Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins
I have been waiting and waiting and WAITING for a “typical” day to come along this year so I could write about it for you, but so far I’m still waiting. So… let’s just talk about the fact that nothing is typical and call it a day, shall we??
What’s typical for our family is that my husband Dane goes to work most days, while I’m at home with our kids. Owen is 16, Audrey is 13, Sadie is 12, Eli is 9, and Evelyn is 6.
Abigail is 19 and away at university (sob). That part is all happening as usual. It’s just everything ELSE that’s been a little out of the ordinary.
A few things that haven’t been business-as-usual around here:
My new book, Permission Granted, is out in the world!
Since the book has been out, I’ve been invited to do lots of fun things like podcast interviews and live radio.
THAT means my kids get to practice being SUPER QUIET FOR THE NEXT TWENTY MINUTES PLEASE every so often, which is a skill that does not come naturally to anyone in this house.
Normally I would schedule interviews or other work tasks on a childcare day, but…
We’re between childcare providers!
We usually have someone come hang with the kids one or two days a week while Dane and I both work, but our last childcare person transitioned to a wonderful full-time job recently and we decided to wait until we’re settled at the new house before deciding what we need next.
Which brings me to the other not-normal thing: We’re in the middle of moving house! Not far away! But still: moving!
The new house is a wee little bit (read: completely) under construction, so Dane and I have been driving over there early every morning to check in with the various crews doing all the things. (Replacing floors! Patching holes! Installing electrical things of all sorts! Plumbing stuff! And on and on, maybe forever?)
This is the first house we’ve ever bought, so we’re super excited and also WOW has this been a lot of work and decision-making.
Basically, every day so far this year has been a mix of usual stuff (math and reading and science experiments, oh my) and temporary weird stuff (packing up all the books), with all my work stuff mixed in instead of separated out.
Some seasons just aren’t typical.
The truth is, we all have seasons where nothing is typical, and those seasons tend to go on a whole lot longer than we wish they did.
That doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. That’s just LIFE. It’s okay. (This is me preaching to myself. Thank you for listening in.)
If I wore myself out trying to make every day typical and every season the same, my kids would have a warped view of reality, wouldn’t they? I’d rather let them in on this secret of adulthood early: everything is in flux, pretty much all the time.
Sometimes that’s hard, but we can do hard things, especially when we do them together.
So what does today look like?
The structure of our days has been the same for years now. And now that we no longer have babies, toddlers, or preschoolers (shocking but true!), the days are a little bit more predictable, even if the details aren’t typical.
Having a reliable-ish routine helps keep the wheels turning around here, especially during seasons like this one. After years of practice, the older kids know what they need to do all day without being reminded, and the younger kids mostly remember what to do because the older kids are already doing it. This works out.
Our kids start the day with morning chores, then do what we call their priorities: learning activities, creative work, time outside, and moving their bodies.
After that, they get to decide how to spend their day.
Right now, the older kids’ learning activities include things like Math-U-See for Algebra and Pre-Calc, A Young People’s History of the United States, Khan Academy for more history and SAT prep, MEL for chemistry experiments, Cartoon Guides to Physics and Chemistry and Biology, Duolingo, reading from book lists we make together every few months, and writing.
The younger kids are working on Singapore math, Handwriting Without Tears, the occasional Kiwi Crate, reading books like Cowgirl Kate & Cocoa, and endless audiobooks from the library (praise hands for the Libby app).
Here’s how it all played out today.
Today, I headed over to the new house while the kids were still in the pajamas-and-breakfast stage of the morning.
By the time I got home, they were dressed and into learning activities (older kids) and/or were creating an epic Lego something on the floor (younger kids).
After reminding the Lego-makers to pull out their math books, I got to help Owen with converting polar coordinates to Cartesian plane vectors. (Do I remember learning this myself? No I do not.)
I had a podcast interview scheduled later in the morning, so Eli and Ev got to have some Very Exciting Screen Time with iPads while I tested my mic and called in to the interview.
Everyone got their own lunches when they felt hungry, and then went back to their projects.
Owen put the finishing touches on the Nazgul gloves he’s been creating—replicas of the ones used in the Lord of the Rings movies—while Audrey read a library book and Sadie worked on her graphic design skills in Canva.
Eli and Ev had to be convinced to play outside (they felt sure it would be too hot or too cold or MAYBE BOTH, but they did ultimately give it a try).
And now I need to run back to the new house to check on progress before the work there is done for the day. Phew.
Dinner will be super simple for the foreseeable future so that everyone can pitch in, and also so that we remember to actually eat at a reasonable hour.
Spaghetti, tacos, and salad night on repeat are saving us right now.
And after dinner, everyone will settle in with a quiet activity: a book, an audiobook, or a giant list of moving logistics to figure out before the morning… (okay, that’s probably just Dane and I).
My, how the days have changed:
- 2019: Melissa’s unschool day in the life (with a 5-, 8-, 11-, 12- and 15-year old)
- 2018: Melissa’s day (with a 4-, 7-, 10-, 11-, 14-, and 17-year-old)
- 2017: Melissa’s day (with a 3-, 6-,9-,10-,13-, and 16-year-old)
- 2016: Melissa’s day (with a 2-, 5-, 8-, 9-, 12- & 15-year-old)
How do you keep things rolling during not-at-all-typical days/weeks/months? I’d love to hear!
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