"Mamaaaaa...the sun is uuuuup...it's wake up time!"
Milo happily announces this every morning as he pulls the curtains of my room open, his face relishing the light - justification for his alertness. I open my eyes a crack to admire my footie-pajama alarm clock and his eagerness to greet the day, orange hair glowing against the window.
It's 8:16 a.m. I hear Alice washing her hands down the hall. They've been playing for over an hour while I pretend the sun has slept in, too.
I stretch, sighing happily. This is the life.
You might be thinking "what devilry is this?!" or "I kind of don't like you for this" (that would be my husband) or simply "it's not fair." And I would tell you truly that I live the best life.
The reason we are allowed such relaxing mornings - and a relaxing life - is because we homeschool, and ever before that I was a stay at home mama.
The decision to stay home did not come without sacrifices. Goodbye second income, hello tight budget! Chao, business casual/dry clean only wardrobe, hola jersey knit! Adios finishing sentences and meals, hey there constant interruptions!
But I knew in my bones that being present with my children and creating a nurturing home was my purpose; everything else was a distraction. So we jumped in and never looked back.
Five years into this journey, I've also been able to go from amateur photographer to professional, practicing minimalist to writer, speaker and advocate. (Full post on the transition from stay at home mama to work at home mama here).
We've also started our homeschooling adventure which adds an even richer layer to our days together - time to read and cuddle on the couch, talking through big ideas and words. Time to play with friends. Time for tea and making new things. And we get to do it all at a leisurely pace, adapting it to the seasons of the year and the seasons of our life.
These are the components of our life right now. Reading. Playing. Making art. Spending time with friends. Tending our home. Tending each other. Simple and profound. An inch long and a mile deep.
So what does this look like really? Like, what on earth do we do all day? While no two days are the same, there are generally consistent rhythms we've created that might give a better picture of our time.
We sleep until we're ready to wake up. Milo is my early riser and occupies himself until Alice wakes up. Sometimes he gets impatient and sneaks into her room to play. Their little voices are my cue that my own rest is coming to a close, but I love their happy cadence in the morning - not irritable yet from travesties committed during the day and content to start afresh after a good night of sleep. I enjoy this until the aforementioned ginger boy peeks over my bed to inform me of the sun's status.
We get ready. Sometimes we get dressed in "real clothes," sometimes Alice dons a costume, or sometimes we lounge in pajamas. I wear this kimono robe until I am in the presence of anyone who doesn't live here. It's so luxurious yet entirely practical as a mama who stays home.
Around ten we have morning basket time - our time to read all kinds of things, discuss big ideas, narrate, play games, practice reading. Sometimes we do this outside. Most of the time we cuddle on the couch.
We almost never commit to things before 10. My friend jokes that she's "a 10 a.m. kind of girl." We are, too.
An hour (often less) later we're ready to get our wiggles out. They play. I tackle a few little projects.
We eat lunch and clean up.
Milo naps. Alice plays. Sometimes I snatch a little nap on the couch.
We often do our nature study and writing in the afternoon, or a handcraft (we're loving this handcraft book by Wild + Free!).
After that I work on editing photos or writing blog posts while Alice plays some more. (This afternoon she was "fluffing" the butterflies outside while I typed away at the window.)
When Milo wakes up a couple of hours later we have afternoon tea, something we've all come to love. We put the kettle on and pick out our tea bags and cups. Pumpkin Spice Chai? Vanilla Macaroon? Lavender? Decisions, decisions. (Alice now gets to choose a box of it when we go grocery shopping.)
While it brews in our ceramic pot, we all set to work. They lay the table with saucers, cream, syrup and spoons. We get a little treat together, tell Alexa to play Mozart, and light a candle. Alice picks out a story or some poems to read while we sip. This time together is soul nourishing. It's not about academics - it's about creating a time of togetherness, delighting in beauty and cultivating a love for it. I don't read them poetry so they will become scholarly; I read them poetry because poetry is a beautiful language to appreciate. I want them to love good words and noble ideas. It's not about school; it's about making space for the true, good and beautiful. Learning information is just a byproduct of enjoying something lovely.
I love to see them work together, taking responsibility as each is able to lay the feast. I love to see their little pinkies going up as they hold a cup to their mouth. I love when they ask me throughout the day if it's tea time yet. It's one of my favorite parts of the day.
Usually as we're cleaning up, Daddy comes home for coffee and gardening before dinner. We have a pretty strict "I cook, you clean" policy which gives us each a chance to work and play. During my fall busy season, he is usually the one getting dinner on the table.
The bath and bedtime hullabaloo closes our time with the littles, generally by 8 or 9. They each get to choose a book while we cuddle together, and then they shout "jump party!" trying to prolong the inevitable by hopping around our bed. Within minutes, though, they're tucked in and given "true love's kiss" as Alice calls it.
After that, The Mister and I may watch an episode of White Collar, or we might not. (Full post on why we broke up with television here.) We especially don't watch much of anything during the summer months of light and industry. He tinkers around fixing, brewing kombucha or gardening while I edit or write.
As a night owl, I get a lot done between the hours of 8 p.m. and midnight, finally undisturbed. I realized this year that I am able to stay home and run businesses because I don't give my time away to unnecessary commitments and Netflix.
And so I'm usually turning off my computer screen at 12:05, eyes weary but mind still percolating, excited for the next day and what we'll do.
So that is a typical day at home! Some days we have friends over for coffee. Some days we go on an adventure. Homeschooling is so adaptable that we are always learning without realizing it. It might be 7 p.m. and Alice and Milo are on step stools next to me in the kitchen, apron-clad and helping me dump things into a bowl while we discuss measurements and ingredients. It might be Saturday morning and Alice is writing out a story and illustrating it. We might be driving somewhere and she is sounding out early-reader books in the car to Milo. It might be bed time and Alice has an existential question we then discuss. We learn every day, all day. There is no set time for those important things in life, and so for us it is not "school time" - it is a lifestyle.
I love what Charlotte Mason said. "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
And it's a beautiful life, indeed!