Topic | help please w/5 children& no routine, my days seem crazy

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  • twobitford

    Quite frankley I love to plan, but my planning ends up undoable,so I try planning again, but it never works.

    I need advise from mothers with many children. I have 5 children and anywhere from our wake-up routine to to our bedtime routines are so diffrent from day to day. When I try to get everyone up early i don’t have time to get a workout (cardio tape) in. I get up to fix my husband breakfast and lunch, then my 4yr.old gets up breakfast for him, then I workout, then try to plan my day, then get others up, then breakfast again for them, then chores, then work, lunch, more work……. I am so inconsistant and I am a horrible disipliner. I usually would rather let things go then to gripe everyday that chores are not done right so I redo them before hubby comes home(he like a clean home so do I).

    That’s why I decided to try Charolette Mason approach, so I can work on habits, work with the children TOGETHER for schoolwork, bring in reading, the bible, and other CM subjects I feel we should be working on.

    CM feels the children should be done by noon, So what time is she starting the day? and did she do 5 levels of education dailey?

    I feel overwhelmed day to day and feel like we are treading water and never getting anywhere. I also would love advise on disciplining. My children are starting to get lippy, it started with my 14 yr. old getting a bit of an attitude and now it’s worked it’s way down to my 4 yr. old telling me NO.





    First I will state I have 5 boys (9, 8, 6, 4 & 18mo already potty trained) this isn’t to boast that isn’t my point, only to say I have to have things going well or I wouldn’t get anything done. And may I point out cleaning does NOT come natural to my boys.

    I think you need to take a step back and look at everything you are doing. I will be very blunt, and it is not ment to be harsh just to the point. I am betting you are a people pleaser to the point you can’t get anything done in a day. I love to make my family happy and that is our job, but God also says wer are to “train up our children” and sometimes that means not being there “friend” at all.

    Here is a quick day with me. I rise at 6am (usually right before the alarm goes off) get ready for the day and do my daily bible time with the Lord. I then have usually 15 minutes to do a few items around the house. My children are NOT allowed to leave there room until mom comes in at 7am every day. That idea was from a friend which I hold onto. They may get dressed, make there bed but not come out. Once all is done inthere rooms, my 9 year old is in charge of making us all breakfast(which is the same routin mon-fri) while the others are onto there chores. Once all is done we are ready for school by 8am. *(you oviously don’t have to rise that early I’m just telling you what I thought you are looking for) We have a schedule for what I would like and how much time I figure it will take and most days I can honestly say we are done by 11:30.

    My 8 year old is in charge of lunch! (we make double the night before for dinner so he really re-heats last nights dinner). Everyone eats and the 3 youngest are off for nap. My rule is at the point where they will not sleep they are still sent to there room for “quiet time” which they may look at books (nothing else for us)for 1 1/2 hours. That may seem long but I need my time to regroup etc. The 2 oldest are free to do as they please, read, go outside usually as long as they do NOT bother mom.

    After naps we all hang out, do a quick sweep when dad calls to say on the way (which is something we have agreed on, no suprise here I am) and the older ones tend to the little ones while I make dinner.

    WOW so sorry that got really long!! I just wanted to say once you find what works and stick to it, they just know. I don’t have to really say what is next they just know it. Or look at our master list. I hope this helps in even the littlest way.

    Also, and most important talk to your hubby and ask him to pray to God for wisdom in this area. The answer will come to you and him and you’ll be much happer.



    Hi Brandi,

    Homeschooling and raising children is hard work – and that’s okay. I used to think it should be easy, and if it was not, then I was doing something wrong. But God is our strength; a help in time of need, and when we are weak, He is strong. So you can be thankful that God has you in a place of weakness so that He can be shown mighty in you.

    Secondly, you mentioned that your morning routines are different each day. That is where I would start. I could inundate you with information right now, but I do believe that sometimes we just need to settle in (circle the wagons, so to speak) and concentrate on the basics. That would be running your home at least at a bare minimum of order, scripture, and discipline. You may need to add from there, but it’s a good place to start. We have eight children and though it’s scary to just stop everything, it pays off in the long run. Line upon line, precept upon precept.

