Written by Jessica Fisher of Life as Mom and Good Cheap Eats
Yes, you read that title right. I have six children. My! How times have changed!
When I first started this homeschooling journey, my days went like clockwork. Certain days were devoted to library trips, play dates, and park days. Certain hours of the day were spoken for by math lessons, crafts, stories, lots of Match Game, and the blessed naptime.
That was nine years ago. My oldest was five. And I had a lot fewer wrinkles and gray hairs.
My days are currently not so regular. While I would love to be organized — and yes, even regimented — in how my days are spent, that’s really not my reality, nor quite frankly, my personality.
Life with six kids is richer than I could ever have imagined. Yet, it’s also more complex.
My typical day? It’s the perpetual “box of chocolates” — I never know what I’ll get.
- The dentist’s office calls and says they can see two kids that afternoon. Can we come? While that blows three hours of our afternoon as well as the toddler’s nap, I say, “Yes.” Our dentist is very popular and appointments are hard to come by.
- My husband gets unexpected leave and suggests we take the kids to the snow since it’s rather rare here in San Diego. It turns out to be a wonderful break from our routine and an educational vacation in the process.
- My ten-year-old asks about the World Trade Center. What could have been a five minute explanation becomes a 30 minute tale with a few tears, followed up by a trip to the library and a search for books about 9-11.
- Within an eight hour period the entire family — all eight of us — come down with raging head colds, putting us out of sorts and out of commission, but we can still read books and watch “educational” films.
- And yes, there are plenty of days filled with “I won’t,” “I can’t” and “Do I have to?”
This year, probably my most challenging yet, has had me teaching 8th, 5th, 3rd, and 1st grades, as well as, a friend says, “keeping my preschoolers from burning down the house.” I’ve had to come to terms with many things, one being that the natural rhythm of our days is not as clockwork as I sometimes think it should be.
5 am – My husband wakes and prepares for work. Often, I get up with him, drink coffee, chat, and see him out the door.
6:30 am – My husband leaves for work.
4:00 pm – Papa comes home.
In between 6:30 and 4?
Well, that’s a moving target. I have a schedule and a plan most days. But, often the day doesn’t go according to my plan (see above).
No two days are the same. I can’t predict when someone will get sick, need a diaper change, or just plain old have a bad day. I kick myself that things aren’t more orderly. But in the same moment I realize this season is also fleeting.
My kids won’t always be these ages. And beauty can be found in each of our crazy, unexpected adventures.
(In between times, Jena’s posts have always brought me comfort that we’re doing okay.)
Between those elusive 7 am to 4 pm hours, I try to fit in some of the following. Some are daily; some are a few times per week.
- serve two meals and a snack; do kitchen clean up
- Bible reading together (we’re currently tackling a chronological Bible schedule)
- do the Morning High Five
- a meeting between each boy and mom when we go over grade specific lessons, connect, and talk
- independent reading
- history and literature read alouds
- computer math via Teaching Textbooks (for the three oldest)
- Saxon Math with my 1st grader
- science (Exploring Creation through Astronomy) with my 5th and 3rd graders
- 8th grader does science on CD Rom (Exploring Creation with Physical Science)
- read stories to my littlest ones: my 2-, 4-, and 6-year-olds
- littles play independently or with a big brother
Naps for the girls, ages two and four, start around 2 pm. At that time, I usually finish up math and science with the boys who need my help, while the others finish their independent work. If possible, I squeeze in some writing time. At about 4 we reconvene for a snack, what we’ve dubbed Happy Hour. Our day transitions once my husband comes home and we put away our books.
While few days fit the ideal picture in my head, I recognize that this is a season. And seasons change. I don’t want to wish away the seasons.
For now I’m going to enjoy this time of predictable unpredictability and make the most of every minute of my crazy homeschool days.
Who out there can identify with my unpredictable days? How do you make the most of yours?
Originally published on January 19, 2011.
Love it! I have six kiddos as well– all homeschooled–11, 9, 7, 4, 2, 6 mo.
You described very well what homeschool with lots-o-little ones looks like. The day has a general structure, with LOTS of room for variations.
