A Day in the Life of the Murphys

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Debra asked:

I would LOVE to know what a typical day looks like for you (I.e. waking, chores, school, length of reading aloud, play, lunch:). Pretty much I would love to be a fly on the wall:).

I consider myself to be a generally organized person. I like order and definitely strive for it. I am also (extremely) flexible, which given the life God has given me is a very useful tool. My husband is the same, so family’s our days reflect this general order with lots of flexibility. You can already guess that strict scheduling is not our cup of tea. I admire families than can follow a 30 minutes schedule, but that it is not best for us.

My husband is a pastor who has his office at home. He has worked from home since 2007. We also have grown children at home now. Although our oldest three are 18, 17, and almost 16, all three have completed almost all of their parent-directed homeschooling. The 18-year-old will be in college and working 30 hours a week outside the home by August. The 17-year-old works 30-40 hours a week in a warehouse and is taking classes on-line. The almost 16-year-old is finishing her math and reading list and is home most of the time. This has greatly reduced the baby/toddler/preschooler interruptions because she is available to help.

I suspect our daily schedule is fairly typical of many homeschooling families. We are generally not early risers. Eight in the morning is early enough for most of us. My husband rises early (6 AM or earlier) to study uninterrupted. Our older boys (18, 17, 14, and 12) also get up early, work out, and work on Bible and assigned reading. Middle children take care of animal chores before breakfast—currently only dogs, cats, and ducks (including gathering eggs).

My husband oversees breakfast (he always has) while I exercise and get ready for the day. Often he works on family Bible memorization and reading at the end of breakfast.

After breakfast, we set the house in order: dishes etc., laundry folding, beds and room tidying, and one weekly chore such as vacuuming or emptying trash. I have to have the area where we will be doing lessons very tidy, too. Currently, these chores are divided up and Lizzy and I oversee them being completed. With an almost adult daughter, we often get in “extras,” as well.

Our weekly chores reflect our needs: M-Clean bathrooms, T-Dust & Vacuum, W-Clean bathrooms, Th-Clean mirrors & windows, F-Launder sheets, Vacuum rugs, Clean bathrooms, Sa-Empty trash (Make a dump run),Vacuum & Dust, Mop kitchen floor. 

My goal is to sit down to schoolwork by 9:30, but it is often 10 AM before we do. Children who complete their chores early are to get out their independent work and start until I join them. When I am ready, we do our altogether time working straight down our Organic Homeschooling list for the day. [On a side note, I shift our days a bit because we rarely do our altogether time on Mondays, my husband's day off.] I try to finish before lunch. If that doesn’t work, we do our reading together right after lunch.

Our most structured parts of our day are lunch at 11:30, naps at 1:00, snack at 3:00 and dinner at 6:00. (We used at eat at 5:30, but our second son’s work schedule made it best to move it back a half hour.) Do you see the trend? We love to eat and are very punctual about it!

Naptime is a great time to get one-on-one work done (when I’m not pregnant and too tired in the afternoon).

Three o’clock is playtime, and that usually means going outside. In the summer the kids swim in the pool. I try to go outside with them.

The best habit I instituted in the last few years is an afternoon chore time beginning at 4 or 4:30 PM. (Thank you, Kim Brenneman of Large Family Logistics.) Having a stopping point for our day helps us know when to quit. During this time, the day’s mess is cleaned up, school tubs and books are put away, necessary chores are accomplished, more laundry is folded, and dinner preparations begin including setting table. There is an “organized chaos” feel to this time slot.

Dinner is at six followed by cleanup (by the kids) and the luxury of an evening walk, just Steve and I. (Someday, you will have older children, too!) We used to clean up together and then walk or play outside as a family when all the children were young.

Evenings are free until 8:30 Family Worship. We might bathe little ones during that time. Little ones (under 8) go to bed at 9:00, middles at 9:30, and everyone else by 10:00, if they can.

When I had all little children, we did the chores together as much as possible. I looked for ways to simplify as much as I could. Daily wipe downs of the bathroom were easier to accomplish than a big weekly cleaning. Paper plates and towels cut back on the dishes and laundry. Lowered expectations helped, too. I focused on the areas where we spent the most time and did not have “clean bedrooms” as a prerequisite for starting lessons—we may never have started. Having a time in the day when started lessons, no matter what, helped get some schoolwork done. Flexibility was built during those years as diaper changes, toy squabbles, wandering toddlers, and phone interruptions were frequent and common.

Each family is unique and the routine that works for us may not work for you. The important point is to reduce stress through a workable routine for your day.

What is a day in your household like? What do you consider an indispensable part of your day?

2 Responses to A Day in the Life of the Murphys
  1. Thank you Kara! What a wonderful encouragement! My days look a lot like yours:). Seriously I wish I could come visit! Of course, I have another question…how do you adapt yor evening schedule when you have company over? Do you do your evening family worship with your company?

    • kara says:

      You’d be welcome, Debra! Yes, we usually do family worship with our company. We have even had our company Jon us for our walk, if they’re up to it. The afternoon chore is a special blessing when do hospitality as it gives us a specific time to get ready.