With juggling two girls, a business, farming, firefighter life and homeschooling, you can imagine the chaos of our day-to-day. Having a daily rhythm helps us all be as intentional with our time as we can. If there’s one thing I’ve learned this summer, it’s that I can waste a lot of time and feel overwhelmed with the remainder. I ultimately feel like my day is gone before it’s ever started. Being intentional and learning to adopt a rhythm rather than trying to stick to a strict schedule,(let’s be honest-like we could if we wanted to) for our days rids me of a lot of anxiety and helps me obtain some ownership of the day, feeling at peace and with a little control if our day ends up not turning out like we expected. I love a schedule and do try to be diligent about specific things within our day but I also try to have a lot of margin so if things don’t go as planned or if we just want to be spontaneous and change direction, there’s room and availability to do so. We don’t live a typical life as a business owning/homeschooling/firefighting/farming family so take this at face value when I say, we truly just do the best we can.
I’m your typical “Type A” when it comes to liking things so-so. Homeschool and juggling 15 other plates while riding a unicycle has really been the most delicious slice of humble pie, making myself crank down the anxiety knob and learn to go with the flow more while accepting baby steps and interruptions as blessings. As a working mama, 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 while also giving me some margin for me. If you know me at all you know I despise “self help” or what it’s made to be in today’s world but that does not mean that I do not think everyone should have time to theirselves each day. You cannot pour from an empty cup and when mine has been drained, I’m not the best wife and mom that I want to be. Without this, I also can’t imagine we would be very consistent in tackling business at Farm Girl, completing our homeschool lessons, or getting anything done around the house because there is always something that comes up.
I’m learning that a daily rhythm isn’t permanent. It is an ever-changing element, always needing to be adapted to the ebbs and flows of our family.
Our Work Life
I own a rural boutique and general store that, as of March, operates on another cattle ranch outside of our town. Before that my shop was located downtown on main street for 6 1/2 years. In the summer I have a lot of flexibility and can really prep and work a lot to prepare for fall. Now that homeschool has started, we try to knock the majority of our curriculum out from 8am-11:30am. What we don’t, they can take with them and go to work with me or do it in the afternoon if they are with Dad or Nana/Grand. I also blog and take on interior decorating clients each month so on “shift nights” when the girls are in bed and husband is at the station, I work on those projects.
My husband is a firefighter and works 24 hours shifts every third day. So 24 on and 48 off. 1/3 of the year (usually more) he is absent from our home. He also helps my dad with his Hay Operation that runs May-October on said days off. It’s A LOT in the summer but also a blessing to us and something we hope to do ourselves one day. When it’s Hay Season, you’ll see a lot of my hayfield meals posts and it’s also “summer” so we don’t have as much obligation for school. During the fall/winter months he may have some odd jobs here and there when he’s not at the fire station but this is also when he will take over history in homeschool for the girls a day or two a week. It works out because my “busy season” at Farm Girl is fall/winter so he takes over a lot of the load with the kiddos while I’m cranking out work.
My children are currently 6 and 9 years old. Props to all homeschool mamas that have done this since day 1 or do it with multiple children from baby up. I can’t imagine how hectic it can be but I also realize, not many have the schedule we have so it’s hard for me to imagine adding that much more to my plate. Right now, I do both girls schooling with them at the same time, simultaneously. Paisley is really easy with a lot of things so I can get her started and then work one on one with Scout and switch off.
Outings and extracurriculars
We homeschool Monday-Thursday mornings. Fridays I reserve as our “Friday Fun-Days” meaning we can plan/do what we want to albeit a field trip, spend the day on horseback, have a picnic, or just stay at home. If we go on outings or to appointments during the week they are always in the afternoons or on a Friday. Friday’s also help me catch up a little on house work. My Nana and Grand are doing “electives” with the girls and teaching them skills so on Monday’s + Thursday’s, my girls do sewing and gardening with my Grand and on Tuesday’s they have cooking lessons with my Nana. I love that they are getting to spend some precious quality time while also learning some amazing life skills that will serve them well. Wednesday’s they are either with me or Zack and in the evening is church. Evening time at least three days a week we reserve for riding the horses in our arena and “lessons” for roping, rodeo, etc. Paisley used to take an art class which may be something we explore again and Scout has peaked an interest for gymnastics so if we have enough margin without sacrificing Family Time, we may consider adding those items to our week.