1. Big Five
3. Scriptures and read aloud
5. Mom is available to help with school work
6. Dinner prep
7. Evening activities
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I only have three children, ages 1, 6 and 9 but I feel like my days are much like yours. My oldest has been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and while that means mostly positive things really in the world of homeschooling we don’t get away from all the challenges. My two oldest are active learners but they learn in completely different ways which makes my challenge of keeping them focused and trying to stimulate their interest almost like running a small marathon every week. My youngest is unlike most any little kid I’ve ever known, which for me seems funny since I’ve been working with kids for a great many years now! She defies all that I have previously experienced and that I thought I knew and teaches me a whole new set of rules daily. Things lately never really go according to plan but I agree that when one looks back on any particular season there are always a great many things to smile about, be proud of, or that can just melt your heart completely and I wouldn’t want to skip even a minute. The fun times make wonderful memories and the harder times make great learning experiences.
Thank you for making me feel like I am not failing and am not crazy; that sometimes, it’s okay if things don’t go exactly as we plan. I really needed that!
Wow! Thanks for sharing your homeschooling day and perspective. I’m enjoying this series!
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I really enjoyed this article. And I very much could relate. We have 7 blessings and we homeschooled them all. They are now ages 27, 26, 23, 21, 19, 16, and 12. Our homeschooling has been such a blessing, even with the disorganized “organization” we claimed everyday :0). Treasure the times ladies; it truly passes quickly.
I love this post! I’m currently mom to a 6 month old, but what can I say, I’m already dreaming about our future big family to-be : ) I also love Jena’s posts about interest led learning and I love your idea’s about how to organize the work that each student is doing. Looking forward to reading more on your blog!
Oh, how I love this post. I have six kids as well. The oldest is a freshman in high school, the youngest is 1. We’re homeschooling them all. I used to be organized and structured. We had a plan, and most days we accomplished that plan. I have just about given up being frustrated by the fact that with six kids — and schooling five of them — I simply cannot predict how any day is going to go anymore. My elaborate schedules are a thing of the past. My standards are lower, but I’m learning to live with it, and somehow everyone is still progressing. Just when I was feeling once agin that we just can’t seem to stick with a schedule, along comes your dose of realism. Thank you!
Thanks for your honesty and humour, you are doing an amazing job!
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Thank you for this post! I have 5 kids– 2, 3, 6, 8, 10, and am pregnant with my sixth. So many of these “day in the life” posts have seemed so orderly and tranquil and my reality is SO far removed from that. I call my day a success if we do the essentials: sing, pray, scripture study, math, and history read alouds. Science is a bonus. Fortunately I have to LIMIT independent reading and make rules like “no reading before breakfast,” so that gets done with no effort on my part. Really, our primary educational supplies are Legos and drawing materials 🙂
A kindred spirit! Sounds like my house.
Heidi @ Mt Hope
Loved your post, Jessica. I ‘only’ have four children, but I was pregnant and had a baby last year, my husband was lost his job, and my boys (4, 6, and just 9) are crazy 🙂 (and haven’t taken naps in YEARS). I’ll be sharing our ‘day in the life’ here next week, but I just wanted to let you know that I loved the glimpse into yours!
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Don’t ever say “only.” One can be a handful, depending on the season.
And there are seasons for everything, aren’t there? Sounds like yours has been a rollercoaster ride. May this year be one of smooth rides and turns. 😉
I have four children, ages 8, 6, 4, and 1. This is very much like my day. Today I really want to get to the library but the baby hasn’t napped yet and so school is a little distracting and thank goodness we can renew our books online.
I am struggling with the pre-schooler right now, who just can’t stop talking and yet also wants to be a part of the schooling time. And now I wonder how I will teach three kids all at once.
Love this article and your blog!! I have gleaned so much from you…thanks!!
I have 3 kiddos, 6, 3 and 2 months. Plus I watch a 5 month and her 3 year old sister several times a week. So, on most days there are 5 kiddos here all under the age of 6….that is exhausting just typing that out 🙂
Our oldest is in Kindergarten, so our journey of homeschooling has just begun. However, I started the year with a rigid time line of daily lessons and was soon shocked to realize that following such a plan was NOT a reality for our family. Now I plan out what subjects need to get covered for that day and we do what we can. If we don’t finish something then it just gets rolled over to tomorrows lesson plan. I have stopped sweating the small stuff….today anyways 🙂
Thank you so much. You encouraged me… right when I needed it.
