Guest Post: Author Erin McCole-Cupp

It is my pleasure to introduce Erin McCole-Cupp, blogger, author, work-at-home mom, lay Dominican. Erin’s new book, Don’t You Forget About Me, has just been released and is available on

A Day in the Life of the Work-from-home Catholic  Mom

 Author Erin McCole Cupp distributing slices of Philadelphia-style tomato pie at the 2013 Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show“How do you do it all?”  I get asked that a lot, and it makes me feel really awkward.  How do I do what all?  I never know how to answer that.  I do what I can with what I have.  Doesn’t everybody?

Things I don’t do:  perfect housekeeping, fancy meals, scrapbooking, Candy Crush Saga, Words With Friends, Pinterest-worthy decorating for holidays—or any day, for that matter.  I also don’t do Elf on the Shelf, but that’s a whole other thing.  I just find those things creepy.

I don’t do any of this work on Sundays.  My week is jam-packed, but Sunday is easy, well, like Sunday morning.

Anyway, here’s a  typical day:

5:30am  The alarm goes off.  Hubby’s in the shower, and I pull up on my phone.  It’s time for Lauds (a. k. a., Morning Prayer).  I must pray Lauds before my feet hit the floor, or else I just hit the ground running and don’t start my day with prayer.  I’d rather pray more coherently, but I’d also rather pray incoherently than not at all.  Lauds in bed it is.

5:45am  Ciao to hubby, off to work.  Roll out of bed, grab jump drive, and start up the computer.  Stop at the kitchen table and chart, because once again I forgot to chart before getting to bed last night.  Alas.  Next comes my time to respond to emails, write and schedule out blogs, make marketing contacts, and so on.  This is my business time of day.  I hear Second Shift of Kid singing in her room again rather than sleeping.  Oy.

6:45am Shower, make coffee, prep breakfasts

7am Kids come down for breakfast.  I drink coffee, eat quickly, drink coffee, read aloud (right now it’s Johnny Tremain), and drink coffee.

7:45am Morning Chores.  I keep drinking coffee until 7:50am (the hard and fast deadline for pre-Eucharistic fasting).  In this time I do the dishes, direct the children in their chores, make sure Second Shift is dressed somewhat appropriately for the day (with or without shoes on the right feet), pack our lunch, brush teeth, and if I’m really lucky, put on some eyeliner, mascara, white eyepowder under the eyes, and some lip color—the four musts for a girl with glasses.  Thick frames? Thick eyeliner, ladies.  Mmm-hm.

8:25am  Leave for daily Mass.  Mass starts at 8:30am.  We really needed to leave far earlier than this, but inevitably Second Shift dawdled on the potty, Oldest Dumpling had a meltdown, and Middle Dumpling sobbed because she couldn’t find something vitally important, like a hairbrush.

8:33am Drop First Shift off at the sacristy door so they can dash in to serve Mass (we are the only homeschooling family who attends daily Mass in our parish, so First Shift is the default altar serving team).  I pull around to the main entrance, park, and coax Second Shift up the gi-huge-ic stone stairs to the front doors.

8:35am Holy water, mantilla, coax Second Shift into a pew.  This usually involves warnings of losing Bull, the Stuffed Bulldog, if obedience isn’t forthcoming.  “Say hello to Jesus in the tabernacle,” I whisper.  Second Shift genuflects.

Mass:  I won’t lie.  There are plenty of times I hear other homeschooling families say how glad they are that they don’t have to be out the door so early in the morning, and I ask myself why I drag our bottoms out to Mass.  I have promised, as a Dominican, to attend daily unless prevented by grave reason.  Educating my children could be considered grave reason.  But recently I realized that this is one of the only sustained times I have in peace with God.  I use the term “peace” loosely, as I spend easily 75% of the time shushing Second Shift.  Still, daily Mass is, even at the worst of times, a still pond in the otherwise rushing torrent of my daily schedule.

9:00am St. Michael Prayer before leaving church.  Fr. Hardofhearing stops to tell us how loud Second Shift was today.  Well, at least she’s here to be heard?

9:10am Stop at home and pick up the cornstarch and lunch cooler we of course left behind.

