Once in a while, while organizing a drawer or something, I’ll come across a crumpled piece of notebook paper, covered with some sort of philosophical role-determining (in one, I saw that a year or so ago I had I determined that I am responsible for a) health, in all aspects, which means I cook and provide healthy food and encourage exercise and hobbies and skill-building and supplement-taking and relaxation and hymn-singing and Bible-reading for all of my family and, among other things, b) chronicling the life and times of the family, which includes blogging and photo taking but which really should also include doing something with the thousands of pictures, and a bunch of other things toward which I am or am not naturally inclined but which I do truly believe are my role as wife and mother) or party-planning lists (ugh, I’m no Carrie Q.), or school-routine-figuring out.
I just found the list I’d scribbled a few weeks ago when school snuck up on me and I was feeling that panic rise like bile in the back of my throat and I was feeling like, how am I ever going to fit in all the new subjects for my poor boys? How are we going to do it all?!
So I’d sat down and wrote the names of my kids at the top of the list and then the subjects I wanted to cover and made up a few more of my time-chunk names (y’all are long familiar with Morning Routine and Quiet Time and Tablet Time, but meet Happy Hour and Power Hour [lol]) in which to do them.
So. My day goes as follows: (Provided, of course, that I don’t have to go into the dentist in the middle of the morning for the third repair of a broken filling, like yesterday. I hereby announce my intentions to treat my mornings as an actual job and not plan anything before one o’clock. I’m sticking to this! It’s too difficult to accomplish all of the school and the chores and the food and the dishes any time before that.)
6:15 Toni comes into bed with me for a quick snuggle before she goes back to sleep, hopefully for an hour or two, if I’m lucky!
6:30 I get up and start making coffee, pop pre-made eggs into the toaster oven to heat up, and assemble Jarret’s lunch from leftovers, any veggies I can find, a week’s worth of jars of Muffin in a Mug mix, and make sure he has his supplements ready. At some point he comes in and pitches in, creaming our coffee and grabbing plates and forks for breakfast. We don’t talk much, but there’s an unconscionable amount of flirting despite the fact that I look a wreck.
7:00 He’s out the door with his large red and white lunchbox, laptop bag, water bottle, and a huge grin. I eke out a little time in my recliner with my coffee and my breakfast but I try to force myself out of my chair the minute a kid comes around (except for Tabi, who is currently reading quietly on the couch beside me) and wants to start doing school. Have you noticed I’ve barely been on Facebook lately? This is so good for me and my kids (I’ve been massively convicted at my terrible example of technoreliance, so I’m really trying to work on this and school has been admirably keeping me busy enough that I don’t really miss it.)
7:30 There’s usually somebody in the dining room pulling out a binder or two, so I bring my water and my coffee into the dining room and settle in to answer any questions. First, I fill four glasses with a little magnesium drink and set a probiotic and a skate liver oil pill next to the kids’ places at the table. These supplements, which we’d neglected for a few months, took our kids from constantly fighting in the back of the van to a more normal amount of sibling scrappiness and, I think, help my boys think well. Thank God I remembered them for my own issues right before school started! The more behavioral leg-ups we can get, the better!
I also write the date on the whiteboard, along with a “fun fact” ;) Lol. Anything to make school special in my new fun-mom persona.
7:30ish-11:00ish We all hang out at the dining room table, everybody working their way down the list inserted in the front of their binder and marking each item off with an eraseable whiteboard marker when it is complete: Grammar, Spelling, Cursive, Math (Abel’s Math is on the living room computer, so he disappears for a while and I hear the voice of the teacher and, even though Math is my favorite subject to teach, it gives me a good feeling that there’s a secondary approach that may fill in his gaps), Bible, and Writing. (Ah, Writing. I will talk about you in a future post.)
At some point, Abel is done and he puts his binder onto the School Cabinet to indicate that I need to check it over to give him permission to go have his Tablet Time. I flip through to each subject and quickly correct it, then scan the list and verbally ask him if he’s done the various chores and school subjects on it, then set him loose for his hour of Tablet Time.
This frees me up to have only three people inquiring one thousand things and I can give Lachlan and Tabi and Noria any one-on-one time they may require. For Noria, I just write something cute in her notebook (“Honoria”, with a heart over the i, which causes her to take in a sharp and very pleased gasp when she sees its beauty and then she copies it rather well and proudly) or have her read something out of 100 Easy Lessons. I’m also dealing with Toni at this point (although Noria’s new chore is to play with her in the living room, which works for maybe forty minutes, so it’s not nothing) and trying to do some dishes and maybe pop something into the crock pot and keep the laundry rolling, because certain individuals need reminding on their chores about a thousand times and may have somehow gotten inexorably drawn into the living room and are now watching over their brother’s shoulder when they should be working, so I have to call them back and subtract time. It’s pretty chaotic but also fulfilling.
So then at some point it’s lunch time and then after we finish and clean up (I mostly clean up, it’s not in their chore expectations), it’s Quiet Time from, say, 12:30 to 2:30, and I need to make sure I’m rather stern about that because my brain is definitely needing some downtime, some no-decisions-time, some no-thinking, or, rather, thinking-without-distraction, before we launch into Happy Hour, which was my genius way to add in Science and History and IEW without overloading the boys who’d been used to a school load only as large as the Morning Routine I already described. By splitting it up, I figured, we would all be excited to come back together for some more learning. Plus, I figured, this would be at the time of day where the light fades and I feel slightly depressed, so a little tea, some books, a fire, and some cozy living room hanging out would be nice.
I was right.
So, Happy Hour is an hour or two after Quiet Time, and we do History on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and Science on the T’s. I am deliberately choosing to do typical textbook Science and History with them this year but never felt that these electives were necessary before my boys had gained the reading and writing proficiency they finally have. The three R skills before all the rest! So I’m feeling happy to see that the last two years have gotten them up to where they need to be and I can add in the fun stuff carefully and Noria and Tabi aren’t expected to have anything like this many subjects.
We will have a homeschool coop starting up in a while, which would provide a fun outing on alternating Thursday afternoons, so Thursday’s Happy Hour may be at lunch time.
Then Free Time, then Dinner, then Dinner Chores, then more Free Time, then bed.
Actually, two of the nights I have Zumba, so we eat and leave and meet Jarret at the gym for an hour’s workout and then get home in time for dessert and a nice early bedtime.
It’s working out well, provided I don’t plan too many (read: any) morning outings!
Oh, and Power Hour is supposed to be some sort of exercise time. Hasn’t really happened yet but I feel like the name is sufficiently geeky enough to fit in with the rest. ;)