(I even mentioned & linked it to my recent blog post!)
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Jessica, you are an inspiration – you seem to do it all and yet I can see through your writing that somedays, things aren’t perfect in your world either!
I’m always amazed at those that have the gumption and ability to homeschool – the thought of such a significant undertaking just SCARES me! Sure, there are some subjects that I am sure that I would be able to do really well at teaching my children about and many where I think life experience is an excellent guide, but I’m not an expert and I worry that I wouldn’t give them all the knowledge that they need. I never thought about computer based learning – I would think that in many ways that would/could help with subjects, especially as they get older and are in more specialized courses of study – like Geometry, Trigonometry, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. I know I once took them all, but I’m not sure I remember enough about all of them to teach them to someone.
oh, things are rarely “perfect.” I don’t get half done what I want to get done. The trick is try to figure out what’s “important” and do that. 😉
My hats off to you I homeschooled two for 8 years and I loved it and enjoyed it and also felt overwhelemed. When do you fit in writing blogs, cleaning your home, freezer cooking days, a chance to get a hair cut, get a shower, brush your own teeth , mow the yard, take care of the garden, etc… etc…. oh yes and breath! So where do you find the time?
Well, know that I don’t “do it all.” I have few commitments outside my home. And the landlords pay for a gardener. My husband is an amazing man. And the bathrooms aren’t as clean as I wish they were. 😉
I know you delgate but even with a ton of delgating my hats off to you!
I loved , loved, loved homeschooling but it also a ton to balance!
All of us mother’s know the poem about cleaning and dusting will wait until tomorrow , because babies grow up I have learned to my sorrow.
Mine are in Grad school getting ready to graduate .
They went to Ivy colleges from homeschool and they did very well graduating in the top percentages of their classes and getting offers to prestiges grad schools.
The scholarships poured in as well.
DO NOT LET ANYONE EVER TELL YOU , HOMESCHOOLERS DO NOT HAVE SOCIAL SKILLS MINE ARE THE BIGGEST SOCIAL BUTTERFLIES ANYONE IN CHARGE AT THEIR SCHOOLS HAVE EVER SEEN. THEY ARE THE HEADS OF LEADERSHIP PROGRAMS ETC…
DO NOT LET ANYONE EVER TELL YOU YOUR CHILDREN WILL FALL BEHIND DUE TO HOMESCHOOLING / Have them tested / chances are they are ahead/ and will stay ahead of their peers.
Homeschoolers have a true love for learning! This is why they thrive!
I have six children (all within 11 years also) and we just began homeschooling all of them this year. (We homeschooled some of them in the early years. Then the oldest ones each began asking to return to it.). It’s been a huge adjustment. What you described as “a day in the life” is very familiar from our experiences also and I was just telling my husband last night how I feel everything ‘should’ be more regimemted (perfet word btw, though it eluded me then). Thank you for the post!!
I LOVE your “down to earth” posts!!!! I have learned so much from them. I, too, have six children–4 of which are currently homeschooled. My youngest is 21 months old and he makes life interesting! My school days are NEVER the same and I am beginning to realize that they probably never will be. I am starting to be okay with that. My kids are still going to learn what God wants them to for that day. Our days are in His hands.
I love these little “peeks” into other mom’s homeschooling days. I really enjoyed this post for its humor and the way you incorporate a lot of flexibility into your homeschooling!
Magic and Mayhem
I loved this post (and the printable). With four kids and a very flexible schedule too, this is much more like life here than the rest have been. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
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Tracey - JustAnotherMommyBlog
Yes. That’s us. With half the kids, but the randomness is pretty constant. Heh. Constant randomness. Gotta remember that one…
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Amber @ Homeschooling Voyage
I love your attitude about your days and how unpredictable it is. It makes all the difference between seeing it as chaos and seeing it as flexibility.
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Thank you so much! I only have 3 so far (4, 2 1/2, and 9 months), but the plan is to have 6 (hopefully), and homeschool them all until about 5th grade. I am amazed by women like you who are doing it. You are my inspiration, and I really needed this post. Thank you again!
I have really enjoyed taking a glimpse into your life. Thanks for sharing this!
