Another Day in the Life

In September of every year, my inbox fills up with requests from fellow homeschooling moms who all want to know one thing: What does your daily routine look like?
We all know the devil is in the details, but I like to think that God is in there, too. So today, I will swallow my pride and offer you a peek inside my windows (please don’t mind the mess). Here are the details of one recent Wednesday:

Wake to sound of husband’s alarm. Groan. Pray a Morning Offering. In that order.
7:30 Get dressed, head downstairs, make coffee, and start laundry. Spend ten minutes looking for my copy of Divine Intimacy. Find it in a storage bin filled with wooden blocks (it was a building foundation) and sit in living room reading while Dan is in the shower.
8:00 Make waffles (don’t be impressed — they’re frozen) and sausage (don’t be impressed — it’s microwavable) for Dan’s breakfast. Just before he heads out the door, give him a run-down of the day’s activities, including an orthodontist appointment and soccer practice. 
8:15 Random children make their way down the stairs. Charge one big kid with emptying the dishwasher and other big kids with getting breakfast for little ones as I change Danny’s diaper and dress him for the day. Say, “No computer until after your schoolwork is done!” approximately 37 times.
8:30 Whisper to oldest daughter that television can be used for preschoolers only as a last resort. Then, with my phone, coffee, and laptop, steal away upstairs to my room and lock the door for a weekly Faith & Family editorial meeting.
10:00 Return downstairs to find 1) husband home from work and teaching a math lesson to two oldest kids; 2) middle children working at a dining-room table buried beneath a mass of school books, crayons, and plates of half-eaten waffles; 3) little ones parked in front of PBS Kids
Call out “Last show!” and clear the table. 
10:15 Teach six-year-old her math lesson (“A dime is worth 10 cents. Yes, always. I don’t care what your brother told you, and next time check with me before you trade coins”). 
Correct eight-year-old’s handwriting (“A lowercase ‘p’ goes all the way down to the basement”). 
Give ten- and eleven-year-olds their geography assignment (“Volcanoes and mountains, islands and peninsulas . . . do you know the difference? I’m quizzing you in 20 minutes!”). 
Assure 13-year-old son that he does too have “feelings” about the poem we’ve read, and he can so describe those feelings in words. 300 of them. On paper. Right now.
Read 14-year-old’s religion paper, which she has e-mailed to me. It’s pretty good. Stew for just a moment about the DRE who has insisted that I drive this theology-studying 9th grader to a series of worthless religious education classes (don’t yell at me — I used to be a DRE. I know exactly what these classes are like) in order to be confirmed next year. 
11:00 Pour another cup of coffee and listen to eight-year-old read aloud from Frog and Toad Are Friends and then six-year-old read aloud from a fairy-princess library book. Read from a children’s Bible (“God’s Promise to Abraham”) to the four youngest kids.
11:30 Move laundry from washer to dryer and throw in another load. Glance at the clothesline and feel just a little bit guilty for running the dryer on a sunny, breezy, fall day. Pick up socks from living room floor, hang up towels in the bathroom, break up bickering preschoolers, and load the dishwasher with sticky plates until the feeling passes.
11:45 Grow weary of the kids asking, “When’s lunch?” “Is it lunchtime yet?” and “Are we ever going to eat again?” and announce that it is indeed lunchtime. Charge second daughter with making macaroni and cheese and everyone else with clearing the dining room table and picking up the three-dozen matchbox cars that “Not Me” has strewn across the living room floor.
11:46 Offer apple slices, peanut-butter crackers, and cups of milk to starving children who cannot possibly wait for a pot of water to boil.
12:45 Assign after-lunch chores: Clearing table, filling dishwasher, sweeping dining room, sweeping living room, and sweeping stairs.
1:00 Confiscate a soccer ball and turn a deaf ear to all complaints as I help littlest boys put on shoes. Toss the ball onto the front lawn and hold the door open for them to follow it. The dog goes, too.
1:15 Older kids continue school work while I answer e-mails and check in with work online. Make sure everyone is playing nice in cyberspace. They are.
2:15 Dan arrives home on a break from work and I leave to take oldest daughter to an orthodontist appointment. Three-year-old Daniel comes along because he always asks to come with me and some day he won’t anymore, and the very thought of that makes me want to cry. Two middle boys come along, too . . . because there’s an Xbox in the waiting room.
3:45 Arrive home to find 1) Dan heading back to work, leaving a science assignment behind for the oldest kids; 2) ten-year-old daughter baking chocolate chip cookies; 3) a cold and wrinkled load of laundry sitting in the dryer. Re-start it for an additional 15 minutes and chastise myself about the electric bill.
4:30 Second son has soccer practice. Drop oldest daughter off at the library and bring other kids along to the practice field where they ride bikes, play tennis, and play on the playground. I push the three littlest kids on a tire swing, and they squeal with glee.
6:00 Arrive home just before Dan does, in time for dinner. Hmmm, dinner . . . this must be why some people swear by those crock pot things I’m always reading about in Woman’s Day.
Open the fridge, pull out leftover grilled chicken, and begin making sandwiches as if that were my plan all along. Console myself with the fact that we are not wasting food, I am using whole grain bread, and the lettuce almost certainly counts as a vegetable serving.
7:00 After we eat, I assign chores and showers and then take a phone call from a friend who is scheduling a book group. Wash little boys’ faces, hands, and feet in the bathroom sink and determine I can get away with skipping baths. Get them into pajamas and brush their teeth. Remind older kids to brush teeth, remind one boy to do his nebulized medications, and another to change his underwear (“Mo-om!”). Braid youngest daughter’s hair while older kids read stories to the little guys.
8:00 Family prayers and bedtime. Bedtime means children must go upstairs and keep quiet — reading, writing, or drawing. Lights won’t go out for at least another hour.
8:15 Do my weights workout in my room. Give up on keeping Daniel out and let him in so he can sit on the bed, watch me, and continually ask, “Is dat exercising, Mama? Is dat how you ‘posed to do it?”
9:00 Edit magazine articles, edit and schedule web stuff, choose topics and write up notes for a podcast, and answer e-mails in living room while Dan watches a baseball game. We chat, we work, we watch together. 
12:30 Take a shower and head to bed with Dan.
12:45 Attempt to pray a Memorare before I fall asleep. Don’t make it to the end. Know that Mary understands.


Danielle Bean, a mother of eight, is Editorial Director of Faith & Family. She is also author of My Cup of Tea: Musings of a Catholic Mom (Pauline 2005) and Mom to Mom, Day to Day: Advice and Support for Catholic Living (Pauline 2007). Her blog is a source of inspiration, encouragement, and support for Catholic women of all ages and life stages.

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