My Morning Routine (As A Homeschool Mom Of Five)


For years I dragged myself out of the bed in the mornings, and I internally cringed any time I heard a blogger talk about the importance of "getting up before your kids".  All I could think was "how?".  How did all these moms manage to get up that early! I couldn't figure it out, and I resented the suggestion a little bit.  

Today I wanted to talk about my current morning routine, but before I do that, I just want to say that if you have kids under the age of 2, just forget about it.   Your sleep is more important right now than figuring out how to have the perfect morning routine.  You just focus on staying perky through those baby years any way you need to, okay?

Sometime after Georgie turned one, and I found myself NOT pregnant with a new baby as I had been when the last several kids turned one, I decided to slowly figure out a morning routine that worked for me. 

Full disclosure - it's still not a perfect morning routine.  I barely manage to get up before my early-bird kids, and there are weeks (like this week) when I don't get up before them at all.  It's still a work in progress, but I wanted to share how our mornings usually go.  On the days when I do manage to follow our routine, it feels like the whole day goes smoother. Developing a routine is a little thing that has made a big difference for my productivity and state of mind!  So here we go.


Between 6:15-6:45 - The sun starts to peek over the hills, and my internal alarm clock sounds!  I leave the curtains open in the room in the spring and summer so the sun will wake me up, but I'll probably start setting an alarm clock in the winter months. I quickly wash my face and brush my teeth, get dressed, and head downstairs.  I can usually squeeze in at least 15 minutes of golden coffee-and-Bible time before I start to hear the singsong voices coming from their rooms.  I'm still a little too sleep deprived to get up earlier than this, but 15 minutes ahead I can manage. 

7:00-7:30 - The kids are awake, and I have them make their beds and get dressed before they come downstairs.  Sometimes I'll let them watch a show while I make breakfast, which is usually some variation of oatmeal (cheapest breakfast I can find, so we have it often). I empty the dishwasher while the water is boiling.

7:30-8:00 - Once breakfast is ready, they will eat while I read to the kids or do our "morning time", which includes Bible memory, catechism, and a hymn. I usually try to read from one of our Bible resources or devotions too.

8:00-8:30 - I clean up the table after breakfast, and I'll get Wyatt (4th grade) and Gwen (2nd grade) started on language arts.  The big kids work on independent work and the little kids play while I go finish fixing my hair and makeup for the day.

8:30-9:00 - I come back downstairs and start Clyde's math and reading (1st grade), which usually takes 30-45 minutes.  If the big kids finish language arts, I'll have them start handwriting practice or Bible workbooks until I finish with Clyde's lessons. 

9:00-10:30 - Once I'm finished with Clyde's work, I'll get Wyatt started on his math since his level includes more independent work (after I explain the new concept).  Then while he's doing his worksheets, I'll get Gwen started on her math.  After that I'll do her phonics lesson while Wyatt moves on to his history curriculum. The little girls usually play in their rooms or outside all morning, but if I get desperate I'll put on a video for them.  

10:30-11:30 - If all goes well, the kids are finished with all their individual work by 10:30 or so, and we can squeeze in reading our science book or a history read-aloud all together. The little girls join us for this too.  If it's science, I usually have the kids do some sort of notebooking activity as well.

11:30 - 12:00 - Make and eat lunch!  I usually either read them another book while they eat, or if I need a break from reading aloud I might clean up the house a bit before our afternoon quiet time.


And that's our weekday morning routine. The first month of the school year this was working particularly well, but the last two or three weeks our routine has been a little messier than this, and sometimes we'll need to finish up some work in the afternoon.  October is a very busy time of year for us, and especially this year it has been a little crazy because of our car breaking down multiple times. But by November things should be quieter and we'll get back to a little more consistency.



My Thoughts About Morning Routines:

If you have young kids who don't sleep well, don't worry about it.  Like I said above, it took me years to even feel like I could manage getting up before my kids, even for 15 minutes.  The day will come when things will click and it'll work.  If that's not right now, that's okay.  

