Awhile back my friend Kristie asked me if I could post about what a typical day looks like here on our side of the world. Well, sometimes it feels like there isn't anything "typical" about it, but there is a regular pattern and structure to our days . . . usually! Here's a glimpse for you. You stay-at-home moms might be surprised how much it looks like your typical day!
I have a goal this new year to get up at the early hour (for me) of 6:30 am. I was inspired by some of the women over at girltalk to get up earlier and spend that first hour or so with the Lord. Also, it means that I can go to the bathroom by myself, have a cup of coffee while it is still hot, and even eat a little something all before the girls get up so that is helpful! Now that I am not nursing anymore and Christin has been sleeping regularly until 7:30 or 8 I have no excuse! So I am trying hard to be up by 6:30 to protect that time with Father.
The girls are often up all at the same time--between 7:30 and 8, and then it's breakfast and getting Clara Anne ready for kindergarten on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. John takes her on his way to the office if he isn't running late. They leave about 8:30 and my helper comes right at that time as well. (Aside: It is SO helpful that John has his own office space to work now! Of course he needed it with the new business, but in the past his desk for study/emails/work was right in the family room between the kitchen and the girls' room in our old house. It was hard for him to stay focused! We are so thankful for the office where he can get good work done, right here in our apartment complex!)
Then I have the morning at home with Chloe and Christin. Christin takes a sizeable morning nap, still, so that gives me time to talk over the day's schedule with my helper, make lunch and supper plans, tell her what to buy at the market and any other special instructions for the day. I often do my exercising in the morning and then take a shower; usually Chloe likes to accompany me and sometimes joins me in my strength training exercises--I do a program of pushups, squats, and several core-strengthening exercises on a floor mat. Chloe thinks it's fun! I also try to do one special activity with Chloe in the morning--fix a puzzle together, read her some books, or play a game. She also loves to be involved if I have anything to do in the kitchen.
Clara Anne comes home from her kindergarten about 11:30 and then we often have reading time until lunch; though sometimes that gets interrupted by Christin who is awake from her nap and ready for her lunch! Just last week, though, Christin was often content to wait for her lunch until we were all sitting down together and so that helps a bit. I am finding with three children that the more often the same activities can be done by all of the children at the same time, the more time I seem to have. When they are all on different schedules that is tough! Even that slight change of having Christin eating lunch at the same time as us has helped my morning feel less rushed.
My helper makes lunch and cleans it up everyday. We almost always have Asian food. It is a huge blessing to our family that she does this! We really enjoy the food and so often find ourselves eating a larger lunch and then a much lighter supper--in fact, supper is sometimes (ok, often) lunch leftovers! That seems to suit everyone fine and saves me a lot of time and preparation. John comes home for lunch and usually also brings his office manager, a single lady, to eat with us, and on Mondays my tutor is also there. (At least she was last semester, I'm hoping she will be able to come this semester as well.) Other days we sometimes have other guests but that is our "regular" group.
After lunch the girls play for a bit and then go down for naps about 1:30 or 2. Clara Anne really doesn't nap much anymore but is happy to lie down quietly with her blanket, her stuffed Minnie and a stack of books. Chloe still sleeps hard for 2 hours or so. I often lie down with her for the first half an hour or so. The mid-day rest is a cultural tradition for many in this culture, so sometimes Lou, my helper, also takes a rest. The rest of the afternoon is spent by interacting with the girls, doing Clara Anne's reading lesson with her, talking with my helper, getting things ready for supper, occasionally running an errand, etc. Actually, in writing this I am wondering, "What DO I do all the time?" The days always seem so busy but what am I really doing??? I guess the answer lies in the fact that it takes a lot of energy and time to care for three girls as well as manage my helper, managing the household, and helping my husband with various things too. I think on average I spend at least 1.5 to 2 hours each day talking with Lou so that adds up as well. And if nothing else, I spend my time reading books to the girls, training and disciplining them and then of course picking up toys!
A special regular commitment that I have just begun is to volunteer at the orphanage in our city on Wednesday afternoons. When we first moved here, I was interested in volunteering there but from talking with local friends, it always seemed like the doors were closed to foreigners. The orphanage officials were skittish of potential foreign publicity. However, through John's English teaching business an opportunity arose that a higher level leader in the orphanage actually called us to ask if we could come sometimes--originally her idea was to teach English but that fell through fairly quickly. Now I and some American friends are going simply to hold babies and play with them--working with 6-12 month old babies once a week. I really feel Father has opened this door and am excited to be used of Him in that place. More on that in another post!
John is usually home by 5:30 and then it's supper, family worship time and bedtime routine. The girls are usually in bed about 7:30 or 7:45 and then I use my free evenings for email or internet stuff, reading, or preparations for the next day. John has a new habit of exercising in the evenings so he does that after the girls go down. Some of our evenings of the week have special activities: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays are full of meetings of various sorts.
Saturday is a busy day for John since it's the day that his classes meet. He was at the office this past Saturday for 11 hours! I am able to have a more relaxing day at home with the girls on that day. Sunday we take as a family day, though it may become a good day to meet with people in the future if opportunities arise, since many people are off work.
So that's our "typical" schedule which is always open to change! If you've made it to the end of this post, way to go! In some ways my life perhaps doesn't look SO different from other moms in the US or elsewhere, but maybe it was interesting anyway. And, now, I'm off to bed, ready to start another "typical" week!