Babies and toddlers. A common concern is how to homeschool when you have little ones. Nursing babies are pretty easy to do school with. Toddlers are another story. I do try to plan a few simple learning activities for them to do first thing in the morning. A lot of people like to have older kids rotate child care duty. That hasn’t worked well for me, once an older child is released, I find it hard to get them back on track. But it’s a good option for some families. I do have a bucket of toys that only comes out during school time for the littles. This keeps them occupied nearby pretty well. But there are days when, no matter what you do, you find the toddler eating soap, putting matchbox cars in the toilet and the baby is hard to console. You just thank God for these precious children, clean up the messes and keep plugging away.
There will be days when you have a funeral to attend, you have severe morning sickness, your mom is in the hospital... you just can’t school. On those days, life is the lesson. Family life, your domestic church, is the perfect place to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
I do find that after a new baby, my children are craving some structure and mom time. I have them bring their school books to me and we do at least the basics on the couch or bed snuggled up with the new baby. But it takes me about four weeks to get us back into the school routine
Unless you enjoy spending many hours in the car and having trouble keeping up with basic housework, don’t take on too many outside activities. There are so many very good things for homeschoolers to do, classes, sports, music and dance lessons, play dates. We’re really blessed with a huge amount of choices. But family life can suffer and kids behavior will reflect that, before mom and dad even realize what has happened. My wise friend, Kim, uses this criteria in deciding what extra curricular things to do for their family and I think it’s a good rubric. They don’t sign up for anything that interferes with school work, family meals, daily devotions, or Mass times. So add extras in slowly and pull back from something when you find it’s too much.
There will also be days when you are down and doubting yourself and can’t pull it all together. Pray. Get to mass or adoration if you can. Take everyone out for a walk. And smile at your family. Smile at your husband and kids when they enter a room as if you haven’t seen them in a while. The troubles will pass, and that time will be remembered by your family as a time of love, even though you were struggling.
Truly, we are doing a holy and great work. Raising saints one diaper, one math problem, one book, one grace filled moment at a time.