If you have slow mornings and like it that way, keep them! I look back in fondness now on our slow, unstructured mornings when all my kids were tiny.  It was nice to wake up slowly, and meander a bit in the morning before getting our day started. We need our mornings to be structured now with more kids doing schoolwork, but if you can make your mornings slow and you're enjoying it, don't succumb to the get-up-before-your-kids pressure.  Just enjoy it.

Coffee is a lifesaver.  You know what really gets me up and out of bed in the morning?  Coffee.  Derek makes a pot in the morning, and I smell it all the way up the stairs.  Just the thought of curling into my chair for a few minutes of quiet with my Bible and coffee...it's what get's me moving, honestly.  I think it's perfectly acceptable to let a hot beverage be your morning motivator.

If you are feeling like your mornings aren't structured enough for your liking, start small.  You don't need to be superwoman and get up an hour before daylight.  Like I said, I barely make it out of bed 15 minutes before my kids a lot of days.  But even that tiny little bit of time has been a game changer for me.  It allows me to get my mind right before our morning really starts, and I don't feel like I'm starting the day already behind.  And saving just a few minutes to pray for my kids before they come running downstairs helps me a lot in remembering my goal as a mom - to teach my kids about Jesus and lead them to Him.  Having those few minutes to put that in the forefront of my mind has been wonderful for shifting my perspective and keeping me calmer when the morning craziness starts!


Do you have a regular morning routine, or are you in a slow-morning stage of life?  


A Fresh Start

 


This post is brought to you by my brand new computer! 

It has been seven years since we bought my last laptop.  It had a good long run, before yesterday when it started taking 10 minutes to do whatever I asked it to do.  So we went out yesterday afternoon and picked up a new computer for me.

I still had to do school with the kids this morning, so I'm just now sitting down and getting it set up.  

I had a bit of a decision to make when the Mac guy asked if I wanted to transfer my data from my old laptop to my new one.  On the one hand, doing a transfer is the only way to make sure I don't lose anything.  On the other hand, there seemed to be something really nice about leaving all that "old" on the old laptop, and starting completely new.  Kind of like a drastic digital declutter, all at once.

I decided not to transfer anything.  I put some files that I thought I'd want to keep on my external hard-drive, and I'll keep them on there. I'm getting a completely fresh start with this new laptop.

The keys feel different, and the screen doesn't have any dust on it, and it feels nice just to type and have nothing freeze up on me.  I hope you'll allow me a chatty, nothing sort of post today.  I feel like I'm still running to catch up with the week, and I don't have anything good to say surrounding my theme for the month.  So let's just chat.

A Crazy Few Days

The last few days have been crazy.  Our car broke down recently, so we have been driving everywhere in two cars, and we checked out a couple new car options to see if we can find another car that we can afford that will also carry us all.  So it's been a lot of driving, and a lot of late nights driving all over the place, and picking up our car from the mechanic, and running out yesterday to buy me a new laptop.  To make a long story short, we are sleep-deprived and tired of driving.  But we're headed out to AWANA tonight anyway, and I think I need an afternoon cup of coffee to keep me awake for it.  It's that kind of week.

On the plus side, we did go to a pumpkin patch in the middle of driving all over creation, so I have some cute pictures to share whenever I get set up to edit photos on here!

A Little Library Trip

Last week we finally took a walk to our little local library, which we haven't visited since everything shut down in March.  I love that tiny little library. It smells a little musty, like old paper and glue.  There is a tree with pretty leaves right outside, and it blankets the ground every October.  For some reason when I rent books from that library, I actually end up reading them, unlike the books I get from big library in town.  The little library books just feel more worthy of being read for some reason.  Anyway, I picked up The Grapes Of Wrath and a story collection from an author I've never heard of, but the first story already made me cry.  I'll do a book roundup soon and share more.  But I've finally given up on forcing myself to read from a list, and I'm just reading whatever strikes me fancy.  I'm a chronic reader of many books at once.  It's incurable.

