Tag Archives: Meal Planning

Its been one of those days

I think all of us has had ‘one of those days’. Well it’s a Monday, and it’s a Monday after a time change so I have a strong feeling it will be one of those days everyday for the next week or so. If you have young kids, special needs kids, or maybe even no kids then you know what I mean. That one hour time difference can wreck havoc to your normal routines.

My kids don’t understand what is going on except that they are more tired and cranky than usual. Their stomachs are telling them it’s time to eat and Momma is making them wait which makes them irritable beyond belief. When you multiply that by 5 (the youngest ones) then things can get rough, really rough. The nonstop bickering and squabbling before lunch time had me threatening to send everyone back to bed for the day. Sigh, it was pretty awful.

The littles were up before 6:00! They had gotten themselves dressed and came to my bedroom asking for breakfast. Well, Momma was in the shower and they posted themselves by the bathroom door and made sure I knew they were there. They were all excited when I opened the door and they went and turned on the kitchen light, which is the signal that everyone can get up, and began making their rounds to wake everyone up. I had to explain to them that it wasn’t time yet and that Momma needed a few minutes to herself. I sent them back to their room to play quietly until 7:00, which I am certain seemed like it would be an eternity to them.

Momma really needed her ‘quiet time’ this morning. I knew from past experience that things can get rough and hairy after Daylight Savings Time so I wanted to prepare myself. I was able to get through my morning prayer and some of my devotional before being interrupted again by some very impatient and hungry little boys. The little time I had was well worth it and it did help to sustain me through the morning.

When everyone was up they just wanted to argue and complain about everything from making their beds (which they do everyday before breakfast) to putting their dirty dishes up. The littles didn’t want to help with their laundry or straightening their room. The older ones didn’t want to their morning chores and really weren’t interested in school work at all.

I had put some calming oil in our diffuser and some quiet music on to no avail. It did not seem to have any affect on the crankiness or irritability today.  I wish I had taken some photos of all the grumpy faces at the table this morning.

On top of cranky kids I had to make some phone calls to try to straighten out a problem with one of our phones. Well, this was the 3rd or 4th time I’ve called and I couldn’t get anyone on the other end of the phone to understand the problem. When I ask for a manager they just hang up on me. I guess I’ll be trying again tomorrow.

Then we had an issue with one of the sites we use for lessons. Not sure if it was all technical problems or more user error. Both of my younger girls seem to have lost the ability to read directions and work independently today. So, while attempting to do a reading lesson with my special needs son, and then some hands on work with the littles both of the girls kept interrupting with silly things.

However, we did make to lunch time with all but one of the kids finished with their school work. The one who didn’t will just have to finish it tomorrow as he has been in meltdown mode all day. He likes his schedule, if anything messes with his schedule then he gets mad, upset, angry at the world (which is everyone in the house right now). He was certain he would starve to death before lunch time got here, even after a mid-morning snack, but I am pleased to say that he did survive and so did I!

After lunch was nap time, Hallelujah! I’m not kidding, I was thanking God for letting me make it to nap time without completely losing all patience. Did I mention that I’ve been feeling a little puny the past few days? Well, 1 sick momma + 5 cranky kids = lots of unhappy people. Not a happy equation at all. It took a lot of prayers to keep my sanity and patience this morning.

So, finally everyone went down for a nap and I finished up with my house blessing aka cleaning. Mr. Starving refused be quiet, he has been talking almost non-stop for 2 days in a row! He wants to make sure everyone knows that he is not happy with this change of routine.

When my teenage daughter was up and about I left to run some errands and have some ‘me’ time… grocery shopping. Yep, I consider grocery shopping as ‘me’ time. At least it wasn’t too busy but I do believe there were quite a few other people who were not liking this time change either.

So, I am home again. Dinner is in the crock pot, thank goodness, and it smells wonderful. I was going to make some rolls, I still might, but we may end up just buttering some bread to go with it. I’ve sent the kids out to play, hoping they will get rid of some of that pent up energy.

I sat down to check my site and I hear one of the kids screaming which isn’t unusual when they are playing. Then another says someone is bleeding, I get up to go see and big sister already had little man with her. He had blood on his head, don’t panic, as a fairly seasoned Momma of 9 I know that it is usually worse than it first looks.

