Thursday, 5 May 2016

A day in the life of...

I'm not sure where to start generally. My days never really "start" or "end" .. they all kind of blur together.

Generally speaking, unless I've been up during the night, I'm awake between 6:30 and 7 am. That doesn't mean I'm up. I am NOT a morning person. My lack of morning skills are legendary in my family. My mother, if she were to read this, would probably be shocked to hear that I'm regularly awake this early, but yes. I am.

I spend the first hour of my day reading. This is probably no surprise to anyone who knows me, of course. I generally am reading some of the non-fiction books I have stacked on my nighttable. I limit myself to one chapter, mostly because I don't want to get distracted and get behind schedule. I also will write in my journal, and then check on my messages and my planner, making notes as to what I need to do that day. This helps me check in on my time, and on what I need to wear (and my children's clothes) for the day. If we're going to a friend's house, or shopping, or on a nature walk or to any of the extracurriculars that we regularly do, we need to dress appropriately.

By 8 am, my children are awake and dressing. They may awaken before, but I've trained them that they are not to be out of bed before 8 am. This ensures that those who need a little more sleep have the opportunity to get it, and that I get my needed time to wake up slowly.

My oldest daughter is usually awake and dressed by then, and will check in with me on breakfast or if I need her to help with a younger sibling. She often makes breakfast for her sisters, while I am doing hair (5 girls!! lots of pony tails and braids and barrettes and hairbands) and starting some chores. As the girls get older, it's becoming easier and easier to delegate chores in the mornings, and I'm really liking this! But I still do some things myself, if only because small children can often miss things that really do need to be done.

By 9 am, the children are eating, and I'll often shower and dress and take some time for myself -- for little things like putting on lotion or make up. Even if I don't have plans to go out, I find I feel better about myself if I at least have my skin lotioned and eyeliner on, and my hair pulled back into a barrette or elastic. The girls and I will divy up the morning chores, and (with probably too much noise), we get things done. I use The Motivated Moms housework planner to keep us on track. You can find that here. I prefer the paper version, and I generally write down in my PlannerPad the chores specific to me and my house, when I do my seasonal planning.

After chores, we have a variety of activities, depending on the season and the day. This spring, we are spending a lot of time outdoors! Once a week, if the weather is nice enough, we participate in a storytime and nature walk put on by the local community centre. Another day every week we have a playdate, either with a local homeschool group, or another family.  The other mornings we either are playing inside (on rainy days) or the girls go out to the backyard to play. I will get myself breakfast around 10:30 am while they play, and get some work done on one of my various projects, and then afterwards, I'm either working on a house project (such as organizing my basement storage room, planning for homeschool, switching clothes over seasonally, organizing closets, planning birthday parties or presents, decorating or any other house-type or school-type thing), or if we're outside, I go out and do yardwork. I love to garden, and this year I get to have a large vegetable garden and flower beds again!!

We break for lunch, and while the girls clean up, change clothes if necessary, I'll make lunch. I love this part of homeschooling -- we get to make home-cooked hot food for lunch often! We'll sit and eat as a family, and my girls giggle and ask questions about their activities for the day. After lunch I'll put those who are napping to bed while the rest clean up from lunch. Then it's time for school.

This is a relatively new routine for us, and personally, I'm loving it. We go downstairs (those napping are upstairs), and my girls all have their "spots" for school. My oldest has her desk, and she often will start school work in the morning before breakfast. Her bedroom is downstairs, and she likes to take advantage of the quiet in the morning, before her sisters wake up. She'll check with me on her work, and I'll give her instructions. My younger two, sometimes three, will work with me. I have a good mix of independent work and work that needs more help, so I work with each in turn, balancing it out. It works out most of the time, tho sometimes someone will have to wait their turn.

In between the girls working on their school work, I will work as well. Between my business, blogging and emails, I'm kept pretty busy! It's a good thing I know how to multitask!!

By about 4 o'clock, my princesses are mostly done their school for the day and the nappers are awake. One by one, they will be sent off to play. Most of their toys are in the room next to my office/school room, so I can keep an eye on the chaos. Occasionally I'll send one or two upstairs to play with a specific set of toys I have upstairs or to read books instead, to keep down the noise and distraction. I'll finish up with the last ones to do school and with my own work until about 5 pm.