A Trip To Montana

This weekend I am flying to Montana with my mom for my cousin's wedding.  I've never flown out of state for a wedding before, so it will be an adventure. The wedding is another reason why it feels like I can't catch up this week.  I haven't even had a chance to do a test-pack (necessary since I'm trying to pack everything in my "personal item" so we don't have to pay for luggage).  I haven't even decided what to wear.  Our flight was pushed back by a couple hours, so my mom and I have to wear our wedding outfits on the plane, because we'll basically be driving from the airport to the venue.  What does one wear to be comfortable on an airplane and look good at a wedding? It's a conundrum.

It's going to be a whirlwind trip, and I wish we had a little more margin to check out Montana.  But I'll probably get to sit next to my mom on the plane, and that will hopefully be a nice time to visit with her.  So it'll still be good I think.  

A Hairdo Dilemma

Those of you who have been around a while know that I usually have short hair, but I've been letting it grow out some this year.  It's now shoulder-length, and I like that I can pull it up when I want to, though the length is still slightly awkward and not quite long enough for a bun.  But I kind of hate it down right now.  It just feels like so much hair.  I think I'll get a trim before I decide whether to chop it or give it another few months to get a little longer.

And I think when you start rambling about whether to get a haircut, it's time to bring the post to a close.  I'm sorry this doesn't quite fit with my 31 Days theme.  Let's just call this is a collection of "small things", the kinds of things you might ramble about to a friend over coffee.  An afternoon coffee.  Because it's been that kind of week.

How's your week going?





Some Thoughts On Habits





I am not an expert on habits, but I do know that habits matter. Habits shape what I do every day - what I eat, where I go, how I speak to my family. I wanted to spend a little time considering  habits on my blog this month. If there was ever a “small thing” that can make a big impact - for the good or not - habits are it.

I first became aware of what a hold that habits can have on me when I tried to break a rather addictive habit - getting coffee every time I made the drive down to town. I’d near the turn off for our mountain Starbucks, and the struggle would begin. “No,” I’d tell myself, “you don’t need a coffee.” But then I’d think about how I really wanted a coffee, and how nice it would be to have something hot to drink while I ran my errands, and I found myself turning off anyway. 

Habits are hard to break, even by sheer willpower. This can be good if you’ve developed a beneficial habit, but in my experience the good habits are never as consuming as the bad habits you are trying to break. Just try NOT picking up your phone for an hour, and you’ll see what I mean. 

But then I picked up a book about habits a few years ago (The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg), and I started to figure out why I was still doing things I was trying not to do. Learning the tricks and a little bit of the phsychology and physiology of habits can help a ton when you are trying to break a habit! I don’t remember everything I read in that book, but there is one aspect that stuck in my brain. It’s been a game changer in figuring out how to turn habits to my advantage.

That thing is habit triggers.



It turns out that most habits that we develop are connected to a trigger. My trigger for buying coffee was errand days (especially if I missed breakfast). My trigger for picking up my phone is boredom. The idea is that once you’ve figured out what your trigger is, you can either break the trigger, or change the habit that you associate with the trigger to something more beneficial.

Just knowing that tidbit about triggers and how habits are connected to them helped me a ton in breaking the “code” to my own habits. It helped me think through how I could break bad habits and develop better ones. 

I’m reminding myself of this now as I consider some habits this month, good and bad, that I’d like to develop or adjust.

For example, if I know that I am going to want coffee when I run errands, I can plan ahead and bring my coffee from home, or I can find a less expensive coffee place to become my new habitual stop. Or I can leave my phone plugged into the wall during the day and carry a book around to pick up when I get that restless, bored feeling. These are just quick examples, to really be successful I probably have to evaluate my habit triggers a little more to figure out the best substitute. But it’s something I’m thinking about and working through right now.

Have you ever considered whether your habits (especially bad ones) have triggers?



