Our Unschooling Morning Routine


Just before Christmas, Karen asked me if I could write about our typical unschooling days.  I spoke about this topic in a podcast a few months ago, so I thought I’d share some of what I said in a short series of posts.

Today, I’m starting with our morning routine. Routine? That doesn’t sound very unschooly, does it?

We all get up early in the morning. If it’s one of the warmer months of the year, we might go for a run together. Usually, that’s the girls and me. When we get back, we shower, breakfast, do the chores, say our prayers together before getting on with the more exciting work of the day. We meet up for morning coffee. We eat meals together. We spend time together in the evening if there are no after-dinner commitments, and we all go to bed at reasonable times, so we can get up early again the next morning and do it all over again.

Now that sounds really ordinary, doesn’t it? It could be anyone’s life. Don’t we want to be like some unschoolers and lie in bed late in the mornings? We could read books without getting out of bed just because we can. Don’t we want to get up and wander around in our PJs, turn on the computer and play computer games first thing in the morning? Why do we look at the clock and decide it’s lunch time? We could just grab something to eat while we’re working, whenever we feel like it. If we’re in the middle of doing something interesting late at night, why stop and go to bed? We could sleep in the next morning, couldn’t we? There aren’t any rules. We could unschool like that. That sounds much more exciting (than what we do). I also think it sounds much more typical of an unschooling life.

Sometimes I do feel like living that type of life, doing things when and where I feel like it. But I don’t. I think that there are advantages to living the type of life we do. Of course, each family is very different. But for us, this type of lifestyle suits us very well. We have a rhythm to our days. Everybody’s individual timetables are in tune with each other, so this means we spend a lot of time together. I think we would miss out on so much if we lived a more haphazard type of existence.

For example, if we all got up at odd times of the day, we’d miss out on running together in the cool of the morning in summer. That’s a really lovely time of day. It can get very hot in summer and the days are draining. You don’t feel like exercising when the sun’s beating down. But first thing in the morning, on an Australian summer’s day, it is beautiful. We get outside before the sun has really warmed up the day, and walk down to the bush and hear the kookaburras laughing. We might see a kangaroo if we’re early enough. We’ve seen a few lyrebirds in the trees. They are all very special sights, and we get to see them because we’re up early. Sometimes we’re up so early we see the sun rising over the gum trees. And then we exercise our bodies, come home tired but feeling very satisfied. Yes, we’ve started the day off well. I find it’s worth getting up early to experience all of this…

… Now I’ve told you how I feel about it, and I assume my girls feel exactly the same way because they freely choose to get up and come with me. Sometimes I say, “I can go on my own tomorrow. You sleep in. You must be tired. You were out late.” (They might have gone to a choir practice or some other function.) I don’t expect them to come running with me. I get up. I get myself ready. I go out to the kitchen to get my water bottle and there they’ll be, lacing up their shoes… I guess it’s important to them as well.We don’t always run first thing in the morning before our breakfast. We find it’s too cold in winter. It’s also very dark. Not good running conditions. So we prefer to run in the middle of the day. That’s when it’s warmest…

…But we still get up early even though we don’t get up to run. We get up to do our morning routine: to shower, have breakfast, do our chores, say prayers together before we get on with what we really want to do.

Do we like doing the chores? Perhaps it’s easy for us because we all really love doing them? But that’s not true. I don’t like doing chores at all. But we do like getting the chores out of the way. Get all those necessary household jobs done as quickly as possible so that we can do what we really want to do with our day. I think that’s how we look at it. Let’s all club together. We’re all part of the team. Let’s work hard for a little while in the morning, get the chores done… It’s freeing I think. We don’t have those niggling thoughts in the back of our minds that we’ve still got to get the washing on the line, or we’ve still got to think about what we’re going to have for dinner. We don’t have to think about that. We’ve done it all. Now we’re free to do the exciting things.

I said it’s not easy… When I wake up in the morning, all I really want to do is get on with the things I want to do. My head’s always buzzing with things that I could do doing: some blog posts I want to write, a video I want to make, something I want to do that is much more interesting than the morning routine. I don’t even really want to hop into the shower. I just want to get out of bed, stay in my pyjamas and go off to the family room, start up my computer, get going with my work.

