I am going to begin this with the disclaimer that I do not have this all figured out, most days are a bit chaotic and I have no clue how I’ll do this with three older kids along with 3 under 3. It’s still mind blowing that I will soon have 6 kids.
At the time of this writing, my older three children are almost 16 yrs, 14 yrs, and 10 yrs. Our younger three are 2yrs, 1yr and soon to be born in May 2021.
First I’ll kind of give an idea of what it looks like and how our day is structured and then I’ll give some tools we use to keep them occupied while we work.
Our Family’s School Day Rhythm
We begin with breakfast for all. Sometimes I cook a breakfast like pancakes or french toast or eggs and sausage and more often it’s cereal, oatmeal, breakfast bars, bagels or yogurt parfaits. When I’m sick and pregnant, the latter is more the norm. I have coffee, some of the other kids do as well.
I drink my coffee while the kids eat breakfast and I go over my daily planner. I am usually at my desk which is next to the kitchen. I check emails, return client questions on social media, and make sure I’m set for the day.
After this we usually go into our main lesson. Ours is very unit style which I talked about in this blog post. Depending on when we start, usually between 9 and 10 am, we have a snack afterwards and then break into solo studies. This is the independent work our kids are doing : math lesson, copywork, journaling, reading. Any of those subjects can be done in any order they wish and they come to me if they need any help or lesson clarification.
Around 11:30/Noon we have lunch and then the little ones, the youngest two, go to take a nap. The older three continue any unfinished solo work or relax, play games on a device [phone, playstation or computer[ or they go for walks [older two], play in the backyard, ride bikes, listen to music, paint or do another art related hobby.
Sometimes Zephyr, our 2 year old, won’t take a nap and that’s usually evident after about 20 minutes or so. That’s when I move him to my bed and he usually will take a nap there while I work or also take a nap/break. I always strive for getting work done but while pregnant I listen extra to my body and if I need it, I just relax. After nap time the kids play outside or play games inside, sometimes we go to a park and walk if the weather is good. They all love to be outside so we try to do that as often as we can. Then we transition to our evening routine, which is not part of our school day rhythm.
Occupying The Littles
These will depend on the age of your children, but for children 4 and under, here’s what we have done in the past and currently. I absolutely use technology if nothing else is working.
- beeswax crayons and an empty composition book/notebook
- brother francis episodes [when older kids are doing solo lesson]
- reading books to them [when the older ones are doing solo work]
- playdoh or clay
- matchbox cars that were put away
- wooden peg dolls that we only bring out when we need them occupied
- tumbleleaf episodes on prime video [also if older kids are off doing solo work]
- get the legos or blocks out
- alphabet puzzel
- finger puppets
- basket of play silks
- pop-up tent : this works surprisingly well ha!
- empty boxes, empty water bottles/milk cartons and snacks to eat work as well
- kid headphones for listening/watching on a device when we are listing to an audio lesson and nothing else worked
When we have newborns and babies, we go with the flow completely. I breastfeed on demand but we still follow a very similar rhythm to our homeschool day. If the weather is good and we have a newborn, I make it a necessity to get outside for a walk. This is one of the things that combat PPD/PPA [post partum depression and anxiety] for me. We use baby swings, carriers/wraps and bouncy seats or rockers to occupy them and once they are older [but less than a year old, we use a johnny jumper thing in a doorframe and that does a great job for our babies.
If you have any tips, definitely share them with us!