Sometimes I find myself utterly shocked that I’m exhausted and it’s not even dinner time on a Monday. I know I'm not alone.
The thing about doing anything with a house full of kids is that it is usually and rightfully exhausting. There is always laundry to be done. There is always something to be cleaned. There is always someone who could use some special one-on-one with mom time. I could fill up my 24 hours a day with at least 36 hours of tasks (not even counting that I could easily sleep for 8 hours a night and take a nice afternoon nap).
So how do we do it all? I’m here to say, like many wise moms before me, you don’t do it all. You just have pick what you will do and then you try to do it! You give yourself grace when a day isn’t great, because His mercies are new every morning and there will (most likely) be tomorrow. I am preaching to myself here. When I remember that I'm not supposed to do it all, it makes a. huge. difference. It helps me have a better God-honoring attitude and perspective.
I believe every household is unique; however, I love reading how other moms structure their days. I want to share mine here today, with the hope that you find something helpful that you could implement at your house! It’s taken me a while to get here because I had to go against some of the “typical” stuff I thought I “had to do” (like homeschooling in the morning).
I currently homeschool my 7 year old (first grade) and my 5 year old (pre-school) and have a 2 year old. I’d like to say I could easily add another child to the mix now as I’ve learned so much in my years as a mom, but the truth is I think I will always be tweaking (or throwing out the window) our schedule as things change! (From the time I first wrote this post to when I am publishing it, things already changed a little!)
As a bit of a disclaimer, I’m also going to go out on a limb and tell you that I really didn’t want to share some of this.
If I would have known that this was in my future even two years ago, I would have starting crying at how easy it would have seemed to my younger self. Back then, my days looked so very different - my kids were all much more needy (nursing a newborn is no joke!) and my husband worked about 55 hours a week between two jobs and had a five day a week commute of 3 hours a day. On the other end of the spectrum, I'm sure some people will read this and think I totally don't do enough.
All that to say, there are seasons where life is different, but we have to have empathy for others (including ourselves!) in every situation because you never really know how others are managing and what challenges they are facing!
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Ok, all that introduction, here’s our typical schedule!
6AM - 7AM: Wake-up. Everyone wakes up in this window of time. All my kids play quietly in their rooms. This has taken lots of patience and lots of adjustments to get to this point. The two older kids share a room and play at their Lego table. The two year old is in a different room so he plays in there (and I think he secretly enjoys the “alone time” he won’t get any other time of the day).
7AM - 8AM: Breakfast. My husband hangs out with the kids and feeds them breakfast. As a pastor, he often has meetings at night so this is a great gift for me because I am not a morning person! I get ready for the day during this time.
8AM - 9AM: Get all the kids going. If still needed (sometimes this is already done by now), we get ready for the day (dressed, teeth brushed, etc.). I usually start a load of laundry here as well or do a little chore while the kids play for a bit or while we talk.
9AM: Daily Meeting. Since I don't eat breakfast with the kids, this is where we all sit together and "connect". We do the following:
Read part of a devotional or Bible story book together. Here are a few we've used in the past:
Kids get their gummy vitamins (right now these and these) for working on Scripture memory or Catechism questions. This is a trick (I think) almost all moms use, so I’m not claiming I came up with this but - it totally works! We just practice together and it helps if I get really excited about the verses and questions too.
Talk about what is planned for our day.
Tell the older two kids what their chore is for the day.
9:30AM - Noon: Morning Time Activities. I don’t use a very strict daily schedule as each day is a little different. I love the flexibility that homeschooling gives us, so I try as often as possible to embrace that (by going to the zoo or doing other things on normal "school" days). I learned a while ago that it’s also much easier for me to have a better attitude (and keep my house clean-ish) if we aren’t just stuck inside all day throughout the week. About once a week, we do each of the following:
Walk to a park
Go to the library
Go grocery shopping or run other errands
Do an activity (right now, my 5 year old has swim lessons on Wednesday mornings)
On days where we don’t go out (or when our outings are shorter), I fill the time by doing a few things. I try to make sure I have music playing (you can see my seven hour-long playlist here that I just put on shuffle. It includes some hymns from Indelible Grace and lots of kids music like Rain for Roots, The Rizers, and Slugs and Bugs).
I also try to help the kids do a variety of activities and try to be intentional about doing some things with them as well (outside time, magnetic blocks, reading library books, playing a game) but I do love that they can get bored and have to find things to do throughout the day as well (dig in the backyard, ride bikes, jump on the trampoline, play dress-up, work puzzles, etc.). We also have lots of time for character training and relationship building as fights and issues arise.
During this time, (if possible) I also do a few chores or get a few things completed from my to do list. The kids are responsible for a short list of daily tasks that must be done before we leave the house or have lunch (like cleaning up their room, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, and completing a simple chore).
Noon: Lunch for everyone. My goal is that we sit together as we eat and talk during this time. Each kid has a “lunch chore” so they don’t all just run from the table when finished. Right now the seven year old loads the dishwasher, the five year old wipes down the table, and the two year old throws away any trash. When lunch is over, I read my youngest child a few books in his bed and then leave him to take his nap.
12:30PM to 3PM: Focused school time with the older two. Stay tuned for the next post in this series where I dive into how I organize this and what it looks like! I know most homeschoolers aim to do school early in the morning, but with a two year old who likes playing with his older siblings but is quite a handful, it’s much easier for us to do our school work when he’s napping and have the morning be filled with the other activities.
3PM - 5PM: More free play / finish up for the day / go to activities. The two year old usually wakes up from his nap towards the beginning of this time block. I also use this time to prepare for dinner and get the kids ready as we currently have T-Ball practice, gymnastics, and tennis lessons at 4PM on different days.
From there, I really consider the day done! If we have things we didn’t complete, like some chores or school, we’ll do it before dinner.
5:30PM: Dinner. We almost always eat together as a family. Everyone has to take at least one bite of what's on the plate... we are in the stage where dinner is much nicer when we eat tacos or breakfast... but I still make other things occasionally (insert my eyeroll here). Depending on the exact time we eat dinner, the kids usually play with my husband outside for a bit either before or after we eat.
7PM: Get ready for bed. Usually we all read together or we split up and I read to the little one while my husband reads with the older two. After we read and pray, we usually say The Lord's prayer and/or singing The Doxology or Gloria Patri.
7:30-8PM: Kids are all in bed. My husband and I usually hang out until we go to sleep. About once or twice a week he will have an evening meeting. Occasionally, we do different things so I would use that time (or when he is out) for chores, reading, blogging, catching up on stuff, or going out with a friend.
9:00PM: Lights out for the kids.
I usually go to bed between 10 and 11. (If you're interested in a little more of the planning elements of what I try to do, you can check out this post here.)
You might notice my kids have a lot of play and margin/whitespace/freetime in their days. Honestly, that is a huge factor in our choosing this homeschool life. My oldest is 7 years old. She loves to read chapter books, climb trees, and do cartwheels. I love that!
I also love that my kids have so much time to play together. I'm praying that my kids have great relationships with one another when they are adults (even though on some days it seems impossible) because of their childhoods.
How does that compare to your homeschool day? Do you have any advice for me? Or any questions? Just comment below!