Our weekends vary depending on what we have going on the ranch, with family, farming, fire life, etc. Our goal is to keep them very relaxed while being together and filled with play time outside and cooking good food or working around the house. We like to squeeze in some fun treats like a movie or go somewhere once in awhile.
Our Family Daily Rhythm
Here is a quick glance at our typical weekday daily rhythm. I shared an entire post about our morning routine here.
I start my day around 4:30 am depending if Zack is at the station or not. If he is home, I try to get a workout outside or at my gym. I get back around 6:15 and grab a shower and get ready for the day.
6:15-8:00 Morning Routine
I shared all about our morning routine in depth here.
8:00-10:00 Morning Time and Individual Lessons
We do the majority of school in the morning so I will get them started and try to do a load of laundry and load/unload the dishwasher to keep up with some of the house. I’ll usually have Paisley start Math first and then I’ll do some one on one with Scout and switch on and off with each.
We will have a quick break here. My girls pretty much have every afternoon to spend time playing, outside, or with an elective so we try to be super focused on school lessons in the morning. We take this time to go outside, get a drink, etc.
10:15-11:30 Individual Lessons
Again, here we work on their lessons in Math, Reading/Language Arts, Phonics, etc. We do “Science” and history in the afternoons or if we work ahead, do those on the days we are caught up.
11:30-12:00 Gather Things and Out the Door
Since I’m spending less time at my shop, I really have to take advantage of my time when I am there. I try to be at the store by at least 12:30 if I have to run errands. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later. But I use this time to drop them by or they go to work with me and we take our lunches and eat them there.
Depending on when I get to work, I will eat lunch during this time while I answer emails and do book work. The girls will also if they are at grandparents or if they are with me.
1:00-1:30 Independent Reading / Pack Orders
The girls will have independent reading time wherever and I use this time block to print and pack orders.
The kids spend this chunk of time doing their electives. At work I’m creating batch content for our business, the blog, or working on our website with adding new products, ordering, etc.
3:00-5:30 Outings / Free Play / Store Work + Dinner Prep
If we need an appointment I’ll try to do them during this time. If it’s a regular day, this is free play time wherever they are. I use the remainder of the day for miscellaneous store work and try to be home by 5:30 for dinner prep. If it’s a day where I couldn’t fit my workout in the morning, I’ll go to an occasional afternoon class. If this is a horse lesson night, we will do the lesson first and swap and do dinner after.
5:30-7:00 Dinner Chores, Lesson, + Dinner
Again, this will vary depending on if we are doing stuff with the horses, roping etc. But we spend this time with dinner, tidying up the house, feeding, etc.
7:00-8:30 Time together + Bedtime Routine
All evening from 5 on we are usually together to connect if not, way before but this is for focusing on our little family and then we end the night with baths and bedtime routine.
8:30-10:30 Mama + Dad Time
This is our time to connect as husband and wife. We get to talk without interruption, watch one of our shows, etc. We usually end up falling asleep on the couch but always have good intentions of spending one on one time together.
If you have a crazy schedule and lots of balls in the air, I hope this gives you inspiration for an outline for your day! It’s helped me a lot to use time blocks and if we don’t get it done, we will pick it back up the next day.
One of the things I use the most in my daily life is a planner so when we decided to homeschool, I knew this would be a must have to keep us on task and organized with lessons. I also need some structure based on my personality and really like to plan “seasons” at a time.
I ordered this from Home and Haven and have enjoyed it so far! It’s simple which I think is key but also has some great elements like prayer for us to incorporate in our morning time, meals, and monthly/hourly/weekly layouts.
For now this is what I am using but am always open to other ideas. It’s served me well thus far and I love that it’s NOT dated. You’re able to start whenever you’d like. They have a digital option you can purchase here.
I’m so excited to finally share our homeschool/playroom with you all. We will actually do the majority of our work at our kitchen table so we can spread out but I also wanted to have a designated area for the girls to do some independent work, quiet reading, and just an area to enjoy some free time in. I didn’t do a lot in here as far as “getting it ready” to homeschool.
Both of my girls have shared a bedroom for three years and this has been our “playroom” the entire time. I already had everything in the room, I just adjusted and made it more “school” friendly. I moved the chalkboard, desk, converted the toy cubby (it was stuffed) into a mini library, made an “art cart” and organized the closet. Other than purchasing some supplies and their curriculum, I already had everything.
