This is our daily rhythm as a work-at-home, homeschooling, family of seven (with a toddler and a newborn)!
I don’t know about you, but I am nosy and love knowing how my friends spend their days. It helps to know that I’m not alone, and also helps to give me inspiration for how to better order our days. I always find an idea to take away or motivation to be more diligent and to persevere in what can at times seem a little (a lot) repetitive.
So, since I’m going to assume that you are a little nosy like me, I’m going to share what our CURRENT daily rhythm looks like.
If you’ve been around here much, you know that I have five children, including a toddler and small baby. This basically means that this post will probably be irrelevant in a couple of months. But, for now, this is how we are spending most days.
(My baby doesn’t make it into the rhythm much, but that is because she isn’t really on a schedule. Just know that interspersed throughout the whole day, I’m nursing her, she’s awake for a bit, napping, and then repeat. All day.)
Schedule vs. Rhythm
Where a schedule can be rigid, a rhythm allows for much more flexibility and understanding. Rather than assigning a certain time of the day to tasks, a rhythm is more of an order that you do things during the day. You know what happens before and after breakfast, but you don’t stress exactly what time you get to them.
This approach to your day helps to prevent feeling overwhelmed and “behind” when life inevitably happens.
Of course, we can’t always fly by the seat of our pants and ignore the clock. We should practice some discipline in time management. But, I have personally found much grace and less stress in not rigidly time blocking my day. As always, balance is key, which is why you will see some portions below with times next to them and some without.
Our Daily Rhythm
6:00 Wake up and morning routine.
Now that my baby is sleeping longer stretches, I am able to get up before my kids once again. I am barely exaggerating when I say that the couple of hours I have before my kids get up are some of my favorite hours of the day. It’s quiet. Need I say more?
I use this time to read my Bible and pray, and to then move on to writing and other blog work. I always start my day with a big glass of water, and usually a cup of (decaf) coffee.
8:00 Kids wake up & eat breakfast
My kids do not have a set wake-up time, and they all tend to wake-up at different times within an hour window. The average wake up time is 8:oo AM, give or take fifteen to thirty minutes.
Our slow mornings are cherished by all of us. We don’t rush waking up, and we enjoy our breakfasts together. Most often, we have eggs and smoothies, steel cut oats, or yogurt. Every so often, I will make bacon or pancakes or another special breakfast.
After breakfast come our morning chores. We do not currently have much structure to our chore routine. In time, we may implement more of a schedule for chores, but in this past year through pregnancy and newborn days I was just thankful for whatever cleaning that got done.
One of the biggest things to keep up with in a big family is the laundry. I am trying out a new routine for our laundry, and so far I’m loving it. Every evening I run a load of clothes and maybe a load of kitchen towels/napkins or bath towels. In the morning after breakfast, my three oldest children are responsible for folding and putting away their laundry. My two oldest boys are also responsible for the toddler’s and baby’s clothes. I then try to put away my husband’s and my own clothes at some point in the day. This is just a little difficult, though, because the baby sleeps in our room.
When I first started this routine with the laundry, I also moved all my kids’ clothes into a large dresser in our living room that also serves as a tv stand. This has been tremendously helpful because they can fold their laundry and put it away all in the same spot. It has also helped to reduce the amount of clothes strewn about their rooms.
Life with kids is all about change, and so we are trying to figure out the best homeschool rhythm for this season with a rambunctious toddler and small baby.
Our morning basket is honestly something that I have not been good about keeping up with, even though I know how beneficial it is to all of us. As the baby gets older, I am going to try to do our morning basket time once again. All of our pen and paper/workbook time will keep being in the afternoon, but we will use this chunk of time to read and sing together. We’ve done it a few times so far, and it works pretty well.
Outside time, exercise time, errands, & free play
The amount of free play my kids have is one of my favorite aspects of homeschooling. They have a large chunk of time in the mornings before lunch to play and create and explore together. Depending on the weather, they will often play outside during this time too.
While my kids are playing, I am often able to do a little recipe testing/food photography, or other household tasks. The hours between 11 and 2 are also usually our time to run errands and picnic/play at the park.
My husband works from home, so lunches are another family meal. Sometimes they are as simple as pulling out leftovers or having a snacky lunch with cheese, crackers, fruit, etc. Other times they are a little more involved, like making a soup in the Instant Pot, throwing together a few pizzas, or something else off this list.
