The picture you see above is not my desk. My desk is currently buried under a week’s worth of clean clothes waiting to be folded and put away. That steamy cup of coffee is also not mine. My coffee is almost always slugged back ice-cold, and I’m sure many of you fellow mamas can relate. Cold coffee and a pile of laundry are far from pin-able, but they are my reality. So are the twenty cryptic sticky notes obscuring half the kitchen table, where I actually do my work. And my favorite spot on the bench at my daughters’ gymnastics class–the one with the best wifi signal–that’s my reality too. Oh, and the king-sized bags under my eyes from burning the candle at both ends most of the time–those, too.
But I do so love this reality. I fought hard for it. I am in gratitude every single day that I get to work from home while homeschooling my girls. All the late nights and early mornings, the never-company-worthy apartment, the cold coffee, the sticky notes–they’re all worth it. And I wouldn’t trade them for anything. But homeschooling while working full time definitely comes with its own unique set of challenges–mainly the ability to pivot and vault like a ninja between tasks whenever (and wherever) I can.
I’d love to tell you about my organizational secrets, but I don’t possess any such things. I just keep everything I can as simple as possible, and try my best to compartmentalize my roles as homeschooling mama and working mama throughout the day.
Here’s what that usually looks like:
5:30am – I’m up, coffee is made, and I try to get as much done as humanly possible in the next two hours of precious silence. This is the golden time–my best bet for getting things done that require uninterrupted focus or mental clarity.
7:30am – The silence is over. I feed the girls breakfast while we do our morning basket. This includes songs, verses, picture studies, our Brave Writer books, and French lessons. Then they scamper off to dress and brush their teeth while I wrap up any last morning work tasks. For the next several hours, I do not look at my phone or check my email. I had to learn when to be tuned into my role as a homeschooler and when to be tuned into my work. They can coexist sometimes, but not all of the time. So I declared set hours when I was can only be in “homeschool mama” mode, and this helps me to stay present, be there for my girls, and enjoy my time with them.
8:30am – It’s “table time”–the part of our homeschooling day when we get through the daily essentials. This includes our short lessons in reading, math, and writing, followed by history or science. One of the reasons why the Charlotte Mason approach is such a good fit for our family is that we are able to enjoy many subjects, even on busy days, thanks to the use of short lessons on a variety of topics. This doesn’t always happen at the table. Sometimes it takes place on the living room floor, in front of the fireplace. Sometimes we do this work on a picnic blanket outside. Sometimes we snuggle up on my bed to do it. On the occasion that we are at the actual table, I usually light a candle and play quiet music to make it feel more cozy.
9:30am – Once table time is over, we’re ready for a fresh-air break so we head outside to play and walk. I try to make this happen every day, no matter the weather. Of course, some days it’s just not possible. However, everyone’s moods are always better, and there’s less bickering and tears, if we’ve had outside time early in the day.
10:30am – My youngest has her gymnastics class. My oldest and I snuggle in the stands while I read to her. We usually read the stories from our language arts curriculum (Blossom and Root First Grade: The Stories We Tell) during this time.
11:30am – While the girls eat lunch, I check my emails, squeeze in some graphic design, or work on lighter tasks that don’t require supreme focus. I also usually try to get some tidying up done at this time. One of the benefits of living in a small apartment is that it doesn’t take long to clean it up…laundry excepted. 🙂
12:30pm – For the next few hours, I swing into “working mama” mode. The girls have the early afternoon to play, pursue interest-based learning, or to rest. This is a period that can be very productive for me, or one that can be filled with non-stop interruptions, depending on the day. My girls, like so many homeschoolers, are rather hobbit-like in their eating habits and somedays I swear I stop every forty-five minutes to make another snack for them. Somedays, if I’ve got a little wiggle-room, we use this time for field trips and more outdoor play instead.
3:30pm – It’s time to switch back to “homeschool mama” mode. I shut down my computer and we do whatever’s on the list for the day’s afternoon lesson. Sometimes that’s nature study, sometimes geography, sometimes STEM activities. We usually start this session with a snack or poetry teatime.
4:30pm – Up next is one of my favorite times of the day. I call it our “heart loop” or our “hands and heart” time of the day. We bake, do handicrafts, make beeswax sculptures, do seasonal projects, watch movies, do an art project, or complete a SQUILT music lesson. This time of the day is the most peaceful and relaxing.
5:30pm – Time for some more fresh air. I learned when the girls were very small that late afternoon sunlight and fresh air made our evenings run smoother and helped them to sleep better at night. We try to get in at least a half-hour of walking or free-play before dinner. After we eat, it’s time to get my oldest ready for her gymnastics class.
7:00pm – While my oldest does her class, my youngest plays on the iPad next to me while I work. It’s deafeningly loud in the gymnasium during evening classes, but I’m usually able to get a good amount of work done anyway.
8:20pm – The girls get ready for bed, and we do our bedtime basket. This usually includes readings related to geography and history, as well as library books the girls have chosen. We always end the night with lullabies.
9:00pm – With the girls in bed, it’s time for me to get back to work. I finish up any lingering tasks from the day before calling it a night around 11pm.
Not every day is quite this intense. My daughters spend one full day each week with my parents, and that’s the day I plan to do most of the big projects for work. They only have gymnastics twice per week, and Blake attends a homeschool enrichment program once a week. I try my best to keep weekends as work-free as possible (other than early mornings.) My husband and I watch movies or play games at least one night per week, so I always take that night off, too.
Take a peek at more day-in-the-life posts from iHomeschool Network’s Back-to-School blog hop! Click here to read more posts!
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