    We have routines circled around each meal. It helps me remember to follow-through on the checking (who said, “Don’t expect what you don’t inspect”?). So there are Before Breakfasts, After Breakfasts, Before Lunches….I also try to maintian my own routine but it can have lots of interruptions with the little ones. For this, I try to cover myself. For instance, I do not assign breakfast prep for myself because I may be up in the night and not ready to feed the family.

    I would recommend a handful of books if you are up for reading. One is Proverbs daily with the children, another one is Sonya’s Laying Down the Rails. Reb Bradley’s Child Training (not sure of the exact title), and Shepherding a Child’s Heart. You may already have read these; they are just ones that have ministered to me through the years.

    That’s all for now. It’s spring and a great time to refresh yourself with simplicity. I’d like to pray for you!




    Hi Brandi ~

    I have to say that you have come to the right place. The women here are so encouraging.

    I can’t say that I know what it’s like to have 5 children because we only have 3 but I do know that we can all get overwhelmed at times. I know what it feels like to not have a game plan for the day, run circles a million miles an hour and not seem to get anything done. I also will pray for you. πŸ™‚

    Have you ever heard of “Managers of their Homes” by Steve and Teri Maxwell? It is a wonderful scheduling tool that has helped me to make sense of my day over the years.

    The Maxwells are a Christian homeschooling family of 9 or so children and have ministered to me greatly by their books and tips.

    You can visit their website at

    Also the Reb Bradley book that Cindy mentioned is called “Child Training Tips- what I wish I knew when my children were young”. This has also helped our family with training and discipline issues. The Bradleys website is

    Hope this helps and may the LORD continue to be your strength!



    You’ve already won half the battle–asking for help!

    I have 9 dc (ages 21, 19, 16, 14, 10, 9, 7, 3, 17 months). I have had seasons where anything resembling a routine was impossible because of circumstances beyond my control, then it was VERY HARD to get “back” when the crises were over. I’m slowly getting back now after my dad’s death last October.

    I love the CM ideals, but I confess that I am not a veteran CMer, and I don’t “do” everything CM, as I ultimately do what works for us, within our lifestyle, etc. I’m sure you’ll get advice from more “seasoned” members, but I will share from my own experience and what I would advise if you were coming over to ask me that over a cup of tea! πŸ™‚

    First off, getting their hearts is THE most important thing! And yes–discipline, habits, relationships–these are absolutely THE curriculum for now. That doesn’t mean no learning is going on–but you are going to have to put some things on the back burner to focus on the more important–the best. The “good” things will need to be shelved while you work on the “best” for now.

    Training your dc to help is going to not only benefit *you*, of course, but them as well. My own mother made the mistake of thinking it was “easier” to do it herself. I have suffered greatly from that (I know she did what she thought was best). You have to see the long haul–what is best for *them*. What kind of a worker will a boy be who doesn’t learn to work at home? My dh told me about hearing how one company can’t find help that will show up every day on time, and if they aren’t coming in, they don’t even call. And this isn’t $5/hr. work–they pay $25/hr! That all starts in our homes. Dh has someone that helps him, and he is very loyal, a good worker, but he hardly ever shows up on time. There are times dh has to wait to start the work for the day (he’s in construction) because he needs the other person’s help. That “costs” in more ways than $$.

    What kind of a wife/mommy/homemaker will a girl be if she doesn’t learn to help at home? (I can answer that one! πŸ˜‰ ) Seriously, I have struggled for years and still do because of things that weren’t instilled in me then. I had no good role models for many years.

