I was trying to explain our schedule of life earlier on (twice in two days actually, as you do) and it struck me that it might be an interesting moment to write out how our week pans out at this point in time. I’ve noticed that I blog less often now, which relates less to content opportunities than it does to life, plus a concerted effort to actually live the moment, not just social media it. (Instagram doesn’t count.) There will be a time in the future where we look back and wonder what we did with our time, so I thought I might write it for posterity.
(If you are a PR or one of approximately 8 million people waiting for me to reply to an email, you may have more sympathy at the end of this post.)
Of course, then I wrote it and realised it was basically a stalkers abduction map and that publishing it was a seriously bad idea. So I thought that I’d revise it a bit and just give a gist.
All the girls leave the house at 8am every day. Before that they have to dress, collect their stuff, make their packed lunches and do a music practice. No one gets home before 4pm, give or take a few minutes, on any of those days. The schools are 8 miles from our home and our home is the furthest point from their schools with work and all their clubs lying between those two points. So going home in between is never really an option since time and fuel come into play.
Between them the girls do gym (12 hours a week each for 3 of them), ballet, jazz, tap, acro, TKD, a job, music lessons, jamming sessions, musical theatre and sundry other incidentals. It seems to work out that one of them will have a hospital appointment about once a week. We are also a 1 car family, living a reasonable distance out of town in that we can’t bike, walk or bus to anything we go to, so shuffling the car about has to be factored in.
Max and I have one working day a week together, shortly becoming two for a while, then we share the rest of our working week. With less than half the staff we used to have, one of us tries to be there every day.
Monday: We are all out all day. No one gets home before 4.45pm and most of us are out until 9pm without coming home. Tea gets cooked (and early tea delivered to some), there is a jamming session and those who didn’t have an after school hours academic lesson stop to do a sports group (trampoline, badminton, rugby, hockey) until 4pm since we can’t do the journey twice to collect them in batches.
Tuesday: We are all home by about 4.30pm. Homework gets done and we have a family meal which is very important to us. Most won’t have seen Bene since Sunday so they play with him. We try to spend some quality time together or, just as often, we have something like tricky maths or some parents evening/extra thing to fit in.
Wednesday: No one has a late lesson so we get home earlier, just before 4. All bar one girl is out again by 4.30pm, the other goes out slightly later for 90 minutes. They’ve had music lesson in the morning, so stuff needs putting away. We eat a staggered tea, sometimes see each other briefly around 9pm, then go to bed.
Thursday: Everyone is picked up by 4. Fran is dropped straight off at her job. Maddy goes out later and comes home around the same time as Fran, so we don’t see each other till gone 9pm again. With early starts and lark children, no one spends much time together at this point, they are all in bed very quickly. Assuming Bene actually sleeps, Max and I grab an hour together most nights some time after 9.30pm.
Friday: Everyone used to be out but we’ve knocked that on the head as we were becoming miserable so now we are in from 4.15pm ish. There is a computer ban (other nights it is only used for homework if at all) until the house has been cleaned and tidied by us all – the #FridayTidy 😉 – the girls pick up, put away, vacuum etc (it’s their mess!) while we do the washing, Bene’s stuff, cook, clean the loos and the kitchen and generally chivvy. Everyone is happier if the weekend starts tidy. We have a family meal together and if there is time, spend time together. They have to try and fit any left over homework into this time as we have strict weekend rules about it.
Saturday: Fran, Josie and Amelie leave the house before 9am. Fran and Amelie get back at just after 5pm, Josie a little earlier than that. Maddy has an at home day which she mostly does homework in, sometimes very kindly crafts for me, I spend time with her or she has time with her Dad doing stuff in the garage that they enjoy. It’s a family day for those of us here, rarely spent on any computer. They don’t get nearly enough Minecraft time 😉 but after a week of work and sport, I think they need to stretch different brain cells. Josie and Amelie often play together in a very intense way over the weekend and we really support that as we feel that sibling time is critical. Someone will often be giving Bene play time while we do jobs. Homework has to be finished because there is a “no homework on Sunday” rule. Not a religious reason (haahahahahahaha) but purely a brain rest day. We have a meal, tidy up and watch Strictly or do something as a family.
Sunday: Most of the girls go to Rugby between 9.30am-12.30pm with Max with the usual exception (except on sunny days!) of Josie. She and I have time together and play with Bene or if he sleeps, we do some reading or gaming together. When the others get in, we eat lunch and the afternoon is pretty free, though increasingly someone will be off at a rehearsal (last year the panto took up most Sundays) or maybe a rugby fixture. After tea it is Strictly again, or something similar that means we get some time together.
I’m incredibly protective of family time. I waste too much of mine on stupid things (I just got my 500 hours badge on Animal Crossing… the shame) and I don’t like them to have nothing better to do than flick through Facebook. They are generally too knackered anyway. Two evenings and one afternoon a week as a family without homework or other constraints is not enough, yet I’m also conscious that their opportunities for many of those things will not last and that they make them who they are, keep them fit, give them a wide outlook and a healthy lifestyle for their mind and body. But I miss our long days together and keeping our family structure healthy and current is important to me. It’s one reason why I have stepped back from lots of online life, so I can try to model being present for the people I love and have time talking with each other. I do 99% of everything I do now from my phone, my laptop rarely comes out, because I can at least do that and keep up a coherent conversation.
It seems very strange to have altered so much from a home ed life to one so constrained by outside forces. Their dancing and gym and so on has always been important, they’ve had those groups of friends and places for nearly 10 years in some cases, but I do feel I have lost them to it all a little at times. And then I see how fulfilled they are and I think it is worth all the dashing about, diesel and money so long as we keep family at the core of it. It seems to me that these days – though I joke that I am bank, taxi and admin – that my role is mostly to be present at the centre of it all and keep making sure we remember to return to base, properly present and at base, as often as we can.