A Day in the Life….for Now

Sometimes when people find out that I have four kids with one on the way and homeschool, they think that I am some sort of super woman or super-organized or something.  The truth is that I am not Super Woman.  In some areas of my life I am very organized, and in others I’m a total mess.  Most of the time I am just surviving by the grace of God.

Just like everyone else, I have ebbs and flows of competency in the main three aspects of my vocation (housework, homeschooling, and childcare).  There are periods (sometimes long ones) when I am so tired from being pregnant, dealing with a newborn, or just the physical/emotional weariness that comes from caring for young children that if the basic school work gets done, we have a few clean clothes and a few clean dishes, and nothing growing on the floors and walls then that is bloody good enough.  Then there are other ,more productive, periods when the house stays relatively clean, we can do more interest-led learning studies, and I even have time to do special activities with the younger kids.

Since Lent began, we’ve developed a pretty good groove.  It helps that I am going through a period of not being especially tired, and my Lenten sacrifices have given me more discipline to do the things I should.  I thought I would share a little window into a day of my life…at least as it is right now.  The following pretty much describes the flow of my week days.

I usually hear Bailey’s alarm go off at 9:00.  Some mornings I continue to lie in bed until 9:15 unless Piper comes in to get me.  (The kids aren’t allowed to go downstairs in the morning until an adult deactivates the home alarm system.)  Then I go to the bathroom and brush my teeth.  I go into the girls’ room, turn off both of the fans, unplug the nightlight, and either pull the curtains back or turn on the light.  Then I remind Bailey to be downstairs by 10:00 and take the other girls on down.

When I get downstairs, I usually turn on the television for Sabrina and both of the computers in the kitchen/office area.  Then I put on my coffee water to boil, supervise Katie to the potty, and get chocolate milk for Piper, Katie, and Sabrina.  While I wait for my tea pot to whistle, I unload the dishwasher and/or switch out laundry.  Then I sit down with my coffee and do my morning devotions (morning prayers from Magnificat magazine and the daily meditation from Amy Welborn’s A Catholic Woman’s Book of Days) and make a list of my chore priorities for the day.

Once I’m done with my prayers and to-do list, I start setting out the girls’ schoolwork and working my way through the priority list.  If some of the chores on it need to be done upstairs then I save those for later in the day.  Once my priority list is mostly done, I go to my daily and weekly chore lists.  At 10:00 (or as close as possible) I kick everyone off the computers and switch the television to the classical music channel.  With the exception of schoolwork, it is screen-free time until at least noon.

Bailey normally has six subjects a day, and I expect her to take about an hour and a half to get through them.  There are several that she can do on her own, and I only need to be around to answer questions.  I usually have her do those first, and then we save things like spelling and anything that is discussion-based (such as history and religion) for last.

While Bailey is working on her assignments, I assist Piper with her kindergarten work, which I plan to only take fifteen to thirty minutes (math or reading lessons).  On a really good day I even have time to sit down and do about fifteen minutes of preschool work with Katie (learning to read and write her uppercase letters).

I know that sounds very organized on paper, but it is usually more like organized chaos.  For an hour and a half, I’m running around like crazy answering this question for Bailey, changing Sabrina’s diaper, getting a snack or puzzle or something for Katie, helping Piper when she is stuck on her reading computer program, switching out laundry, cleaning up a mess, dealing with a tantrum/attitude problem/frustration/arguing, going through my chore lists, making business calls, running upstairs to get dressed, and dealing with other unexpected issues.

Once Bailey is done with her schoolwork, then we have a group chore or lunch followed by group chores.  Usually this is something related to the Fly Ladies weekly Zones.  I have a list of chores for each zone with markings of what each kid is capable of doing to help.  Wiping down walls is a much needed thing that the kids normally enjoy doing.  They would rather scrub walls than the general kitchen/living room clean-up that we do on other days.

I wish I could say that lunch was some family-oriented affair where we all sit around the table eating some meal that I had pre-planned and prepared while discussing educational issues.  I tried that a few times, but it just does not work in my household.  I basically short-order cook for anyone who hasn’t already eaten something in the previous hour, and I throw something in the toaster oven for myself.

Usually by this time, it is past noon and screen-free time is over.  Then I start portioning out the television time and computer time (about 30-60 minutes at a time).  Sometimes the kids will play or watch something together.  At other times the odd person out will go play by herself or with Sabrina or look through books until her turn comes around.  Once everyone has had a fair shot at computer/television time then we take another screen break for a couple of hours.  I’ll freely admit that regulating the kids screen time is something I constantly struggle with, especially during the cold weather.

Other than to balance the checkbook or deal with some other business issue, most days I don’t get on the computer at all until my lunch time.  Sometimes I’ll check Facebook or my e-mail really quickly if I do have to balance the checkbook, but my no-comment-policy for Lent really keeps me from getting sucked in very much.  At lunch, I limit myself to about an hour at most to eat and play on the internet/watch television, then I get back to working on chores until it’s time to put Sabrina down for a nap around 2:00.  Sometimes I lay down with her the whole time.  Sometimes I come down after she’s asleep and take a snack and recreation break.  Sometimes I get back to doing chores.

After that point, though, things are fairly up in the air depending on what else we have going on, if I end up taking the kids outside, or how everyone is feeling.  We usually have dinner around 5:00, and then things get pretty up in the air again depending on who has an outside activity, if we do a family activity, or if we each just chill out doing our own things.  At 9:00 we start with bedtime snacks and getting ready for bed.  I take the older girls up to bed at 10:00 and leave them around 10:30 to read or talk quietly until they fall asleep.  Then I take the younger girls to the family bed with me.

Lest you think that I do everything all by myself, I should be clear that it helps that two of my kids are over the age of five.  They are able to do quite a few things for their selves and their younger sisters (even if they don’t always want to).  At the age of nine, Bailey is really a big help, especially when I need to go upstairs for a nap or shower.  For all of the times we butt heads over schoolwork, my days would really be a lot harder in some ways if she were away at school.

While my husband is not usually around for the majority of our schooling and chore time, he fully trusts and supports my educational efforts with the kids, and he stops to help with minor issues as he’s getting ready to head out the door for work.  In the evenings he is often taking care of some of the kids while I am running errands or taking another kid to a practice or class.  He stays downstairs with the younger two girls (often answering student e-mails or other work issues on the computer) while I put the older ones to bed, and a few nights a week he does the older girls’ routine.

And since October, I’ve also had my mother-in-law living with us.  She works full-time and is gone most of the day.  But there has been many a time when I’ve come back from an errand or appointment or nap to find that the living room or kitchen has been straightened up or the dishwasher loaded/unloaded or laundry switched out.  On her days off she often cooks me and the kids a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, biscuits, and gravy.  She also lets me borrow her car and watches some of the kids while I go run errands or just have some time to myself.

Like I said, this is a day in my life for now.  Our family is constantly changing as new babies are added, the other children get bigger and each go through their own developmental quirks, or the weather changes.  We just try roll with the punches that life throws at us.

With Lent ending this weekend I will have to determine if/how I am going to re-implement reading and commenting on blogs again without losing sight of my true priorities.  Warm weather is coming, which means adjusting for more trips outside for the kids to play with their friends (cutting into my chore and relaxation time).  And of course, all bets are off once baby #5 arrives in August.  🙂

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