The most-asked question our larger-than-average family gets is this: "How do you handle all those kids AND homeschool?" Well, to be completely honest, we probably get the "How many kids do you plan on having anyway?" one even more often, but you'll have to ask God for the answer to that one. :) I, however, will attempt to explain how we do all that we do with 9 kids, all while keeping the peace and order in our humble abode! So, here we go! Mark and I have 8 blessings on earth so far (and 7 in Heaven), ages: 18, 11, 10, 9, 6, 5, 3, 2 and a newborn.
Below is our usual schedule, but with a newborn and a preschooler and life in general, this can all change at a moments notice. Overall, I like having a schedule so that the kids know what to expect and when, but I do NOT let it rule me. It's just a guide. It helps tremendously that we school year-round! It allows for extended holiday breaks and breaks throughout the year when I feel "burnout" coming. :) I am also a firm believer that just because a schedule works well for one family it might not work well for another, so keep that in mind when trying to create one of your own!
7:00 - wake-up, get dressed, make bed, tidy up rooms, put away night clothes and eat
7:45 or 8:00 - kitchen chores (95% done by children) and teeth brushed
8:15 - Preschool! The older kids teach younger ones preschool (it is really neat to have the older ones learn to teach their siblings...it develops their abilities in so many ways!)
8:15 - Schoolwork (math/English/spelling history/science/geography/typing - different requirements on different days). Annalise (graduated) blogs, Facebooks, keeps an eye on kids or bakes. To see our curricula that we use, click on Our Homeschool Tools (above).
12:00 - Everyone has finished school USUALLY.
12:00 or 12:30 - Lunch
After lunch - outside play time/educational games/reading/educational DVD's or YouTube unit studies (this varies according to my whim...ha)
2:30 - Judah naps until 3:30 or 4:00
4:00 - Kids are inside or start afternoon chores (feeding chickens, sweeping, weeding, sweeping/tidying garage, vacuuming stairs, cleaning bathrooms, etc.). Reading time begins when chores are completed.
5:00 - Get ready for Daddy's homecoming (vacuum, set table, ready dinner, etc.)
6:00 - Dinner kitchen cleanup by kids while Mark and I discuss our days (this is GREAT therapy for Mommy)
8:00 - Bedtime for everyone, except Annalise. She will go downstairs to the boys' area/playroom and take a shower and read, blog, etc. until she goes upstairs to go to sleep.
When do you feel as though you've actually ACCOMPLISHED all that you need to accomplish?
I would say that I feel as though I have accomplished everything I needed to accomplish if I have homeschooled the kids, done at least 1 load of laundry, done some everyday chores (dusting, vacuuming, counter tops, general upkeep, etc.), prepared a good meal, had the kids learn life skills of some kind, and I have basically "worked at home" all day. It varies so greatly what I do each day that I would say that if I felt as though I have been a worker at home, according to Titus 2. I am to be loving my husband, loving my children and being busy at home. If I've done that to the best of my ability, then I've accomplished a lot. However, it can get monotonous and it can feel as though I haven't accomplished much, BUT drudgery is part of motherhood and that's all part of God's perfect plan. See this post! The Proverbs 31 is an ideal woman, accomplishing A LOT. I don't believe that any woman could accomplish all that she did every day, and we need to keep that in mind or we'll drive ourselves crazy! BUT Proverbs 31 is a GREAT outline to use overall!
Any organizing tips or secrets?
1. Never leave a room empty-handed. Always return something to its proper place.
2. 30 second rule....If it takes less than 30 seconds to put away, do it immediately!
3. Have pick up time before Daddy gets home and before lunch time!
4. Teach kids to do chores and to pick up as they go (30 second rule with them, as well)
Any tips on how to get the kids to clean up after themselves?
