With juggling four children, two businesses, home care, and homeschooling, you can imagine that our rhythm and routine are very full. Having a daily rhythm helps us keep the peace and all be as intentional with our time as we can.
Rather than trying to stick to a rigid schedule, I have found that creating a general rhythm for our days helps us all feel more in control and at peace, without feeling like a failure if things don’t happen at exact times. I do like to have general times in mind for our days, but I try to keep our days open with a lot of margin so that when things don’t go as planned, there is room to shift things around.
We rely heavily on a visual schedule using these cards. It is especially helpful for me to look at throughout the day to recall what we have going on and for my children that do best knowing what to expect. Honestly, all of us use and love having it. I set it up in such a way that I can put the cards in order for each day and move them around when things shift and change. I do this by using an adhesive-backed velcro strip on my wall and then cutting pieces of the soft side of the velcro on the back of each card.
As a working and homeschooling mom with littles, having a daily and weekly rhythm frees me up to work when it’s time to work and rest when it’s time to rest. Without this, I also can’t imagine we would be very consistent in completing our homeschool lessons because there is always something that comes up with having little ones and running a business.
I have learned that our daily rhythm is an ever-changing element, always needing to be adapted to the changes in our home life. Our rhythm shifts, at least slightly, a few times a year. I have blogged multiple times about our daily rhythm because it has changed so many times over the years.
Previous daily rhythm blog posts: Our Homeschool Preschool Daily Rhythm, Homeschooling with a Baby in Tow, Our Family Rhythms 2022: Homeschooling with Two Toddlers in Tow
A bit about our work life
My husband owns his own carpentry and cabinet business. He does his computer work from home in the early mornings but spends most of the weekdays out in the field at his workshop and in customers’ homes. He leaves the house around 8 am and comes home around 5:30 pm. The exception is on Fridays when he works from home all morning and then works with me in the afternoons. He is currently heading up Treehouse Schoolhouse’s photography and video department, so Friday afternoons we take pictures, film videos, and work on content together.
I currently spend about 15-20 hours a week creating content, writing blog posts, developing curriculum, filming, and communicating with the Treehouse Schoolhouse team. I do the majority of this work during the hours that our afternoon nanny comes. Sometimes I also spend early mornings writing or a bit on Saturdays.
A bit about our nanny
For a long time, I tried to run a business and manage my home and children with no outside help. It came to a point that I knew I either needed to lay my business down or hire help. When we were able to implement regular childcare, I was finally able to do each area of my life with more excellence. Having a nanny has freed me up to be present in my work while working, and present in my motherhood and homeschooling while not. I am very grateful we were able to find a nanny who thrives in creating a rich environment for my children to be creative and use their imaginations in play. We provide her with the resources to fill the afternoons with handcrafts, projects, games, outings, and creative play. Sometimes I save a craft or cooking project that aligns with our lessons for her to complete in the afternoons. Other times, she comes up with creative ideas on her own. Being homeschooled herself, she understands our values, thrives in this position, and loves continuing our lifestyle into the afternoons while I am working.
She is with the children four afternoons a week from 1:30-5:30. Her main responsibility in those afternoons is to be with the children, but she also does some light tidying and keeps the laundry moving while she is here. Sometimes I also ask her to do some dinner prep like chopping veggies or cooking rice for our meal. I complete the dinner when I come downstairs from my afternoon of work.
A bit about our children
Our children are currently 2, 4, 7, and 9 years old.
The 2 and 4-year-olds spend most of their day together in free play- either inside or outside. They love doing the Preschool Morning Time Bundle and being included in our lessons with Treehouse Nature Study. They especially love the hand rhymes, folk songs, fiction books, and hands-on connections. While we don’t require any formal schooling until around age 6, they are always invited to join in whatever we are doing. While it’s nothing formal or structured, I do have some intentions I keep in mind for them for these early years when creating our daily rhythm.
Related blog post: Homeschool Preschool: Five Intentions for the Early Years
During our homeschool lessons, I keep a lot of things on hand to help keep them occupied nearby. You may appreciate this post: 50 Low-Prep, Low-Mess Ideas to Engage Your Toddler.
My 7 and 9-year-olds do most of their schooling together, as you will see in our daily rhythm below. In their free time, they enjoy playing outside, drawing, doing projects, and reading.
