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I’ve always loved “Day in the Life” style blog posts. Getting a peek behind the scenes at how other people do life is always interesting.
And I’ve thought about writing them many times. But, I never have.
I wanted to share some tips for balancing homeschooling, work, and life, and thought this would be a fun format. So, I used the camera on my iPhone to capture some moments throughout the day back when I only had 8 kids. (I now have 9!)
Here’s a peek at a typical Monday for me.
Early Morning Marketing: 5:45-6:10 AM
My baby is cutting molars, and not sleeping well. After a rough night, I got him on the couch sleeping at 5. My four-year-old was also on the couch. He woke up wet in the middle of the night, and I told him to sleep there after I helped him clean up.
I was next to the baby for a while trying to sleep, until I realized trying to sleep was a futile effort with the two boys there. So I decided to get up for the day.
I used to try doing my quiet Bible study first thing in the morning. But, I kept falling back asleep or not remembering anything I read.
So now I spend a little bit of time waking up first. During this time, I do some social media marketing for my blog. Today I participated in a “Repin 10” post in a Facebook group, scrolled through Instagram, and did some manual Pinning.
Bible Study: 6:10-6:30 AM
I mixed up my gut health healing, energy giving pink drink, and sat at the table for some quiet Bible study. I’m currently working through a study guide on parenting, and today’s lesson was about motivating children.
At 6:30, I started getting ready for the day.
Cocoa & Snuggles 7:00-7:30
Most of the year, my husband takes a mug of hot cocoa to him with work. Some mornings I surprise the kids and make up a big pot of it for us all to enjoy.
Today was one of those days.
A couple of the kids helped me pack my husband’s lunch and get his breakfast cooked. He left for work at 7:15, and the kids and I enjoyed our cocoa while snuggling on the couch.
Mondays are laundry days around here. We wash all the extra laundry that built up over the weekends, and things like sheets and rugs.
The pile starts off huge, but we keep switching it whenever it’s ready. Then we pile it up on the table. Throughout the day we separate it into piles and fold it.
Then, after quiet time we all put it away.
Morning Meeting 7:30
Every morning the kids and I have a morning meetings. Some days it’s after breakfast, other days it’s before. Today was before.
Here’s the plan we decided on:
- Morning, table, and bathroom chores done by 9:00
- Bible Time and School
- Free time while I cook lunch
- Table Chores
- Ellie’s Game
- Family Writing Time
- Walk to the Creek
- Quiet Time
- Sibling Play Time/Snack
- 15 Minute Clean up & Laundry
- Free time while I cook dinner
It didn’t happen quite like this though, because life happened. You can read on to see what got dropped.
Chores Run Late
We were supposed to start Bible time and school at 9. But, it didn’t happen.
I was cleaning the bathtub for my bathroom chore when I realized the tub wasn’t draining very well. When you have only one bathroom and ten people using it, you really need everything to work!
So, I grabbed a screwdriver and the grabber thingies (they have a claw on the end for picking up stuff) and started removing gross hair from the drain.
After I got a bunch out, I decided to turn it into a science lesson. So I had the kids bring me baking soda and vinegar, and they gathered around.
Except, while getting the vinegar out of the cupboard, they knocked out the sesame oil. The lid cracked and it spilled. (It’s always something, so you’ve got to be prepared for interruptions!)
On a positive note, they cleaned up the mess. And, our house smelled like Chinese takeout for several hours.
Once everyone was in the bathroom, I made a volcano in the drain. It works a lot better now!
This is seriously one of my favorite parts of homeschooling. There’s so much learning in everyday situations if you just take time to share them.
Since we were running late, I knew something needed dropped from our schedule. After evaluating my work load, I decided to ditch Family Writing Time today. I really wanted to get the kids outside for a walk, and didn’t want to cut anything else.
Bible Time – 9:40
Each month we pick a new hymn to memorize. This month it’s The Old Rugged Cross.
My oldest plays the recorder for us. The other kids asked if they could play an instrument today too. I said yes. They created some interesting ones, including pots and pans with a spoon and banging lids together.
It was a bit loud in our house for a while. But, they had fun making a joyful noise.
Then we put the instruments away and worked through a lesson on the triumphal entry of Jesus.
We practiced the passage of scripture we are memorizing this year (1 Corinthians 15. We have 1-11 so far.)
After that we counted our blessings to finish Bible time and moved into school.
Homeschool Time – 10:00-11:30
The kids have some subjects they do independently, and others they need help with. My oldest gets up in the morning and starts, so by this dedicated school time, she’s nearly done.
I cycled through, helping everyone who needs it. I’m currently homeschooling kids in the following grades:
It’s a fun range of grades, and I move back and forth from geometry to the ABCs and some things in between.
