Maybe I’m subconsciously motivated to write about our routine when we’re on the cusp of change, but every time I hit publish on one of these day-in-the-life type posts I can almost guarantee there will be some sort of major shift coming. I know with cooler days and darker evenings fast approaching I’ll be re-evaluating once again very soon.
However, this is where we are right now. While writing this I had a typical weekday in mind (Saturdays and Sundays tend to be rather different) and considered only myself and the Agents (Hubby is gone 12-13 hours a day so he’s pretty much out of the weekday equation).
I like to be up by 6:00, but really I’m happy as long as it's no later than 7:00. Because we don’t have anywhere to be early in the morning, it doesn’t really matter and sometimes I’m just tired. (Of course there’s also days when I’m wide awake at 4:00 a.m. for whatever reason.) Agent E tends to be up between 7:00 and 7:30 most days; Agents J and A a little later. We don’t move particularly quick in the morning, so we all just kind of putter around, maybe read or play a game on the Kindle, until breakfast anyway. I try to start each day with some stretching (really brief, like 7-8 minutes) . . . it helps to wake me up and I don’t feel as stiff and sluggish. I drink coffee every morning. Because, coffee.
Mornings In vs. Mornings Out
We don’t make plans to be anywhere before 10:00. Ever. Early morning activities do not suit any of our personalities and I know from experience it just ain’t happening so we don’t even go there. When we do go out it might be for a park play date or a Target run or a trip to the children’s museum or a homeschool-related event. But it’s definitely not every day, or even most days. (Hello. This introvert would pop if we had an outside agenda every. single. day.) We’re usually back by lunch-ish time, or grab lunch out. On these days we need to condense morning and afternoon school (see below).
It didn’t occur to me until I went to write it down for this post, but we’ve developed a pretty consistent schedule for meals: breakfast at 9, lunch at 12, snack at 3, dinner at 6, snack at 9. They aren’t set in stone by any means. The Agents aren’t big breakfast eaters, so sometimes we move lunch a little earlier, but this is fairly accurate.
We do morning school and afternoon school here, and that seems to work out well. This plan is new this year, but I think it’s less pressure than trying to “get everything done” in one longer session.
Around 10:00 we work on math and language arts. Then sometimes Agent J (2nd) and I will do an exercise video while Agent E (4th) jumps rope outside (she just can’t get into the video workout thing). Agent A (K) will sometimes join in (for both the school part and the PE part) but often is just doing his own thing.
About 2:00 is afternoon school time, which is when we tackle all other subjects—geography, history, science, health, art, and music. Up until now we haven’t really had a set plan as far as what days we do which subjects, but I think we are heading in that direction. We sometimes practice a few yoga moves during this time, too.
Agent A is in kindergarten this year, although we don’t do any formal or structured work with him specifically. This is pretty much the approach we took with Agent J. He’s young (while he won’t turn five until November, technically he could have started public school this year because the age cut-off here is late) and our expectations take that into consideration. Still, he is reading beginning texts and learning to spell and doing some very basic math, so I think after a full year he’ll be ready to advance to first grade. But, there is no set time of day I think oh, time to read with A or time to break out the blocks or time to practice making letters. It just kind of happens.
All the Agents like to read. Okay, understatement. I would estimate 2 hours a day minimum (on fiction reading, and often in short spurts) but that’s probably low. Since creating our Goodreads account on 29 June (two days before our current school year began), they’ve read (or have had read to them, in the case of Agent A) over 250 books. Even eliminating Agent A’s titles, since most of his are understandably short, Agents E and J’s books total over 130. That doesn’t count the 60 plus books we read together specifically for school subjects (not counting our spine books).
Weather permitting we try to get outside to play twice a day. Usually this is after lunch (so around 1:00) and after dinner (around 7:00, although that will change soon). I consider this time to be a part of our school day, but what it “counts” as varies. Running laps around the house? PE. Painting in the yard to minimize mess? Art. Drawing letters and numbers in the driveway with chalk (Agent A)? Language arts. Playing with the kids across the street? Recess and social skills.
I’m a firm believer in moderation. I’m also not a fan of limiting screen time for the sake of limiting screen time. Truth: the whole subject of kids and screen time makes me bonkers and could probably be a whole post of its own. At any rate . . .
In an average day the Senior Agents will both use my laptop at some point, both for school and for fun. (I’m just now beginning to introduce Agent A to the concept of the keyboard and mouse and online games like the ones at PBS Kids. Maybe once a week or so.) The Agents also have a shared Kindle that they use for reading and games.
We’ve developed quite an interest in educational videos (both DVDs from the library and Netflix). Science and history seem to be our preferred topics lately. Among others, we’ve watched most of the Animal World and Disney Imagineering series as well as several Schoolhouse Rock titles. The Senior Agents have become enamored with science documentaries hosted by David Attenborough; Life of Mammals is a current favorite.
Agent A has his standby favorites as well: Super Why, Word World, The Hive (Agent J refers to it as that show with the British bees), Daniel Tiger, Blues Clues, and Caillou. His go-to show while the girls and I work on afternoon school in another room tends to be Word World, although sometimes he decides to join us instead.
Someone has to keep our house liveable, and usually that person is me. I find that the more I declutter, the less overwhelming daily cleaning is. This two-step plan keeps me on track. I also try to do mundane tasks at the same time each day (e.g., load/run the dishwasher after dinner, start laundry after bath time, fold clothes after breakfast) or on the same day each week (e.g., focus on the kitchen on Mondays, clean the bathrooms on Tuesdays).
Even when the Agents were infants, we could never get on board with the whole bath, pajamas, story, go to bed plan that seems to be so prevalent among parents of young children. We currently “do” bath time at 8:00, but that has evolved numerous times over the years. Afterward we often watch one of the aforementioned educational videos or Netflix shows, or sometimes a movie. We recently started re-watching the Harry Potter movies. (Agent E read all the books, and Agent J is currently on book three. We’ve all seen all the movies once.) We all go upstairs for bed around 9:45-10:00, sometimes sooner.
Putting It All Together
So if you add everything together into a daily schedule, a typical pattern might look like this: Momma awake, Agents awake, breakfast, morning school, lunch, outside time, afternoon school, dinner, outside time, bath, bed.
Of course that leaves a lot of wiggle room, especially in the afternoons between about 3:00 and 6:00, but really all day. And we like it that way, because it gives us just enough routine to feel comfortably predictable and just enough margin to keep things relaxed.