Written by contributor Jessica Fisher of Life as Mom and Good Cheap Eats
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?
Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy
My own homeschool of 4 kids has needed its own makeover of late, and it’s so encouraging to read about what your homeschool with 6 kids looks like!
I’ve also wondered how you manage to get soooo much done, Jessica–homeschool 6 kids, blog, write a BOOK! Thanks for the fun little window into your family’s life 🙂
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There is ALWAYS something left undone. I could beat myself up over the stuff I miss (and do) or just keep moving and hope for better tomorrow.
WOW! I homeschool 3 and feel like there aren’t enough hours in a day. Way to go, Jessica. Like Anne said thanks for the window.
Thanks for the enjoyable read…I wondered how you managed it all! I have 2 and feel “behind” if school goes past noon. 🙂
Oh, I wish school was done at noon. Oh my! That would be bliss…. One can always dream.
Whew! That’s a lot to juggle, but I guess we handle what we are given. Thanks for sharing your day with us. Can’t imagine the having the choice to go to the beach for the evening 🙂
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We went the following evening and it was so fun! The kids slid down the sand dunes in a cardboard box. LOL
really enjoyed reading that. thank you. wow….6 kids…
As a former middle school teacher, I give you this advise for entering this world of pre-adolescent/adolescent boys—make them tired and they won’t be so resistant/defiant/bossy/angry/etc. etc. 🙂 Turn them into runners and send them out the door in the AM with sneakers and MP3 players or take the family to a track or some such other activity. You will be amazed at the change in their attitudes and focus.
advice not advise:-o
That is great. So far, my oldest, 14, is a hockey player. All the others skate, as does my husband. So, they typically skate as soon as he gets home until dark.
That’s great! I meant to have them do it in the AM before school–they get out all that “boy” energy as I call it and can settle down more easily to school work:-) Have a great day!
When it’s nice out, we start the day with outdoor recess….love to get the “wiggles” out before we need to sit down and focus. 😉
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Love the idea about starting the day with recess!
I will try that. Thanks!
Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable
Wow! You’re my hero! Gotta admit…I breathed a bit of relief when I read that you too hide out in the bathroom for a little reading;) Glad I’m not the only one! Thank you for sharing your life with us.
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I love the chaos, but simplicity of not having to adhere to someone else’s schedule.
You make it sound simple, though I know it is not.
I, sadly, only have one child. After three years in Public school, we start our homeschooling in the Fall.
I hope my days are as good as yours and are blessed.
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I think they will be. It’s a wonderful ride!
Just a thought in this day the 9 year old got asked to do more housework, plus his school, more than any of the other children. Perhaps this is why he balks too much and acts out some.
It would seem like that, I suppose, based on what I wrote down. The older ones did just as much work (school and chores), but I didn’t have to ask them to do it.
Everyone starts the week with a clipboard of assignments to do each day. They know what their assignments are. And the 9yo is sharp as a whip, so he knows what to do. He just drags his heels.
That said, thanks for pointing out a different perspective. I can always use that!
Amanda @ Better Is Little
I loved this! I am certain there was quite a bit that didn’t get written about too! The video game answer sounds just like mine sometimes! LoL “Go read your book. Today’s not a game day.”
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Steph (The Cheapskate Cook)
Loved this! Thanks for the peek into your life. It was encouraging, a little daunting, and definitely brought a few laughs! I have 2 boys so far – 2 y/o and 6 months, so our family is just beginning. Fun to read that it just keeps getting more crazy but more fun.
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Your post left a smile on my face. All the twists and turns of your day sound exhausting but so full of what FAMILY means. Thanks for your honesty and for letting us in to your home. With “only” 3 boys of various stages, my homeschool days are sometimes a roller coaster too. However, if Math is not done by 7 PM, I often just give up. Good for you for redeeming the time! 🙂 And I hope you get your bonfire dinner at the beach soon. That sounds lovely.
We are trying to figure out the right rhythms for schoolwork, thus the evening homework. We survived. 🙂
I took a drink of my Diet Pepsi riiiight before I read the part about your 5 year old asking about her chest. Yes, I spit a little Pepsi. Oh, the conversations that happen in a day!
Loved reading about your day!
Loved this and love this series. So honest and insightful 🙂 Thanks Jessica
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I am new to your blog. I am also a former school teacher. My kids, 9 and 5, currently attend a charter school. Both are very intelligent and grades are fine, but I am so frustrated with how our life seems to be run by school. They are there for 8 hours and then come home with homework that takes so much time every day. I’m also discovering that so much is actually being taught by us at home, not at school. I often consider homeschooling, but I am an introvert and homebody and I fear for my kids to miss out on friendships, etc. How do you handle that?
Love this question. Would like to hear feedback too.
I am very much an introvert and a homebody, too. I am also a former public high school teacher. Before I had children, I could stay at home for weeks at a time in the summer. Seriously, weeks.
As a work from home mom who homeschools, I realize that it’s crucial for my kids to be around other people, and I push myself beyond my own comfort zone for them. I’ve joined a couple of moms groups. Some were not a good fit; I felt like I had to work hard at making small talk. One was a good fit, and I look forward to it each and every week. I take my older daughter (who just switched over from homeschool pre-k to homeschool kindergarten) to art and music classes that she enjoys tremendously. I’m considering a soccer team for wee little people for the spring/summer. We go to story time at the library, once for the 1-year-old storyhour and a different day for the preschool crowd. We’ve also considered children’s choir at our church and weekly Awana classes (but abandoned both because they kept our daughter up too far past her bedtime, creating behavior issues the next day).