9:30am Homeschool Co-op at a friend’s house.  It’s a low-key affair.  Two other moms are teaching during this two-month session.  Phew.  I’m up next month, though.  Our hostess has made coffee!  Don’t mind if I do!

12noon Pray the Angelus, then leave for a local park where we’re meeting Second Shift’s friend & her mom for lunch and play.  This weather has been such a blessing.  We’re able to enjoy the outdoors before it’s too cold (or too hot again) to do so.

1:30pm Head home.  Break out the math books for First Shift, and give Second Shift “Meaningful Independent Work”:  today it’s weaving strips of paper into the holes of a laundry basket.  While Second Shift is engaged in her MIW, teach a math lesson to First Shift, do dishes while they do lesson practice, then grade RIGHT AWAY.

2-4pm QUIET TIME!  First Shift gets a math assignment, a writing prompt, a Vocab Builder page, and each must do an entry into her bibliography log.  Second Shift gets a story then gets placed in bed.  While they are working and she is rearranging her furniture climbing her bureau talking loudly to her Dora Gymnast doll resting peacefully, I start my quiet time with five Hail Marys as a Warrior of Lourdes, praying to prevent, heal and do reparations against child abuse.  Then I use the next 1.5 hours to get my writing and lesson planning done.  Oh, and I finally remember to keep the laundry moving.

4pm Move the laundry around some more.  Check First Shift’s independent work and ask them to tell me what else they learned during their independent reading.  This is called “narration,” and it a part of the Charlotte Mason-style approach we take to homeschooling.  Start making dinner.  The weather is still nice?  Hooray!  Send the kids outside.  First Shift finds neighborhood kids, just off the bus from school.  Second Shift is told that if she plays outside independently (in view of the kitchen) until I call her in, then she can watch a Jojo’s Circus.  Bribery has its place.

5:45pm Hubby comes home.  Greetings and grace.  We eat!  “How was your day today?  Did you have a good day today or a bad day today?”  Etc.

6:15pm Yeah, we eat fast.  Feed & care for pets.  Wash dishes.  Second Shift destroys what order there was in the living room.

6:45pm We’re trying to become more physically fit, so we go to the gym.  There’s babysitting for the kids, resistance training and cardio for the grown-ups.

8:00pm Family rosary time on the drive home.

8:20pm Hubby puts Second Shift to bed while First Shift gets jammies and brushes teeth.

8:30pm We all meet in the basement for laundry folding and a classic Doctor Who.  Right now we’re on the Third Doctor. First Shift is very excited to meet the Fourth Doctor, because I remember being a fan of his in kindergarten.  Yes, thanks to PBS, I’ve been a nerd for just that long.

9:00pm Act of Contrition and nighty-night to First Shift.  There’s more laundry to fold, but Hubby jumps on that grenade for me, because I have an editing deadline.  I curl up on an upstairs couch with a proof of Don’t You Forget About Me, a pen, and a stack of sticky notes.  This is my last search for typos and needed changes, so I use a physical copy rather than the latest PDF from my editor.  It makes a difference.

10:30pm Kiss Hubby on the forehead (he’s fallen asleep watching Star Trek:  The Next Generation reruns, the laundry now folded in baskets at his feet) and head into bed.

10:36pm Realize I forgot to pray Vespers, the Evening Prayer prayed at the end of one’s daily work.  Pull up once more.  Pray.  I lie back down and close my eyes.

10:58pm Eyes fly open.  I forgot to chart.  Again.  Oh, well.  It’ll have to wait until morning.  “It’s your Church, God.  I’m tired!  I’m going to bed!” 

For the rest of Erin’s interesting, very full bio, go to her blog, Will Write for Tomato Pie:

This entry was posted in Catholic, Catholic woman, Christian, faith, family, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Guest Post: Author Erin McCole-Cupp

  1. Reblogged this on Will Write for Tomato Pie and commented:
    Visiting 8KidsandaBusiness today on the Don’t You Forget About Me virtual book tour. Today’s topic? A day in the life of a work-at-home Catholic mom. Thanks, Terry, for the hostessing!

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