Jen is a working mum of two high-school aged kids. Here she shares what a working and non-working day look like in her house. Take a look at the excellent articles and resources on her blog at Practical, By Default, or follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest.
Homeschooling looks different for every family. When I sat down to write my day in the life..…I almost didn’t. Why?
Because my “day” is never the same. My schedule changes each week. I thought, no one will want to read this. However, after some thinking, I realized this is exactly why I need to write this. I can’t be the only one homeschooling and working with a super changeable schedule. So sit back and visit my house today.
The “Ever Changing” Schedule
I work in retail, and I work a flexible or changeable schedule. I typically work 5 out of 7 days a week. However, the shifts can be 5 hours or 7.5 hours. I never know what I am working until 2-3 days before the new “week” begins. So one week can look like this:
Sunday 12-5, Monday 1-9, Tuesday off, Wednesday 9:15-2:15, Thursday 4-9, Friday off, Saturday 11-6.
The next week can be completely different. And did I mention sometimes they text me the day before and ask me to come in early or stay late? Which is great cash-wise, but life-wise…not so much.
Therefore, as thankful as I am to have my job, and I do love aspects of it, it can be very challenging. How do you plan? I can’t say, ‘well on Monday we will do this from such and such a time to such and such a time’.
Being a family that really prefers schedules and plans, going back to work was a major adjustment for us.
One way we have adjusted was changing to a 4-day rotating schedule, where the children do whatever “day” comes next. If I am home with them, they do English (Writing with Skill) as this is the one subject they need me for. On days I am not with them, they can do most work independently and I check it/mark it when I get home.
Is this what I wanted when I started homeschooling? Is this what I envisioned for our journey? No, but as you have probably discovered even the most well-laid plans sometimes need to be changed due to circumstances.
Day at home
When I get to spend an entire day at home it’s like a mini paradise for me. I relish and look forward to this time all week. I also guard this time-I try not to book things or let things cut into our day. This is really hard to do, but we need this time.
Let me show you what a “day at home” looks like:
6:30-6:45 – I wake up and stumble out of bed, and head for the coffee pot. My husband is already up and on the couch, drinking coffee. I join him. I’d love to state this is where our deep heartfelt conversations take place, but honestly, we just enjoy the quiet time. I read my bible, read anything else and soak in the peace. Usually, Max has decided he needs to curl up too, and the cats fight/play on the floor in front of me.
7:00 – Hubby leaves for work and I grab coffee number 2 and my laptop. We have a beautiful desk set up for this, however, Cleo the cat has claimed it and I am pretty sure I am not getting it back. So back to my trusty couch, with blankets. I settle in to check to make sure my blog still exists and check my 30+ emails that have ventured into my in-box during the night. I check the ones I know I don’t have to take action on, usually other blogs I am following and share/pin anything I think you all would enjoy or that I want to read later.
7:30 AM – If it is a school day the kids stumble out of bed (can you tell morning time is not our favorite?) They come out and give me a morning hug. My son grabs the bathroom and gets started on his morning routine. He will clean up, feed the cats, make his breakfast (cereal and toast), get dressed and start school. This takes him well over an hour.
My daughter, on the other hand, curls up under the remaining blanket and acts like the morning is her enemy and wants to hide. She is my sleeper – if there is no school and no reason to wake her, she can sleep well past noon. I often check her to make sure she is breathing but she has always been like this. Since she was 6, not when she was little of course, when her momma needed sleep…
After some snuggling and exclaiming the day should be cancelled she will stumble off to feed the dog, eat (cereal or a fried egg), get dressed and be ready to start school before her brother.
Sometime during the morning, we will meet at the table while everyone is eating. We read, discuss what we read and plan our day. We are all planners, so this helps us set the mood and expectations for the day.
8:30-9 – The children bring out their workboxes, and settle in at the table, each claiming half. One will grab the desktop computer and after checking their chart start to work. The other will stay at the table or grab their tablet and head off to their room to work.
I will start the dishwasher and laundry, and do a few other housework jobs. I might return to the couch to work on the things in my inbox that I need to do, plus i’ll be available to check English or listen as they tell me about something new they learned. For example, Google has Wilbur Scoville as the icon, which results in my son researching and telling me all about the different peppers, how hot they were and how ice cream up your nose helps. (don’t ask!)
10:00 – I work out. I tell the kids I am unavailable until I am done working out. Otherwise, I would never get it in. I usually set up in the living room, turn on an audio magazine or book and listen to that while working out.
11-11:30 – I grab my post-workout shake and sit down to check the school work that is complete, give a spelling test, review an English assignment etc.
12:00 – I grab my pre-made lunch containers and yell to the kids to grab lunch. They make their own unless I decide to do it. They love things they can pick at, like sandwich, crackers, fruit, yoghurt etc. Usually, we use up leftovers for lunches. Nothing goes to waste. We catch up and see what’s left to do after the break. I try to make them take 20-30 minutes break but they prefer to just work right after they eat.
After lunch I assign one “chore” for the day, I try alternating to teach them things they should know but on “full” school days, I usually pick quicker ones, eg. fill the wood bin and/or scoop kitty litter. They will sometimes choose to do that and finish up school. They must be done by 5 pm but most days they are done by 3-3.30.
