Written by Alicia Hutchinson of Learning Well
A day in the life is almost a funny thought. When someone asks, what does a typical day look like for you? I don’t even know what to say—they all look different. What does typical even mean?
I have four kids. I am teaching one to drive and use a debit card and teaching another one to not hold her bladder too long or she’ll have an accident.
I call this bipolar parenting. Maybe you know what I mean.
Things around here used to be more tightened up. We used to have a solid routine. When my kids were smaller and taking naps and going to Storytime every Tuesday morning and I was religiously going to the grocery store every single Friday, our routine was like Big Ben. You could set your watch on our routine.
These days? Not so much. Tides turn. Seasons change.
Honestly, this has been hard for me. I liked our routine. But I’ve found that sitting down each Sunday afternoon to sketch out our week, looking at each day and making a loose plan for each of them helps my brain immensely.
It also helps my brain to time block my days into five blocks—early morning, morning, early afternoon, later afternoon, and evening.
These blocks aren’t rigid, they’re more like rolling suggestions. They don’t have times attached in concrete, but they help me function and keep our days on track (ish).
So, based on these blocks, here’s what a “typical” (big air quotes here) day looks like for us.
This is my favorite time of day. It’s quiet. There’s coffee—and that first cup is always the best, isn’t it? This is the time of day you can decide whether you’re going to have a good day or not. Moms have that ability—it’s good and it’s overwhelming, too.
If I’m on my game, I made my to do list the night before and filled in the kids’ assignment notebooks so the game plan for the day is ready.
I journal and read. My very favorite morning read is Simple Abundance and during the school year, I also read A Gracious Space.
My kids all sleep till 8 or later, but if they’re not up by 8:30, I usually get them up.
We eat breakfast, get dressed, do morning chores, and get going with our school day.
It’s taken me a while to figure it out, but I concluded that our school looks quite a bit different in fall, then winter, and finally spring.
In fall we are ready to get going, get back at it! We’re excited about the new, shiny curriculum and the days are full of enthusiasm about our new fall routine.
In winter, though, things are different. We’re all a little tired from the holidays. It’s hard for me to get motivated after Christmas, so to remedy, we change up the schedule a bit.
This year, we’re breaking things up by heading to the gym to run off some energy first thing. It’s been good to change things up. It all feels a little fresher. We’re not getting quite as stir crazy.
When we get home from the gym, it’s time to eat lunch and begin school. If we’re really on point, we can normally finish our table work in about 2 hours. During the winter, our school room is chilly and we all seem to gravitate towards the dining room table.
Here’s our school rundown:
- Morning Meeting (which is in the afternoon right now)
- Math lesson
- Language arts lesson
- Writing (about 2x per week)
- History lesson (about 2x per week)
Everyone wants to know how it works homeschooling a high schooler down to a preschooler. Let’s just be honest. It’s difficult some days. But the thing with tough seasons is that they always change and then *boom* you’re in a different season.
Right now, when we’re doing school, I settle my youngest with some blocks, some books, or some art supplies and she sits with us as long as her attention holds. After that, she watches a show.
She unashamedly watches a show until we’re done with school.
I just work around the table, kid by kid, helping them where they need it.
My high schooler can work a lot on his own. He’s still sitting with us, but I can be more hands-off with him. We talk about what he’s doing, I look things over when he’s finished, but so far, high school is looking a lot more independent on his part.
After table work everyone is ready to stretch and play and do other things. Every late afternoon looks a little different.
Somedays when we’re really needing some alone time, I declare Quiet Time—for everyone.
On warmer days, I’ll send the kids out to play in the snow.
Most days there’s an upturned basket of blocks on the floor with kids and books and snacks.
This is the chunk of the day I’ll check a few things off my list. There’s not a ton of time to do too much. There’s just enough time for:
- Doing a load of laundry
- Vacuuming the worst-off floor in the house
- Writing a couple of emails
- Sketching out a couple of outlines for blog posts
- Sitting down with a book (and I wish this happened more often)
Before I’m ready, it’s time to start dinner.
Ahh, the evening time. Some days my kids are tired out and chilled out. Other days, we’re all edgy and crabby and in need of hot showers. We’ve guarded our evenings, especially this time of year because it’s cold and hibernation sounds better.
My husband is awesome enough to take over with the wee one; bath time, books, and tucking in.
While he’s doing bedtime duty, I’m usually on the couch with the middles and our current read aloud. Sometimes my eldest will join us. Most of the time he’s reading his own book or finishing anything he didn’t earlier in the day.