(P.S. I hope you’ll excuse me if there are errors in this post, and forgive me for the fact that I don’t have the book suggestion linked - I’m blogging from my phone today because my computer is conking out on me! Time to get a new one I think.)

Social Media And Me: An Update

 


Last year I unfriended half of my Facebook friends. 

It seemed like a drastic move, but it was the culmination of months of evaluation of social media and how I was using it.  I hated how my first instinct in the morning had become checking my phone.  I hated how I would randomly find myself with my phone in my hand and social media open, without actually remembering reaching for my phone.  I hated how social media had affected some of my friendships, and how it was affecting my own attitude toward the world.  I hated that it was stealing my time.


At the time, Facebook was my biggest struggle, so that is where I put all my thought and effort.  What were the things I liked about Facebook?  What were the things I didn’t like?  How could I make adjustments to keep the aspects that were useful to me and discard the rest?  What was making me waste so much time on Facebook, and how could I eliminate those factors?


After a lot of thought and even prayer about the subject, I decided the only thing that would help would be to drastically cut my friends list, unfollow a bunch of pages, and keep my Facebook use to the function that was most useful to me - which was sharing photos with my close family and friends who appreciated seeing them.  I wrote a whole post about my unfriending process here.  I think it even shocked some of you!  But I knew in my heart it had to be done.


Since I took the steps I outlined in that post, I have felt so much more free in regards to Facebook.  It’s not the time suck for me that it used to be.  I might check it once a day, but since I cracked down on my notifications and the people I follow, there is rarely something new.  I hop on and I hop off.  I’ll occasionally share albums so my grandparents can see my photos, and occasionally I’ll share an article that I find interesting, but that is rare.  My Facebook use overall has probably declined by 70%, and it feels great!


However, Instagram is a different story.





Is it possible that all my bad social media habits just switched over to Instagram?  Did the pandemic throw me off, since social media was the only way to connect with my friends for a while? I don’t know what went wrong, but Instagram has been slowly taking over my life this year, and I’ve realized that it’s time for me to re-evaluate that platform now.  I’m hoping I can make a similar transformation to my relationship with Facebook, because once again I find myself with my phone in my hand and Instagram open, without knowing how I got there.


I hate how social media (Instagram) steals all the free moments in my day.  Yes, they are small moments, times when I’m waiting for a child to finish a worksheet so we can move on to the next subject, or waiting in the line at the grocery store.  The ten minutes after my Bible reading in the morning, when I type out a quick Instagram post.  A half hour after my workout when I post a short video.  


But all those “small moments” add up to a lot of time, time that could be better spent on other things.  I could read a book while waiting for that worksheet.  I could shoot a quick text to a real-life friend in the grocery store line.  I could spend ten minutes memorizing Scripture.  I could take some time to just be still and think.


Those things are all worth so much more, in the long run, than a few hearts on Instagram.


So it’s time to evaluate Instagram.  Usually I would wait for my annual social media break, but after having a chat with Derek, I think I’m going to try a different approach to making Instagram adjustments.  More on that coming up this month.


Do you have any boundaries in place for yourself in regards to your time on social media? Or have you taken any measures to make it easier?

Sunday Quotes | Vol. 1



 

 "The voices of children echo throughout life.  The first thing learned is generally the last thing forgotten."

-Charles Spurgeon, Come Ye Children 

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It's going to be tricky to get a post up on Sundays during my 31 Days of blogging, so I am keeping it simple with Sunday quotes.  Every week I'll share a quote that stood out to me from one of the books I'm reading.  This one stopped me in my tracks because it's so true, and I want to take care to teach my children to look to Christ always.  I hope that's one of the things they learn first in our house, and I need to take care not to neglect this in favor of meaningless distractions.

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On Sundays I'll also try to give a peek at the week ahead!  Here's my tentative schedule (keep in mind that this may change, but if one topic sounds particularly interesting to you, let me know and I'll prioritize it).


