A Day in the Life of a Home Educator (with 11 yr old and 7 yr old) – Lockdown 3.0 edition
6:30 – My sunrise clock is in full glow and mechanical birds are chirping at me. As I fumble for the touch-button that shuts up the birds, I try not to pitch the whole clock onto the floor (who makes a clock in the shape of a frisbee?!).
Next, I fumble for the touch-button on the SAD lamp and tap it until my eyes squint from the brightness. I lay in bed about ten minutes allowing the 10,000 lux to soak into my eyeballs through my closed eyelids. I’m finally awake. Honestly, better than coffee. I lay in bed another 20 minutes reading Sam Irby’s Wow, No Thank You and soak up some more fake sun.
7:00 – Toilet, teeth cleaning and hair combed and clipped up
7:15 – Check my phone for messages. My family live in the US and sh** be crazy there so I check in on them pretty early.
7:20– Groom Heidi. I don’t understand why my dog is blowing her undercoat in January, but lately I brush enough hair out of her on the daily to create another small dog or three. Usually, I find this part of my day meditative, but not today.
7:45 – It’s time for Heidi’s daily frozen carrot, except we don’t have any. I saw a headline about shop shelves looking worse post-Brexit than they did in lockdown 1.0 and I am scared. I cut her a stick of cheese instead. She is not sorry about this.
7:50 – I put water on for the dog’s breakfast and the oven on for the kids’ breakfast and clear the dishrack.
7:52 – Pop my dry muffin mix in the blender (I try to block off an hour on Sunday mornings to have a cup of tea and the kitchen to myself to measure a week’s breakfast ingredients as I am clearly not a morning person and am always running late), measure the wet ingredients into the blender, blend.
7:58 – Water’s boiling. Make Heidi’s breakfast. Start more water for coffee.
8:00 – Throw chocolate chips into the muffin mix. Grease tin. Pour mix. Pop in the oven.
8:05 – Make coffee. Distractedly wash up my breakfast-making mess, my husband’s breakfast dishes, our teacups from the night before.
8:20 – Wake the children who were ‘supposed’ to be up and eating breakfast 20 minutes ago. This is how winter usually works for us. I say a silent thank you for lockdown 3.0 because otherwise we would be running late for something and I would be stressed. Mister 11 has woken up grumpy because an adult tooth is forcing a baby tooth out and it’s been sore and bothering him all night. Miss Seven has to be woken up a second time.
8:30 – Mister 11 wipes the table and Miss Seven helps me carry the plates and cutlery to the table for breakfast. The children begin eating while I take my husband his coffee in the other room. I sit down at the table with my own coffee. I eat a muffin because I know I should eat breakfast even though I am not hungry. Coffee is my breakfast. I read to the kiddos from The Midnight Swan while they eat. My breakfast is cold before I finish it.
9:08 – The kids run upstairs to ‘get ready for the day’ while I do the washing up. Then I ‘get ready for the day’ myself. Clothes. Bedclothes. Deep breathing exercises. Positive affirmations. Whatever.
9:37 – Walk the dog as a family. We may strongly dislike lockdown, but my dog is never happier than when all her people come for a walk and we do this all.the.time.now.
The kids are taking an Outschool class that requires taking two pictures each week and writing a paragraph about each. There is a theme for each photo – a family tradition, a special trinket, motion, colour, etc. The teacher responds to their paragraphs with enthusiasm for all that they have to be grateful for. There is no correction of grammar or anything like that. It’s basically a gratitude journal. We take some pictures of the dog in motion and Miss Seven making a big splash in a puddle and talk about how much we love our goofy dog and how walking the dog in the rain is no fun but walking the dog in puddles is the best.
10:57 – We all wash our hands and have a cup of water when we get home.
11:03 – I get Miss Seven going on touch typing lessons and make sure Mister 11 understands his maths instruction for the day and then I throw on a load of laundry. Technically, we take a break from ‘school work’ in the winter, but I try to hold the space for it. I try to maintain the rhythm, but change up the ‘work.’ Miss Seven does typing so her brother doesn’t feel put out that he still has to do maths. He’s 11 and he hasn’t completed the year’s maths. We’re having hard conversations right now about his ADHD and his understanding of time and time management and tools that work with the weird and wonderful brain he has been given instead of him beating himself up for who he is. After the essentials, we work on homemade mukluks and a hand-knitted scarf – their chosen winter projects.
12:05 – We break for 45 minutes of video games. They play Minecraft together on the WiiU.
12:25 – I nip to the shop because I really must get carrots and some other bits. It’s fine. There are flour and pasta and jarred tomato products and everything. Not an empty shelf to be seen. Whew.
13:00 – I spray the groceries down with rubbing alcohol and leave them to dry. I wash my hands and then make some crepes for lunch.
13:25– Lunch with the family. It’s nice having hubby home for lunch. It’s not as nice fielding grumpy WhatsApp messages during lunch from my Trump-supporting family and friends. These are (mostly) sane people ya’ll. And people that I love and (usually) respect. I don’t get it either.
13:45 – Wash up again. Put the shopping away as it’s dry now. Make Heidi’s lunch. Make tea for me and the fella.
14:02 – I take my tea upstairs for a rest. When the weather is particularly grey, like today, my energy is mostly drained by this point and I need to recharge in the glow of my fake sun. Today I get distracted by an email that says our discounted Code Kingdoms accounts can be set up. The kids have been waiting for this for two weeks. I can come back to my fake sun in a minute…
14:30 – Back to fake-sunbathing. I open my emails for work related purposes and find an email from Miss Seven’s Speech Therapist. I dither over a short response for half an hour, trying to get the balance just right because as a good home educator I know I mustn’t be too under- or overwhelming in the details.
