I was laughing so hard when reading an article posted on facebook about the daily, insanely busy life of a stay at home mom with young children....however, I wanted to shed light on an even more complicated aspect to add to it and that is homeschooling mama. So here it goes, a sample into my daily life, ie: today ( nothing unique, just life)
My one year old daughter wakes up screaming bloody murder at 4 am. I stagger, incoherent to her bedroom where I pick her out of her crib and meander slowly, very slowly, stumbling downstairs to try and find a glass of water, teething tablets, Tylenol, fruit or any other object that may calm her down and stop her ear piercing screams at this God forsaken hour where the only noise should be the hum of the refrigerator and sleepy breathing.
After stumbling my way through the darkness I turn on the ever so bright oven light to find my precious belongings. As my daughter archers her back, screams and throws everything down that I hand to her, I try and rock and sing softly to her. This is not working, so I put her in her high chair where she has puffy, red, sleep deprived eyes and sadly sucks two of her fingers. Finally, she takes a couple pieces of fruit and some Tylenol, calms down and I am able to lay her back down to bed. It is now 5:30am.
I then hear little doors opening and shutting and children with acute vision see the dim shadow of the oven light on and saunter downstairs to find me. It is 5:32am. I have two choices. I can go back to bed and have them play quietly or I could stay up and start prepping for my day and have them watch a quiet movie in hopes of them not saying much to me so I can still try and reclaim this " quiet hour or is it hour of power???" . I decide to stay up, put in the Aristocats and keep the volume at a 10. This causes extreme silence so that they cannot possibly talk without missing a part of the movie.
I turn to the kitchen. I go out to put the recycling out. Come back in and change into my workout clothes. One knows that when your workout clothes are on there is not turning back, your workout must occur at some point during that day or those nasty, worn out pieces of rags will be worn ALL DAY LONG as punishment.
I am excited at the stillness and quietness of the morning, thus far. My brain is starting to function at the ripe ole' hour of 6 am at quite a fair speed so I decide to try a new recipe of bran muffins and become the domestic goddess I strive for each and every day. I open the fridge to pull out the milk to add to my bran sitting in my kitchen aid. Stop, stop STOP!!!! as a large metal bowl containing a 22 lb watermelon crashes not only on one shelf but on shelves two, three and four, splatting into the crevices of the refrigerator and oozing pink juice into unknown dark areas that are inaccessible to human hands. The seeds and fruit fly all over the kitchen as the large bowl misses my bare feet by .2 mm. Seriously, did this seriously just happen I exclaim in a quiet whisper. A too excited response would have elicited help from my dear friends quietly watching a movie from the other room. So, I found a towel, cleaned up the mess, filled up the sink with pine sol and mopped my entire floor- first sweeping up hidden areas of food near Hannah's highchair that was missed from our early morning encounter.
Okay, let's try this again and finish adding the ingredients. Ok, things are going well. The muffins are now baking and I go back and retrieve the recycling bin realizing that today is NOT the day for it to be picked up. No big deal, the fresh air smells great. Ok, it is now 7:14 am. Now the time clock starts ticking. I have to be at the gym no later than 8:15am if I want to get a very pathetic 40 minute workout in. A dear friend and her kids are coming over so I do a quick once over through the house, making sure there is toilet paper in the bathroom, soap and that there is nothing clogged. You know what I mean.
Alright, two of my three children are in pajamas and the fourth sleeping angel still needs her hobbit 2nd breakfast, diaper changed and clothes put on. The oldest son is dressed and ready for the day so I set him down with his language arts and circle the parts I want him to complete. I tell two children to go upstairs and find some clothes. My son starts crying, " I can't find any shorts." So I run upstairs and open one door- oh my, look there are ten pairs of shorts sitting there! With a sheepish look he pulls one out and does a doe see doe dance around the room. He then finishes getting dressed but prances out of the room with food all over his face and no sandals on. Please go back in your room, put on your sandals and wash your face, brush your teeth.