Outings and extracurriculars
I keep our Monday-Thursday mornings reserved for homeschooling. If we go on outings or to doctor appointments on the weekdays, then they are always in the late afternoons unless we are on a break from school. Sometimes the children have lessons like piano or an art class nearby in the afternoons as well and our nanny will take them to those. We only homeschool on Mondays-Thursdays and on Friday mornings we go to our local Wild and Free group. Each Friday we meet with a large group of families for unstructured outdoor free play, such as hikes, swimming, or creek splashing. Sometimes we go on field trips with this group to places like a pumpkin patch or historic sites.
Our weekends are very relaxed and filled with free play, outings, hiking, exploring our downtown, and visits with friends and family. We often also like to try to squeeze in some one-on-one with the kids when we can, like going on a bike ride or out for a treat. Saturday nights we make homemade pizza and usually do a family movie night.
I also like to spend some of each weekend getting organized for the next week by meal planning, grocery shopping, homeschool planning, doing a library run, and cleaning or organizing areas of our home. As a general rule, we only allow screen time on the weekends, so the kids typically watch a show or play a computer game each day as well.
Our Family Daily Rhythm
Here is a quick glance at our typical weekday daily rhythm. You can scroll down to read in detail about each block.
4:45- 7a Mama Morning Time/ Workout 3x a week
7-8a All day Meal Prep/ Breakfast and Bible
8-8:45a Morning Chores, Home Care, and Free Play
8:45-9:45a Morning Time & Book Basket
9:45-10a Play Break
10-11:30a Individual Schoolwork
11:30-12p Play Break/ Lunch/ Audiobook
12-1:30p Collective Lessons
1:30-5:30p Handcrafts/ Free Play/ Outside Time
7-8:30p Time with Dad/ Read Aloud/ Bedtime
8:30-9:30p Wind Down/ Time with Husband
4:45-7 am Mama Morning Time
I start my day around 4:45 am. I couldn’t always do this, but now that everyone sleeps all night, I can. I sleep later on the weekends. Three mornings a week, I leave the house at 5:40 to go to an exercise class that starts at 6. I recently joined a boot camp-style fitness group with my sister. It takes me a bit to fully wake up, so I get up early enough to get ready, make coffee and eat a light breakfast before I go. We meet up for the 45-minute camp, and I am back home a bit after 7 am. I use my drive times to pray and sit in silence! On the other mornings, I still wake up early and spend that time reading, praying, journaling, and sometimes checking in on emails or writing. I start making breakfast around 7 if I am home. On the days I work out, my husband makes breakfast so I can take a quick shower when I get home.
7-8 am All Day Meal Prep/ Breakfast & Bible
The kids wake up between 6-7 and start their day playing or cuddling and reading on the couch while my husband is completing his morning computer work. For breakfast, we keep it pretty simple, but we do like a hot breakfast. We usually have a combination of some of the following: eggs, sourdough toast or english muffins, fruit, plain yogurt with honey and granola, and oatmeal. Once breakfast is ready my husband begins to lead the kids in Bible lessons while they eat. This year we are using the Bible portion of our homeschool curriculum. You can read more about that in this post. In the past, we’ve used many family devotionals and some days we just talk about what is going on in the world and spend time praying.
Check out our favorite family devotionals here.
During this time I am nearby in the kitchen and pop in and out of the conversation and join for prayer at the end. While in the kitchen I also eat breakfast and pack all of the kids’ lunch boxes and pack my husband’s lunch for work. We love these stainless steel bento boxes. I love that they have different colored silicone covers so I can easily customize the kid’s lunches without confusion. Having their lunch boxes packed before we start our day greatly reduces chaos during school time. We just grab their boxes and eat during lessons or outside during break. I also think ahead about what I will have for lunch, which is usually leftovers or an easy salad. I decide what we will have for dinner and do any prep that I can, like thawing out meat or throwing a meal in the slow cooker. Doing all of this upfront makes our days go so much smoother!
8-8:45 am Morning Chores, Home Care, and Free Play
My husband leaves around 8 and we clear the breakfast table and the older kids begin their Morning Chores. They used to use their chore charts from the Daily Rhythm Bundle to remind them of their responsibilities, but we have done it so long that they don’t need the assistance anymore. They have a short list that is mostly self-care like getting dressed and their bedrooms need to be tidy. Once they have completed their chores they are welcome to play inside or outside until I gather them all for Morning Time around 8:45 am. The little ones play or stay near me to “help” as I do my morning responsibilities. I get dressed, get the little ones dressed, and set the table for Morning Time and school.