My point is that it is possible to get your homeschooled kids out there in the world, bringing them opportunities to make friends and interact with people of different ages, too. You have to be intentional about your schedule, but it is very possible.
Also, I wanted to say that we started out homeschooling for exactly the reason you’ve described. I have a master’s in education, and I have an extremely intelligent daughter. I knew I could do a better job of meeting her advanced needs than a teacher with 24 or 28 (or more!) kids in a classroom could. It’s a blast to be honest.
If you want to chat more, please feel free to contact me.
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I think that there are sooooooo many opportunities to get out and do things, that you shouldn’t fear that. My kids play with the neighbor kids all the time and we seem to attract all the boys for several blocks’ radius, too. Friendships take work outside of school, but real friendships always do, don’t they?
This is the only article so far that I can identify with! Your day starts out much like mine until about noon.
Your younger five are about the same age as my younger five… my older two (of the seven) are older than your 14 yo, but my oldest is on the autism spectrum and both are still home, so sometimes it’s like still having a 14 y o, LOL.
Much of your day sounds like mine, except that we would not have gluten (toast or muffins) and our produce box is delivered at 3 am (might seem nice to not have to pick it up, but I have to be up then to keep the animals out of it!) 😀 We have zones here too!
And we no longer live in Southern CA. I grew up in Ventura County, and also lived there for 9 years as an adult, in between 11 years in Europe and 6 years in Ohio.
I loved your post. I’ve never thought of my life as a rollercoaster ride, though, so perhaps having boys in the mix (our boys are in heaven) makes the ride a bit wilder. To me, any day without a medical crises (with my oldest) is a pretty smooth ride. Some days I feel like putting up one of those factory signs that say “Our facility has been accident free (doctor free) for ____ days”. 🙂
Just love, love, loved your post! Made me feel normal. 🙂
Thanks for your encouraging words!
What an encouraging read! Thank you, Jessica, for the reality that I’m not the only one making my bed late in the day (like right before I crawl into it at night!) or answering loads of questions from the littles.
K in AZ
Thanks so much for sharing! I’ve been a reader of your blog for a few years now and constantly wonder how you do it all. (I wonder about Crystal too but know she only has three). 🙂 My 6 are ages 13, 11, 8 (boys) and 6, 4, 21 months (girls). AND, we found out we are expecting in July – a surprise but spaced just like the others so, even though it surprised us, it was aparently in the ‘big picture’. 🙂 I loved reading of your day. I constantly feel swamped and like I am redirecting kids to do the things we need to accomplish daily. Your post really made me realize that I’m not alone in this journey and made me take a few minutes to realize that, even the days that feel like nothing is getting done, we are creating such value for one another. Thanks for the important reminder – and for helping me see the light today. 🙂
I think a lot of our struggle as moms is to realize that “learning is always happening.” Our kids see much that we do and learn from it, whether it’s a patient voice, a persistent request, or just hanging out and enjoying one another.
Even on the days when we didn’t get it all done, we’re still learning. And that’s really what education is.
Becky @ Sowing Little Seeds
Love it! with 4 littles under 5 years (and hopefully more to come) I imagine my life being much like this in 10 years. I love the crazy chaos that somehow is managed. So much love and learning occurs inthose times.
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I absolutely loved this! I love that (at least in this case) your life doesn’t seem to follow a rigid schedule. That is what intimidates me about a lots of homeschoolers. I wish I could be perfect, but I fall so short of that. My kids are learning though, in every little thing we do. Your house sounds like a lot of fun too. I only have 3 right now with another on the way (with the hope to someday reach 6), and this is inspiring and reassuring that things can still get done even without the rigidity. THANK YOU!!!
I don’t like schedules at all. But, at the same time, finding the right rhythm for each season is key. I think routines are important. Currently, I’m trying to figure out this new season of life.
What a fun read!
I love the idea of “cleaning zones”. I might copy that.
shelli : mamaofletters
Oh my. I think I need to lay down after reading that. My hat’s off to you!!!
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renee @ FIMBY
Loved your day Jessica.
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I’ve been dealing with the chaos thing this week (http://www.alittlehomie.com/homeschoolblog/2012/mylittleposse.html)… it’s nice to know there is a community of other moms fighting through. Battle on homeschool mom’s!
Thanks for sharing a day in the life at your house. You have inspired me to log a day too. I am sure I would look back on it and laugh or cry. I have 8 children with #9 on the way. I school 6 of them right now seeing that the youngest two are 3 and 21 mos. I am constantly wondering how to keep the two littlest ones occupied while lessons are going on with the older ones. Some days it works great and other days the noise level is unbearable. But I too press on and try to organize things better the next day.
I loved reading about your day. I only have two children, but they’re both small, so my days are chaotic, too. We only do kindergarten (for the older one), and we are using Calvert curriculum which has the subjects integrated together. But, when you add in working from home and everything else we do, the days are packed, aren’t they?
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It doesn’t sound like much school is done….. but you do seem very busy!
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Wow, I only homeschool one. One kindergartner, at that. And I’m already about to pull my hair out. I’m expecting baby #4 in March, so eventually there will be more than one to homeschool, and the thought kind of scares me at this point. I don’t know how you do it, but at least you are giving me hope that it just might be doable.
I loved reading about your day! It sounded just like mine! Amazing to read about another home schooling mother of six.. You say the very same things I say to my children. And, you endure a lot of what I have to endure. Thank you for sharing.
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PlumLife Team Member