I escort little man to the bathroom and explain to him that we need to clean it up and check it out. He wants to know if he needs to go to the doctor or if he can go back outside to play. That’s a boy for you. He stayed amazingly calm through the whole process and as it turns out it was just a little scratch on the top of his head. After a kiss and a few minutes of rest he was ready to play again. I thank God again for keeping him safe.

I think I’m going to finish up here and go have a few ‘quiet’ minutes to myself in my room before dinner time gets here. Maybe I can finish up my devotional for today? I will sit by my window and watch my kiddos playing in the yard and just try to enjoy the rest of the day and pray that it will go smoother than this morning did. (If it doesn’t get better we may have an early bed time.)

When it’s all said and done though I am thankful for everyday, good or bad, because I know that God is working in our midst. He is using days like today to teach us patience and understanding. He is making us stronger and wiser and preparing us for things that lie ahead. He is there for us and will give us what we need, if we will only seek his word and ask him for his help.

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Our ever changing homeschool routine

Original Blog Post April 15, 2016
I just posted about the beginnings of our homeschooling journey. We have made several changes and continue to make changes as needed to keep everything running as smoothly as possible. When we first started this school year I was a bit overambitious and I was stressed.
I must thank the FlyLady for helping get my routines set up and keeping me motivated! There is also a FB group for anyone who is interested in learning more about this method. With that being said a routine is very important also. At least for our family that is. We have one child who has Down’s Syndrome and ADHD as well as some other issues and another child who has ADHD and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder).
Routine is the key to helping everyone stay on track. With a routine they know what is expected and when it is expected. We have tried various charts and methods for posting our routine. It was pretty strict at first but I have relaxed a lot since we first started. We do have a few things posted as a general outline of the day.
I have some visual learners and they really need to see it every day. Then we also have a HUGE calendar that we keep things on also. This has made a tremendous difference with my kids. We did have another schedule board posted in the kitchen. It had our morning chores and morning school activities on it. The kids would move a clothespin down to each activity and they really enjoyed it. The only problem was that occasionally we wouldn’t do something in the order it was on the chart and my one son would get really upset about it. Now its just more of a general ‘To-Do’ list that we need to complete for the morning, afternoon and evening.
I usually get up about 6:00 am and take my quick shower. I will get dressed and fix my hair. Then I head to the kitchen and try to sneak in a little ‘Mommy Time’ before the pitter-patter of little feet. I will fix my coffee and go over my daily schedule on my online calendar. I have been known to forget about a doctor’s appointment or such. I also try to look at the menu and get started on dinner if it is a crockpot meal. (Menus will be another post.) I will usually unload the dishwasher and put away the dishes that go in the top cupboards. I leave the lower cupboard items on the counter for the girls to put up when they get up.
I have been trying to keep the kids in their rooms until 7:00 am to give me a little time but sometimes the little guys find their way to the kitchen before then. I will fix breakfast and usually have it on the table when the kids make it to the kitchen. The basic morning routines for the kids include:
Wake up
Make your bed
Get dressed
Brush your hair
Go potty (I have a few who still need to be reminded of this on a pretty consistent basis.)
Eat breakfast
Brush your teeth
I keep it fairly simple and we do have a small sheet posted with pictures (for those who can’t read yet) and words to help remind them of what needs done.
After breakfast everyone helps with a quick clean up and some chores which vary day by day. We even include these on our school schedule as ‘Life Skills’ as they are learning how to care for a home. While the kids are cleaning up I get the laptops set up for school and get everyone’s work out for the day. (I have a multi-tabbed color coded folder which helps me stay organized. Each child has a different color.)I usually just open up tabs on the laptops with each assignment for the day. When they finish the assignment they leave the tab open until I come around and check.
We then have our ‘Morning Time/Circle Time’, not sure what to call it, where we go over patterns, calendar, counting, money/time, weather, bible, and whatever extra materials I have set out for the day. (Again I have a 3-ring binder with different activities organized by the day. Sometimes we get to them and sometimes we don’t. I used to stress over making sure I covered it all but now I don’t.) We sometimes include a quick workout/dance video or other activity to get the wiggles out. Then we will have a quick snack around 9:30 am. This usually takes us 15-30 minutes.
My 7 & 9 year old will sit at the kitchen island while the boys sit at the kitchen table. When everyone gets settled in to doing their work I will check the bedrooms and make sure the beds are made. (I don’t make their beds for them or do any unfinished chores but will have them go back and do it if needs done.) I also clean the back bathroom and check the second bathroom to make sure the kids have cleaned it. This usually takes 5-10 minutes tops.
