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Last month, we shared a peek into our life here at Missionary Acres. But, that post started running long, so we decided to cut it into three parts. You can read all about our mornings (which are full of all things homeschooling) in this post. Keep reading to learn how we spend our afternoons.
Our family is definitely more routined based, instead of sticking to a time-based schedule. We have blocks of activities that we mix and match throughout the day, and don’t use the clock as our guide for most of them. This allows us to create a flexible schedule that works for us no matter what’s on the to-do list each day. You can read more about our flexible routine blocks here.
Lunch is the routine block that separates our mornings from our afternoons. However, this doesn’t always happen at the same time. Some days, lunch is at noon. On others, we’ll eat an early lunch between 11-11:30, or a late lunch around 1. Lunch happens when our morning tasks (and homeschooling) are wrapped up, and we try to coordinate it with Bryan’s schedule so we can all eat together.
We make a plan for lunch in our annual meal plan. Here’s what’s on the menu for this school year:
Monday: Leftovers/Make Your Own
Wednesday: Mac and Cheese
Thursday: Stir-fry (a good way to use up leftover meat and veggies!)
Friday: Soup and Salad
Saturday: Leftover/Make Your Own
On leftover/make your own days, the kids work together to fix themselves something to eat. They can heat up leftovers, make a cheese taco, fix a peanut butter sandwich, or cook something from a few selections of easy recipes we keep things on hand for. The other days, Lisa typically handles the cooking for lunch.
We keep the same chores for an entire year. This allows the kids to really master their responsibilities. It also keeps us from having to keep track of who does what. By keeping the same chores for so long, if something doesn’t get done, we know who to remind without having to stop to think. And saving brain power is definitely important!
Three times a day, the kids do their table chores. This year, Jeff and Ellie are the washers and dryers. The temporary house we’re staying in does have a dishwasher, but it’s in an awkward location, not in the main kitchen. So instead of carrying dirty dishes across the house and then having to carry clean ones back, they just wash and dry by hand.
While they’re tackling dishes, the rest of us pitch in to put food away, wipe the chairs, tables, and counter, sweep the floor, and make sure the kitchen is ready for its next use.
Family Writing Time
A few years ago, when trying to find a way to get more work hours into each day, Lisa started experimenting with Family Writing Time. It’s morphed a bit over the years, but it’s a favorite part of our routine now.
During Family Writing Time, each member of the family works quietly on a project for thirty minutes. Lisa typically uses this time to put a bit of work into her business. The kids work on a variety of quiet tasks, such as:
- Writing stories
- Drawing pictures
- Reading a book
- Building something from the foam letter mat
- Doing a couple of workbook pages
- Doodling on the portable white board
- Doing a simple art project
- Using a sensory bin
When the timer beeps, everyone stops working and cleans up. Then, we go around the room round robin style and everyone shares what they worked on. The sharing piece is key to keeping the little kids involved. They want to have something to show off or tell us about, which helps motivate them to stay on task.
Sibling Play Time
Our kids play together pretty well. But, they tend to play with the same siblings over and over again. Sibling play time mixes things up a bit. It also allows the little kids a chance to spend some quality time with their bigger siblings.
For sibling play time, we pair up the kids. Each day of the week, they spend this time with a different sibling. And we have a hard rule for this time. The younger sibling of the pair gets to pick the activity.
Sibling play time lasts for about thirty minutes. During this time, the kids might:
- Cook something together
- Read books together
- Play with trucks
- Go outside and take a walk
- Build with Legos
- Play with dolls
- Play house
- Build a marble run
- Make an obstacle course
- Play a game
- Build a puzzle
Or any of a number of other activities. Whoever is with Owen typically watches an episode of a favorite show with him.
When you spend all day together, it’s easy to get on each other’s nerves. That’s why it’s important to spend a bit of time doing individual things.
Since most of our kids have long outgrown nap time, Quiet Time is our solution. It lasts about 90 minutes in our home. During this time, the littlest kids nap.
Everyone else picks something quiet to do on their own. They go to an individual space as well, so they’re not tempted to distract each other.
A couple of the kids typically pick an activity they can do in their beds. One sits at the table. Another plays on the floor of the living room, and perhaps someone sits on the couch. If the weather is decent, someone goes outside.
Here’s a look at some of the activities the kids work on during this time:
- Playing with pieces to a board game (they love to play creatively with them!)
- Do a puzzle
- Paint (not all of the kids are allowed to pick this one – they have to be able to clean up their mess completely on their own)
- Building with Legos
- Working on a hobby
- Playing with toys
- Taking a long bath (baths are typically rushed at our house since there are so many kids to get cleaned up, so long bubble baths are a favorite for some of them)
During Quiet Time, Lisa works on her business. Since it’s a bit quieter in the home during this time, she can tackle some of her client writing work. Once a week, she also has a meeting during this time.
After spending time apart, it’s always fun to come together and share a snack. We keep snacks simple, and these are also scheduled so they get added to the shopping list. This year, our snacks are:
- Cheese and crackers
- Trail mix
- Deviled eggs
- Ellie cooks (she loves coming up with new snacks, and picks the recipe the week before so we have everything on hand)
- Garlic pretzels
- Veggie sticks and ranch
As mentioned in our morning post, most of our kids have a day of the week where they get different responsibilities and privileges. One of those privileges is to pick an activity for the family to play together in the afternoon.
Sometimes this is a board game. Other times, we take a walk or jump rope together. The kids like going down to the park at Missionary Acres and playing basketball or mini-golf.
If we have errands to run, we might stop at a park and turn the play equipment into a spaceship or pirate ship.
My now nine-year-old invented a game several years ago called Baby in the Mailbox. That’s a frequent pick from the younger kids.
Basically, we play house with each person assigned a role. But, the mail person brings a mysterious box to the door. It’s a baby. So then we have to call the police and report a baby being found, and take the baby to the doctor, and go to the store to buy baby things. It’s a great game of pretend that tends to get more elaborate each time we play!
No matter what we do, we enjoy our time together.
If the kids earned their screen time (by spending an hour in active play), they get to redeem it in the afternoon after quiet time. Several kids can use their time at the same time, which helps it not take too long.
Quick Clean Up
Each afternoon, before Bryan gets home, we spend about 15 minutes cleaning up. When we all pitch in, we can get a lot done in that amount of time.
During this time we also put away laundry from the day (if any has piled up and not gotten put away right out of the dryer).
Free Time and Dinner Prep
We end our afternoons with free time for the kids. During this time, Lisa starts prepping dinner. We’ll pick up here next month when we share our evenings with you.
While the rest of the family is busy doing the above, Bryan is working either at Missionary Acres, or on deputation activities.
If working at the Acres, he tackles whatever projects are on the agenda that week. It could be:
- Using the weed whacker to clean up the property
- Working on a building project
- Helping with building maintenance
- Trouble shooting why a heat pump stopped working
If he’s working on deputation, he’ll stay in the bedroom with the door shut to try to keep the noise down a bit. We’re looking forward to having an office space in the house we’re going to remodel!
On these days, he might work on:
- Writing a sermon to use on the road
- Calling pastors
- Updating our presentation
- Following up with pastors
- Answering emails
- Working on deputation paperwork
An Evening with the Tanners
Come back next month to see how we spend our evenings.
Thanks so much for spending some time with us! It’s a blessing to be able to serve the Lord here at Missionary Acres.