Monday: Social Media And Me: An Update

Tuesday: My Morning Routine

Wednesday: A Few Thoughts On Habits

Thursday: An Argument For Creating Tangible Things 

Friday: To be determined

Saturday: To be determined


A Worthy Way To Spend A Life




"Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here...
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear."

We sang the words, surrounded by faces that will forever be seared into my memory.  As we sat, I looked down at the program for the memorial.  The face of a dear lady, one of my many "church grandmas" from my childhood, smiled up at me.


"Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land."

Another dear face, a pastor I haven't seen since I was 12 years old, stood behind the pulpit etched with the words "Jesus Is Lord".  He spoke about how Jesus could return at any moment, and how we all long for the day when we can see His face, as the woman we had all gathered to remember is looking upon Him now.  And my eyes filled with tears, my heart filled with something bittersweet.  She led a life well lived for Christ, and unlike some memorials, I knew the kind words about her were not exaggerated in the wake of her death.  I knew all the words about her faithful service were true.

I hugged her husband, a white-haired "church grandpa", and choked up a little again.

We gathered downstairs for refreshments, and I looked at the quilted wall hangings she had made, photographs of her in her wedding dress. Her name will not be in a headline or a history book.  But there is nothing small about quietly serving others, and faithfully encouraging them to know and love Jesus more.  This is a truly worthy way to spend a life.  And the One who matters most, He sees and rewards His faithful servants. 

I looked around at all the people she had made an impact on, people who still are such a dear part of my own story.  And I realized, this lump in my throat wasn't just sadness for a lady a wouldn't see again, and a time that has passed.  I realized it was also joy.  Because no matter where life takes us, I know someday I'll gather with all these dear people again, around His throne, and there will be joy untainted by sorrow forevermore. And this all because of our precious Savior.  

This wasn't a funeral to grieve; this was a memorial to celebrate what Christ has done to save us, and to look forward to the time when we will see her again.  What a beautiful thing to be able to say.  What a wonderful way to remember one who has entered His glory.  And what a Savior, who takes away the sting even from death.  


 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”...But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."  

1 Corinthians 15:55,57



 

Read all my 31 Days Of Small Things posts here.

The Art Of Coziness: Analyzing My Favorite Fall Show

 


As I type, I'm sipping on a warm chai.  I hear the kids laughing and chanting a rhyme outside the window as warm beams of sunlight angle across the grass.  I'm in my cozy pajamas, and the twinkle lights are on.

I figured if I'm going to write about coziness, I might as well get in a cozy mood.

This sudden inspiration for coziness actually came at the end of a pretty rotten day.  I checked, and there is a full moon right around the corner, so that might explain it (there is something to that).  Everything was a struggle all day, and I quickly found myself retreating into "hide" mode - meaning I locked myself in the closet a couple times to calm myself.  Let's just say the atmosphere of the home was not what I wanted it to be yesterday.

After working out and taking a shower, I put on an episode of Gilmore Girls while I fixed my hair.  I'm rewatching the show this fall - the last time I watched it all the way through, Wyatt was a baby, so it's been a while.  And I started thinking about how many times I've referred to Gilmore Girls as a "cozy fall show".  What exactly made it so cozy anyway?  And could I replicate that for my kids?  A little coziness would be a nice reset for everyone.

After careful analysis (ahem), I pinpointed all the elements that make Gilmore Girls so cozy to me.


Warm Lighting 

If you pay attention, you'll notice there is so much warm light in the show - everywhere you look there are twinkle lights or lamps lit - and I think that's a big part of what makes it cozy.  It gives you the feeling of being tucked inside a warm house.  Whether it's candles, lamps (of which I want to buy more), or twinkle lights, I think that aspect would be really easy to replicate daily in our home.  I already do this somewhat with candles, but I want to get a couple more good lamps to illuminate the dark corners.

Good Books 

Is there anything more cozy than curling up with a good book?  If you are a reader, you can't help but love all the references to books in Gilmore Girls - I don't know if all the books mentioned are actually good, but you know the characters think they are good, and that's what counts.  We've been adding more just-for-fun read-aloud time to our homeschool, and it's something I want to remember as a cozy way to reset.