8:45-9:45 am Morning Time
I gather the kids back together and give each of them their Morning Time Menus and dry erase markers. These are restaurant menu covers filled with sheets of paper that we use during morning time. First, they fill out their Calendar and Weather Charts. The little ones have simplified menus filled with the Preschool Morning Time Bundle. Then we go through the week’s hand rhyme, folk song, poetry, and picture study from Treehouse Nature Study. Sometimes we do a hands-on project that coordinates with our nature study like sculpting an animal from clay or dissecting a flower or fruit. After we finish our Morning Time lessons, we spend 20-30 minutes reading from our weekly book basket. The older children read independently from books in a curated basket filled with titles covering nature study, science, and geography topics that we are studying that week. I read picture books from the Treehouse Nature Study booklist for the week or other living books for young children.
Read more about Morning Time in this blog post: Our Homeschool Morning Time
9:45-10 am Play Break
We all take a short break while I tidy up from Morning Time and prepare a quick snack for everyone.
10-11:30 am Individual Lessons
Around 10 I call the older children back to begin their individual lessons. These are the subjects that they can work through with little to no help from me. I spend this time being available to them, but also giving the younger children my attention. During this time the kids work through copywork, cursive, math, independent reading, and typing lessons. They each have a daily checklist to help them take personal responsibility and stay on track.
To read more about exactly what curriculum we use for these subjects, read this blog post: My Homeschool Curriculum Choices for 2nd and 4th Grade
11:30 am-12 pm Break/ Lunch/ Audiobook or Podcast
When they have completed their list and I have checked it, they are free to play until around noon. Sometimes we have lunch together at the table and listen to an audiobook or podcast and other times they take their lunch outside to eat and play.
12-1:30 pm Collective Lessons
I usually set the little ones up with an activity or they are finishing up their lunch as we head into our collective lessons. Around 12:30 I put my two-year-old down for a nap and allow my three-year-old to watch a show so we can really focus without distraction. He rotates between Little Bear, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, Daniel Tiger, and Sesame Street. This is the time of our homeschooling when I read aloud and do any lessons that require me to really take the lead. For us, this is currently language arts, geography, notebooking, and enrichment projects like art, baking, and crafts. Sometimes we wrap this time up around 1 if we don’t have any time-intensive projects.
To read more about exactly what curriculum we use for these subjects, read this blog post: My Homeschool Curriculum Choices for 2nd and 4th Grade
1:30-5:30 pm Handcrafts/ Free Play/ Outside Time
As mentioned above, four days a week I work in the afternoons and our nanny has the kids. The kids spend their afternoons reading, playing outside, drawing, doing handcrafts. Sometimes they do projects with her that coordinate with our lessons and other times they are working on a longer project or skill with her over time (like currently, cross stitch and leatherwork). Much of their afternoons are just spent in unstructured free play. On the afternoon I am not working each week, we may meet up with friends or have an appointment.
5:30-7 pm Dinner
I start dinner around 5:30 and we eat around 6. It helps that I prep in the morning and our nanny helps with some meal prep as well if needed. My husband is usually home around 5:30 and also helps with dinner or setting the table. We eat dinner together and then we all work together to clean up afterward.
7-8:30 pm Time with Dad/ Read Aloud/ Bedtimes
Most nights my husband reads a chapter book to the older children while I take the younger ones upstairs for a bath or reading in my bed. We work on bedtime together and everyone is asleep or at least in their rooms, reading with their bed lights by 8:30.
8:30-9:30 pm Wind Down/ Time with Husband
My husband and I spend some time connecting about our day. Sometimes I shower in the evenings, read, or catch up with friends. I try to be in bed around 9 and asleep by 9:30.
We have very full days, but having a daily rhythm helps us fit in rest, work, play, and school without it feeling overwhelming (usually!). Sometimes we throw the entire thing out on a random weekday and spend the day out and about getting breakfast and exploring a forest or staying in pajamas and having a play day. Having a plumbline of what our days look like though, gives me the freedom to go off that rhythm and not feel totally out of control because I can quickly find my way back.