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Homeschooling Day in the Life: Vanessa, Homeschooling Mom of Five Kids Ranging From Teen to Toddler

day in the life vanessa

A homeschool day in the life looks different almost every day, right? Over on our Instagram page, we love to give you a peek into lots of homeschool days regardless of how they change day to day.

Today, we’re going to give you a peek into the homeschool day in the life of Vanessa, homeschooling mom of five children, ranging from toddler to teen.

We can all learn and be inspired by one another, regardless of our homeschool approach. It’s not about looking good for social media, it’s about the connection going on inside our homeschool walls and sharing with others what works for us.We might all homeschool a little differently, but we can always look for ideas from each other that inspire, encourage and equip us in our own homeschool days. So each week we create blog posts for you to access later of each of those “days in the life”. We hope you keep coming back for more inspiration. Keep going, mama! These days at home are so worth it!

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Meet Vanessa

meet vanessa

Vanessa @mightyoaksandarrows is a homeschooling mom of five kids with ages ranging from teen to toddler, a wife of (nearly) 17 years, lover of Jesus and Diet Dr Pepper, and Coordinator of Chaos.

She enjoys camping trips with her family, reading, and visiting the beach. Vanessa is a night owl and loves the color pink. She grew up in Texas, the daughter of a football coach, and lived in the DFW and Houston areas after getting married, until her husband’s job brought them to Northern California ten years ago.

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Vanessa never viewed homeschooling favorably. She was a teacher, comes from a family of educators, and swore her children would be normal and go to normal school. 😂 Thankfully the Lord was patient and worked miracles in her heart, was kind enough to place the right people in her path, and they are now nearing the end of their 9th homeschooling year.

Vanessa describes their homeschool as heavily influenced by Charlotte Mason.

Our Homeschool Story

homeschool story vanessa

Homeschooling was never part of our grand plan. Actually, it wasn’t even an option. That wasn’t for us because we wanted normal, socialized children thank you very much. 😆😉 Our oldest son went to preschool as soon as that option was available. I envisioned books, natural exploration, and kindling the curiosity of those precious preschool years, but what I got were scribbled worksheets and whines that he just wanted to play more. The chasm between my educational vision and reality grew further apart as the year progressed.

Homeschooling was still the furthest option from my mind. I told myself that I wasn’t qualified (even with formal teaching experience), I had zero desire to homeschool, and heaven knew I wasn’t patient enough! 😝

But God tugged on my heart, planted seeds of curiosity, and put me in the path of wise homeschooling families. I read books, I prayed, and yet I continued in defiance against what I knew God was calling me to do. Thankfully He kept patiently pursuing my heart, and eventually took a leap of faith. I committed to trying it out for one year, and not a day longer. 😉

We’re finishing our 9th year, with no intention of choosing a different path. Have I cried and wanted to quit at some point? Yes, I absolutely have. But I’ve never regretted our decision to homeschool. Not once. The fruit of this decision is plentiful and good. The individualized curriculum, going at their pace, and tailoring to their learning styles are a few of the advantages to homeschooling.

Most of all, I have enjoyed the gift of time with them. Time to enjoy all of the moments of learning, time to travel, and time for shared memories. Next year our oldest will be in 9th grade, and while it’s sad that his time in our home is coming to an end, I have such a deep sense of satisfaction and joy knowing that I didn’t miss many moments.

Homeschooling With Babies + Toddlers

homeschooling with babies vanessa

My homeschooling experience has always included a baby on my hip, or a toddler underfoot (and sometimes, both). I had hyperemesis gravidarum with each pregnancy and my final pregnancy was high risk, but all of that pales in comparison to how challenging it is to have a baby or toddler while homeschooling. 😅

To be honest, the ratio of surviving and thriving was (and sometimes still is) very lopsided. 🙃😆 Some days it felt like I was living in the Wild West without law and order (or sleep). Instead there were a lot of messes, tantrums, and chaos.🤠😅

Here’s my advice for every overwhelmed homeschooling mother with toddlers and newborns:

🧸 Lower your expectations. This season is hard, so don’t make it harder by chasing impossible outcomes. Messes, distractions, whining, and tantrums are very normal in this season.

🧸Give them 5 minutes of your undivided attention before you begin lessons. I’ve found that misbehavior and whining can be avoided if the toddler has felt seen, heard, and loved. Every morning my daughter plops in my lap for books and we end our special time with a lot of cuddles and kisses.

