Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Toddler

In almost every conversation I have with others about what it's like to homeschool, I am asked, "What does Ben do while you're doing your schoolwork?" I can attest to this fact: this is certainly a challenge!

I want Ben to be part of our learning as much as possible - both for his benefit and also for mine (the alternative is that he's off by himself using finger paints on the walls). So I spent a significant amount of time during the first semester of our schooling gathering and organizing ideas, toys, and toddler/preschool activities. I've even created a "Toddler Time" chart where I can simple look at it and pick an activity to fill his life at any given moment :)  This chart is a huge stress-reducer - I have at least 3 activities planned for each day, which means I don't have to think about what he can do - I just look, pick, and get it out for him. Voila! Mixing it up also helps keep things "new" for him.

I've also learned the following principles are imperative to a more successful day for all of us:
  1. Prayer!  Praying for our day, for my attitude to be spirit-filled, and for him to have a happy heart seem to help so much!
  2. Be flexible!  I've gotta just roll with it sometimes ... it is what it is!
  3. Be prepared!   Note aforementioned paragraph ... if I'm trying to "wing it"- stress increases. 
And as much as I have prepared for his learning activities, playful adventures, and how to incorporate him into our days ... the bottom line is this:  he's still TWO years old, very active, a wee-bit strong-willed, and a BOY.

So to give you a sense of what a homeschool is really like with the boy-child, here's a fun photo-gallery illustrating his activities from Monday morning.

Ben was up at 7:30 and had breakfast. Then he ran around upstairs yelling and laughing with the girls while Mommy was finishing cleaning the kitchen and getting ready for the day. He jumped up on the lower bunk bed, played with the girls' Barbies, and also his cars. By 9am, we were starting our schoolwork and Ben is  now fussy. He threw an absolute fit while I was reading "A Picture Book of Lewis & Clark"!

9:20 - After we read our book with much distraction, Ben decided he was ready to play with his Leap Frog alphabet toy. He loves to sing the ABC song along with this toy, which is pretty cute!

9:24 - Ben pointed into the closet at this train set and asked Mommy to "help you" put it together. So while the girls were working on their calendar math, I helped him set up his train.

9:30 - Next, Ben asked if he could paint. So, while still talking to the girls about Lewis & Clark's expedition, I'm also getting what he needs to paint!

9:32 - And the next thing I know he's crawling up ON the same table where the paints are and the bowl of water to reach a puzzle. So I'm now wiping off the table so he can play with the alphabet puzzle. What are the girls doing?  I don't know.

9:35 - Ben saw me getting the dry-erase marker and board out to help Ellie write her birthday thank-you notes, and decided HE wanted to write on one "toooooooo"!  See what he scribbled?  That's as much as he did before moving on ...

And now I need more coffee.

10:00 - Ben wandered up the stairs to the main landing where all the winter gear is stored, found one mitten and decided he needed help finding the match. So I sent Abbie to help him so I could have 2 minutes of quiet with Ellie during her math lesson! (Apparently they haven't found the match yet.)

It is now after 10, which means Ben's digestive system has now completely processed any and all traces of breakfast and is ready for meal #2 in his day. Today's request?  Ice cream.  And Mommy suggests raisins? No, ice cream.  No, banana?  ICE CREAM!  Noooo ... string cheese?  And so this goes on for about 20 minutes and finally I just quick run upstairs to grab snacks and drinks for all. Food appeases him for a while. 

Until he has the idea that he should watch "Thomas the Train". And so I hear him asking this question about 57 times in the next 30 minutes.

10:45 - And here he is occupying himself by sitting in the dolly stroller. Note the matching mitten has been found!

11:00 - We started singing "The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock" to go along with Ellie's R is for Rock unit, and Ben looooooves to sing! We sang the song a good 4-5 times just for his enjoyment. Pretty sweet little singing voice he has!

11:25 - Because I need Ellie's attention for her lessons, I asked Abbie to play a game with Ben.

But first, I need more coffee.

 11:37 - I need Abbie's attention for her math lesson, so I suggested that Ben play with his trains. He actually took to this ...

For at least one minute. At 11:38, he is now marching around singing his name "Benja-MIN Sam-uEL UUuuuuutecht!"

11:40 - Since he saw that Mommy  was using these fun little manipulatives to teach Abbie division, he wants to play with them "tooooooooo"!

11:43 - He's now asking to watch cartoooooons. And since I've nearly completely lost my own marbles, I finally agree that YES, you may watch cartoons, and Ellie - PLEASE go turn them on already!

Then - just as I start getting a thought on how I might best explain division to my firstborn - Ellie interrupts me and tells me that Daddy didn't set the TV back up after they all played Wii last night.

And now I'm doing that face-wipe thing with my outstretched hands while thinking about the yellow bus that drives by each morning at 8am ...

11:51 - And miraculously, we made it through the morning with no injuries, meltdowns, or loss of sanity. Sanctity? Well that's another issue altogether, now isn't it?  The kids got to watch the end of this cartoon while I went upstairs and made lunch.

 "Ben - where's your happiness?"  
"Right dere!"  (said with a very merry heart)

And after lunch, I sent him outside because he looooooves to play in the snow! 

So there you have it. There was a typical morning with a toddler while also trying to teach my older two their school lessons! I worked with the girls later in the afternoon, but we did actually accomplish some things during the morning mayhem. It's quite a ride, and I'm glad you came along for a few hours ...

Now do you see why I covet your prayer!?  Or why I absolutely INSIST on having him in nursery during worship service on Sundays? Or why I rarely answer my phone or respond to texts before 2pm? Or why I refuse to grocery shop with my kids? It all makes perfect sense to me, of course.

And I wouldn't trade it for the world. He's my little toddler-boy ... my sweet-singing, Elmo-loving, monkey-climbing, car-racing, bathwater-spashing, candy-craving, busybusybusy, beautiful toddler boy.

Much love!


  1. I am howling over here, I love this so much!!!! We very rarely get ANY school done until naptime. We do some preschool stuff in the morning, which the big kids help with. My toddlers/preschoolers are REQUIRED to lay down from 1-3ish. The only problem is, by 1pm it's usually ME that needs the nap and I have a hard time keeping myself going for another 2 hours when it's so quiet!! You are so fun, I love reading your updates!!!! Have a great day!

  2. You have such a wonderful way of describing the mayhem that goes on in your home. It's even funnier when as I read, I look at the time stamp and see it's only been 2 or 3 minutes since the last thing Ben was doing. My sister has a 2 year old and would go nuts if she went back to homeschooling. Of course they have 5 kids now but she went nuts when they got to 3 and 4. It was just too much. You are an inspiration just by the mere fact that you continue on and can laugh, or at least let us laugh at your sometimes frenzied world. Thanks Jenn. Your lighthearted monologue gave a smile to my afternoon. :)