    I don’t want you to feel, “Oh, boy, I’ve blown it and there’s no hope!” I have failed to train some of mine as well. It’s so easy in a big family to rely too much on the oldest ones, because, quite frankly, stuff needs done and it’s “easier”. So, I *did* fall into the same trap my mom did. Just in a different way! Now, it’s not that the younger ones did nothing, it’s just I didn’t require or follow up on them as much. The past four years have had some heart-rending issues that have pulled me away from my routine. So I, too, have some issues. Here’s what I’m doing:

    Bible Time. That is first, foremost, and if NOTHING else gets done, so be it. When you think about it, we can catch narration, history, memory work, theology (we sing ALL the verses of hymns–they’re actually quite meaty!), and learn from each others’ insights. I get a lot of silence when I ask for any insights. Sometimes I and my oldest two dds are the only ones that share. I don’t belabor the point, but I give time in case someone’s trying to form their thoughts. Then we move on. Bible time is Prayer, Singing Hymns, Read a Psalm and discuss, Scripture memory. If we have time, I’m starting Grapevine Studies on the OT.

    Then I work with my 3 “little girls” (10, 9, 7). I have done phonics/language arts one day, math the other. There have been times I got those each in only once a week. But that’s a start.

    My older two that are still “in school” (the 16 and 14 yodds) are pretty much on their own, unless they need help. I have had them come up with their own checklist for me to check. It HAS to be simple, or I just can’t keep up. We tried something a bit more detailed last year, and it just didn’t happen. (Me checking their lists). They knew the basics had to be on there, and that they had to get their math, language arts, copywork (the Bible), and music practice done.

    The dc can read about history and science. Give them good books to read, and focus on the other things for now. And of course, having a read aloud time or two with you all together would be great! But don’t stress if you can’t do it all just yet. Maybe a read aloud after everyone’s ready for bed to help “calm the wild beasties”! (I mean that lovingly! πŸ™‚ )

    Does that seem too simple? Not doing “enough”? My oldest two who have graduated are quite literate, good thinkers, and able to learn anything I didn’t make sure they learned before. Sometimes we make it too hard on ourselves trying to micromanage!

    I would start with your younger children–academically, what is the BIGGEST need? Start with each one’s ONE need for now while you’re working on other things. This is a season. You won’t live here! As they get a bit older, and habits and helpfulness are in place, you can add other things in. Trust me!

    Now, as to “habits”. I would highly recommend you purchase the “Laying Down the Rails” e-book here at SCM. Make a list of the habits you want instilled. Everything you can think of! Now, what are the “Top Ten”? The Top Five? The # 1?! Start there. Pray and talk to dh about ways you can instill that habit. Our family got into eating supper very late, (my older dds take turns preparing supper), getting to bed late, then sleeping in (remnant of when my dh had his bad accident, and we didn’t need lots of noise going on early in the day then!). So the first habit was to get supper and bedtimes and arising times in place. Not all at once! I worked on supper as that was affecting the rest. It’s gotten much better! Now, I still worked some on getting them to bed in a timely manner, but the MAIN issue was suppertime. Since suppertime is going well now, bedtime is becoming the main issue. We’re working on getting up, and they don’t do too badly, but don’t always get hopping to their work. I don’t want to run an army bootcamp, but I may have to be firmer on things during this time. I have an overall checklist that is *very* simple that I check at supper. “Oh, you didn’t brush your teeth this morning–go brush them!” (They don’t like brushing BEFORE they eat! LOL!) “You can get another load of laundry in before you eat–go do it!” “Forgot to take your vitamins? Guess you don’t get chocolate tomorrow!” I prayed and asked the Lord to help me come up with natural consequences to help re-enforce. I keep it lighthearted and smile and tell them not to argue or we can make it two days of no chocolate or whatever! I gave them a warning to be checking the list AND marking it–they ALL “forgot” the first day! πŸ™‚ If they didn’t mark it, I don’t know it got done! They’ve had to clean their bathroom before supper even though they cleaned it earlier in the day….and they don’t forget to mark it now! πŸ˜‰

    Oh, yes, I have a dd who tells me “it’s a waste of toothpaste!” Or cleaner or whatever! I tell her, “The goal is not a clean bathroom. The goal is for you to learn to do your chores!”

    It will take time. But this is your most important work. More important than school–this IS school–the School of Life. The School of Life is unforgiving when you’re older and have to learn things the hard way!

