I always enjoy reading how other ladies manage their time each day, so I thought I'd share my current "schedule". It's really more of a routine, because I do not go by the clock other than for mealtimes and bedtime.
- Wake up between 7 and 8 - For me, this is really late, and the one thing I am currently most unhappy with about my schedule. There are several reasons why I "sleep in" this late. 1, I just had a baby and need extra sleep. 2, said baby sleeps pretty well in the evenings, allowing me a chance to do housework and laundry late at night. As a result, I am never in bed before midnight. If I went to bed early and got up around 6, I would just end up sitting on the sofa with Anna, not getting anything else done. 3. It is still dark until after 7 am, and cold. I can't peel myself out of bed for that! I like to read the Bible on my phone for a few minutes when I first wake up, while nursing Anna. As soon as she dozes off, I get up.
- Fix breakfast, feed and dress kids, morning chores - Depending on what I am making for breakfast and how long it takes to make, we get done with breakfast and morning chores between 9 and 10 am. I cook breakfast most days, but oatmeal is a lot faster to clean up after than, say, bacon, eggs, and toast. So it depends. The boys obviously all dress themselves, as does Miriam on most days. The boys also help the girls get dressed by getting their clothes out of the closet for them. Morning chores consist of clearing the breakfast mess, emptying/loading the dishwasher, caring for our dog, making beds, brushing teeth, and (for the girls) fixing their hair. The two oldest boys do their personal Bible reading during downtimes. Solomon is reading through the Bible in one year for the second time, and Isaac is reading through the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs this year.
- Homeschooling - Once everyone is ready and done with their work, we start school. If we didn't already listen to the Bible on mp3 during breakfast, I will start by reading the Bible to the kids. Then, until lunch, I work with the oldest 3 on their core subjects - English, Spelling, Math, Handwriting, and for John also Reading. Basically, it's a lot like juggling, and until lunchtime I don't really get much of a chance to breathe. This is definitely the most challenging time of day - trying to teach 3 grades at the same time, while keeping the two older girls busy, trying to engage Miriam in educational games, tending a baby, keeping the laundry churning, and dealing with unforeseen emergencies like broken dishes, diaper messes, and other fun stuff. Thankfully, Anna is usually asleep in the sling all morning.
- Lunch - We have lunch around noon or 12:30. We always eat leftovers from the previous night's dinner. It simply would not work time-wise to fix a separate lunch during our already busy mornings. I always cook enough to make it last for 2 meals for our family, and nobody seems to mind having leftovers. Well, unless its something they already didn't like the first time around, then they REALLY don't like seeing it again! :) The kids go play outside as soon as I start working on heating up and serving lunch, as well as rebooting the laundry and tending to other chores, which gives them about a half hour or so of a break to blow off some of their pent-up energy.
- Naptime / Quiet time - The girls all nap after lunch. I have a firm rule that anyone younger than 1st grade has to take a nap every day. Why first grade? Because once they are that old, they can work independently on quiet school work during nap time. Basically, one way or another, the kids all have to be kept quiet for an hour or two after lunch. I need this time to regroup, think quietly without interruption and plan the rest of my day, write grocery and errand lists, update our lesson plans, respond to business calls and emails, get started on dinner preparations, etc. During this time, the boys usually sit and read quietly, build puzzles, or do some art activity. Once they have done their daily allotted minimum for non-fiction reading on the current week's subjects, they can read whatever they want.
- Afternoon activities - Depending on what is going on that day, we might make a treat for snack time, do a craft relating to the current week's homeschool subjects, read out loud together, run errands/go shopping, or work on laundry. Hm, how many times can I use the word "laundry" in the same post? I guess with 3 to 4 loads per day (and about double that if any kids are sick and throwing up), we spend a lot of time on that. Anyhow. This week, for instance, we are learning about Maine. For a special activity during quiet time right now, the boys are making lighthouses and sandcastles from moon sand. Well, by now they have moved on to building more exciting stuff, like erupting volcanoes and knight castles. Later, when the girls are up, we will make whale mobiles. I do not give the kids a snack every afternoon, but most days, I do - especially if we are having to run errands. They love cut up fresh fruit, yogurt, sandwiches, crackers, pretzels, and other typical kid favorites. They also play outside for an hour or two every afternoon in between all this craziness. So, once the girls are up from their naps, there is again a lot going on, but by then I have the peace of knowing that bedtime is near!
- Dinner/Evening - We have dinner around 6 most nights. It takes the kids forever to finish because they talk so much at the table. Seriously, I read about people trying to get their family to talk at the dinner table - I am trying to figure out how to get them all to NOT talk for a spell. Around 7, it's bathtime for the girls and showers for the boys. They do not all bathe and shower every day, but we end up having bathtime most days for someone. The kids all do the typical stuff - putting on PJs, brushing their teeth, picking up their messes all over the house, etc. Hopefully, everyone is ready by 8 pm. We then do story time, something I enjoy as much as the kids. Depending on how tired I am and how long of a day it's been, I might read out loud to them for as long as an hour, but most nights it's closer to 20 or 30 minutes. Then it's "lights out and silence"! [Sigh of relief]
- Nighttime - I cannot go to bed unless the kitchen and living room are tidied up and swept. Not because I like cleaning, but because I don't like to get up to a mess when I have to hit the ground running every morning. It rarely takes me more than a half hour to do the dishes, clean the kitchen, straighten up the house, and turn the laundry on one final time. (There's that word again!) Not too bad. Then I sit down and enjoy a quiet evening by myself if my husband is not home, or if he is home we talk and hang out and play a board game if it's not too late and we are not too tired. Whenever the baby goes to sleep (and stays that way), I currently work on hanging laundry. It's actually quite relaxing to do that in my dark, quiet bedroom, with everyone fast asleep. I go to bed around midnight, with my batteries recharged enough to make it through the next day.
Over the years, I have learned to just take it one day at a time. I have also learned that really bad days are usually followed by really good days, and vice versa. And if it didn't get done today, it just wasn't meant to be. Prioritizing is key for me. For example, if I get behind on laundry (the last time I am using that word in this post, I promise), the pile will only get bigger and bigger. But no matter whether I mop every day or every week or every month, it still takes me the same amount of time to get the floors clean, no matter how long they had been neglected. So planned neglect is key. The years go by too fast to worry about whether or not the piano got dusted today (it didn't) - just please don't write in the dust if you happen to come over and you find it dirty. Chances are, it is.
Inevitably, writing this out will lead to my whole day falling apart now. It never fails. It is some unwritten universal law, much like putting away winter clothes, no matter how far into summer, always brings on winter weather. Or a stranger praising kids for how well-behaved they are is always followed by the parent being mortally embarrassed within minutes after the compliment.Wish me luck.