Homeschool Day in the Life :: 2012 Edition

Simple Homeschool is once again collecting Day in the Life Posts. If nothing else, it is fun to keep a record and compare from year-to-year.

You can see the 2011 Edition here.

Another year has come and gone. This year we have a six-year-old, four-year-old (almost five-), and two-year-old. Our homeschooling style has not changed much. We are still very relaxed and eclectic. I am still a geek about schooly things and way too uptight. I am still trying to follow their lead.  I still fail miserably at it sometimes. Our story begins here:

[4:45] AM Bodies start arriving in my bed. First T and then by [5:30] John as well. Sleep from that point is intermittent dozing at best.

[6:30] AM Matt has been up for about 30 minutes. The boys and I are fully awake and snuggling. Thomas leaves to join Matt in the kitchen when we hear a big bang. “That doesn’t sound good,” John says astutely. That is my cue to get up. Matt escapes leaves for work, and the boys and I make coffee and hot chocolate, play, watch Octonauts, check email and comment on blogs from this week’s Pinning It Down post. Before long Olivia emerges and joins the fray. At some point Thomas removes all of his clothes, and I take that as my cue to get everyone dressed and start the day.

[8:00] AM  I check that all the doors are bolted at the top and jump into the shower. My goal is to be in by [8:00] each morning so we don’t spend the entire morning vegging out with media. I shower for only four minutes, but am visited by two kids during that time. That’s okay — tells me everyone is safe. Ah, but there is a dispute over boxes. Two boxes. Three kids. You can do the math. I go the garage in my towel to retrieve another big box. All is right with the world.

After getting dressed I prod the troops into action. They get dressed (John: “Can you help me? My arms hurt!”), and we work from the back of the house to the front straightening and cleaning. They have no set chores, because that is just a pain for me. Instead I give them little jobs as we go. “Olivia, you can make your bed or clean the floor. John, open all the blinds. Thomas go throw this diaper away, please.” And so on, with me working beside them until everything is done.

 [9:00] AM Our Feb. 1 Valentine’s heart reads: “Make strawberry smoothies,” so we pull up a stool and the circus ensues. Actually, it goes really well and within a few minutes the kids are thrilled to be drinking healthy yummy treats. While we drink I read aloud a chapter from Our Heavenly Father. Olivia can answer all the questions from this week and remember the ones from last week as well. Our new topic is the birth of Christ, so we locate Bethlehem on the globe and talk about a few other locales. Olivia’s next question: “Where is heaven on here?” Back to the theological drawing board. We sing the Our Father and start our school work.

Today is Wednesday, so I pull our math readers out of our BUILD boxes. We enjoy Too Many Monkeys and Clocks and More Clocks. The kids ask for the monkey book twice. Since Thomas has spilled the Unifix cubes across the table, I have them use the cubes to illustrate the book as we read it the second time, pausing occasionally to make sure their blocks match the number of monkeys on the page. By this time Thomas has made his way out the back door. I leave it open so I can keep an eye on him playing in our fenced back yard.

I start “reading” with John while Olivia plays math apps on the iPad. I read The Nicest Newt and we work a page together in Get Ready for the Code. About this time Thomas wanders in, and we discover what has kept him occupied outside. We break for a diaper change.

After the change, Olivia and I buddy-read a chapter from Frog and Toad are Friends. We then mark up her copy work for the week noting punctuation and spelling in the passage. Then the fighting begins. She is determined not to do copy work. I am determined she do some copy work. We end up compromising on four words before it gets too ugly, but I worry about her writing stamina. I make a mental note to email the curriculum writer and see if she has suggestions. Regardless Olivia starts writing at [10:45] and doesn’t get done until [11:00]. For four words. The lessons I plan are short, but somehow with the interruptions and resistance, one hour of school turns into two hours out of our morning.

[11:00] AM The kids head out back to play, but soon return as it starts to sprinkle (rotten timing). I had given the big kids a couple of quarters earlier for folding towels. Someone noticed they were state quarters, so the map had to be pulled out to check if we had those states or not. This led to singing the states’ song a few times and them working in their 50 Great States workbooks while I make lunch. I picked these up in the Target Dollar Spot last fall, and the kids work in them whenever they want.

Over their peanut butter sandwiches we read Cradles in the Trees and talk about the birds in the book. Of course our meal would not be complete without at least one big spill. Then the big kids watch an episode of Liberty’s Kids on the iPad while I lay Thomas down for his nap and have lunch with Matt.

[1:15] PM Matt heads back to work, and we play a game of The Scrambled States of America. I ask if they would like to watch some Shakespeare (I’ve been having an unschooling discussion with a friend on my Facebook page. One of her unschooling techniques is to offer to watch the Bard with her kids. We were wondering what would happen if I did the same.) Olivia instead requests The Velveteen Rabbit. She has been listening to the audio story at night before bed and wants to see the movie version. Netflix streaming has a copy so we head upstairs to view it. It quickly becomes apparent that the story and movie version will be very different. As we pass she flips through the Shakespeare picture book I had dropped on the counter and asks a few questions. We will save it for another day.