    You didn’t give all your dc’s ages, so I don’t know how practical some of this is, but my dds could cook a simple breakfast by age 12, and all four the older ones have had a turn in the kitchen starting at age 14. My now 14 yodd has been cooking supper 2 nights a week for about 2 years. I realize “boys are different”, but someday your dil will rise up and call you blessed that her dh, your son, can cook a simple meal when she’s very-sick-and-pregnant! A family in our church has 7 dc, the oldest two are boys, 17 and 15, and the 17 year old has been making the main meal for some time (they have a special needs dd that really takes a LOT of time and care–I admire them for keeping her home and taking excellent care of her!).

    I had a time when I did “cooking school” with them. I picked things they could do at their ages, and for that “hour or so” we worked on it. Older dc were making things to contribute to the evening meal, middler dc (9-11 or so) were making a dessert or something to help with lunch, younger ones, with more help from me, were making something for snacks later. You could have them make muffins to go with the next morning’s breakfast. I also had them copy the recipes–“copywork”! πŸ˜‰

    With your older dc that are getting “lippy”–I have one about that age that is my most prone to be that way with me. We had a situation a month or so ago where she was contesting everything, it seemed. We also had planned to go to a friend’s house to help do some sewing, which this dd loved to do. I told her that we didn’t *have* to go. That I could either cancel it (and pointed out that not only we, but also they, would be disappointed) or she could go to work with her daddy and *we* would go. It is not a right for young people to do everything they want to do. I have to be willing to be disappointed myself, be misunderstood because I “gave my word”, whatever. My dc and their character has to be more important (I’m *not* saying this is easy!) I recently talked with a sil who was complaining about her 11 yods. I told her, “Maybe he doesn’t need to go to all these Boy Scout activities if he’s not going to do his work and be respectful at home.” She replied with how he really likes Scouts, it’s so good for him, he doesn’t get to be with boys his own age aside from Scouts, etc. Now, I would also agree Scouts is a good thing! However, NOT when he can’t be helpful and respectful at home! But that’s my take on it all.

    I am just offering you ideas based on what I’ve done. Your dh might want you to cover more school. I know my dh was very understanding that we needed to scale back for a season–and that’s the key, it’s not forever!–to work more on attitudes and routine.

    I’m still a work in progress, believe me! And yet, as I take the time, let go of my wonderful plans and deal with their hearts, we have more sweetness, more harmony, and believe it or not, the important stuff gets done!

    You are in a battle for their hearts–THAT “curriculum” is the most important. Don’t worry about being done by noon. Let go many outside committments if you have them. Pray, pray, pray, then share gently with your dc that for THEIR good as well as the home’s, things are going to change. Don’t try to rebuild Rome in a day <BG!> but work on things a little at a time. And try for some fun in it, but be willing to be the heavy if needed. Oh, and OF COURSE, get dh’s input and blessing and backing! That is actually THE great place to start, “Dear, what is most important to you that we work on?” When I was really overwhelmed when #7 was on the way (dc were 14, 12, 9, 7–she made up for three!, 3 and 1 1/2), dh gave me the idea of them doing their own laundry (the 9 and up crowd) and each taking a “little person”, doing their laundry as well. I didn’t think it would work–well, 7 years later they still have their “laundry days”, and the others do now, too! (All but the two youngest!)

    Dh also told me that his top three requests were–clutter picked up (he didn’t expect immaculate, but to be able to get into the door without a shovel or having little cars and animals and people “bite” you when you stepped on them!), the sink not full and the washer/dryer empty (he gladly helped by doing a load now and then, but not if he had to transfer everything!). Dusting didn’t matter. Sweeping–needed but not most important. The bathrooms clean enough to keep the Health Department away <G> but not spotless.

    Okay, I’ve really rambled on here! (And on and on…) But I hear your cry, I’ve been there in many ways, and I soooo want to help! Don’t let it go, try not to gripe, and put on a smile–because you are doing this for everyone’s eternal good and ultimately for God’s glory!