After lunch – I continue to work on housework, school, and study/read. I quickly check my social media accounts and email.
Around 3:30 – I start planning supper and reload/empty the dishes. When the children have finished “school” they start the fun stuff-which in my opinion is where the real learning begins.
They head outside to explore or C heads for the desktop to work on his stories. He plays with Photoshop, writing, editing, source coding etc.
Dewi grabs her art and sits at the table to draw, paint, polymer clay or whatever has her attention this week. She has yet to find her zone and so loves to experiment. Or she will grab a book, make hot chocolate and cuddle up on the couch with Max to read.
I continue to cook and talk to the kids. Sometimes if I feel I need more time with one of them, I will enlist help for cooking. They are usually pretty good about helping.
Supper time – this varies, and afterward, all work is done. I wipe off the table and leave the rest. Tomorrow is another day. We pack up lunches/leftovers.
This is when showers are taken, and hobbies are picked up. Kids wander off to play, and I settle in to write. I will usually work on the current course I am taking, write a blog post, design, and work on the images and the other millions of things to do. I grab a snack and tea and work until 9:30.
If I have most done, and need a break, I will bring out Even Steven’s Odd. It is the only board game we all absolutely love. Even as I bring it down, little voices will ask, “What are you doing?” Sneaky, like they don’t know!
10:00 – this tired momma is ready for bed. The kids don’t have a bed time, so I give them “good night hugs” and remind them to brush their teeth, etc. They will head to bed shortly after finishing whatever they are doing, then read for 30 minutes.
The day never goes as planned, something usually hops up. If we have the car that day, we try to head for the library, park or playground for a change of pace. In the winter, they go skating and /or sledding if possible. We try to enjoy the seasons while they are here.
On days I work our schedule is different. It follows this basic pattern depending on the time I work.
Day Shift Schedule:
7:00 – I drive hubby to work so I can have the car, unless he can get a ride.
7:30 – Everyone is up and eating breakfast. We read, discuss what we read and plan our day. I let them know what my shift is, and what time we are leaving the house. If I work later than 9:00 then we try to get English out of the way for the day. They will print off any sheets they need.
They pack their backpacks, and double-check to make sure they have tablets charged, textbooks, workbooks, and anything else. We load into the car and head to Nanny’s house.
I am very happy they have somewhere to go that they enjoy. They get to spend time with Nanny and it is a real easing of my mind.
They will unpack and work on school until no later than 3 pm, depending on if I have a long day or short. Then they head outside. They really like to play outside or go for walks.
I pick them up after work, and they chat about the day on the way home. After not seeing them all day I am hungry for details and time to spend with them, but once they are home poof! Gone! Perhaps it is just my kids, but after being away from home, even just an hour, they love to head to their quiet bedrooms and chill. Lego, drawing, writing or reading all make for downtime.
After work (anywhere from 7:30 pm onward) – Hubby and I make supper and clean while it is cooking, filling each other in on how the day went. We plan the next day’s events and make lunches.
After supper the kids empty or fill the dishwasher and feed the dog. Then they chill in the living room if it is not too late, and fill me in on what they did for school that day sharing interesting facts they learned, or putting their marks in my Homeschool Helper app.
We each chill reading, writing, until 10-10:30 pm then off to bed.
Night Shift Changes:
If I work a night shift, we follow the same basic schedule with getting as much school done before I go as possible and calling it a half day! They get to play, discover and visit with Nanny for the afternoon. Then daddy picks them up after work and they help clean/cook and who knows what until they come pick me up at 9. We catch up on the day, snack and tea, then off to bed.
Its hectic, juggling, messy and crazy and never finished. This doesn’t even include grocery shopping, errands, appointments and volunteer days. But it is also a blessing, and a journey I would not change for the world. We choose to homeschool and it really does touch every aspect of our day. I love that the children learn in and out of “school” day.
I hope you enjoyed this peek into our lives. You can homeschool and work outside the home, you just need to find what works for you. Sometimes what works one day, just doesn’t work the next. We have realised that for us, the key is communication, planning and being flexible.
Thanks for reading.
Thank you so much for the feature! As hard as this was to write, I hope some encouragement can be found. Homeschooling is so flexible!
Thanks for sharing Jen, I appreciate it! (and sorry for missing this until now, how did that happen?!)
Hey Kelly, no worries life happens 🙂
Love the detail in this post, very much gives a realistic view of the day and how quickly time goes and the need to be organized. I’m working on using my day planner more and noting down what i do with my time to hold myself accountable and identify time wasters 😉 Im a person who does well on structre too. 🙂 Thanks for sharing a peek into your family life!
Thanks for reading. I appreciate Kelly sharing my story with you and her readers:) using a planner is hard isn’t it? I am so glad that you stopped by.
Great idea using a planner as a time tracker! I’ve started using an app that records the time I spend on my strictly productive tasks, and i’ve been surprised by how little I manage to add to it because of all the other necessary-but-not-very-productive tasks (life would be easier if we didn’t need to eat so often). Thanks for reading!