One time an acquaintance I know (who doesn’t homeschool her kids) told me that she imagined the homeschooling life to be very relaxing, and she thought that we would have lots of time during our days to do whatever we wanted. [Can we add a laugh track here?]
On one hand, I think homeschooling is pretty awesome because we’re in charge of our time, and there is a freedom in this. However, to say it’s always relaxing or that we can do whatever we want is a myth. As my children get older, and as they become more dedicated to certain interests, I have found our free time shrinking. I look back with nostalgia on those days when I had a toddler and 1st grader. We had fun doing easy activities, going on playdates, and exploring nature and storybooks. Although it’s very hard work to take care of small children, the work I did with them wasn’t hard, and I got to pick what we did!
This past year I had a 4th grader and a 1st grader, and it was a great year, but it was different from past years. It felt more academic and regimented. This was mostly because my 4th grader has been devoting himself to learning classical piano in a competitive way. This is his thing, and he wants to do it. It’s been an awesome journey for all of us, but relaxing? With lots of free time? Nope.
With this in mind, I thought I’d write what my daily schedule looked like this year—the whole day. Although, it makes me feel a little exposed to write about this. Parents can be so judgmental, and simply writing a list doesn’t give you the real picture of our daily life.
Keep in mind that no two days are the same. Three days a week I took one of my sons to an appointment or two. Some days we would take a break from something or everything! At least once a month we’d have a play date. Weekends were free. Next year, our schedule may change. Our days are always in flux, but in general, this is our daily routine. It’s a routine that has developed to work around our obligations as well as our personal interests. For the most part, it is fun! But it’s also a lot of work!
The times listed are approximate start times, but we’re often running late on everything!
- 7:30ish a.m. I wake up. Read news, yoga, check e-mail, sometimes write.
- 8:30-9:00 a.m. Boys wake up. I fix them breakfast and eat with them. I may put laundry in. Do some dishes. We get dressed. Boys will play before we transition to lesson time.
- 10:00 a.m. Begin morning lessons. I try to read aloud to both boys for about 30 minutes. Then my 10-year-old works on math, grammar, music theory, etc. My 7-year-old gets to play while 10-year-old does one-on-one lessons with me. We usually do this until lunchtime.
- 12:00-12:30 p.m. Lunch time. Boys play while I make lunch. My husband joins us while we watch part of a nature, history, or science documentary. (He works from home.)
- 1:00-1:30 p.m. Clean up dishes. Boys help sweep & clear dishes. More “transitional” play.
- 1:30 p.m. Husband sits with my 10-year-old while he practices piano for at least an hour, sometimes more. I go upstairs to do one-on-one lessons with my 7-year-old. We do math, reading, handwriting, a science book readaloud, play games, and read about birds.
- 2:30 or 3:00 p.m. Whew. We’re all tired now. The boys watch a kids’ program and then play games on their digital tablets and/or computer. This is my 1~1.5 hours of free time when I might do any of the following: take a walk, nap, cook, bake, write, check social media, clean, more laundry (always laundry). I tend to rotate these activities and do what seems most pressing at the time.
- 4:00 p.m. Boys finish playing games and the 10-year-old will go outside to play. 7-year-old either plays inside with his toys or goes outside. If I haven’t already, I need to start thinking about dinner, but I usually put this off. I prefer to sit on the front porch and watch the boys play. Or I putter in the garden.
- 4:30 p.m. This is the time that my 7-year-old likes to practice piano. I sit and listen and/or run back and forth to kitchen while cooking dinner.
- 5:00 or 5:30 p.m. Dinner. Lately we’ve been watching Star Trek: The Next Generation together. This show starts lots of great conversations!
- 6:00 or 6:30 p.m. I do the dishes. Boys help clean up. More play.
- 6:30 or 7:00 p.m. My 10-year-old practices piano again for another hour. My husband is his audience again, and many times, I am too. But I usually go off with the 7-year-old to either play a game, sketch together or paint…. whatever he wants to do.
- 7:30 or 8:00p.m. Boys take showers & get ready for bed.
- 8:30-9:00p.m. Boys watch gaming YouTube videos. Eat snacks. I take my shower and get ready for bed. Then I curl up in bed and watch something on Masterpiece Theatre.
- 9:30ish p.m. Boys clean up and go upstairs. I read books to them. Daddy talks with them about their day.
- 10:15 p.m. Lights out for the boys. I retreat to my bed to read a book!
- 11:00 p.m. Lights out for me!
Does anyone else’s schedule resemble mine? Let’s commiserate/celebrate together!
SHELLI BOND PABIS is home | school | life magazine’s senior editor. She writes about her family’s homeschooling journey at www.mamaofletters.com.