Seasonal Decorations 

They really go all out on the seasonal decorations in Stars Hollow, don't they?  I'd love to know if any real-life town is like that.  All I know is that my kids are always excited when I pull out the the fabric pumpkins and faux foliage that I keep in the box under my bed.  When things are starting to get stale around the house, some seasonal decorations are a nice touch to make everyone feel like staying home!

Warm Drinks 

Chai, cider, hot chocolate, and of course, coffee. Are the characters in that show ever not drinking something warm? I am blessed to be able to say that every morning I'm awakened by the smell of coffee, thanks to Derek, and it's glorious!  But since I don't let my kids drink the stuff yet, I've been buying extra jugs of apple juice at the store lately, so I can periodically make hot cider in the crockpot.  It makes the whole house smell good, and it's perfect for keeping everyone happy while we read aloud.

Music 

There is so much music mentioned in Gilmore Girls, not to mention the town minstrel, and it sets the mood for the whole show. This is something I'm terrible at, but I would really like to get better at remembering to add some music into our day.  I could start something in the morning while we do our Bible time, or I could play soft music over nap/quiet time.  I think music would be a really great way to calm the house a bit and boost some moods.

A Busy Kitchen 

This is one I never thought about before, but as I was watching the show last night, it struck me that in so many of the episodes, there is a busy kitchen scene (usually with Suki).  Even if we don't see Suki, Lorelei and Rory are always ordering in good food.  There is something about just knowing that there is something good to eat in the kitchen, or something bubbling on the stove, that makes the whole thing that much more comforting - like virtual comfort food. 

I would like my house to feel like that for my kids, like anytime they walk in the kitchen there might be something good to eat waiting for them.  I've never been good about meal planning, and even baking (something I love to do) has fallen off in recent months.  I'd like to put a little more attention back into the kitchen this winter.

A Close-Knit Community 

It's sad that so many Americans have never really experienced a close-knit community, isn't it?  Stars Hollow, with it's host of eccentric characters that care about each other despite their oddities, is not exactly the norm anymore.  We've lost something.  

I think 50-100 years ago, more people knew what a small community felt like.  But if you are lucky, you've been part of a close-knit community at some point in your life.  When I was growing up, we went to a really small, close-knit church that almost felt like family,  Even today, my own family has enough roots in the town where I live that occasionally someone I don't recognize will ask how a family member is.  There are remnants here and there.  

Even as it's harder to find a close-knit community for my children to grow up within, I am trying to build our own, with family, friends, and our church family.  Even if we didn't have an option for those things, there is a sense in which a family is it's own little community, and if it's a Christian family, it is by nature a small cell of a larger community that stretches around the world - the church, the body of Christ.  A family can support and love each other despite oddities, and even host their own "community events" in the form of traditions - and we can connect ourselves to the larger context of the church through learning about church history and heroes of the faith.  So even as Stars Hollow towns are more rare, I think there are ways to still give our families that sense of belonging to something bigger.  We just have to keep your eyes out for opportunities.


Is it worth all this effort to add some coziness to our life?  Does this really matter?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, about how we as moms can help set a good atmosphere for our home.  I sincerely think it's something that is worth pouring into.  For me, chaotic days like yesterday happen too often for my liking. But my hope is that, overall, when my children grow up, they'll hear the word "home" and think of a cozy, safe place, with parents, family, and friends who love them.  

In a sense, a person's idea of home can even shape their idea of Heaven, and the God who reigns over all.  I don't always reflect Him to my kids as well as I want to, within the atmosphere of our home (or in general, honestly).  But in these small ways, I'm trying, and I'm praying the Lord will use my sometimes pitiful efforts and make something beautiful out of it by His grace.  


What do you do to make your home cozy for the fall or winter?  Do you feel like you are part of a close-knit community?  And, most pertinently, what other cozy fall shows should I check out?



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