2:00-4:00 Littles’ naptime & big three school time
My toddler takes his nap right after lunch. If no one is running or talking to loudly down the hall, he will typically nap for 2-3 hours.
This time in the afternoon was formerly a quiet rest time for me, and Netflix time for my big kids. We are now using this time for the bulk of our school lessons because not having my toddler awake means it is optimal time to work at the table.
I have 2 kids in school and one in preschool. We all sit together at the table, or at least gather together in the dining room. I alternate between focused time with my kindergartener and my second grader, and also lessons that we can all do together. For now, the work my kids can do independently is very limited.
4:00-6:00 Afternoon free time
Once my kids’ schoolwork is done, it’s back to free play. Again, if the weather is nice, I encourage them to go outside. If that’s not an option, they will end up playing legos or some other created game they come up with.
At this point in the day, I am usually more than ready for a break! (Hence encouraging the kids to go outside). Actually resting isn’t a possibility most days, but washing the dishes and listening to a podcast, doing a workout in the living room, or just sitting down to do a few tasks on the computer all help to refresh me enough to make it through the last leg of the day.
This is also the time I do many of my live videos on Facebook live, in part because it’s the time I start to think about dinner, and also in part because my husband is able to help with the children so all five kids are not in the videos!
6:00-6:30 Evening clean-up
I try to get the kids to clean up their play things before dinner, and depending on what they were up to outside, they may need a bath before dinner too.
We eat anywhere from 6:30 to 7:30. It all depends… on babies and videos and how happily the kids are playing and how involved cooking that night’s meal is… Either way, though, we always sit down together to eat dinner and that’s a good thing, even if the process feels like a test of endurance many nights.
Family Read Aloud
We love reading books aloud together! We have had this habit off and on for several years now. During this evening reading time, we’ve made it through the Narnia series twice, the Hobbit, Anne of Green Gables twice, and MANY other great books!
We don’t do it perfectly, but certainly keep it as a goal several nights a week.
8:00-8:30 Kids’ bedtime routine
Ahhh. The glorious hour of bedtime. And all the parents of young children said, AMEN.
Our bedtime routine is exceptionally simple because we honestly don’t have anything left to give by this time of the day! Everyone goes to the bathroom, changes clothes, gets their teeth brushed, and then it’s into bed for a song and a prayer.
8:30-11:00 J&L Time
Alone time for mom and dad! Well, alone in between telling kids to get back to bed.
I’d like to say we have some creative hobby we share or whatnot, but we keep it simple most nights with Netflix and popcorn. #spent
11:00 Dreamfeed the baby & J&L bedtime
I dreamfeed the baby (get the baby up from sleeping and nurse her without really waking her up), and then it’s time for bed!
The Discipleship of the Mundane
I’ve been planning on sharing our daily rhythm for a while, but truthfully still can struggle to find joy and not be overwhelmed at all that our days hold. It may look easy on the screen, but the messes are still unending, none of us are perfect, and it is just often easier typed than done.
BUT, I was encouraged today that this is all part of the process. We haven’t arrived, and so we shouldn’t expect things to look as if we had.
If we are perpetually picking up toys, preparing meals, and nurturing our children, then that is what we are called to do. God has given us this task, and THAT is what makes it important.
The fact that you picked up fifty million lego pieces today wouldn’t be that significant without remembering that when we do the work before us with faithfulness and joy, then we are doing it as unto the Lord.
The mundane tasks that trip us up and sometimes feel like they will swallow us up in their monotony, are working in us endurance and steadfastness and preparing us for more. As Rachel Jankovic puts it in her book Fit to Burst, “real life is messy because it is going somewhere.”
I will end with this, and will hope that in whatever your daily rhythm holds, you will be encouraged as I am towards doing them cheerfully.
Why do you rejoice in making dinner again? Because God rejoices in your doing it cheerfully, and doing it well. Why can you rejoice in cleaning the bathroom, doing the laundry, running the errands, making the beds? Because God delights in a willing and eager student.
Cheerfully embracing the mundane work in your life, diving into the challenges, working harder than you would think was possible at the trivial, at the boring– these are all ways to say, “Use me Lord; I am your servant.”
Rachel Jankovic, Fit to Burst