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Wow I thought I was the only one out there! No I know there are more moms out there just like me its just nice to hear I am not alone! Thank’s so much for sharing. I have 5 kids 13, 11, 7, 5, and 2 that we are homeschooling. My oldest is starting High School next year and it has me frazzled!!!
I have 6 children and am expecting my 7th. I try to keep a schedule, but everything interupts it and I feel like a failure that we can’t get more done. I loved your insight and realistic point-of-view. Thank you!
Thank you!!!! This describes me!!
Oh, yes… I can relate. I’ve got ten out of eleven kids still at home, the youngest being almost eight months old. For years I tried to have a completely structured, scheduled day, but far too often I found myself getting discouraged and impatient if things go off course. I’ve since learned (actually STILL learning) to let go. Our homeschool is slowly becoming not separate school time, it’s naturally integrated in life. Math is the only thing formally done anymore, but at a more relaxed pace. I’m no longer concerned about finishing every last page. The rest of our day consists of chores, family readalouds, independent reading, Bible reading, and the pursuit of their own interests. This looks different everyday, but we’re all the happier for it!
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So much fun reading your post! We homeschool too with eight children age 12 and under. Our days are pretty predictable except for the regular craziness tossed in by my 7th child’s medical needs. He’s had 11 surgeries in his not yet 2 years of life – most brain surgeries. Needless to say, health is a real life subject at my house – no curriculum necessary!
Thank you for sharing!
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I also have six (12, 10, 8, 6, 3 & 2) and really enjoyed reading about your day! I am constantly feeling like Ground Hog Day…alarm goes off, smack it, start the day running, cram lots of stuff into it and collapse into bed, just to do it all over again. No two days are the same for us, either. Anyway, thank you for sharing!
I love this. Thank you. I have been coming to grips with not being as regimented as I was. Also “keeping my preschoolers from burning down the house.” , had me laughing out loud. Yes, yes, yes.
I only have 4 boys, but they are all 2 years apart like yours! I loved your post!
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I have 7 kids and homeschool as well. My kids a roughly the same ages as yours. I’ve got 11, 8, 6, 4, 3, and twins at 5 1/2 months old. We also live in San Diego. My kids are impatiently waiting for it to snow in Julian so we can go play in it. We don’t have a set in stone schedule. There’s no way. It’s so comforting knowing that I’m not the only one that has days that don’t resemble each other. I’d love to have order to my days. We try. Daily.
I have three children ages 8, 3 1/2, and 2. I have recently discovered The Family School. I want to do it next year, have you ever considered doing something like that? It is an LDS (Latter Day Saints) Homeschool curriculum based on teaching different ages with the same lesson plan, but supplementing Language Arts and Math to the students levels. Plus ugh, I live in Ohio so in 3rd Grade I have to teach about Ohio.
You could look into http://www.classicalconversations.com. This also teaches different ages with the same lesson plan, but supplementing Language Arts and Math to the students levels. If you look on the website for your area might have a community group that meets every week and parent practicums locally(parent trainings to help out for free). You can sign up for that community (small fee as compared to private schools)or just online (very small fee) and have access to many resources for activites and ideas. This is my 3rd year doing this and the first your we were involved in a community. Hope this helps. KIT 🙂
I almost didn’t read this article because I have the same ages and the same number of children. So I was thinking it will probably be another perfect mom, all ducks in a row,perfect homeschool article that will just make me feel like I’m not doin enough! so was blessed to read that I’m perfectly normal where my days that just kinda come and go and leaves me wondering what day it is and did we even get school done??!!….I long to have everything organized, lessons planned ,laundry caught up, meals made ahead, perfect obedient children that don’t know how to have bad attitudes….. but all to often it’s the total opposite…..potty training toddler yelling fton bathroom, 9 year old can’t find pencil, 6 yr old can’t find Mcguffy reader, dr appt, dentist appt, daddy needs something, gramma calls and says, please come for lunch,( that, btw is a welcome interruption! 🙂 and loads of other interruptions make up my day…. but usually somehow most of it gets done, somehow, my children are good readers, pretty good spellers, and are learning how to cook, bake, clean up a messy house and how to keep a quiet heart…. 🙂 🙂 thanks so much for being real!! God bless!!