I wonder if my children feel the same way. Do they want to stay in bed and read all those books that are piled up beside their beds? And maybe if I did wander around in my pyjamas, ignoring the chores and just doing what I want to do, my children would then choose to do what they want to do as well. But they seem to follow my example. They won’t let me do the chores by myself. They want to pitch in and help.We all know that our day is going to run smoother if we have done those chores first. We like living in a clean and tidy house. We like being able to find things. It’s very frustrating when you can’t find things because there’s a mess everywhere. We like things in their place. We’re not perfectionists. We have a certain level of untidiness, but that’s work in progress. But basically, we do like to sweep the floors, clean the bathrooms, have the dishes washed, have some plans for what we’re going to cook for dinner, have the washing on the line. And then, yes, the day is ours. The adventures can begin.

Of course, we’re all different, and other unschooling families might not want to have a morning routine like ours. They survive quite nicely without it. They’re quite happy to do the chores in a more relaxed way, maybe leave the dishes to be washed up altogether in the evening. Yes, get around to things whenever they feel like it. But we don’t work well that way, and so we have made the decision to make the sacrifice every morning of spending an hour and a half or so working together as a team to get these things done.

This transcription was taken from episode 41 of my unschooling podcast: Chores and Our Typical Unschooling Day
The next section of this podcast starts with the words:

I said I have to be a good example if I want my children to be part of that team in the morning, to help me get the house organised…

How do we encourage our kids to help with the chores? Next time, shall I tell you what I said?
If you’d like to share what your family does each morning, please do!

I should add, we no longer have little children in our family, so it’s easy for us to have a morning routine. Also, even though this routine is typical for us, we do occasionally have days when everyone is overtired or in need of some slow time, so my kids will stay in bed a little longer and we’ll work through our morning chores at a slow pace. Being flexible and seeing to everyone’s needs… Perhaps that’s very important.
You can find my Stories of an Unschooling Family podcast on
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  1. Reply

    I loved reading this – it sounds so peaceful and rhythmic. I prefer to get the chores done early, too. The organisation seems to set the tone for getting other things done and keeping busy. On mornings when we're disorganised, the whole day can seem to slip away. We've been pretty lazy, these holidays, so I'm looking forward to getting back to our routine. There's some good ideas here for getting into rhythm. Thanks, Sue xx

    1. Reply


      "The whole day can slip away." I understand that! We have so many things we are working on, so much we want to do, and only a limited amount of hours. I know if we drifted through our days, we wouldn't get much of our personal work done and so wouldn't feel very satisfied. We can't wait to get the chores over and done with each day, so we can begin work!

      I also think we do need lazy times to recharge. It's all part of the rhythm of life. My girls have slept longer most mornings of the holidays. (We have got up to run some mornings.) I think they've needed this slower time.

      Of course, life hasn't always been so rhthymic for us. It was hard to organise our days so peacefully when we had babies and toddlers. Their needs came before anything else.

      Enjoy the last few lazy days of holiday! xxx

  2. Reply

    Thanks for this post Sue. Yes please, transcribe what you said about encouraging kids to help with chores ! It's difficult here, my 9 year old son doesn't really want to help, although he does it when I ask for about the 20th time ! I would so much love to have the feeling of a team !
    Things are a bit different for us, maybe because he's still young, maybe because we haven't got the same organisation. I work part time from home, so I have to get time for that. So I wake up at 6am and work until 8. My son wakes up usually and we all have breakfast together. Then we either do something together, either each on our own, and come back tohether for lunch. Same thing in the afternoon. Sometimes I spend a morning working and my son plays around or go work with the sheperd who lives nearby. Hey ! I realise in writing those line that I could suggest to team up with my son after breakfast for the chores ! I'll try that ! I think that doing chores at the same time could be of great help actually ! I hadn't thought of that !
    I wish my son would do more things with me, like cooking or working out or gardening. Somehow he doesn't seem interested. He's around, because he likes being with me very much (he's a unique child, I think it's one of the reasons why !). Maybe when he gets older he'll join me more in my various activities. I hope so at least !