I move on to my three year old's room. For some odd reason, she decided that today, of all days, she would pull out all of her winter clothing from her bin in the closet and color code them on her floor! Did I mention its 115 degrees outside??? Daughter, could you please help me pick up these clothing. After we go through and reason why we cannot wear any of the items on the floor and why we need to pick them we move on. The interesting thing about three year olds is that they desire that "perfect outfit" . The shirt needs to be of a certain hue, shape and design. Only the best will do. We locate this "perfect shirt" a salmon colored tank top with a colorful butterly design.
Now, however, my daughter has found her Cinderella and Tinkerbell clips and asks to sit me down and style my hair. Because I treasure my time with my children I sit for a quick style and consolation. She maneuvers my hair, chastising me for moving my head and I end up adorned with Tinkerbell and Cinderella clips on each side of my once plain ( and what I felt) sufficient "work out" pony tail. Speaking of working out, are we going to make it???
My daughter is satisfied with her work, skips off to find her pink sandals and begins to cry, they are "wost". We locate them, brush her teeth, brush and fix her hair and I send her back downstairs to wait for me. I turn and wake up my sleeping one year old. She is bright, cheery and acts as if we never rendezvoused in the dreaded hours of the morning that ended up becoming the genesis of my morning. I changed her sopping wet diaper, found some clothes for her and looked at the clock. It is now 8:15am. This was the latest that I wanted to be at the gym. Oh well, we are going to make it work.
I usher everyone outside, pile everyone in a van that resembles nothing short of a dumpster being blown up in and say my usual " everyone buckle, buckle up, come on let's go, everyone buckle." I go to buckle in my one year old, smell her bottom ( which is customary to do before you put your baby in a carseat) and of course she now is dirty. Run back inside, run upstairs find a new diaper and wipes, change her, wash my hands go back outside. At this moment my three year old is sitting in a seat that is not hers , smiling smugly and causing complaints from her brothers. I tell her in an ever so firm tone, " get into your seat now" " I sorry mama" . I buckle my one year old, close the door. Move over to my three year old, buckle her only to realize that she once again unbuckled her main seat and would be simply free styling it in the van if I had not noticed. I unbuckle her, tell her to step out, buckle the main seat, put her back in, buckle her in her seat and back out. " I"m thirsty, I have to go potty, oh no I have no books to read, screech, I can't reach my toy....." all within a mere 2 seconds of backing out of the driveway. Really, its only 8:22 am!
Because I was smart, I had already buttoned a bib on my daughter and snagged two of the fresh bran muffins and sippy cup of water for the trip to our fitness center. We arrive and after five minutes of people strolling out of the van, checking in and moving up I finally am onto my workout. Phew 8:38am!
A speedy workout and quick shower land me pretty much into dejavou with the kids. Slowly piling back into the van and moving back to the house to meet a friend. We had a great visit and the kids all shared wonderfully with their playmate. However, all good things must come to an end so my friend left and lunch hour began.
Typically, everyone wants something different. For the most part, I have lunch narrowed to two different types of sandwiches, fruit and veggie along with a beverage. My five year old is insistent upon making his own sandwich. I let him, to teach him independence but jelly and peanut butter are smeared all over his sweet little hands, cheeks and face as he licks the remnants, that didn't make it onto the sandwich, into his mouth. My three year old insists that her sandwich is two pieces, not one, but in half. Try doing that mathematical equation. My oldest is pretty neat and clean and capable of doing his sandwich and lunch pretty much goes off without a bang.
Oh side note, I forget to mention the revolving door kitchen. The part where you barley have time to clean up from breakfast when the kids want things out for snacks. Cereal is pulled from the pantry, only upside down and spills all over the floor; you need to now clean it up and sweep it up as super crawlers and unassuming three year olds scramble to pick it up and throw the cereal into the ravenous mouths quicker than I can say, " Wait!". By the time this is cleaned up and the milk that was in the sippy cup has leaked all over the highchair and floor next to the highchair and the bananas that were neatly cut are now mountainous globs stuck into the tile and squished between unprotected toes and feet its lunch time and ALL the food comes out again.