Now, that this post is three years old, let me reassure you that life won’t get “perfect”, but you will see glimpses a few years from now of order, peace, and happiness. The day will come. Hang in there!
Thank you so much for this encouragement.I have been overwhelmed and very discouraged. I need this!
I have to smile. I may not have 6 kids but I do have a 7, 5 and 4 year old. All while I am expecting baby #4 and help do the accounting for my husband’s business. Our days are constantly changing. Some days we get very little done, and other days are excellent. In order to increase my sanity I have found computer programs that I enjoy for each one of my boys that they can complete, and I can verify how well they did, for when I get business calls in during the middle of a lesson. My personality is not to be extremely scheduled. I love the togetherness and bond that has been developed through homeschooling. I wouldn’t change my day for anything in the world.
Ah, I am not alone!!!
I have six kids, the oldest two are finishing up high school, while i homeschool our four younger ones, 9, 6, 6, 4. They are in 4th, 1st and preschool. I completely agree that there is no set schedule, never know what we’re gonna work on or what is going to be accomplished, the 4th grader does more work and a lot independently, the first graders I don’t stress too much about and figure they are still learning a lot from life and we do subjects when they show interest with the understanding that they will become more interested in the world around them as they grow older. My 1st grader daughter is showing a lot of interest in school and brings her work to me and we do it together, whereas my 1st grade son has NO interest in school, he will sit and do math but english, forget it. Maybe I’m wrong but i haven’t pushed it, figuring he just needs more time. At any rate, I love reading and hearing about others days and homeschooling cause there are plenty of days of “I can’t do this” that go around. Thanks!
oh man, do I agee with the “I cant do this” days. thanks for your encouragement!
Oh my goodness! Im so glad to have found this post. I have a 11, 9, 8, 4, and a very demanding almost 3 year old and Im a perfectionist! Can we say….. uh oh, there is trouble brewing. I have had a hard time connecting with families here in southwest Florida and reading this makes me feel normal in ALL my choas. I needed to hear all of these comments to realize Its gunna be ok even if I dont see it yet. I can totally relate to many of you about the lack of structure,routine, or order. It is just that season when these just dont work and now I know its ok!!! I can STOP beating myself up and enjoy whatever comes and my children where they are. Thanks for so many of you putting lives out there.
I needed this really bad. This is my first yr homeschooling and I have felt like a fish out of water the entire time. I have 3 kids. 8, 5, and 13mnths. I have felt so much pressure to get it all in and when we don’t (which is all the time) I feel guilty like I am affecting their education. I keep telling myself: breath just breath. They r learning! They r doing fine. Thank u.
Whew! Love your attitude, Jessica! 😉
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THANK YOU for writing this!!! Over the Holiday break I was so ready to give up homeschooling because all of the schedules I saw online to me were impossible. An hour scheduled for math?!?! I had one kid that took 1 1/2 hours to finish and then I still had 2 more kids to work with. I learned my lesson, but to see an honest-anything goes-and-everything will probably happen-schedule is so encouraging! This post made me over-the-moon-happy! 😀
Thank you for this post! It was what I needed to read. I feel like I can take a breath and relax and not fear I’m ruining my children if we don’t get to everything daily.
Hi! I’m trying to make some sort of plan for our upcoming school year, but I’ve never homeschool before. I have a 2 and a half year old and a four and a half year old. How would you recommend teaching them together without the older being limited or the younger not getting it?
This is the first time I have ever commented on something I have read. Usually, I take what I can glean from an article and move on, but I couldn’t move on this time without first thanking you for writing this post, which has spoken so powerfully to my heart at a much needed time in my life. I am a mother of seven, 12yrs old and down. I have fallen away from any sort of schedule and beat myself up constantly that I am not doing enough for my children. I love my children, but I am not enjoying this season of homeschooling. It is so nice to hear that there is someone else who lives this random life, where there are so many different needs that most days you feel as if you live in reactive mode, rather than proactive. Thank you for reminding me that, like most things in life, this is a season. And for reminding me to enjoy my children. I am going to go back and read this again so it sinks in a little more. Thanks. Laura
Thank you for sharing! It’s such a relief knowing I’m not the only one! And that it’s okay when things don’t go according to the plan. ????