Recently, I shared a day in the life of our homeschool with three teens. It was a particularly busy day, but a pretty typical one for our family. You see, even though we homeschool, we're rarely at home.
It means that learning happens in so many places outside of the home. It means that we're often going in different directions and that my husband and I are taxi drivers and that my kitchen isn't always clean and that the laundry piles up and that we often eat in the car.
We have online classes, outside classes, sports, social engagements, clubs, and all the amazing opportunities that come with homeschooling.
Recently, life has changed due to statewide "stay home" orders. We are in our home. All the time. Our life is vastly different.
Before I share what a typical day looks like now, let me say this: my family has been homeschooling for nearly 10 years. We have the blessing and the benefit of knowing what learning from home can look and feel like. That's not the difficult part for us like it is for those suddenly schooling at home.
The difficult part is being in our home 24 hours a day. It's being away from our friends and activities. It's challenging. And there is no precedent.
A Day in the Life: Homebound Edition
I wake up. Well, my younger son wakes me up. I'm not sleeping well and I am often up very late (later than normal—I'm a night owl). I'm giving myself grace and permission to sleep when I can. My girl twin is still asleep.
I head downstairs to grab my water and supplements and pour juice for my boys. They are not ready for breakfast, so I print out my older son's math test and he takes it upstairs to work on.
My mother-in-law uses an online video platform to teach math to both boys a few times a week. He will do his test, text her the pages and they will review it online tomorrow. A sanity saver for me!
I sit down in my office and do my morning work routine. I work part-time from home for a children's growth mindset company. I check emails and our Facebook page and check-in with some co-workers.
My younger son sits behind me on his computer checking his e-mails and watching a few videos. My husband is working from home and is camped out in our bedroom.
I make some cocoa for myself and clean up the kitchen. My daughter is still asleep. My boy twin is up in his room working on his podcast scripts. He is learning all about podcasts and has been writing episodes for the past week. I head back to my desk to finish up some work.
My daughter is awake and now all the kids are ready for breakfast. We typically don't eat breakfast this late, but we've got no place to be and nowhere to go, so we're going with it. I listen to some messages on my Voxer app (a voice-messaging app). I go over my daughter's online history assignment with her. Everyone eats and then scatters again.
11: 00 am
Homeschooling is in full swing at this point. My boy twin is working on his podcast graphics and begins working on his elections unit study we ordered for him. My older son is doing his online history class and working on a writing project. My daughter is in her room working on language arts, Spanish, history and listening to music.
I finally get dressed. I have to go out for groceries today, so I make a list and prep snacks for the kids to eat while I am out for a couple of hours. I have to go to two stores and I am trying to use my time out of the house wisely. I usually grab groceries a few times a week and hit the local Target probably too many times to count. Now? Well, that's not happening.
Before I head out, I check in on each kid and my husband. The twins have decided to play outside for a while and I leave their snacks on the kitchen table.
I arrive at Target and am greeted by the manager. He's always so happy to see our family and he asks me about the kids (from six feet away, of course) and tells me to be safe and tell my kids he says hello. The store is very quiet, even for a late Tuesday morning.
I grab my items and head back to the car. I turn on a podcast and drive to Whole Foods in the town over. I quickly make my way through the grocery store while also savoring the alone time. I love grocery shopping and buy myself to a decaf latte. Mama needs a treat. I load up the car and drive home. Slowly.
I arrive home and the kids come outside to help unload the car. They are starving (again) and I am running late to a video chat call with friends. My kids unload all the groceries and make themselves lunch and go back to working on various projects.
I log into a video chat with three friends. We are all homeschooling mamas, bloggers, and real-life friends. We spend an hour talking and laughing and asking questions and just enjoy being in each other's presence, even if it's just through our computer screens.
My older son logs on to his online writing class. The twins go back outside to play. I am thankful for the connection. They have a special relationship, despite all their differences. They drive each other crazy most days, but I've noticed they've been extra close since we've been staying put in the house.
I shower and change into my pajamas. Not even sorry about this. I do the dishes. The twins are still playing outside. My husband is still working in our bedroom and my older son gets a snack and goes back up to his room to chat with friends and listen to music.
My older son goes for a walk in the neighborhood.
I prep dinner and listen to a podcast. My husband is now in the living room watching the news and hanging out with us after work. We're very lucky he can work from home.
I check my boy twin's math work and write an Instagram post. The twins are still playing together (yes!) and my older son is now back home and texting with friends again.
My oldest son is extremely extroverted. This entire situation has been very difficult for him, as he thrives on being with others, being out of the house and DOING ALL THE THINGS. Prom has been canceled. His EMT cadet program is on hold. All his in-person classes are moved online. I am trying to stay connected with him while giving him space. It's a challenging balance and I don't have all the answers.
I text with a friend while I finish cooking dinner and washing dishes. Again.
We eat dinner and it's burrito bowls again! A family favorite. We're trying to keep dinner around the same time each night to have some continuity in the day. I am cooking their favorite meals, when possible.
My oldest and I chat about his history and writing classes. After we eat, the kids help clean up the kitchen and then I send them all to my office to play a board game and to have some screen-free time. It's raining now, so no outside time after dinner.
I organize food pantry donations. A neighbor is coming by tomorrow to collect bags of food for their church. It's a small gesture we can do as a family.
7:30 pm-8:00 pm
I play another board game with the kids.
The twins grab some snacks and my younger son heads up to his room to listen to a podcast, read, write and chill out alone. My teen showers and heads back to his room to video chat with friends. I make hot tea and grab more chocolate covered almonds and head to my office to work for a couple of hours. My husband and daughter watch a movie.
I check in on the boys and then tidy up the kitchen (for the 38th time today). I do yoga and then watch the news and talk with husband and daughter.
I read for an hour and then finally turn in for the night around midnight.
I will wake up and do something similar tomorrow and the next day and the next day.
I am counting our blessings. I am not pushing for full-on school each day. We are signing up for more online classes. My twins are painting nearly every day. I am having one-on-one time with my oldest son. We're watching more movies together. My husband is getting some projects done around the house and is able to be outside more.
There is no right way or wrong way to homeschool during this crazy time.
My goal is to keep some gentle routines and rhythms in place.
My goal is to hold tight to my self-care.
My goal is to stay connected with my friends but to also give myself downtime and alone time.
My goal is to try new recipes.
My goal is to take walks alone or with family members.
My goal is to read.
My goal is to show up each day with grace and understanding and chocolate.