As a homeschooling mother of eight kids, I hear my share of “How do you do it?,” and I usually don’t know how to answer. My life is just my life. But here, as a means of appeasing the curious, I offer this humbling peek inside a “normal” day for me.
5:15 — Wake up to baby Daniel crying. He nurses us both back to sleep.
7:30 — Wake up to alarm clock. Leave sleeping baby behind, make beds, get dressed, then make breakfast for husband Dan before starting a load of laundry.
8:00 — Dan leaves for work; baby wakes up. Change him and the two-year-old. Get breakfast: make coffee, pour cereal into bowls, and toast bagels. Explain a dozen different times that we are out of juice and I will buy some later, but for now it’s milk or water and you are not going to die.
8:35 — Kids get dressed, brush teeth, clear and wipe down table.
9:00 — Move laundry from washer to dryer, start next load, and school begins: Crayons and coloring books for the littlest kids. Oldest ones do literature, vocabulary, science reading, Greek mythology, and handwriting copywork. Middle ones do math practice, handwriting, poetry, and reading aloud. Small one does handwriting, phonics, and math workbook pages. I sit and listen to read-alouds, help when needed, and prevent the smaller children from killing themselves or each other.
10:25 — Suddenly realize that today is the baby’s check up appointment. At 11:00 a.m. And the pediatrician’s office is 25 minutes away.
10:26 — Panic.
10:30 — Shout for little kids to find shoes, wipe banana from baby’s face, and tell oldest daughter she will be in charge of two middle siblings. Move next load of laundry to the dryer, put in a third, and instruct middle daughter to “keep it all moving.”
10:35 — Put on nearest pair of shoes I can find both of and bring baby, next three littlest kids, and oldest son along for the ride.
10:45 — Refuse to obsess about the fact that I am wearing white socks with black shoes and focus instead on the fact that I am actually wearing earrings. Yes, earrings. Bask for just a moment in my own savvy style.
11:05 — Baby has an uneventful check up and shots.
11:45 — On the way home, stop to pick up juice and cinnamon rolls for the gang in the van who believe they have earned some kind of reward for doing me the favor of coming along.
12:00 — Arrive home to two kids who say they tried to call me to tell on the third kid but my phone was out of range. Ask if they tried calling their father. Um, no.
12:10 — Move another load of laundry, and then it’s lunchtime. Kids clear books from table and I reheat leftover pizza and cut it for little kids while older child makes macaroni and cheese.
12:45 — Drink Diet Coke and read e-mail while kids clean up lunch mess and take out reading books. Older kids who read aloud to smaller ones earn extra computer time.
2:00 — Nurse baby to sleep and put him in his bed. Fold three loads of laundry while six-year-old sits next to me with a book for “sounding out” practice. Some kids use computer, and others are still reading.
2:45 — Husband arrives home for a work break, gives out math assignments to a couple of slackers, and takes other kids out on errands while I put away three loads of laundry, clear off kitchen counters, put a giant batch of brownies in the oven, make a taco plan for dinner, and let some kids watch a DVD while I do some editing work.
3:55 — Dan drops off kids before returning to work. Make plans for an at-home “watch a movie with no working” date as he heads out the door.
4:30 — Sweep random floors, pick up random toys, make random phone calls, including some to those super-annoying health insurance people.
5:15 — Make taco dinner while baby clings to my legs, older kids finish math assignments, and others play/fight about a game of Chutes and Ladders.
6:10 — Dan arrives home, and family has dinner.
7:00 — Give out chores, which include: clearing/wiping down table, loading dishwasher, sweeping, cleaning bedrooms, and watching the baby.
7:20 — Catch little ones for pajama-ing and then let them run free while I lie on the couch next to Dan sharing smart, sarcastic, un-publishable thoughts about our day and the world around us.
7:45 — Kids brush teeth, and we say nighttime prayers together.
8:30 — All kids go to bed. Older ones are allowed reading time in their beds.
9:00 — Tidy kitchen, and then watch movie with Dan. (I won’t share the title because some might interpret it as a recommendation and, though I laughed till I cried, I would never recommend this movie to anyone I didn’t know.)
10:45 — Take a shower.
11:10 — Daniel is crying. Fetch him and nurse him while I answer e-mail, read news online, and read through and print agenda for next morning’s Faith & Family meeting.
12:10 — Start the dishwasher, and then Dan and I go to bed.
Tomorrow is another day.