This year we are homeschooling Moses (age 7) and Abigail (age 5). My husband, Nick, and I both work outside the home so our routine varies from day to day. Two days a week Nick works in the morning and I work in the evening, two days a week I'm solo with the kids from dawn till dusk, two days a week Nick works late so I drop the kids off with our superhero friend, Mary, before heading in to work, and one day a week we are all together. Today falls into the first category, so I'll be with the kids in the morning and hand the kids off to Nick in the afternoon.
6:30 AM Abigail comes into my room, babbling sleepily about a funny show she watched yesterday. I snuggle her under the covers with me for about a half hour until she is wide awake. Then I send her to find Dad. Nick is already up and getting ready for work. He makes a few pieces of toast with peanut butter and leaves them on the table in case the kids get hungry before I'm ready to feed them.
7:30 AM Nick leaves for work. I get up and head to the kitchen to make tea. Abigail is buzzing around the apartment playing with her stuffed animals. Moses has yet to make an appearance. He tends to stay hidden under the covers for as long as possible. I rouse him and herd the kids to the table to eat their toast.
8:00 AM Everyone has taken a few nibbles and dispersed to Moses's room to play Legos. They seem to be getting along, so I'm laying low in my room, drinking tea, reading and writing in my journal. As long as they are playing nicely, I'm not going to interrupt.
8:45 AM Abigail comes into my room and asks to listen to the Coco soundtrack on my phone. I tell her she can after she gets dressed and brushes her teeth. Five minutes later she comes back with half her clothes taken off and no new clothes on. She reports that she couldn't brush her teeth because the toothbrush tastes yucky. I suggest that she try using toothpaste and send her off to find some pants. She returns shortly, still no pants, but it seems she made an attempt at brushing. I hand over the phone and head to the bathroom to take a shower and get ready for the day.
9:15 AM The shower is interrupted by Moses bellowing “Get out of my room!” I usually try to let them resolve their own issues, but this seems to be escalating. Both kids fly through the bathroom door, screaming and pointing fingers. I tell them if they can't play quietly, they'll have to go outside. Our downstairs neighbor can only tolerate so much noise in the morning. They wander off to their own rooms.
9:30 AM I'm done in the bathroom. Moses is hoisting Abigail WWF style over his head and is about to body slam her onto the school room floor. She is loving it, but I sense we are dangerously close to inciting the wrath of our downstairs neighbor. I march Moses to the door and tell him to go out and run around the house three times and we will start school when he gets back inside. Abigail wants to go too, so I bundle her into snow pants (since she still has no pants on), boots, and a coat.
10:00 AM Everyone is back inside and we gather in the school room. I've learned that if I don't put out snacks and drinks everyone will start whining and wandering off immediately, so I plunk a bowl of fruit and a pack of string cheese on the table and get started.
10:05 AM We sing a version of the Lord's Prayer that they know from church. Actually, I sing. Badly. They stuff their faces with food, but they're reasonably quiet so we call it good.
10:10 AM We practice our Scripture memory. We are working on memorizing the Sermon on the Mount. So far we've got about ten verses down. I recite the verses, then ask Moses to say what he can remember. Meanwhile, Abigail is grabbing a piece of paper and markers, “How do you spell Abraham?” I tell her the letters one at a time as Moses drones on in the background.
10:15 AM Abraham is a nice segue way to our Bible reading. We are working our way through Genesis, so I move on to our reading from Genesis 18. Both kids are jumping on the couch now, banging off walls, floor and each other like pinballs. The noise level is quickly getting on my nerves. I tell them they can jump on the couch as long as they're quiet. They keep jumping, slightly more quietly. At the end of chapter 18 they beg for another chapter. I ask what they remember from this one. They both share something relevant. I read another chapter.
10:25 AM They are back to eating as I transition us to grammar. We've been learning the definitions of nouns, pronouns and verbs. Today our lesson is to read a short story that they've heard before, stopping at the end of each sentence so they can identify the pronouns. Fittingly the story is about two siblings squabbling. I read the first sentence and ask for pronouns. “Son!” No. “Asked!!” No. “He?!” Yes. I make a mental note to spend more time reviewing pronouns before we move forward with our grammar.
10:35 AM Next on the agenda is a hands-on math activity. We are supposed to be talking about the days of the week and making a chart of our favorite things to do on each day. Things are quickly deteriorating. Abigail is swinging back and forth by the door knob threatening to pull the door off its hinges. Moses is trying to sneak out of the room to play Legos. I call him back and he wanders off in the other direction looking for more food. I decide to scrap the math activity. I usher Abigail to the bathroom as she looks like she's about to have an accident on the rug. I get Moses more food.
10:40 AM I aim to spend some time with Moses everyday reading through a book that's slightly above his reading level. He reads one page aloud and I read the next, which gives me a chance to hear how his reading is progressing and correct any errors. Everyone is cold so I corral them in Moses's room and suggest we read his book on the bed so we can get warm under the covers. I insert myself between the two kids, prop the book up and remind Abigail to stay on her side. Moses starts to read. Abigail immediately throws herself out of the bed onto the floor. I tell Abigail to get back under the covers and I read my page.
10:45 AM Moses takes over as Abigail burrows under the covers and starts tickling Moses's feet. He is screaming and kicking. I tell Abigail if she can't lie still she will lose a piece of Halloween candy. I read another page. Abigail loses interest in the story and wanders off to build Legos. Moses stops reading to yell at her not to touch his Legos. I am rapidly losing steam. Abigail launches herself onto the bed and lands on Moses who is again screaming.