I lay the younger ones down and prepare school now for the older ones. Typically, we do our unit studies as a family; however today, we did not due to company during the day so I focused on the two older boys. We began with language arts. My oldest, completing his writing assignment. He was nearly done when he broke into tears due to his dislike of writing and wanting to move onto our unit study. I sat with him and explained that although writing was difficult for him it was very important to learn and improve on because it would be something that he would take with him and use the rest of his life. I get him going again with that then I switch over to my five year old. He is learning to read. We sit and go through a little reader together. Although this is painstakingly slow I love watching him and listening as he gets closer and closer to moving the sounds faster together to form the words. A question from my oldest, moving on with my five year old. This goes on for the next few minutes. We then move onto math, interruption from my three year old who now has an empty glass of water. Ok, teaching two different grade levels to two different boys with two different learning styles. Need I say much more. This takes talent, patience, understanding and grace. Wouldn't trade it for anything. We move through that, I look at the clock and realize I need to start thinking about getting the kids ready for their geography co op, making a meal for a friend who just had a baby, picking up mail at the post office, returning library books and buying more crickets for starving anole.
We have about an hour left before we need to leave. The one year old wakes up, screeching again from her crib. I go and pick her up and move her downstairs. We begin with our unit study and read many books all the while having to read over some hair pulling, crawling over and under and sloppy wet kisses from an adorable little sister. We do our activities based on that and truly enjoy every aspect, read the bible and start switching gears. If people think that homeschooling means there is no distraction, they are out of their mind. There will be so many distractions, its just up to us to choose which ones are a natural part of our lives, ie: crawling baby and which ones to avoid, ie: constant texting, phone calls, etc.
I end up waking up my three year old. This elicits crying, and some break downs. She is not one to wake up cheerfully. After a few minutes and a potty break, " Mama, I did a stinkies can you come wipe me??" we are pretty close to heading out the door. The same scenario takes places as prior to my workout as we are getting in the car. However, we are off! As we listen to a myriad of children's tapes, yes I said tapes ( a blast from the past 80s christian style) we cruise down the road.
Upon nearing the home where our geography co op is I still need to quickly decide if I should pick up something for my friend at a restaurant, buy a gift card or pick something up at the store. I decide on the third choice, load everyone out of the hot car, into the hot sun and quickly herd them into our local grocery store. Trying to move " quickly" through a grocery store with four children 7 and under is an oxymoron. We locate our items after the kids suggested many different things. I love their help but when I am in " fast mode" I can only compute things at a high rate of speed so when I am bombarded with twenty million questions there are mostly quick yeses and no. Sometimes this can get me into trouble. " Mama, can we each of one of these?" " yes, no, yes we may have one, no you may not EACH- work together, figure it out, you are a team...."
After 7 minutes of getting everyone into the store, into the cart, through the store and checkout and out the door we are heading to our co op. We arrive. I have water bottles floating throughout my car, library books piled up to the ceiling, the smell of strawberry gum wafting through the air and now we need to unbuckle everyone again to go inside.
Typically, for a homeschool co op the parents take turns teaching a subject, preparing it and presenting it to the children. This comes with a lot of responsibility and creativity and thankfully today was NOT my day :)
Inside, my one year old decides to be giant baby and go after a three week old; how kind of her. She is busy, busy, BUSY. I wouldn't have it any other way but maybe one of these times she could give me a break. She wants crackers, doesn't want crackers, gulps water, spills water, the water falls on the ground, drenches her dress, my leg and mixes with bread crumbs. You get the picture. Co op is wrapping up and I am eyeing the clock knowing I need to rush to the post office, stand in line, gather our mail and mail a package all before it closes. This particular post office is known for its extremely long wait lines and slow staff as well. Sounds like a fun "field trip" to me. We say goodbye, pile in the car, re buckle, turn on "agape land" tapes again and I toss two half drunk water bottles onto the passenger side. Mental note, van must be cleaned tomorrow.