While we watch, I search the library catalog and print a list of books for our afternoon library trip. Thomas wakes and joins us right about the time I hear the phone ring downstairs. It’s my friend Tyra, and I debate calling back, because I know the conversation will be long. I give in to the opportunity to chat. Yes, the conversation was long, but it was so worth it — even worth the bucket of lacing beads that came cascading down the stairs. We dished everything from Downton Abbey and figure skating to homeschooling and our mutual hatred of exercising. As I talk, the movie ends, and the kids troupe downstairs ready to go to the library. Of course by now the rain is really coming down.

[3:30] PM The library trip does not go well. Olivia is tasked with playing with Thomas at train table while I look for the books. She is not always the most observant baby sitter. Between trying to read the convoluted library print-out, find the books, and keep one eye on Thomas, I am already flustered when John starts the ‘Great Harry Potter Campaign.” I look down, and there he sits with a basket containing at least one of every Harry Potter book. He insists repeatedly that we need to check them out. I explain as patiently as possible, repeatedly, that we own all of those books (We didn’t even get into the fact that he isn’t old enough for them anyway!). I think I heard snickering from the librarians as he argued on and on and on. He was most insistent and my temper ran short. Thomas escaping Olivia and the children’s section was the final straw (She couldn’t go after him, because she “was playing.”) I grabbed him by the hand, dared the other two to move through clenched teeth, put back all seven Harry Potter books and checked out about half of what was on my list.

[5:00] PM The big kids are banished to their rooms for their library behavior while I make dinner. They can play together as long as they don’t fight — soon they are separated. Matt turns on Team Umi Zoomi for Thomas, and I am able to chat and make the French Bread Chicken pizza in relative peace, letting Matt handle the squabbles and whines. Dinner is fairly peaceful, and Olivia and Matt leave. He will drop her at Faith Formation and then enjoy some quiet at the bookstore.

[6:00] PM I clean the kitchen and get the boys in their PJs. We read one of the (age-appropriate) books John got from the library that day, brush teeth, and head off to bed. I rock Thomas while John lays in my bed, but he is melting fast. I lay Thomas in his room sure I will get a fuss and am pleasantly surprised. Then I rock John a bit, and he is out like at light before [7:00]. He refuses to nap or sleep late, so is so worn down by the end of the day.

[7:00] PM I put on my PJs, get a glass of wine, and turn on the TV for background noise. My intention is to work on this post, but I just can’t muster the strength to be productive, so I poke around on Facebook, Pinterest, and read blogs instead. Thomas is quiet until Matt and Olivia returns, and she rings the doorbell on the way in. I am less than gracious as I herd her off to bed. She must have been tired, because she quiets quickly. Later I discover John and her in our bed. Finally Thomas calms back down without intervention, and Matt and I share an evening of exhausted, companionable silence broken only by a brief call I make to my Mom to check in on her week.

[10:30] PM We head off to bed, moving kids, ushering them to the potty, and digging Thomas and his pillows and blankets out of his closet and back to his bed (his new night-time thing). No two days are ever the same, but it will all start again early in the morning to be sure.

I wouldn’t trade it all for the world — even the exceedingly frustrating parts.



  • Sue Elvis says:


    I enjoyed sharing your day! What memories you will store away as you write these summaries at regular intervals. We think we will remember but we don’t…

    You have a long day! But full of fun stuff. I can see why you wouldn’t trade your day. You have a beautiful family.

    A glass of wine, some blogs and your PJs? Sounds wonderful and just what I like to do at the end of the day too.

    God bless!

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      Thank you Sue. Yes it is a long day. I hope as we leave the toddler years it shortens a bit. Sometimes that wine, blogs, and PJs are what get me through the day.

  • Tyra Parillo says:

    So fun to read! It was just like being a fly on the wall. 😉 I’m glad you decided to answer my call. Our conversations always brighten my day!

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      Thank you ma’am. You know I would never not answer your call. I might wait to call back if I missed it, but I always answer! Our talks are always a highlight!

  • Jenny says:

    My 7 year old is like your 6 year old about school. She really fights it sometimes. Thanks for sharing your day.

  • Dawn says:

    I loved reading about your day. It brings back memories of when my kids were younger. Your day starts so early! What a beautiful life.

  • Mindy says:

    Way to keep it all real, Pam! You had me laughing from the two interruptions during your four-minute shower before dragging your wet self out to the garage to get another box. Isn’t that life with littles in a nutshell?

    Keep finding joy in the journey. Before we know it, these little kiddos of ours will be all grown up.

    All the best,

  • Kelly says:

    I have a 4 yo, 2 yo, and a 9 month old and am seriously considering homeschooling. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your post because I’ve been looking for a family similar to mine to see how their days go!

  • Pam Barnhill says:

    Thank you everyone for stopping by!

    Kelly – Glad you found us then and hope it will be helpful. I would encourage you to just go for it with homeschooling. Like motherhood it is not easy, but oh so rewarding. Let me know if I can help in any way.

  • >