I’ve had some ask why they have backpacks if we are homeschooling……well, I still work and there will be certain days of the week that they have to go up to the shop with me therefore we will pack up their work and lunch to take with us. I’ve had these P + S hooks for years so I’m not able to link them but they were from Anthropologie.
I have had a TON of questions about our doll house or what we call “the bunny house” and I plan to do an entire post on it soon! I’ll share all about the animals, furniture, etc. Fun fact though, parts of it were built from my bookshelf from when I was a little girl like the windows and chimney. :) The highchair + cradle was also mine growing up. Large canvas was taken by me of some spring calves we had a few years ago.
Kitchen set we’ve had since Paisley was two. She was OBSESSED, and I mean OBSESSED with Ree Drummond and used to play pioneer woman non stop and would choose it over anything on TV. That was her Christmas gift that year and it has gotten hours upon hours of playtime between both of my babies and their friends. We purchased it from Pottery Barn. The horse head is from my shop.
This cubby was filled to the brim with toys and in theory, it was a functional spot for them but with how many books we had, we were wasting a lot of closet space and it looked really junky. They weren’t able to find all of their toys without emptying all of the cubbies and it was a mess to get it all reorganized each time. Since we decided to homeschool, I thought it would be fun to make this spot a mini library and organize it so they could easily find their books instead of pilfering through the closet. I also wanted to make the top bookshelves a spot for our favorite read alouds or seasonal reads with what we were studying at that time. The basket also houses some of our favorite Usborne learning books, wipe cleans, and quick references.
I don’t have all of our books completely set up yet but I plan to organize by series such as Hank the Cowdog, Boxcar Children etc. in one cubby. Another with classics, one with picture books, and so on.
Next is the desk area. It along with the cubby, chalkboard and stool was custom made. I love this desk because the top opens and stores lots of supplies like large sketch pads that don’t really fit anywhere else. The large door has two shelves for more supplies. This is a great spot for when I’m working with one of the girls in the kitchen that needs more attention, the other can come in here to work independently in the quiet.
I’m sure you’ve seen these carts everywhere by now. I truly love them, especially because its so easy to roll it down the hall to the kitchen for projects and I can fill it with all of the supplies we need for the day. It doesn’t take up a ton of space but can hold a lot and also be rolled into a closet if need be. I have all of their art things, glue, scissors, erasers, sharpeners, dry erase markers and boards, rulers, and more packed in it for everyday use.
And now the closet. Remember when I said that the cubby used to hold most of their toys? They had to go somewhere right? I decided on a “tub” system for each type of toy and this has been the best solution I’ve found thus far for organizing all of the toys.
So top shelf holds their Legos, American girl salon, dress up, baby dolls, and the large blue tub is my “keepsake tub” of a few favorite things from when the girls were babies for my grandkids one day. HA!
Then we have their dress up items hung. The yellow crate has their American girl/target dolls, dress up hats, and a few toys that wouldn’t fit well in the tubs. Then we have a Barbie tub and one of Paisley’s projects she made.
The bottom crate holds their very large horses. The basket holds their ranch trucks and trailers. (plus Paisley’s ukulele)
Then we move to the tubs. I wish I would have done this sooner. My girls have a plethora of Breyer horses and ranch toys so most of the tubs are full of those. Then we have one for their vintage late 80s Fisher Price dollhouse accessories (that was mine – also folded and store to the left of the tubs) and then one miscellaneous for all other things. I divided them all based on how they like to play. Last night Scout wanted to just play Barbie’s so we pulled the tub, dumped it, and when they were finished it all went back in and back on the shelf. It’s made it so much easier for all of us.
That’s it! I hope this helps anyone who needs a little inspo. We have a smaller home that is only three bedrooms so we really have to maximize every inch. I love that the girls share a bedroom so we can have a spot like this one.
I was thrilled when Lit League contacted me about becoming an affiliate and sharing their boxes with you all! As you know, we are book lovers. It’s my mission to raise readers and it’s a joy to see them get lost in books. These activity boxes take a story even deeper and are themed entirely around whatever the book is.
Lit League’s book-themed activity boxes are easy and convenient. They’re a wonderful choice for families looking for effortless ways to supplement at-home learning or for those kiddos who thoroughly just LOVE to read.