🧸Control what you can and let go of what you can’t. For example, you cannot control how long the baby naps, but you can control where the baby crawls by putting up a baby gate. You cannot control the messes they’ll make, but you are the gatekeeper of the toys they have access to.

🧸To reduce interruptions, prepare snacks and sippy-cups before lessons begin.

🧸Use baby carriers for infants.

🧸Consider investing in a sensory table.

🧸Get outside. When our family needs to emotionally reset, nothing is as effective as getting outside.

🧸Think outside of the box. Some lessons were finished later in the afternoon, when my husband was home. Sometimes “Morning Time” waited until the afternoon when the baby was napping. Lessons do not have to happen when you want them to.

Morning Time

morning time vanessa

Morning Time has become the happy anchor of our days. Before you misunderstand, let me be clear: Our intentional gatherings to feast on a variety of educational subjects may sound ideal, but it is not always a peaceful or enchanted experience. 🫠😅

Crayons are frequently scattered to and fro, toddlers spill milk, and attitudes aren’t always praiseworthy. 😆 And yet, despite the imperfections, Morning Time remains the anchor and highlight of our homeschool day. It is an opportunity to strengthen family bonds through shared learning, and can be a delight.

There isn’t a wrong way to do Morning Time. We’ve found that scheduling educational topics by day of the week works best. Here’s what it looks like in our home:

  • Monday: Scripture, Hymn, Plutarch, Family Read Aloud Book
  • Tuesday: Scripture, Poetry, Government, Family Read Aloud Book
  • Wednesday: Scripture, Picture / Composer Study, Tales & Myths, Family Read Aloud Book
  • Thursday: Scripture, Shakespeare, Family Read Aloud Book
  • Friday: Scripture, Nature, Family Read Aloud Book

Homeschooling Realities

homeschooling realities vanessa

Homeschooling is a gift, but it’s also responsibility that weighs heavily on mothers, particularly. I think unrealistic expectations sour a homeschooling experience faster than hard days ever could.

With that said, here are some #homeschooling realities: expect peaks, pits, and plateaus along your journey. Expect homeschooling to be hard, because it is. The housework will likely suffer. Expect to feel discouraged and want to quit at some point. There might be exceptions out there, but every year, at some point, I dream of how much easier my life would be if we didn’t choose this path.

How do I get through these slumps?

  • 💕I remember my WHY. Why did I choose this path in the first place?
  • 💕I remind myself that HARD doesn’t mean WRONG. Choosing the easier path isn’t always the right decision.
  • 💕I remember our successes along the way. I look over my son’s book lists and remind myself how far, wide, and deep their education reaches. I also look ahead to see how much more they’ll gain.
  • 💕I nourish my mind and exercise my body. It relieves tension and gets serotonin flowing.
  • 💕I rest, change the pace, take a field trip, or take a break.

Friends, I hope you’re encouraged knowing you aren’t alone on this difficult and rewarding journey.

The Journey is the Gift

the journey is the gift

Early in our homeschool journey, I got comfortable playing the victim. 🫣😐 This path, after all, was never our plan, it was ridiculously hard, and the burden was placed squarely on my shoulders. <<<Insert teeny violin playing sad music. 🎻 🎶😅>>>

I knew homeschooling would require effort, but I never anticipated how much it would stretch my soul to my breaking point.

Contrary to well-meaning strangers who assume homeschooling mothers must be saintly, I am short on patience, anxiety has been my life-long companion, and perfectionism my tormentor. I knew the mental and emotional load of homeschooling would be heavy, but I wasn’t prepared for what came next:

There I was in a puddle of frustrated tears, ready to quit. It took approximately three seconds on Day 1, Year 1 of homeschooling to realize I was in over my head. It was too much for me. Have you felt similar?

But didn’t God call me to this? Yes. And then I had a light bulb moment: 💡 God has not called you or me into deep waters to drown.

Have we forgotten the God we serve? He is a miracle worker and full of grace. He doesn’t scoff at our feeble efforts or roll His eyes at our failings. In fact, He invites us to come to Him despite our weariness and stumbling (Matthew 11:28-30). He is satisfied with our meager offering, and multiplies it into abundance (Matthew 14:13-21).

Homeschooling has been my holy ground, not because I’ve done it perfectly, but because it exposes the cesspool of sin tucked inside my heart and continually reminds me of my utter dependence on the Lord.

Let me tell you a secret 🤫: this journey has been an absolute gift. I’m thankful for all of it, especially to The One who nudged me to pursue it.

Day in the life Vanessa

Thank you Vanessa for sharing your Day in the Life with us!

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