I use a variety of materials for homeschooling. We don’t do a “boxed curriculum.”
But, we do love Teaching Textbooks for math from grades 3 and up. Math is not one of my strong subjects, so having the lectures and solutions to every problem has been a huge blessing.
I’m also a part of the Homeschool Review Crew, and frequently receive homeschool materials to review on my other blog. This variety helps keep things from getting too mundane.
This post details the strategies I use to balance homeschooling and working from home.
Client Call – 10:15-10:25
While the kids were working, one of my clients called. I stepped outside to walk around while I talked with her. I’m helping her get a Shopify store launched, so it was a good chance to connect on the last-minute details.
Then, I went back inside and jumped back into helping with school.
Lunch Prep/Free Time – 11:30
As the kids finish up their required schooling, they move into free time. They must play quietly until everyone is done. Often a bigger kid will take one of the younger ones out to the Lego Shack or to the playroom to play for a while.
After everyone is done, it’s officially free time.
During this time, they can’t use anything with a screen, but they can play/read/create.
Today, the middles and littles went outside to search in the barn for eggs. Our chickens don’t always lay them in the coop, especially as the weather turns to spring.
They found a couple, and Sydney tested them to see if they were good. If they float, they’re bad! These were all good.
While they played, I cooked lunch. Every Monday is stir-fry day. It’s a great meal to use up any leftover meat and vegetables. I just boil spaghetti noodles, add the cooked meat and veggies, and stir in some kind of sauce.
Some weeks I make a basic sweet-and-sour sauce. Other times I use mainly soy sauce with some garlic, ginger, and sesame oil. And somedays (like today) I just added some store-bought sweet-spicy sauce.
Lunch & Read Aloud & Table Chores – 12:00-12:45
When lunch was ready, everyone washed up and gathered around the table. I read aloud a chapter of On the Banks of Plum Creek.
I’ve struggled to find the best time to read aloud, but I love reading to the kids. Currently reading at lunch is working. I’ve also read aloud in the evenings.
At the end of the chapter, everyone finished eating. Then they did their table chores. Doing these three times a day helps keep our kitchen and dining room clean.
The current assignments (we keep the same chores for a year and will change in July) are:
Jayme (16): Unload the dishwasher & put food away
Jeff (9): Wipe table & chairs
Ellie (7): Load dishwasher & wipe coffee table (if used)
Sydney (6): Wipe dishwasher and oven
Simon (4): Wipe fridge
Brynna (3): Get a wet rag and wipe it on random surfaces
Bryson (1): Follow the broom around and try to eat the pile
Me: Wipe counters, sweep, & wash by hand
Ellie’s Game – 12:45-1:15
Mondays are Ellie’s day. That means she gets to pick what we do for family play time. Today, she wanted to play church and read through a play she wrote.
So we set up some chairs as pews, and listened to the story of Adam and Eve and Noah and the ark.
Then we sang some songs. After the closing prayer, it was time to read through Ellie’s play.
There’s a dragon, a queen, a knight, and a narrator. She printed it out once and color coded the speaking parts.
It was fun to listen to them read it!
After Ellie’s game, we found our shoes and got the wheelchair out of the back of the Suburban. It was time for some fresh air and exercise before quiet time!
Family Walk – 1:15- 2:00
Grouse Creek runs through the property, and is 1/5 of a mile down the county road. When we started off, I thought the road was the perfect condition for the wheelchair.
But, the sun had melted the frozen ground more than I anticipated and the chair kept sinking into the mud in some spots. It was an interesting walk. The mud made it take a lot longer than anticipated, but that’s okay. It was a beautiful day!
My baby is sure growing up. He loves wearing shoes and exploring outside. He walked the entire way down and all the way home. He was pretty muddy from tumbling by the time we made it back, so he got a quick bath inside.
On the way home, some of the kids climbed up the mountain on the side of our driveway. It’s so nice to see grass in some places after all the snow!
Everyone was definitely ready for quiet time after our time outside.
Quick Run to Chewelah – 2:00-2:45
My husband called and asked if I had time to bring him up another pair of contacts since his were causing trouble. So, I decided to cut into the start of quiet time a bit.
Four of the kids and I loaded up the Suburban and ran to town quickly at the beginning of quiet time.
I also brought him some cookies!
Do you know that game? One person starts with A and says:
A my name is Annie
My husband’s name is Al
We live in Alabama
Selling cartloads of apples
Except you can say whatever you want for the A words.
Then the next person does B. And so on.
I love playing games in the car! It makes the trip go so much faster, and keeps everyone in good spirits while traveling.
Work Time! – 2:45-4:00
Once I got back home, I made sure everyone was settled for quiet time. My teen had gotten the little one to sleep while I was gone, which was a huge blessing!