Each box contains a new reading adventure and provides hours of cross-curricular, screen free fun. Veteran educators curate these fun boxes to create a culture of reading in the home and are designed to foster a love of reading.
What’s in a Lit League Box? Each box includes:
a high-interest picture book (ages 3-9), early chapter book (ages 5-9), or chapter book (ages 8-12)
a book specific vocabulary bookmark
4-5 fun-filled questions and enriching activities related to the book
discussion questions and answered aligned with grade appropriate standards
the tools to enjoy a shared family experience or to participate in a book club with friends
a joyous reading experience for caregivers and both reluctant and avid readers
Everything is more fun with friends! One of the great aspects of Lit League is that it includes instructions for using our boxes to run a book club. Many use their boxes to facilitate friend book clubs, sibling or cousin book clubs, or to establish special one-on-one book club time with mom, dad, a grandparent, or an aunt or uncle. Have more than one learner in a group? Instead of buying multiple boxes, families can save money and add additional activity kits for siblings or friends. They’ll get one book along with additional activity kits for $10.00 per member per month!
This is such a great resource I plan to incorporate into our homeschool learning and I love that all of the work has already been done for me!
My little ladies are now official homeschool kids! I’ve been trying to come up with the words on this post for weeks so here goes. As many of our friends are getting their kiddos ready for their first day Thursday, so are we. Ours just looks differently this year and hopefully from now on. I will say, it’s the most liberating feeling to take complete ownership of your children’s lives from inside the home to their education. I’ve learned so much over the last year of researching all things homeschool until my eyes would glaze over.
I want to preface this by saying we were beyond blessed by our rural school district. It’s where me and the last four generations of my family attended and then enrolled our own there. The girls have had a wonderful education thus far and the most amazing educators. Our decision to homeschool was not because of where they were currently going. Then why leave? Let me start here…..
Over the last year I’ve felt a tug on my heart and a twinge of sadness with how quickly time has passed. I’m still in disbelief that we now have a fourth AND first grader. My babies are no longer babies and it really has taken a toll on me in thinking that we have already had paisley for 1/2 the time most kids live inside the home. In 9 more years, she could quite possibly be on her own. As cliche as it sounds, it’s as if I blinked and both of them have grown up. I can’t slow time, but I can change the time we do have. I miss my kids. So much. I shared in this post last week about a book I recently read that changed my life. And it was the final push I needed to go all the way with it. I know this might seem “weird” to some or “what’s the big deal about having them in school?” but I’ve never been normal and I don’t want them to be like everyone else.
I am in no way saying that public school screws us up or that I’m trying to be self righteous about homeschool. Matter of fact, I’m eating my words because I used to be complete opposite and anti-homeschool. This is a personal family choice that we have taken a lot of time to think and pray on. I’m floored by all I’ve learned in the last year of researching all of the ways to do this. It’s limitless.
Another reason is, well, the world. I know we can’t shelter our kids from everything, but I can raise them the best I can and in our home so they can be better equipped to handle what the world will inevitably throw at them. I have control of what they can and can’t be exposed to unlike school. I’ve heard everything from “I can’t keep them in a bubble” to “they won’t be well socialized” or “they will miss out on so much” that it’s become white noise. I also believe that kids should get to be kids and not be conditioned to the ways of the world. Every time you turn around it’s something on TV with gender rolls or sexualized adolescence and unfortunately, that seeps into school systems. (again, not our school or state even-but just in general) Raising them best we can is our top priority and we fail often but this was something we truly knew in our hearts that was time and we wanted to make changes in how we parent. Changing where they spend the majority of their day was part of that. We might be that “weird family” and are totally ok with it and are also under no obligation to make sense to anyone, albeit family, friends, or strangers on the internet.
Growing up is hard enough without having your surroundings telling you that you aren’t or might not be who God made you. He doesn’t make mistakes and it makes me sad that they have become targets, especially at an impressionable age. NOTHING like this has happened with our kids, yet. However, I know what all went on when I was in school (also pre-social media age) and I can’t imagine what all is being exposed, discussed, experimented, etc. And before someone says that’s why you have to be a present parent, I fully agree. However, you can’t control their classmates or those they have befriended on what they talk to your child about. It’s pushed on them through social media, peers, books, entertainment, etc. Of course they are getting confused! If you think its not, there are tiny rabbit holes you can go down and when you come up someone will crown you with a tin hat because that’s crazy conspiracy talk if you use any sort of critical thinking, disagree, and question the “norm.” I don’t mind being the overprotective mom and taking initiative because that’s what we feel is best for us-it may not be for you. Again, totally fine.