    Brandi, I do not have as many children as you (dds 7 and 4), but I struggle daily with the scheduling. Heed the advice given by all of these women…I know I have! And know that there are many of us right there with you! You are not alone!

    Faith πŸ™‚


    Oh, wow. I did not expect to get many replies back, let alone such wonderful advice!

    It make much sence to start with the basics, and I want to be firm with my children, I agree if I don’t do something now it will get harder on me and do them no good in life.

    Ummmmm, do all of you have state testing? I’m worried because we have been treading water hear and they either have to test or show progress through out the year, I don’t know what standards they are going to hold us to. If I scale back and just do the basics(Kinda scary thought when your used to public schools cramming a bunch of worksheets down a childs throat dailey) can the state take my right to homeschool away?

    Mabye I should give a little background: I have 5 children: ages(girls) 14,12-going on 13-,9-almost 10-,(boys)5, and 4. I tried homeschooling a couple years back …. scared the wits out of me, then my oldest was in 4th grade,then 3rd, and kinder…. I sent them back the following year thinking I just couldn’t teach them everything the school system was teaching. When my olderst went into middle school there were many changes in her , my sweet gifted girls’ grades dropped, she was getting in trouble,teachers calling me alot, ect… plus I HATED the school she was attending. That was it I knew if the lord kept me thinking about homeschooling all these years plus, now I was about crying out to have them back I would find a way to do it. So I started checking around and there was a public school on the net- they sent me all the supplies and we were off…. That leads to now, it was nearly impossible to keep up with the vigirous assignments with all my children, my 12 yr old hated it, they sat at computers all day so there was no interaction between us,it was her trying to memorize facts not really learning, my kinder was just not reading at the level they wanted him at, and I was already straight homeschooling my 9yr old because the internet school and public school said she had a learning disability so it would be to hard for her. So I pulled them all except my 14 yr old who loves it(she also is the type that needs little help).

    Which leads me hear… CM is were the lord has lead my heart to, I have read, and read, and read, LOADS of information and love it. I am trying to get our lives straight, Bring us closer, together, ajust attitudes, and bring the lord and bible into our lives and plan our next year CM style. I have learned a great deal from reading your posts and we have started reading out loud. My 12yr old and 9 yr old loves it. I can’t get my kinder and preschooler to sit and listen yet but I feel that has something to do with my relaxed attitude over the younger years. I know I need to put my foot down but just didn’t know where to start.

    I feel at times (alot of times) they are running over me, I feel like I am talking to a brick wall because I say something and they don’t listen or 10 min. later they are right back to arguing. I hate screaming all the time and feeling frustrated, my husband says I now have “a look ” on my face, and it is not a smile. I WANT TO SMILE AGAIN and I want it to be with my children. I want to be happy ~Brandi~ again.

    Thank you for your posts I know implementing your ideas and starting back at basics has got to help, I am determined to have a happy loving family that the Lord holds dear to his heart.

    Funny thing is, just years ago I remember asking him to please bring me closer to him and let me get to know him, well I think he is working on that right now!LOL!—-



    I had posted a reply a few days ago, and all of a sudden I couldn’t log on! I thought maybe I’d went over my “word limit”! :O (Sonya got a kick out that one! )

    I don’t live in a state that requires testing. But I will say that I have been amazed at how well my dc have learned in spite of many things that ruined my “well-laid ‘school’ plans”!

    Truly when you focus on THE most important things–teaching them to love God and gaining their hearts–the rest falls into place. That doesn’t mean you do nothing <BG> but you won’t have to do as much. There have been many years when all that really got done were the basics–some math, reading, writing. History and science were “nice ideas”. And yet….my children amaze me at what they know and understand about those subjects from lots of reading, discussions we’ve had about current events, and who knows where/what else! In the past two to three years, they have gone like gangbusters on science–I even have one dd that wanted some chemistry! (We bought the Answers in Genesis “God’s Design for Chemistry” just recently). I mean, how often do you use “get your work done and then you can do your chemistry” to motivate a 14 yr. old girl?!

    Of course, you need to run things by your dh.