As I've mentioned time and time again, we are big on "chore training". My kids all have chores. We use this age appropriate chore list as a guide. Our kids have chores as soon as they can crawl and they will pass them on to a younger sibling when the younger sibling is ready. The younger sibling will become the "apprentice" and the older becomes the "master or teacher". The younger will watch the older do the chore between 2 and 5 times before they attempt it themselves. Then they move onto doing the chore themselves, with the older one watching and instructing PROPERLY (no bossing allowed...Mommy's listening in). After about 2-5 times of the younger doing the chore under the older's supervision and instruction, the younger will do that chore on their own. From that point on, Mommy checks up on them randomly to see if it was completed properly. If it was not, then Mommy instructs the younger on how to correct it. Of course, age is always factored in.....I don't expect my two year old to wipe the table the way I would. BUT, they should be doing it to the best of their ability.
How old should a child be when they begin having chores?
Our kids start chores as soon as they can crawl, and although it's tedious to Mommy in the beginning, I've found that it pays off BIG TIME in the long run!!! What does God think about chores?
Shouldn't kids just be kids?
Unfortunately, today's society has taught us that life should be easy, kids should be kids, take the easy way out in life, but in all reality I can't find where it says any of that in Scripture. In fact, Scripture says that LEADERS and SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE will work hard! Shouldn't we be training up the future leaders of tomorrow's familys and world? Using the below Scriptures when teaching children about chores and hard work will mold their spirits now and train them for their futures! This is why we believe that children should regularly contribute to household maintenance.
*Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and never succeed. Proverbs 12:24
*He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment. Proverbs 12:11
*All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23
*Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:22-24
What are the consequences for not completing chores?
We have just recently (within the last year) paying for extra chores (not cleaning rooms or such as that....those are "normal chores" and do not receive payment. Nor do they receive payment for extra chores if their "normal chores" are left undone.). Right now "Extra Chores" are required to be done as follows:
Annalise (18) - Meal prep/cooking, Kitchen upkeep, cleaning and keeping organized the guest and children bathrooms (toilet, floors, door handles), mopping with Kaitlyn.
Kaitlyn (11) - Some meal prep/cooking, vacuuming the stairs twice a week, cleaning and keeping organized the guest and children's bathrooms (sinks, counters, mirrors), mopping with Annalise.
Ethan (10) - Tidying/organizing/sweeping garage (a little each day), collecting and taking out trash weekly or as needed, feeding and cleaning up after chickens.
Trey (9) - Sweeps all areas outside (a section each day...covered patio, front porch, walk to door, walk to storage shed, driveway), blow basketball "patio/court"off on weekends, feeds the dog and washes dog bowls once a week.
Jake (6) - Brushes dog weekly, puts towels on our dining room chairs prior to meals (to prevent stains on the fabric from the smaller children), helps Ethan with garage cleaning and upkeep, Swiffers under sofas when I vacuum.
Julia (5) - Folds two towels that go on our dining room chairs prior to meals after meals, cleans the fronts of appliances (dishwasher, fridge, microwave, oven).
Ellie (3) - Folds two towels that go on our dining room chairs prior to meals after meals.
Judah (2) - Collects cloth napkins after meals and puts them in or in front of the washer and puts away the dining room chair towels after meals.
More chores will be added soon or reorganized, as the children become proficient in the chores they've been given. These might not seem like a lot of chores, but this would not include regular chores (setting tables, clearing tables, cleaning rooms, making beds, vacuuming and dusting their bedrooms, doing their laundry, helping with "buddies" and doing seasonal/odd chores as requested by me).
This system has worked really well and, honestly, we rarely have an issue with attitudes or chore completion. They know that Daddy and I mean business. They also are used to having chores, because they start doing chores as soon as they can walk. In fact, the older ones are so used to doing their chores and do them with a proper attitude that the younger ones CAN'T WAIT to go into an "apprenticeship" under the older ones to learn the chores! Now, yes, chores get repetitious, but they do get done with correct attitudes and without being told (the majority of the time, anyway - no one's perfect).
I hope this was of some help and an encouragement to you! May you all be WORKERS AT HOME and follow God and His Word in all you do!