I want the medical decisions we make for us as well as our children private and not be the cause of eventual segregation if we opt out of something we don’t feel like they should have. We will never know the repercussions of what 2020 did to our kids with face covering mandates among other things. I know for one it caused a lot of anxiety in our oldest. She has allergies and this summer at ranch camp was teased by another child (because she coughed and sneezed) that she had the v i r u s and made subject to chatter from other girls which led to embarrassment and then worry that “maybe I do have it?” It’s sad it’s come to kids saying these things. It’s also learned behavior. Meanness and an ugly heart is a virus and can spread to the company you keep. Thankfully that situation led to good conversation between us but I know how she’s felt. I think most of us have felt belittled or made fun of for something beyond our control or even just because it’s how we view things. The sting of being the butt of someone’s joke or center of gossip hurts. They need to know how to best handle these things when it happens, we aren’t trying to keep them from that. It’s still going to occur with all of the other activities we participate in.
I read something on Facebook the other day and it was a great analogy to how I see this-and not just related to values but also relationships:
“People often say to me, “you can’t keep your children in a bubble”. And I reply, “it’s not a bubble, it’s a greenhouse.” A bubble stifles growth and blocks out nutrients. A greenhouse provides an environment for cultivation. Children’s hearts need to be “greenhoused” before they’re ready to be transplanted out into the world. We release when their roots are deep and they are mature enough to withstand the storms, not beforehand. While they’re still under our protection, we take the responsibility for engaging them in learning about different cultures, ideologies and values. They should only know worldly teachings enough that they will be inoculated against them. It’s neither parenting out of fear or legalism, nor going to the opposite extreme of being too permissive.No, our kids shouldn’t grow up in a bubble. But they shouldn’t be left exposed to the harsh outside elements, either. The greenhouse of our home has all the right conditions for those young seeds to grow and flourish.” -Called to Mothering
My greatest calling, responsibility, and blessing He will ever give me is to be the wife and mom of this home. I’ve grown and changed so much over the last year that the way I view being a homeschool family has shifted into an absolute honor. He’s equipped me to be their mom. He’s equipped me to raise them. He’s also equipped me to teach them. I have the choice in how that is going to go. He truly has opened so many doors for us over the last year to get to where we have the availability to do this with moving our store and I’m blown away once again by his faithfulness.
I don’t want to regret not doing this when I have the chance. I want to provide them with a rich education that goes beyond four walls. An education that not only teaches them reading, writing, math, science, and so on but gardening, sewing, farming, cooking, how to change a tire and balance a checkbook, and more. I want to cater to their individual learning styles and watch them flourish more than they could in a classroom of 20. I want to do field trips again. I want to take school outside, on the ranch, to my store, or on a road trip. I want freedom and flexibility. Education isn’t a one size fits all and we’ve (myself included) been brought up to think that it is. My girls have several friends that they plan to do this with. They plan to rodeo and will be around kids often with family, friends, basketball, 4-H, and church. I still find the unsocialized comments silly. If anything, this entire last year has pushed isolation. That’s the exact opposite of what I want or plan to do.
I realize this just isn’t an option for everyone and it’s not lost on me what a unique privilege this is. I know some absolutely can’t even if they wanted to. So I’m taking my opportunity seriously and shooting my shot. I also realize this isn’t for everyone. And that’s ok. It wasn’t for us at one point either but it is now. I feel it’s more important than ever, especially for the four of us. We need this. We need each other and maybe it’s because we are a first responder family-we see the fragility of life on the daily and witness how quickly it can end. Time is something you can’t make more of or get back but you can change how you prioritize and use it. I’ve even been teased about being Laura Ingalls, and you know, that’s exactly what I’d love to be like.
I’ve had so many friends help me and encourage me along the way and I’d love to do the same over there.
I hope they know how much I love them. I know that this will be really hard but the harvest will be bountiful. I know that I’ll be able to connect with them more than I ever have and am sure they will be teaching me a thing or too as well. I want to steward my time and motherhood well. I want to take this seriously and honor God with these gifts he’s given our family and as parents.
Here’s to homeschool and a new chapter. Welcome to 4th and 1st grade, girls!