I’ve just read Celeste’s post about how proactively busy her homeschooling/homemaking day is. Incredible. I think I must have had that kind of energy at some point, but not in recent memory. She’s very pregnant too. And she’s not the only one. Frequently I read account’s of someone’s day, and I just don’t know how they do it.
My day, yesterday, just doesn’t seem to be nearly as productive.
OK, I was up at 420 am and went for a 30 minute run with the dog in the freezing cold. I don’t know any other bloggers who get up so early, and I’ll lord over you all what little superiority I may have in that one regard. Then it’s morning prayers with Bill before he leaves at 530 am, and computer time until about 630 am. Pete gets up at some point in there and joins me on the computer.
The next two hours are spent showering, getting dressed, eating, feeding children, squeezing in an occasional email, checking my calendar, pulling meat out of the freezer for supper, unloading the dishwasher, and searching for dry underwear for Jenny. I think I may have rotated the wet clothes into the dryer, but can’t swear it.
At 830, the kids are chased upstairs to get dressed while I look at the lesson plans and fill in a two-day checklist for each child. At 9 am, I call the boys down. Billy still isn’t dressed, but I tell him to come down anyway. He runs away. He gets sent (dragged) to my bathroom (the most boring room in the whole house) and told him he must stay there until he’s ready to comply with household SOP. I start school with Fritz, quickly running through the memory activities: states and capitals, Latin and Greek roots, his new poem, the list of dates from history he needs to know. I go up to check on Billy, and sure enough, he darts across the top of the stairs trying to return to the bathroom before I catch him. I go back downstairs and retrieve his clipboard, some pencils, a page with 5 sentences he needs to copy for his reading, and then 3 more pages. At the top of one, I write, “I’m sorry, God.” One another, I write, “I’m sorry, Mom.” And on the last, I write, “I will obey God and my mom.” I tell him to fill the three sheets with those sentences, copy his reading sentences, and then he’ll be “allowed” out to come out to finish his schoolwork.
I assist Fritz with whatever he’s working on, give him some additional instruction, and then turn to Katie. We do math, and her reading. We review the latest story from the Bible – Manna from Heaven – and she happily occupies herself with drawing a picture for the story: huge disks of bread falling on people’s heads.
Billy has completed his handwriting tasks and comes downstairs to do his math and other assignments. While I work with him, Fritz completes a few things and then goes off to do 10 minutes of piano. He’s working on a level 2A version of Fuer Elise and it sounds lovely. Around 1040 am, he is permitted to take recess. I don’t get recess though, because Billy doesn’t get recess. We sit and go through his schoolwork.
Just after 11 am, I call Fritz back to the table. We continue to blow through his list of assignments: science text, grammar lesson, reading out loud, math…oh, we don’t blow through math. He enjoys lingering over math, savoring every drawn out minute of his worksheet, seeing just how long he can prolong the pleasure of staring at those problems. I notice one section of three problems where it shows students how to add columns of numbers from left to right. I look at the teacher text, work the problem to get a feel for it, realize that after you total them left to right, you still have to add the final numbers right to left, and put a big X over the section telling him he will not learn how to do it that way. What stupidity. If I, an adult, had to quickly add a bunch of numbers, I would use Excel or a calculator. Or I would take my time and do it right. I just don’t see that this “shortcut” will do anything but add confusion. And I looked ahead in the text and they have no other problems like this in the next few weeks, so even they aren’t pushing the method. This is the third time I’ve disagreed with their methods given to teach students how to solve problems. Thank goodness math doesn’t intimidate me.
Around 1130 am, Pete is whiny and needs to go down for a nap. The boys have assignments. Everyone is instructed to be quiet and work. They know the drill. I take Petey upstairs. All I need is 10 minutes to put him down. Within 2 of them, I hear a party going on: laughing, running, playing. It takes an extra 5 minutes for Pete’s eyes to stay closed. I’m a little mad. The kids are chastised and returned to their seats where we finish the majority of the work by 1215 pm.
Yeah, break time! We have lunch, and the kids watch Nick Jr while I check email. At 1 pm, I tell them it’s time to go back to school, but they beg for an extra half hour of TV time. Since they are so far along, I tell them it’s OK, and I spend the next half hour entering receipts into Quicken and getting some bills paid. They return to school with little complaint and are done by 2 pm. However, Fritz needs to work on a report about extinct and endangered animals for cub scouts, so we head to the computer. We learn about the Carolina Parakeet (gone) and bats (6 species in the U.S. are endangered) and learn reasons why animals become extinct. We are thorough, because it is interesting, and this continues until 4 pm.
Fritz wants to play at friend Caleb’s house. He gets his watch, I set the alarm for 5 pm, and he takes his bike to go the two blocks. I clean up the kitchen and do basic domestic chores and finish my pot of tea. I planned to make pork chops, but realize the cooking time is over an hour, and I just can’t do it. This typical situation makes me want to kick myself. Quick switch to Tuesday’s planned food: chicken. Dinner’s almost ready, it’s 515 pm, and no Fritz. We eat at 530 with still no sign of him. At 540, I call Caleb’s house. He’s not there. He had come by at 4, but they were leaving to run errands. I call my friend two doors down: not there. I call the next likely spot another 3 houses down: why yes, he’s there and they’ll send him home. This is not the first time he “hasn’t heard” his alarm, nor is it the first time he has “forgotten” to call and tell me his change of locale, but it’s the first time he’s done them both at once. Yes, he’s grounded this week.
At 620 pm, a neighbor comes to take Billy to his scout meeting and at 645 another neighbor brings her kids over so she can go to our “town hall” meeting. The kids watch a movie while I clean up the kitchen. Billy returns at 720 pm, Bill gets home around 815 pm, and the neighbor gets back around 915 pm. The town hall meeting was pointless. “They” feel good about listening to our complaints, but do nothing to address them.
Except for watching my friend’s kids and my kids being up an hour later than normal, this is a typical day. And even though the kids went to bed late, they fell asleep immediately instead of bouncing around in their rooms for a half hour or more. The last thing I did before heading up to bed was to put dry clothes (unfolded) in a basket, wet clothes in the dryer, and dirty clothes in the washer. Some days I’m more on top of things like laundry or dinner prep, but usually schooling three kids fills my day so completely that household responsibilities are squeezed in at any available moment. If the breakfast dishes are in the dishwasher before lunch, it’s a real good day. If none of my kids run and hide when it’s school time, I consider myself lucky.
And if at the end of the day, I can lay my exhausted head on a pillow and can breathe a contented sigh knowing that I have taken care of all the truly important things and can optimistically hope to accomplish a few bonus things the next day and can be thankful for this labor that fills my day and tires my body but invigorates my soul, I know that I am blessed indeed.
And, praise God, that is most typical of all.