How Josie Creates Routines
Our family has lived on a boat since 2011, but in August of 2015, we left the San Francisco area and headed to Mexico and we've been out sailing ever since. Our plan is to sail around the world over the course of ten years. I'm writing this while on night watch in the South Pacific.
One of my concerns with moving into such a small space with five people (myself, my husband, and our three kids, ages 15, 10, and 4), was how we would maintain routine/rituals with the children, both in daily life and schooling. As we prepared to set sail, those concerns became a primary focus.
When the kids were going to a conventional school (if you call a Waldorf-inspired school “conventional”), routine was easy: wake-up, eat breakfast, pack lunch, ride bikes to school, come home from school, play with friends, dinner, start bedtime routine at 7:00, lights out by 8:00.
We started homeschooling six months before we left for our sail. We wanted to ease the transition, so we kept our day somewhat the same, but it started more slowly—less rushed—and finished by 2 p.m. We kept a Monday-Friday schedule, but usually completed what we needed to within four days. We also stuck to a Waldorf-inspired curriculum.
Once we set sail, we struggled a bit to develop a routine with curriculum that the kids were interested in and that we felt confident with as well. Without our “home” resources or much internet, we struggled with weekly plans. It was clear that without a routine and weekly education plan, we all struggled.
Within six months, we developed more of a routine. First and foremost, we parents must have our coffee before anything happens. We wake up early enough before the kids wake up to ensure this happens peacefully. We also try to fit in exercise, usually taking turns as to who goes first and who is on duty for getting the kids breakfast and starting school.
On Monday mornings, the kids plan their own schedule for the week. Once we started laying it out on paper, it was a lot easier to follow. Most parents probably do this the night before, but having the kids do it helps them learn to plan, feel like they have more control, and know what to expect for the week. Now that we've been doing this for three years, we've found a curriculum that is pretty well-laid-out for the year.
Usually we do math first, then the rest of the schedule is up to the kids. I tend to keep food coming to break the day up and keep them fueled. We start with breakfast, of course, then a healthy snack around 10:00 and lunch around 12:30.
When we started, we would continue school for about an hour after lunch, but now that we've fallen into a groove, it's usually done by 12:30, and then the kids can relax and we can go off to play.
Activity wise, we've found that schooling goes a lot smoother if we “make” the kids take an exercise break. I say “make” because sometimes they tried to push through in order to get school done faster rather than have a recess. They weren't able to see that it actually took them longer without an activity break, because they weren't able to focus as much. That being said, we were not always able to get out and be active. That's when it gets tough.
We have dinner around 6:00 and bedtime is still 8:00. Our oldest daughter will still go to bed at this time, but she stays up a bit longer to read. She knows that sleeping in doesn't really happen on our boat, so late nights are kept to a minimum.
The main challenge in all of this while sailing the world is remaining flexible within our routine. We try to do school on regular weekdays, but there are times when nothing is going on during the weekend, but during the week, we’ll be somewhere new and want to explore instead of doing school on the boat. We’ve slowly learned how to ebb and flow our routine to accommodate adventure.
The conversation looks something like this:
Kids: “But mom, we don't want to do school on the weekend!”
Me: “Sometimes there is just going to be school on Saturday and Sunday. But don't worry—Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we’ll be exploring a remote atoll in the Pacific with other kids on sail boats.” Or “Our holiday break is going to be when we arrive in the Galápagos instead of normal spring break time, that way we can enjoy as much of the Galápagos Islands as possible.”
Routine is very important in our boat life. It adds stability and comfort, so the kids know what to expect in our life that's moving all over the place. The comfort of having our home with us everywhere we travel also helps. That being said, we also try to remain flexible—going with the flow. For us that may very well be going where the wind blows, as the weather dictates where and when we go and what we do.
About the Author
Josie Lauducci is a boat-schooling mom, currently sailing around the world with her husband and three kids. Before set sail, she worked as an RN in a neonatal intensive care unit. You can follow Lauducci family adventures on their blog: afamilyafloat.com, or on Instagram and Facebook. And to live vicariously through their fun videos, check out their YouTube channel.