Then, it was time for some serious work. During this work period, I:
- Created and sent an invoice
- Wrote a blog post for a homeschooling blog and created the images.
- Responded to emails from the weekend
- Sorted through some images for this post
At 4:00, I closed my computer even though I still had work I’d love to get done. But, my time was up and it was time to focus on the kids again.
Snack & Sibling Play Time – 4:00-4:45
Snack on Mondays is usually Jello with fruit.
But, my mom brought over some leftover birthday cake for us on Sunday. When you have cake available, you eat cake! 😀
The other kids paired up and:
- Played with Legos
- Watched a TV show
- Played Mario Chase on the Wii
During this time, Ellie and I headed outside. We walked up the mountain a bit and checked to see how muddy the path out behind the barn was. It was really muddy. Really, really muddy!
So we headed back to the yard and played a game of tetherball. It was also muddy there, so we stopped after one game.
We played a bit in our backyard “park” and then Ellie wanted to search for eggs. She’d heard a chicken earlier out behind the house, and she found seven eggs there. They were all good too!
We tackled afternoon farm chores and headed inside.
Clean Up & Laundry Away – 4:45-5:10
At the end of each day, we always do a 15 minute cleanup. It’s amazing how much you can get done in a short period of time.
We divide and conquer. Some of the kids clean upstairs and the rest of us do downstairs. Whichever team gets done first starts on laundry.
When laundry is put away, we make sure the rest of the table is cleared off for dinner.
Dinner Prep & Movie: 5:10-5:30
I have the kids watch a movie (or usually a TV show) while I cook dinner. This helps keep everyone calm.
Today’s dinner was super simple. It’s our American night.
One downside of an annual meal plan is that sometimes it feels a bit boring. So to mix things up this month, I asked each of the kids to pick a meal that fits their theme that they REALLY wanted to eat. It didn’t have to be something on our actual menu. Then, throughout the month, I’ve been mixing these special meals in.
Ellie picked corn dogs.
We also had tater tots, carrots, and Caesar salad.
So even though it’s not a typical meal we’d eat on Monday nights, it was a fun treat. And every once in a while switching things up helps everyone feel better.
The kids had permission to dress up for dinner tonight. That means they could decide to wear a costume, or just some fancy clothes. We had the privilege of dining with Queen Brynna.
(Notice her shiner – she and her sister were playing horse the other day and she got pulled into the corner of the coffee table :( )
Also joining us for dinner was a ballet dancer and a fancy dressed Ellie. The other kids opted out of dressing up.
After dinner, everyone pitched in for our final round of table chores. Then, it was family play time with Daddy.
We pushed the furniture out of the way and played a fun game of indoor soccer. Daddy’s team won, like normal.
It’s so much fun to play together without screens each evening!
Ready for Bed – 7:00-7:30
After soccer, we counted our blessings again. The kids changed into their jammies and brushed their teeth.
Then, we tucked them in.
Early bedtimes has been such a help in balancing everything.
Writing a Blog Post – 7:30-9:30
I normally only work for an hour after the kids are in bed, but this post took a little longer to write. Lots of images to deal with!
While I wrote, my husband rocked the baby to sleep and my oldest played a computer game. (She only earns this if she gets her 10,000 step goal during the day on her FitBit.)
Then, I got the post scheduled and spent some time with my husband before heading to bed.
Ways Our Schedule Helps Me Balance Work, Homeschooling, and Life
There are several key factors in finding time to balance everything. If you’re struggling to get it all done, perhaps one of these will help.
Plan of the Day
Each day is different. Sometimes we have doctor appointments or need to go shopping.
Other days I have a ton of work to do.
Or we have a science experiment to try.
It’s impossible for a single schedule to meet all of our needs. So, we create one each day. This gives everyone a voice, and lets us maximize our productivity.
Life happens. I didn’t plan on cleaning out the drain this morning, or having sesame oil spill in the kitchen.
But, those things happened. So, we had to deal with them.
It meant we had to drop one thing from our schedule. When this happened, I called a quick meeting and let everyone know. That way we were all on the same page again.
Teach your kids to be flexible. Then when life happens it won’t be the end of the world.
I need this longer chunk of time to work! Quiet time is when I get a good bit of my work done.
So no matter how crazy our days are, I always make sure to get Quiet Time on the schedule.
Annual Meal Plan & Chore Chart
By preplanning meals and chores, I don’t have to think much about them. It’s helped free up so much brain power and time.
What’s a Typical Day Like for You?
Thanks for sharing a day with my family! It’s kind of a crazy life, but I love it.
What’s a typical day like for your family? Please feel free to share in the comments.
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Lisa Tanner is a former teacher turned homeschooling mom with 11 kids. She's also a successful freelance writer. Lisa enjoys helping other busy moms find time to start and grow a side hustle of their own.