Then I release my kids to free play, while I go upstairs and start supper. I have a weekly menu plan, and I shop weekly or monthly for groceries. I keep a running shopping list on my fridge and add to it as needed. I also keep blank menus on the fridge for ideas as they come to me (or if we skip a planned meal for whatever reason, I'll add it to another week's schedule). This solves the "what's for dinner?" confusion for me, because it's just there on the menu.  I plan a mix of "easy" and slightly more complicated, so if I'm feeling more tired than usual, or if a last minute change of plans happens, I can easily switch it up, and make sure I still have what I need on hand to feed my family.

About 15 minutes before I'm done making supper, I give the kids their 15 minute warning. That means they have 15 minutes to tidy up everything. All the toys, books, papers, blankets, stuffies, clothes, hats, boots, or anything else that may be out of place needs to be picked up and put away before supper. Even my youngest can help, and with only a little bit of squabbling it gets done. Then we have supper. I don't often have anyone set the table, because I will serve directly to plates from the stove and put that on the table. With so many little ones, it's just easier.

After supper, my oldest four clean up the kitchen. My oldest will do the dishes and put away the food, and the other three will clear the table, wipe it and the chairs down, and sweep the floor. They also take out recycling and compost, and put away anything that may have gotten missed in the 15 Minute Clean Up. I will take my youngest and start baths. One by one, everyone takes a bath or shower, brushes their teeth, puts on pjs, and picks out their clothes for the morning. Then we gather in the living room for cuddling and maybe a movie or a game. Sometimes we'll take a walk in the evening, depending on how nice it is outside.

 By 8 pm, it's time for bed. I head to my room, and get settled on my bed, while the girls pick out their stories. My youngest is first, and she comes in with her book. We cuddle and read a story and I'll sing her a song (usually a hymn), and then send her off to bed, to get settled and wait for me there. The others are supposed to be waiting their turn with their books on the couch in the living room, saying goodnight to each other and cleaning up from games and movies, but it often isn't all that quiet! One by one, again, we follow the routine of story and song, and then to bed. This is their last chance for drinks and to use the bathroom too.

My oldest will wait for me while I tuck in and kiss goodnight all my younger children. After I shut off the light and close the door, there is no more getting up or calling me back. Then I go out to our living room, and my oldest and I check the doors and lock everything up. We turn off the lights and turn on some lamps, and then we read a chapter book together. Or rather, I'm reading it to her, one chapter at a time.

Then she goes downstairs to use the bathroom and get settled, while I gather anything I need from upstairs for working later, and gather up a load of laundry to take with me. I tuck her in, and sometimes we talk a bit in her room. Then I shut off the light and close the door.

My day isn't over, obviously. I will do a load of laundry, and take the dry stuff that was sitting in my dryer from last night into my office. Then I will listen to podcasts (or my Blue Jays game -- Go Jays Go!!), catch up on my social media and blog stuff, and work while I'm folding laundry, marking school and checking my plan for the next day and week. I will work till about 10:30 pm. Then I take my folded laundry upstairs to my room.

I leave the basket in my room to put away in the morning (part of morning chores) and then check all doors and shut off all the lights. I brush my own teeth and take off my makeup, and I have a few little habits I like to do to pamper myself, like special lotions, music and my collection of comfy sleep shirts. I try to do something for myself every evening, and not feel guilty about it. Sometimes it's read a book, sometimes it's to sit and play video games on my phone, but I'll do something just for me for about 30 minutes, usually in my bed with just my lamp on. Then I'll turn off the lamp and put on my white noise to sleep.

And that's it. I fit in phone calls and appointments and diaper changes and discipline and interruptions all the other things of life around this basic routine. But honestly, if it isn't on my planner schedule, it usually doesn't get done. I rely so heavily on my planner (you can find what I use here) I call it my brain on paper. Between that and the alarms on my phone to remind me of the time, I can get most things done that need to be done every day. Plus maybe a bit extra. Of course, this is assuming I and everyone else stays healthy. Heaven help us if someone gets sick!! But we all take regular vitamins and since we aren't in school, we avoid most of the germs, thankfully.

Some days I don't even know how I manage to get everything done, to be honest. I just do it. If I think about it, or try to look ahead too much, I will get overwhelmed and then I can't do anything. So beyond the scheduled times for planning (weekly, seasonally, yearly), I don't think about what comes next too much. I have my plan. I work my plan. I add in when needed, and I drop things when I have to, but for the most part... we get it all done. Somehow.. by the grace of God!

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