Managing a house and homeschooling kids at the same time has been a challenge to me for many years now. If I focus on getting the housework done, the schooling gets neglected. If I focus on the schooling, the house gets neglected. I've never managed to do both at the same time--until today. I made yogurt and we did school at the same time. Okay, I didn't do well with the yogurt, but we'll blame pregnancy brain on that one.
We were going to be off school for 5 weeks while I recovered from birth. Well, we were off all of last week and no baby. I decided that I really want at least those 4 weeks left to be AFTER the birth so we are starting our next school year while we wait for the baby to come. The kids are fine with this. They know they still have 4 weeks off coming and they are less bored this way. Plus there's some excitement over the fact that they can now say they are in the next grade. Joy is thrilled to now be "an actual number" as she is doing 1st grade work now. Grace is now in 7th grade so she's officially "Jr High" now and not just middle school. And Faith is a Freshman in High School. Of course, we have a 3rd and 5th grader too who are excited to be a grade level higher than before. And Mitchell, having worked ahead, is now a Senior and working on his last year of homeschooling.
The layout of this house allows me to sit all the kids down at the table and still see them from the kitchen. It's all open--the living room, dining room, and kitchen--and so we can all be in different areas and yet I can still keep an eye on things. This has been wonderful for disciplinary reasons too. I've been able to nip quite a few potential problems in the bud.
So this morning, I put the milk in the pot and began to heat it to make yogurt. Then we sat down to read the Bible together. I thought the milk would be okay for a few minutes, but we had some extra long chapters this morning. Meanwhile, I forgot I was making yogurt. Just as I read the last word of the last chapter we were reading, Faith jumped up and ran to the kitchen. She was able to see from the living room that there was a HUGE bubble of milk coming over the top of the pot. Whoops! You're not supposed to actually bring the milk to a boil! But I did, and boiled it over. But I put the pot in the sink with some ice around it to cool it back down to 110-115 and went back to working with the kids. I got them started on their math.
I was able to add the starter, flavor the yogurt, separate it into breakfast size containers (I make 2 gallons at a time and then divide it into 3 containers which, when paired with homemade granola, makes a wonderful breakfast for all of us) and pop it into the warm oven all while answering math questions and reminding Joy that she has to stay quiet while everyone is doing school. This would never have worked in any of our other houses because I would not have been able to be in the kitchen and still see the kids at work at the table. Plus, we didn't have that "crowded in a tiny dining room" feeling that we used to get if we all sat at the table for school. So I was able to expect them to stay put to do school and watch to make sure they really did it. And they were able to keep my attention if they needed help.
I'm sure I won't be able to multi-task this way every day. And there will be times that the kids need more help than I can give from the kitchen. But to know that at least occasionally it will work is very encouraging. Gotta love our floor plan!