Arrive at the post office, ask my son to hold my place in line. Rush over with three kids, holding one, struggling to find the keys with one hand in my oh so deep purse, find the keys and pull out a weeks worth of mail. I move over to the line. Thankfully the line moves quickly, mail my package and receive two VERY LARGE packages in its place. Ok, I give one package to my son who insists he cannot hold it because he has a national geographic kids magazine in his hands. My look has him change his mind. I have my one year old in one arm, the box in the other, mail on top of that and my brick of a purse/diaper bag over my shoulder. We shuffle on out of there. Thankfully, my remote control unlock decides to work today. We all load up AGAIN, buckle, buckle, repeat. Oh daughter! She had unbuckled the main buckle again! Repeat!
Arrived at the library, 1/2 mile away. Unload everyone again. I delegate the return books to the two boys and we head in all the while my three year old is blowing a new found whistle. She stops when we hit the door. We find our books, my one year old crawls through the shelves, one side to the next. I can see her, so I let her do this. Then, however, she is bored of that so she starts deshelving EVERY single book! Stop! I reshelf the books, look for one last book while my other three our still loading up their arms with as many books as they can handle. We SLOWLY move to the self check out. This, actually is more of a burden than an actual librarian. I will explain why. With self checkout, you need to not only dig through your purse for your library card, scan it, and scan each book but you need to watch your three year old try and pull the defibrillator off the wall, your five year old standing on the stool next to the computer and jumping up and down, your seven year old wanting to responsibly scan each and every one of his books and your one year old, whom you have let down for a second find the one and only plug, have the strength to pull it and shut down the entire scanning computer. All this and the librarian will simply come over, turn it back on for you and say , " ok you are all set to try again".
My kids understand now that after each has had his turn to check out his/her books respectively they much sit quietly on the bench until I am done with the remaining books. We finished that task, the kids wanted to look at the toys at Target. Why not? We have already gotten in and out of the car twenty times today. I drove another 1/2 mile to Target, got the kids out, they asked for their free cookie and we moved onto the toys. Finally, we load up and come home, eat dinner, exhausted by days end only to stare at a mountain of dishes, spilled food and beverages, leftovers that need to be swept and washed before tomorrow and this isnt' even touching on the rest of the house cleaning and picking up, organzing, email responding, etc.
We pile the kids upstairs to get pajamas on, half of them want to sleep in their big girl/boy pants, brush their teeth, read the Bible, put them in bed, pray. Yet, two minutes later you will hear, " mama, daddy??? I need new pajamas, I am cold, I can't find my blanket, I have no water, I need some new books, my puppy is missing, what's that noise, I need another hug/kiss......"
Finally, when it is quiet and its just you and your husband, you let the kitchen sit for a bit longer, brew some coffee ( making sure its decaf), sit, talk, watch some tv, and laugh. Next, its time to plan your day for tomorrow. There are a myriad of field trips, lesson plans, books to be requested, co ops to organize, be apart of or attend and for what? Why do I do this to myself? Why do I change sheets that were drenched by spilled cups, bed wetting, throw up, or wash clothes that have had goodness knows what on them, teach my children at home instead of sending them to school amidst crying, laughing, chaos, tantrums, teething or sickness, taking full responsibility for the hearts and education.....because I LOVE THEM. I am in love with my family and this crazy, running around, at times thankless job is what I live for each day. I love my husband and my kids and to be truthful, I actually enjoy, no, LOVE what I do and who I am. I pour out my life into my mission field, my family and I couldn't be more thankful for this opportunity. I am a SAHHM.
So when you are weary, tired and begin to lose heart, remove yourself from the chaos, take a picture that one of your children scribbled, colored, a beloved stuffed animal that they have, a lego creation that they poured over for hours and go into your room quietly, lock the door, cry and ask the Holy Spirit to once again renew your heart and give you fresh vision. Because you know what sweet mamas, HE WILL!!! Be encouraged!