This year, we've got two kids in high school, one in middle, four in all-day elementary, one in kindergarten, and one in preschool. That's five different school schedules to manage. Add to that five kids in braces at two different orthodontists, one in football, one taking five AP classes, five taking piano (hooray for finding a teacher!), one taking violin, and probably a dozen other events and activities that will come up and it could get overwhelming.
But it should be manageable. It helps that the schools are close enough to walk or bike to, so I don't have to run a shuttle back and forth every time there's a sport or after-school activity. And our piano teacher comes to our house -- we did it that way last year and it was wonderful.
A friend asked me to post our fall schedule. A lot of it is the same as previous year's, but there are a few changes. For instance, one of my favorite people moved away this summer. I've been running with Marci at 6 a.m. for two years, and I miss her. We also moved our scripture study time to 6:30 from 6:45, so going running at 6 was no longer going to work, even if I did want to wake up that early. So I'm fitting in exercise after the elementary kids go to school.
Early Morning Rush
We start the day bright and early with scripture study at 6:30. This is early enough so my high schoolers can get off to school soon afterwards and it gives us a bit more time for the other kids to fit in piano practicing.
After reading scriptures, we go over the calendar for the next few days, then have a five minute pick up of our family room and toy area. This is also when the kids put away any laundry I've folded.
After scriptures, we have Michael and Eliza practice the piano for 20-30 minutes, with one on our main piano and the other on our older piano. After the buzzer rings and they get off the piano, it's Allison and Sarah's turn. Last year, we just did 15 minutes a day, so this is a bit more, but we really want our kids to make progress in lessons.
DH drives the high schoolers into school soon after scriptures and then gets in his run before work.
Before they leave for school, my middle school and elementary kids get breakfast, make their lunches and do a five minute clean-up in the kitchen. We have a locked foot locker in our pantry that has all our school snacks and other goodies locked up -- fruit snacks, chips, Oreos, etc. My kids jokingly call it the "magical chest of happiness," but I call it the "magical chest of cavities." In any case, I don't open the chest until they have completed their five minutes.
|See that chest on the floor behind Allison , who organized our pantry for work hours a few weeks back? That's full of sugary, salty goodness.|
Having that extra help in the kitchen has really shortened my kitchen clean-up time, which is really helpful because I'm now trying to exercise after the kids go to school rather than getting up early.
|Two of my elementary kids, Eliza and Harmony, pausing for a picture before heading off|
After the elementary kids get off to school, at around 8:00 is my exercise time. One day a week, our middle school has a late start, so Michael is watching the little kids while I run. On two other days, DH will be staying for an hour while I run. The other two days, I'll do a video yoga or weights workout. Every other week, DH has to go out of town for two days for work, so on those weeks, I'll be doing a treadmill workout. It's been great to be running again. Benji is seven weeks old and on Friday, I finally built up enough to get in a rough -- and slow! -- four-miler. It's been a tough slog getting my running fitness back, but the last two runs I've had have been easier and I'm hopeful I'm past the hardest part.
After my workout, I shower and get my kitchen clean first thing, in between taking care of my three little ones left at home (Katie, Cami, and Benji). Then I'm following my basic routines for each day. Monday and Thursdays are laundry days. On Mondays, I try to get through my starred emails, pay bills and go through my inbox. Tuesdays, I'm trying to carve out a bit of time to blog. The rest of the week gives me one project day, one errand day, and one catch-up day.
After lunch, Katie has afternoon kindergarten. Cami also has preschool twice a week at this time. For many years, afternoons have been quiet time, and this year is no different. This is the only time (with few exceptions, such as when I'm on the treadmill) my little ones are allowed media time during the day and I try to rest.
|My cute preschooler|
Late Afternoon Rush
After school, the kids come home at various times, starting with my high schoolers, then my middle, and finally the elementary kids. I try to make sure that kids do their homework and zones as soon as they can after school. For zones this year, Lillian is assigned to babysit for our date night instead of a daily zone. Joey, who is never home now because of football, is in charge of taking the garbage out from the kitchen every day and getting the cans to the street once a week. Michael cleans the great room, Sarah clears off the kitchen tables after homework and snacks, Eliza keeps the downstairs straightened, Harmony empties the dishwashers, and Katie sets the table.
Katie is thrilled to have a job this year and has done great so far -- she keeps asking, "Is it time to set the table yet?" Harmony has been super responsible about the dishwashers, too, emptying one first thing after she gets home from school, without any reminders.
Another new things we are doing this year is planner checks for Joey, Michael, Allison and Sarah. I bought them each a planner and after school every day, they are to show me that they have written down their assignments for the day. We give them a check mark on our white board and every week or two, those who have earned enough check marks get a bowl of ice cream or other reward. Sarah told me this week that it has been so helpful to write things down so she doesn't forget them.
So far, our after school events include freshman football for Joey, violin lessons for Lillian, and piano lessons for Lillian, Michael, Allison, Sarah, and Eliza. Our piano teacher comes to our house and will teach Lillian every week, followed by two of the other four kids. Having those four do lessons every other week helps both our budget and our time crunch.
Later in the school year, the kids will likely be doing other activities. Our horseback riding teacher will be back from her mission in January, so we are hoping to do that again.
Dinner and Evenings
We're continuing dinner nights, but have moved them around a bit. Lillian's night is now Saturday rather than during the week, which gives me one day a week to cook (and the other days to help supervise). The other nights are assigned to Allison, Sarah, Michael, and Joey. Joey isn't home from football until late, so I'm taking his night as well for now.
The kids were getting tired of some of the menus we've used so far, so I sat down with Sarah and Joey to choose some new recipes. I still need to sit down with Allison. Michael is going to stick to his favorites, which he insists need no change -- pizza, lasagne, and spaghetti are just fine, he says. Sarah was thrilled with how her first meal, bacon-wrapped chicken with mashed potatoes, turned out a few weeks ago It was super delicious. She also made shepherd's pie last week.
|Sarah making bacon-wrapped chicken|
Another change we have implemented this year is having no media allowed until after dinner. After their five minutes in the kitchen (final clean-up is by the person who made dinner), the kids are supposed to get their rooms cleaned and inspected and then are allowed media time until their bedtimes on some nights. It just wasn't working to try and get these dawdling kids to clean their rooms in the morning. Bedtimes are 7:30 for Katie and Cami, 8:00 for Harmony, 8:15 for Eliza, 8:30 for Allison and Sarah, 9:00 for Michael, 9:15 Joey, and 9:30 Lillian. We're not super strict about it, but that's roughly what works.
Our other evening activities include Family Home Evening on Mondays, Church meetings for DH one night a week twice a month, Church activities for the oldest three every week and the middle three every other week, and a date night for me and DH.
So far, this schedule is working out well. I miss my laid-back summer days with all the kids home, but it's nice to have some quieter hours at home. And my kids are learning and growing in so many different ways.
It's a good life.