15:00 – I remind the children that our new deal is they must practice their musical instruments to get cake pops for afternoon snack. Now, obviously, if they are hungry they can always grab fruit or yoghurt. But this is cake, mixed with frosting, covered in chocolate, so yeah, it’s not going to slake hunger and it demands a little something extra in exchange for all of my efforts. I don’t make cake out of love. I make vegetable hot pot out of love. I make cake for bribery.
15:10 – More tea and a cake bomb for me. I try to bash out 20 minutes of writing for work.
15:30 – Zoom meeting for my other job. I’m not entirely sure what this meeting is about, but I think it’s just that one of us can’t stand organising everything via text messages and it’s not like we can meet in person so it’s fair enough. I am antisocial right now so I can totally text everything. Stuff it. I take a few notes. I fold laundry while we talk. I don’t think the others in the meeting mind. They’re home ed mums too. There’s even a child in the meeting!
16:10 – My tea is stone cold. I totally forgot to finish it before my meeting. Oh well. I send emails for one job. I write some more for the other job. Neither job pays by the way. But I have to do something that isn’t my kids with my day or I would go insane.
16:50 – Plug in dying laptop. Write for 20 minutes more. I don’t always spend all afternoon huddled in my room away from my kids like today. ** Winter can be like that. In lockdown 3.0 it is certainly like that.
I usually spend winter out of the house as much as possible so other people’s kids can fill my kids’ cups. Feeding, watering, and pointing them in the right direction is pretty much all I’ve got right now. But at seven and 11 they’re pretty used to me and my season. Mister 11 looks out for Miss Seven and they get on with things. Dad is here too, if need be. I do wonder how we will fare, long term, in lockdown 3.0.
17:10 – Hoover the living room before Zoom ballet. Did I mention all the dog floof? I had very house-proud parents. I just can’t chance strangers seeing our dog fluff tumbleweeds floating around.
17:20 – I find this adorable painting of our dog on the table. Miss Seven loves art. If she must entertain herself, she frequently chooses a Masterpiece Society Studio video to follow along with.*** She particularly likes watercolours. Today, I missed a photo opportunity of the dog being goofy and sticking her head through the reeds on the river bank to peek at us. So, Miss Seven painted it for me instead ? I immediately hang it up on our wall of art.
Then I clear all of my work crud, tea cups, etc from the bedroom. It’s not what I want to see when I’m ready to fall into bed later. Going up and down the stairs gives me an excuse to check Miss Seven is getting her ballet kit on and I can be available if she wants help with her hair.
17:40 – I set up the laptop for ballet on Zoom and get Miss Seven’s homemade ballet bar put together for her lesson. I check with Mister 11 that he’s all good for his trial of Code Kingdoms. Then I get myself a handful of nachos because ballet night means late dinner. I try not to talk with my mouth full of food while I ask my husband questions about updating laptops to run Minecraft and Code Kingdoms which he dutifully Googles because it’s not like he’s a computer professional. How the heck would he know?
18:00 – I look up that one-pot meal recipe I saved on Pinterest. For the first time I see that line that says this recipe hasn’t been tested with gluten free pasta. I decide not to risk it and cook the pasta separately. So much for one pot.
18:40 – That one-pot meal was supposed to be ready in 30 minutes or less. Ha! At least it tastes really nice.
Hubby is feeling pretty run down by Wednesday more and more. Tonight he turns the table to face the TV and the kids and I get really excited. TV dinner is a tradition we started in lockdown 1.0 and it was reserved for Friday nights and pizza. But lockdown 3.0 provokes TV dinners as and when they are necessary. We are in each other’s space all.the.time. There just isn’t that much to talk about at dinner. And when we’re really tired, we’re bound to get a bit snippy. Hubby has recently introduced the children to Malcom in the Middle. They love it. It’s nice to share something besides space.
19:30 – Washing up. Again.
19:55 – Mister 11 asks whether his supplements for focus will also help him fall asleep. So, it’s not just the tooth keeping him up at night? It’s worth a punt.
20:00 – I make myself a big glass of water and sit down with my laptop and my dog while hubby puts Miss Seven to bed. I really want to read the Kids Moon Club info I just got back from the printer, but I made myself a deal that I couldn’t read it until I had finished my writing for the blog.
21:00 – Hubby brings me the bedtime cup of tea. I’ve finally finished that writing! Now I can enjoy my tea and read about the wolf moon with half an eye on that episode of Modern Family hubby just put on.
21:40 – Those supplements haven’t helped. I talk Mister 11 through his bedtime tools again. Neither one of us can just wait or hope for sleep. It takes effort. We talk about tensing and relaxing individual parts of the body, feeling the weightiness of our bodies, recalling Nightlights stories that were our favourites, counting sheep as a last resort. I blow him a kiss on his loft bed and wish him goodnight.
Wash face, brush teeth, brush hair out, toilet, PJs. Grab Sam Irby. It’s an essay about her period. I’m not good with blood. I hit a point where I have to skim read or be sick. I skip to the end. She’s had an endometrial ablation. She refers to it as having a charcoal grill stuffed up her insides. The humour helps me recover. A little.
22:20 – Skim reading buys me an extra 10 minutes of sleep. Unless the imagery of that essay comes back to haunt me behind my eyelids….
** It doesn’t take normal people all afternoon/ evening to write a blog post. And Katie would kill me if I implied that these blog posts were a monumental effort and scared away all potential guest writers. I.am.not.normal. I am clearly easily distracted.
***Masterpiece Society Studio only takes on new members twice each year. In 2021 that’s this week (18/01/21 – 22/01/21) and again in August for a week. If you sign up to Masterpiece Society this week using our affiliate link, you’ll be supporting podcast guests and guest writers for Home Ed Voices!