Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins
I want to tell you about a typical day at our house, but… that’s harder than it sounds. The first thing I should tell you is that the kids are 17, 14, 11, 10, 7, and 4, and they’re all busy, all the time.
But you probably would have guessed that, wouldn’t you?
A usual day looks like this:
Everyone starts the day with morning routines and chores.
Once that’s done, we ask the older four kids to spend time doing five things: being outside, moving their bodies, reading, creating, and working on their learning activities. (We plan the learning activities together periodically.) They decide how and when to do those things.
Now that two of our kids are high-school age (what?!) and one of those two just applied to college (WHAT???) some of their learning activities are more structured. They work on things like Khan academy, Rosetta Stone, Duolingo, and MOOCs, along with books and their own projects. The younger kids’ learning activities are less structured and involve more exploration.
When those are done, they email their dad to tell him what they worked on. That way, he gets to stay up-to-date on what everyone’s up to, and we have a handy little record of what each kid did all day.
Meanwhile, I hang out with the two younger kids, reading, playing games, throwing in a load of laundry, and making snacks times infinity.
Around 11:00, the oldest two take the youngest two to play for an hour while I do work stuff—replying to emails, tending to blogging tasks, editing or planning.
I can get some work done in the margins of the day, but this is when I’m most productive and efficient, so it’s worth making space to get stuff done. Otherwise, I’d have to spend twice as long at the beginning or end of the day to get through those same things.
And full disclosure: an hour a day isn’t really enough for everything, especially since the book I’m writing right now has to be sent off to my publisher in just a few months. For that, I have one longer chunk of writing time each week.
After that, we get lunch, have quiet time—the younger kids rest, the older kids keep working or do quiet projects on their own—and then we play or craft or hang out until it’s time to make dinner, which happens sooner than I expect every single night.
Another kind of typical
That’s a typical day. But as I write this, we’re still recovering from Christmas.
Today looks more like rewatching A Muppet Christmas Carol, hunting for batteries, enduring ongoing negotiations over sugar, and having many, many conversations about Feelings And How We Handle Them.
Two kids have put themselves back to bed with books, one is hanging out in a cardboard box, one is trying to get me to work on a logic puzzle that he’s already solved, and two are outside getting some much-needed space and fresh air.
Before I’m done writing this to you, I’ll have paused for one million reasons including: Someone can’t find the critical piece for the new Laser Maze. Someone wants to schedule her horseback riding lessons. Someone just wants to be left alone. Someone, who is four years old and loves crafting more than she loves breathing, has gone rogue and is taping everything in sight.
This is another kind of typical day. The kids are learning, and I’m not just talking about turning on the Hamilton soundtrack and calling it history. (Though I mean that, too.)
It’s all learning
They’re learning about conflict resolution. They’re learning about their bodies: how they handle stress, and how well they tolerate being off their routine. They’re practicing having compassion for cranky, tired siblings, and having grace for themselves when they’re not at their best.
Did I mention the conflict resolution? They’re getting LOTS of opportunities to practice that.
They need their learning activities, of course. And most days they get plenty of those. But they need these life skills, too—the emotional intelligence, the self-awareness, the empathy, and the conflict resolution (still in process). There’s room for it all.
That’s what I’m remembering on this typical-not-typical day in our lives.
Melissa’s previous Day in the Life posts:
- Melissa’s homeschool day in the life (with a 3-, 6-,9-,10-,13-, and 16-year-old)
- Melissa’s homeschool day in the life (with a 2-, 5-, 8-, 9-, 12- & 15-year-old)
Do you have a typical day at your house?