    1. Reply


      I just transcribed the chore part of the podcast. I'll post it today!

      Oh yes, doing the chores at the same time would make a difference, I'm sure.

      You said you wish your son wanted to do things with you. How about sharing some of his interests? Would he like you to play a computer game with him or is there something else he likes to do? Could you sometimes visit the shepherd together? Maybe later, he'll want to share whatever you like doing.

      Your son sounds very loving. It must be lovely having him close by, enjoying your company.

    2. Reply


      It sounds like you have a lot of fun with your son. Kids really do enjoy sharing their interests with us, or at least that's what I've experienced. And yes, when we take the time to get involved, we discover it's a real pleasure for us too! Thank you so much for telling me about your son!

    3. Reply

      Thank you Sue. Oh yes, I do loooots of things with my son ! I play football, watch videos, play games… many things. Him being a unique child, I had to learn to be with him and do things with him. It was a challenge at first, now it's a real pleasure. Yes you're right, he's very loving, this is a gift.

  3. Reply

    Well, that was a good and inspirational post. Thank you for the transcribing effort. It's like what the Ninja Turtles say (translated back to English from Danish, they migth word it differently): "There's no breakfast untill we have been training." I'd like to bring more ninja Turtles flavour into my life.

    1. Reply


      It's been a long time since I watched the Ninja Turtles. "No breakfast until we have been training"? I think I'd like the Turtles on my team. They'd fit right in!

  4. Reply

    Thank you Sue. Your post is perfect timing. I'm needing to make some changes in our home and it know it starts with me. You and the girls have already inspired us as my and Maia are planning to start running in the mornings now the days are getting lighter here in the UK. I also find I need our home organised & tidy otherwise I become overwhelmed, but I have to say getting our 14 and 9 yr old to help is such a struggle. I wonder if a set routine each morning maybe the answer. Xxx

    1. Reply


      You and Maia are going to run together? Oh, that's exciting. I hope you enjoy exercising together. I imagine you have some beautiful places where you can run. I hope you'll let me know how you get on.

      Struggling to get kids to do the chores is so draining. Maybe you could all work on those chores together once you come home from your runs!

    • Hwee
    • January 22, 2016

    I like the rhythm of your morning routine. You're right. It's definitely easier to get into a routine with older children, at least that's what I find here. I love your sunny weather there! We're experiencing arctic cold here. 🙂

    1. Reply


      Things do change as children get older. In some ways, I miss the busy days with little ones, but I do like how I can now work with my children. We enjoy being a team.

      It's been so hot here recently, it's hard to imagine being artic cold. I hope you haven't had to go out very much. A good season for staying home by the fire and enjoying some inside activities!

  5. Reply

    Hmmm. Sounds lovely for you!
    Not sure we could manage it, but still settling into a new life here. We'll see.
    We have started some new chores which are going well and making a huge difference, but still with prompting.
    Enjoy the last days without Evernote!
    Xo Jazzy Jack

    1. Reply

      Jazzy Jack,

      Maybe our morning routine isn't the right one for you. We are all different and that's quite okay!

      My last days without Evernote? Oh yes, back to record keeping! Actually, I've been adding notes to our notebooks over the school holidays. The girls have done some interesting things and I've wanted to record them. But term time record keeping is different. There's more of it!

      I hope your term gets off to a wonderful start!

  6. Reply

    Thank you Sue! I've been eagerly waiting for these posts on typical unschooling days and such! 🙂

    1. Reply


      You're welcome! I just published a post about our typical unschool mornings. I hope this short series answers your questions. I have another post planned. I'll write it very soon. Thank you for stopping by!

    • Karen
    • November 18, 2016

    Oh my goodness! I completely forgot I had asked about this! I am so embarrassed! I’m going to read through these posts again. Maybe it’s just all about timing? 🙂

    1. Reply


      No need to be embarrassed! Oh yes, timing is everything. We can ponder questions and then need to return to them at a later date. Sometimes answers affect us differently at different times too. It sounds like you are revisiting the topic of typical days. Perhaps you are pondering some changes in your own routine? Anyway, I don’t mind chatting about this topic with you!

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