10:50 AM I haul Abigail out of Moses's room, take away a piece of her Halloween candy and tell her to stay in her room until I'm done reading with Moses. Blessedly she obeys, and Moses and I finally finish the book.
11:00 AM Everyone is ready for a break. Moses shuts himself up in his room to play Legos. Racking my brain to think of something that will keep Abigail occupied, I suggest that she take a bubble bath while I make lunch. She agrees, so I set her up in the tub with bubbles and toys.
11:05 AM Everyone is happy and entertained so I can take a deep breath and assess the chaos. Yesterday I spent three kid-free hours cleaning the house. Already it looks like a bomb went off. I try not to think about it. I wash dishes, make myself something to eat, put a load of laundry in, and tidy up the school room.
11:20 AM Abigail is out of the bath now, trailing water through the house. I dry her off and get her dressed. She and Moses start playing in her room. Everyone is happy. I continue cleaning up the kitchen.
11:30 AM Moses runs in howling. He has fallen off the bed and hit his back on the toy box. Abigail is hopping around and waving her arms, trying to make sure everyone knows that she is not responsible for his injury. I sit with Moses and try in vain to comfort him. Five minutes later he is still yelling. I carry all fifty pounds of him to his room, lay him on the bed and cover him with a blanket.
11:40 AM While I make grilled cheese sandwiches and microwave tomato soup, Abigail sits at the table listening to Coco songs on my phone and eating soup with a half-teaspoon measuring spoon (her choice). At least, I reason, it will take her longer to eat this way, even if it is making mess. She sings along in Spanish to the music. I wonder to myself if I can somehow count this as foreign language instruction.
12:15 PM The grilled cheese is ready at one end of the table. At the other end I've set up their history lesson with markers and colored pencils. The assignment is to color a page on Leif Erickson, write a caption for it and file it in their history notebook. I'm at the head of the table with a stack of picture books. Our lunch time routine is that they can either eat or work on their history page, but they have to stay at the table until I release them.
“I want Life of Fred!” Abigail shouts. I get up and go find Life of Fred. I sit back down.
“I want Dr. Dolittle!” says Moses. “Do you want to go get the book?” I ask. “No thank you, Mom,” he replies. At least he's polite. I go find Dr. Dolittle. I sit back down.
12:20 PM Both kids are coloring away. “I'm so happy for Fred I could break this pencil!” Abigail shrieks. I give her a withering look. “Maybe I'll just chew on it like a beaver,” she suggests. I ignore this and start reading.
12:30 PM I read a chapter of Life of Fred, a narrative-based curriculum that teaches math concepts through story. We talk about ordinal numbers. We try to count from first to tenth using ordinal numbers. Abigail gamely jumps in, “First, two-th, three-th...” Moses corrects her. We try again.
12:40 PM The kids want more Fred, but I'm trying to keep things moving, so I open a book on the respiratory system, our current topic of science study. Moses is dutifully coloring on his history page. Abigail is coloring her face with marker. I ignore this and start reading.
12:45 PM We read about the parts of the respiratory system. I notice it has suddenly become very quiet. Inspired by the reading, both kids are trying to hold their breath as long as possible. I keep reading.
1:00 PM I switch to Dr. Dolittle, our literature read-aloud. Abigail opens a banana. I wonder how many bites she will eat before she loses interest. Moses is still dutifully coloring. I finish a chapter; the kids beg for more. Miraculously Abigail has finished the banana. I start another chapter. Moses copies the caption onto his history page. Abigail is drawing random letters on her paper. She interrupts to ask me how to make a pyramid (she means a period). I show her how to punctuate her page full of mismatched letters. She climbs on my lap and starts licking my face. I can feel my blood pressure rising.
1:30 PM Moses is done with his history page. Nick was due home half an hour ago, but he often gets detained by clients in crisis, phone calls to insurance companies, and other business. I suggest we cuddle up on the couch and read a bit more Dr. Dolittle until Daddy gets home. I finish another chapter. “More! More! More!” Abigail shouts. “I want to finish the whole book today!” Since there are 120 more pages and my voice is about to give out, this seems unlikely, but I determine to keep reading until Dad arrives.
1:45 PM We hear Daddy at the door, and the kids bolt to greet him. I'm relieved that we have all survived another day. Nick gathers everyone on the couch for a family meeting. Being married to a therapist has its perks. He asks what schoolwork still needs to be done. I list the remaining items: a one-minute math speed drill, a spelling worksheet and a handwriting page for Moses and a page from their respective phonics lessons for each of them. Moses begins weeping.
Nick quickly redirects, sharing that before they do any more schoolwork, he wants to take them to the park to play a new game he's invented called Paw Patrol Tag, which involves them chasing him around, throwing balls at him and pretending to be Paw Patrol pups. The kids are thrilled. This is a wonderful surprise for me because it means that I'll have an hour of peace and quiet before I have to leave for work. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
2:00 PM I bundle everyone into their outerwear and help them find their outside toys while Nick throws in another load of laundry. The kids chatter blissfully about what Paw Patrol characters they are going to be. I load them up with trash and recyclables to take out on the way downstairs.
2:15 PM In what seems like the blink of an eye the house is silent. I light a candle, put on some worship music and start to put the house back together. I lay the kids' afternoon work out on the table and pack my dinner to eat at work. The house is in order, and with twenty minutes to spare before I need to leave for work. I contemplate blow drying my hair, or folding and putting away a load of laundry, but I decide to sit down with a book and a cup of tea instead. This may be the most peaceful moment I get this week!