    I remember hearing about a family that had a lot of crises, and the mom just read out loud to all the dc. They all scored well above average on their annual tests!

    Pare it down to the bare bones so you don’t feel pushed. You can always do more on good days/weeks. Ask dh what the absolutes he wants done are.

    A possible plan would be to focus this summer on habits, respect especially, and also habits of helpfulness (teaching them how you want chores done, etc.). Maybe even factor in some “cooking school” once or twice a week where they learn to make some simple meals. (Working together!) Then this fall, do the “bare bones” school, more cooking school, more working together, more habits….come January, you can do more academically if you feel you need to. But add in slowly–following the “Making the Transition” steps here at SCM would be a good place to start. If you want, you could have them start reading some of the living book suggestions for history for example, and ask them to tell you about it as they’re reading. “Say, what’s that book like? Can you tell me about it?” Keep it informal and low key while you’re working on other issues. And to be honest, you might not have to ask them anything. They’ll be telling you all about what they’re learning!

    And do read aloud. Lots. I have fallen down on the job with my younger set and plan to change that! πŸ˜‰

    They really do catch up. They really do learn. Take it easy on yourself! Find things that help you to not feel pushed or “behind”. I’ll share some things I use, but you’ll find there is soooooo much!

    Math–I use Mastering Mathematics: I did get to look at RightStart at the homeschool convention I went to Saturday–oooh! So tempting! Might have to save some $$ towards that! But I will say Mastering Mathematics is nicely laid out and simple, and affordable. This would be for elementary to early middle school levels. We plan to use Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra with my 16 yodd next year. Yes, I know that’s “behind” according to most people, but it’s okay for us! Oh, and don’t forget the Business Math series here at SCM! My dds LOVE the Pet Store Math!

    Phonics/reading–I use Happy Phonics, a game developed by Diane Hopkins of That and reading to them. I am always amazed how it happens, sometimes even in spite of me! I have a confession to make–I have never finished any phonics program, not even the “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”! (Came close on that one, though!) I also use the method Mark Thogmartin lays out in “Teach a Child to Read with Children’s Books”. If you feel you need a program, I’d do the “100 Easy Lessons” and read lots of good books with them! And give the Happy Phonics game a try (there is another book/curriculum out there with the same title–this is a series of games on cardstock available only at Love to Learn as far as I know).

    Language Arts–Queen Homeschool Supply’s Language Lessons Series. I realize these might not be as old-fashioned and quaint other CM language books, but these fit my needs for now. They have picture studies, poetry, copywork, grammar, even some creative writing and narration. When you’re in crisis mode, or rebuilding or even starting out, they can help you feel you’re covering language arts. You can always switch after your “year of regrouping”!

    Spelling–we just bought one of the Spelling Wisdom series from SCM! Maybe you could “go down the middle” for a couple dc.

    Science–my girls are doing Jeannie Fulbright’s “elementary level” science books, but my 16 yodd brings enough detail into the Botany book that I don’t have a problem “counting it” as high school level. Then the one dd is doing “God’s Design for Chemistry” from Answers in Genesis, as I already mentioned.

    History–one dd is helping me by teaching Mystery of History. I also like Diana Waring’s stuff and we might switch. For US history for younger elementary age (although my 14 yodd loves them, too!) there is a series by Ruth J. Smith published by Bradford press called “The Mighty Works of God”. There are three in the series–each at a different level. The third one which would be upper elementary is “Divine Providence”. First one is “Self Government”. We don’t have the second one! They follow the Principle Approach, and are very readable.

    That’s the basics for now. It’s not an exhaustive list, and it’s not all pure CM, but it’s a start. You don’t have to use things that make you a little “school at home”–that will burn you AND them out!

    And do help your older dc to take more responsibility for their own learning. Maybe I said this already (I’d written two posts and lost them, so forgive me if I’m redundant!), but it doesn’t all depend on *me*. It all depends on me depending on *Him*!

    I hope something in all my ramblings is helpful! If I remember the rest of my “mini-book”, I’ll post more! πŸ˜‰

    May God bless you as you seek His will for your family!


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