Melissa’s homeschool day in the life (with an 8-, 11-, 14- & 15-year-old) ~
Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins
A Quick Note from Jamie: If you’re interested in my Introverted Moms community, remember that enrollment closes after tomorrow, and it’s your final chance to join before rates increase! Sending you a huge welcome to our 12th Annual Homeschool Day in the Life series – enjoy this peek into Melissa’s day:
Well, friends, this is where we are. It’s partway through January and the stockings are still hung by the chimney with care. It is what it is.
We took down our Christmas tree on Christmas Day—it was dry and brittle and starting to lean in a way that was making us all nervous for the fate of our ornaments, so we packed it up and started the traditional Twelve Days of Vacuuming to Try to Get All the Pine Needles Out.
But other than that, the decorations have stayed put, and I am beginning to suspect they aren’t going to put themselves away.
All of which is to say: this is really-for-real a day in my life, but maybe not the most routine of days?
Routine days involve everyone getting up in the morning, and getting dressed, and doing morning chores, and working on learning activities, and walking the dog, and doing evening chores and some kind of after-dinner something. (Movie night, game night, story night… there’s always something.)
But today involves pretty much none of that.
Today everyone woke up whenever they woke up. (I was not first. I was also not last. I am cool with this.)
We all stayed in pajamas until… whenever.
Everyone got their own breakfasts and lunches, and did their own stuff in between. We took the puppy to the dog park to visit with her puppy friends.
Tonight we’ll all have dinner together, and then we’ll read books or watch a movie or sit around and talk until we all go to sleep and start over again tomorrow.
Parents of littles, what I want you to know is this: the days do become less of a whirlwind, eventually. Even the unstructured days are less like “chaos” and more like “movies and leftover Christmas cookies and projects.”
It’s not better or easier or harder, exactly. It’s just different.
Our oldest two kiddos are twenty-one and nineteen, and they’re both away at university this year. Our oldest has already gone back to school for winter quarter, and our next oldest leaves soon for spring semester. (Yes, their schools are on totally different calendars! Just for extra fun and confusion, I guess!)
That leaves four kids at home full time. The house is still plenty full, but it feels empty and quiet, and I am constantly counting heads to make sure I haven’t lost anyone. (I haven’t!)
Audrey, who is fifteen, has been in a musical theater coaching program for the last year, and this is the very last week of that work. For now, she’s spending all day every day singing and dancing and rehearsing lines for her final pieces, which is probably what she would prefer to do every day forever… but soon she’ll add back in other kinds of learning activities, like math and biology and French.
Just not this week.
Sadie is fourteen, and she’s not super stoked to pick up her learning activities when no one else is working on theirs yet, so she’s having a gearing-up-and-looking-ahead kind of week. (Honestly, that is my favorite kind of week.)
We’re gathering good books, talking about what’s working for her and what isn’t, and thinking about what she wants to learn next.
Our options for not-at-home activities have been pretty limited for the last… *long while*… so we’re talking about whether she might like to start up something new this year. (Music lessons? Cooking lessons? Water polo? Probably not that last one.)
Eli is eleven, and is really into telling stories. He’s spending this week alternating between watching the behind-the-scenes features of his favorite movies, and working on writing his own stories.
(You know the “special features” section on most movies’ menu screens? Where you can find features like “the director talks over the whole movie, explaining how and why they did things?” Eli watches all of those, always and forever.)
When Eli was younger, we would set him up with a dictation app that could type for him, but these days he can read and write (and type and spell!) on his own, which makes story writing much easier.
Evelyn is eight, and has always been our rogue crafter. (For evidence, please see the scissors in this previous day-in-the-life post.) I feel like we’re constantly trying to find a balance between “messy enough for creativity” and “not so wildly messy that she can’t find anything.” Have we achieved this? Not yet!
My big goal for she and I this week is to (re-)organize the cupboards where we keep art supplies and learning activities, so everyone can find pencils and erasers when they need to.
Evelyn is the only kid who was eager to leap back into learning activities this week, so she started off the morning with her usual routine—getting dressed, brushing teeth, morning chores—and then practiced her cursive handwriting, did some mental math calculations, and read through some new vocabulary words.
After that, she chased the puppy around for an hour, and then sat down to rewatch Mary Poppins, because: why not?
… But only tidy until you open the doors.
Eli and Evelyn have recently discovered an app called Active Arcade, and they ended the afternoon playing that together—whacking whack-a-moles, dodging from side to side to avoid “lasers,” and doing some kind of jumping thing that I don’t entirely understand. (An app that gets them dancing and moving when it’s too cold and wet to have fun outside? Yes please.)
And me? I’m looking at my stack of books to read and deciding what comes next. I’m thinking of making myself a reading list this year, just like I make lists for my kids every season.
Have you ever done that for yourself? Did it lead to you reading more, or maybe feeling like you read more purposefully? That’s what I’m aiming for—a little more purpose and direction as we start the year.
And that’s our whole day, today. A lot of meandering, and a little bit of getting things done.
If you’re starting slow this year: I see you. Me too. It’s okay.
It’s okay to drop some things and add them back in slowly.
It’s okay to look at every single thing on your calendar and ask: Do we really need to do this? What would happen if we didn’t?
It’s okay to start something new, just because.
And it’s okay—it’s more than okay, it’s important—to put some things on the schedule just because they make you happy, whether those things are alone time or movie musicals or a morning walk or buying the good chocolate next time you’re at the store.
This is their childhood, but this is your life, too.
Make sure you’re in it this year, okay? Okay. xo.
My, how the days have changed:
- 2021: Melissa’s homeschool day (with a 7-, 10-, 13-, 14-, 17-, & 20-year-old)
- 2020: Melissa’s homeschool day (with a 6-, 9-, 12-, 13-, and 16-year-old)
- 2019: Melissa’s unschool day (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)
Q for you: Are you more of a slow starter or a jump-right-in-with-both-feet kind of person? And have you ever made yourself a reading list? How did that work out for you?
What’s Your Homeschool Mom Personality? Take Jamie’s quiz now and receive a free personality report to help you organize your homeschool based on what your personality type needs most!