I will check on the girls and see if they need help with anything and see if they need help with anything. (My high schooler works independently and she will ask for help when she needs it.) Then I will sit with the boys and we will work with our hands on activities and/or crafts. We will also go through their lessons online and watch a few YouTube videos of their choosing, lately they just want to watch dinosaur videos.
While the little boys watch a short video or two I work with my older son on his reading lessons. On good days he will get finished really quickly and then there are bad days where he says he doesn’t know any of the words. He knows that we won’t go to the next activity until he finishes his reading so I try to keep something he enjoys for last. Sometimes it is ABC mouse or Teach Your Monster to Read and other times it may be a puzzle or game.
Before lunch time we usually have our ‘Independent Work’ completed. This includes reading, language arts, and math. When everyone is finishing up they will begin cleaning up their workspaces. Each child will put their completed work into a color coded folder so Mommy can find it later and decide what to keep for their portfolio. Ideally I like to go through these once a week but right now their folders are overflowing. (This would have driven me nuts a couple of months ago but now I know I will get to it, eventually.)
After cleaning up we will get started on lunch. This is usually around 11:30 am. Sometimes I have lunch boxes prepared with leftovers from the night before or sometimes I just make lunches in the morning and put the boxes in the refrigerator for later. Most days everyone eats lunch together.
While eating lunch I will do some reading with them. (Right now we are reading from Uncle Tom’s Cabin for history.) When they are finished with lunch we have a quick clean up and everyone takes a potty break. I will start the dishwasher and check on my menu if I haven’t already put something in the crockpot for dinner.
Until just this past month everyone would go lie down for ‘Quiet Time’ after lunch. I found that they really didn’t want to finish their work after they got up and it would just drag the afternoon on and on and on. So now after lunch we just go right into our ‘Group Studies’ which are History, Science, Art, Music and PE/Health. Everyone works together on these subjects. We do a lot of lapbooks and sometimes we will look up videos for areas they are interested in. If the work is complicated I will give the little ones coloring pages or another activity to work on while the older ones do their work. This little change has been working much better for us.
After ‘Group Studies’ all of the kids have some ‘Quiet Time’. This is usually over around 2:00 pm. Then they can go outside and play or go to our playroom to play depending on the weather. We just have one rule at ‘Quiet Time’ which is ‘No Feet on the Floor!’. This gives me a chance to work on my grocery list, couponing, or entering grades and checking over our daily schedule to make sure I haven’t missed something.
Once ‘Quiet Time’ is over we will have a quick snack. I will go outside, usually with a kid or two following, and feed the pigs and check for eggs. We will also check the garden and pick any veggies that are ready or anything that we may need for dinner. We come in and wash the goodies we have found.
I will start on dinner between 4:00 – 5:00 pm. This is another thing I changed recently. I ALWAYS had dinner ready by 5:00 pm. That’s another story for another day though. Our family has had some major changes in the past couple of years and I have just had to make adjustments to help us all through it. Life happens and now dinner will be ready sometime between 5:30 – 6:30 pm. Today it was ready by 5:00 pm but that has been a rarity lately. Once 5:30 pm rolls around I will have kids complaining that they are starving and must eat so I try to have it ready close to that time.
After dinner we clean up and do some quick chores. The kids will have some quiet play or reading time and then the kids will take baths and put on PJs. They are usually in bed around 7:30 pm except for the oldest and the youngest. I will sit with the younger ones until they are sleepy and then help them to bed. My oldest will finish up her school work and I will finish up any desk work I have left for the day. I am usually exhausted and in bed by 9:00 pm. Exciting isn’t it?
Now you may notice that we do have chores a couple of times during the day. Our chores only take 5-15 minutes at a time. I have found by having a few ‘quick pickups’ spaced out through the day it keeps us from having a major mess at the end of the day. Even the little ones can help with clean ups. Not every day goes very smooth or ends with a clean house.
With a routine you need to decide what will work for your family. Don’t be too strict about it but it may also be wise not to be too relaxed either. Start simple and as things slowly. Sit down and decide what you would like to accomplish each day/week and decide what the important things are. Assign a general time to have these things completed. I have found that by breaking the day up into smaller chunks of time it really keeps me from being overwhelmed.
Remember that you can change your routine if it isn’t working. With our family what works today may not work tomorrow and may need a complete overhaul to get everyone back on track again. Don’t be afraid of change!
Good luck!