Hugs and loves and then … the Promised Land.
I used to be able to be super productive at night. I’d stay up late and do all the things. These days, I still stay up late, but I’m not so productive. I do sit down with my planner and the kids’ assignment notebooks and plan the next day.
I have a big inner peace going to bed with a clean kitchen, so I wipe the counters down, get the dishes put away and make the coffee so it’s ready and waiting for me in the morning.
And finally, bed. There are always essential oils and books and I like it there very much.
By the end of the day, I am beat. I am tired and sometimes crabby. I tell my husband all the time, we’re in our Tired Thirties and it can feel like a never-ending cycle of exhaustion.
But there’s so so much good in it all.
These last minutes of my day, before I zone out and hit repeat, I almost always remember to hold something wonderful from the day close to my heart and hide it away for safekeeping to pull out when I need it again.
Are you homeschooling both older and younger kids? What does that look like in your family?
In answer to your concluding question, yes, I am homeschooling preschool through high school. I love your opening statement about bipolar parenting. That’s so true! 🙂
Anne’s latest post: A Week, Briefly (In Which We Experience a Death)
Over here, we are homeschooling 11, 9, 9, 7, 4, and an almost 1yo. I love to see that you are not doing all the subjects all the days. I feel expectation to do that, yet it just doesn’t happen! Lol! So much freedom for me in seeing other families in their days!
Nooooo all subjects everyday. We’d be doing school the entire day. So glad this was helpful to you!
Alicia Hutchinson’s latest post: EVERYTHING YOU KNOW TO GET YOUR HOMESCHOOL ORGANIZED
Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been going back through the older post of families that have high schoolers and preschoolers. You gave me a few ideas to add to what I am already doing. Thanks for this and I can’t wait to check out your blog.
This is what I needed. I have 4 kids (19, 14, 12, 2) and homeschooling the younger 2. I have been stressing about doing too much or too little and your schedule seems like a great one. We seem to change when and what we do according to seasons also. Thanks! I totally relate to your “bipolar parenting!”
Haha! Yes!!! It’s crazy, right?? I’m glad you got some good info from my “day!”
My kids are almost the same ages as yours: 14, 11, 9, and 2. It’s definitely interesting figuring out how to occupy a toddler after such a big gap without one, but we’re figuring it out. First year with a highschooler and that is a challenge.
Love your post! I too am homeschooling 4 (14,12,10 and 3). Love your honesty about the youngest watching tv when attention span is gone yet the school work isn’t done for the others ???? This year I asked my older 3 to spend half an hour each (rotating) daily with our 3 year old so I could really focus with one of the middles. They love playing with him and their bond with him is amazing. Thankful to God for this idea- we all win. Everyone gets the attention they need ????
Mine are 7 and 11. I spend time with them one one one throughout the day but we do quite a bit together. It gets easier the older my second gets. Your line, “This is the time of day you can decide whether you’re going to have a good day or not,” resonated with me. I know if I get up early, have quiet, AND transition myself pretty quickly out of my quiet once they are up, our day goes so much better than if I sleep until they wake up or keep working once they are up. It is very much about choice and willpower and yes, good coffee helps all of the above!
Kelly Sage’s latest post: How to Encourage Our Children to Write
I love how you break the day into five sections! I feel like that would make it a lot more manageable than thinking about the whole day looming ahead. Sometimes, for me, it’s just a little overwhelming to think about everything I have to do and how I will be busy allll day…breaking it into sections seems like it would make it so much easier to handle!
Love seeing you here, Alicia, and loved reading an updated version of how things are rolling for you. I don’t have the age spread, but I do feel like homeschooling is a continual catch-reassess-shift.
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Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley
I loved reading this. And, once again, I wish we were close enough for coffee (and games!) because we have very similar styles! One day!
Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley’s latest post: The 5 Best Homeschooling Decisions We’ve Made
So helpful! Thanks for participating in this series – I love reading about so many different styles. A clean kitchen gives me inner peace too 🙂
June@ThisSimpleBalance’s latest post: Read This Before You Start Homeschooling
Really loved ‘seeing’ what your day looks like. I have four as well (7, 6, 4 and 2) and it feels CRAZY many days just trying to keep the second grader on track while also giving time and attention to the littler ones. I am always trying to snatch little bits of “me” time here and there and it never seems to fulfill me. Maybe waiting til the early afternoon (when the 2 year old is napping) to start school would be a help these days…
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So many nuggets of wisdom to latch onto. Thank you so much for sharing!