erase markers.
Meanwhile, this is the time of day I’m going over the lessons and also writing the kids’ assignments in their notebooks for tomorrow. I also preview any videos the kids will be watching and gather any needed craft supplies or set up any experiments.
By 4 p.m. the kids and Aunt Angela are ready for a snack and I’m ready for a hot drink and my knitting. I try to work in a little bit of housework, too.
I found this fun YouTube channel called The Glamorous Housewife who does a series called “Make It Modern” where she gives a bit of history about retro recipes and then makes them over for modern tastes. I play this little game where I watch an episode and knit and then I have to clean for an equal amount of time. It works for me.
Around 5:30 I start making dinner, and we all eat together once my husband arrives home from work. Our dinner discussion revolves around the California Gold Rush, carnivores, herbivores, and speculation about who gave Harry the Firebolt for Christmas.
Then my son and husband are out the door for taekwondo and the girls, Aunt Angela, and I clean up the dinner dishes and tidy the kitchen.
At 8:30 everyone is back home. We enter couch potato mode and watch an episode of Fixer Upper.
My seven-year-old especially loves when the couple shows off their own farmhouse, as she has been telling us for few years now that she’s going to own a farm and we can all come live there and help her take care of her animals. Sounds like a good deal to me.
Finally, it’s time for bed for this tired mama. The flip side of my early bird coin is that I don’t often make it past 9:30. The littlest girls and I head upstairs. I supervise toothbrushing and pajamas before we read and I tuck them in.
My husband and the older kids will come upstairs later, but for now they are playing Minecraft (I am thankful that my husband shares the kids’ passion for this game, because quite frankly I don’t get it, ha!)
And that, friends, is where the day ends. Thanks for reading; I’m looking forward to writing more for Simple Homeschool this year as a contributor!
How the days have changed:
Are there any other super-early risers out there? What time do you like to start your day?