Written by contributor Lora Lynn Fanning of Vitafamiliae, currently on her way to Uganda to meet her 6th child!
I worked hard to come up with a workable daily routine for our busy family. I’m proud of what I do and the fact that it works for us. But the truth is, school days with children in the younger years are all about flexibility.
Take this morning, for example…
We are supposed to start school at 9 am. My kids are up at 7:30, they do breakfast, get dressed, and put away laundry. The second my husband walked out the door for work this morning, the kids went buck wild. I put a stop to it quickly when I saw three of them treating a fitted sheet like that parachute thing we used to do in gym class.
This sort of delay set us back a bit.
Some mornings, I strictly enforce the 9 am start time and make the kids finish their chores after school. Other mornings, like today, I let them fritter their time away but make it clear that this will affect our ability to do the fun things on our schedule. Usually, we still manage to fit things in, even the fun stuff, and I think that’s a testament to a good routine and being FLEXIBLE.
The boys and I sat down to do our daily read-aloud, which happened to be about Rome. We read for a bit and then I grabbed my laptop so we could follow some links from our book.
In the meantime, the littlest girls had grown tired of wandering around the couch and whining and were now crawling onto the couch, which incited a wrestling match. I pulled the two-year-old into my lap, and carried on with our lesson.
I require the little girls to stay in the room with us if they don’t want to read what we’re reading. This is partly so I can keep an eye on them and partly so they have a chance of picking things up by osmosis. It makes for more interruptions, but I want them to feel included in the reading portion of our day.
Once we had conquered Carthage and the Barbarians, I moved on to spelling with one of my twins. The little kids went upstairs to play. A mere two minutes later, the five-year-old came downstairs to ask me to put together his spy kit. I asked him to wait until I was done with my lesson.
He paused for five whole seconds.
When I answered him in what I thought was a patient tone, he repeated his original request. This earned him a trip to Mommy’s room. I can handle the occasional interruption, but to disregard my “no” definitely requires more attention. However, I didn’t want to interrupt the spelling lesson any more, so the five-year-old was removed until I could deal with him.
The two-year-old wandered in and began insisting that I pick her up, despite the fact that I was holding a book and a box of spelling words in my lap. Her request was denied to a chorus of tears. I eventually put her in the chair next to me and told her to sit quietly. She popped her fingers in her mouth and eyeballed us suspiciously while we kept spelling.
The three-year-old came tripping down the stairs asking for her brother. She became distraught when I refused to tell her why he’d been sent to my room. I set my jaw against the interruptions and went back to explaining the many ways to spell the “zzz” sound.
Somewhere in there the phone rang (I didn’t answer), the three-year-old stubbed her toe and took to wailing, and the five-year-old came out begging to be released from his prison.
Mommy’s Time Out
I finished up with my speller, patted him on the back for his concentration against all odds, and went to deal with my five-year-old. Once we had discussed his crimes and restored our fellowship, we made it to the best part of the morning: 30 minutes of educational TV.
Otherwise known as “Mommy’s Time Out.” (This may or may not include chocolate, prayers to the heavens, and some face time with my pillow.)
The Part Where We Learn Something
Here’s what I know: This morning did not go smoothly. I raised my voice, I repeated myself constantly, and I got frustrated. But I also know that I had many “teachable” moments that did not include the Romans or the spelling of “z.”
When you have littles in the house, training them is the priority. Partly because they are louder, but partly because, frankly, training them is more important. If I train them to obey and follow the rules of the house now, I will be setting us all up for success when they are school age.
My time now is an investment in our future homeschool days.
In addition, my older boys have the opportunity to learn patience, concentration, and diligence in the face of great distractions. Sometimes I feel guilty about it, but then I realize that if they were in a room full of 24 children their own age, the distractions would be just as great, if not greater.
Real life has interruptions. Real life requires training. Real life doesn’t always look like the schedule on my Excel spread sheet.
Every moment in my morning, the moments I blew and the moments I took advantage of, they were all important moments. They were educational, for myself and for my children. And they were lived to the fullest… and then some!
If you’re a mom of littles, how do you deal with the many interruptions?