Want to know how to homeschool with a baby? It can be a unique challenge to have a baby while you are homeschooling. In fact, often homeschool moms have a baby and a toddler or preschool child which can really add to the challenge!
Let’s just admit it…as much as we all adore babies, they can be very distracting! And how about that couple hours sleep mom is surviving on?! Here are some tips on how to homeschool with a baby.
Video: How To Homeschool With A Baby
We are in the thick of it now with our baby Hollyn who is eight months old now and into everything! We have nine children and have been homeschooling from the beginning when our first was in Kindergarten, so homeschooling with a baby is familiar territory. It seems that since we started homeschooling 10+ years ago, there has always been a baby in tow.
Now, don’t make the mistake of thinking that there is some kind of trick or some mom out there has the answer to how to make it easier to homeschool with a baby. No, there is nothing easy about homeschooling with a baby or toddler around. Babies are needy. If they aren’t satisfied, they can be loud. Once they are crawling, all hope for a nice neat home is out the window!
BUT, babies are so sweet and really there is nothing more wonderful to interrupt and brighten our homeschool mornings than the gummy smiles of an adorable baby.
Spend the first waking moments in quality time with your baby.
When your baby first wakes up after nap time, this is the best time to engage with her. She is fresh, alert, aware, and most importantly, wants all of mommy’s attention! Step away from school and maximize on this important moment. While you nurse her, look into her eyes and talk or sing. As you change her diaper, play and laugh. Sing nursery rhymes like Pat-a-cake or This Little Piggy or whatever little baby games you like to play.
If you spend the first waking moments of her day in quality, focused time, it will meet her need for physical touch and eye contact with you AND it will also be the reassurance you need that she is getting plenty of attention.
Lower your expectations.
How many times do you hear yourself say, “I just can’t get anything done?!” Of course we all enjoy having things in order and checking things off our “to do” lists for the day, but that’s just a little more challenging with a baby in the house.
Babies are complicated. They are unpredictable. Just when it seems like they are falling into a schedule, they start teething or go into sleep regression. When they start crawling or pulling up, they like to dump and scatter. All of this can be distracting and just plain messy!
Don’t try too hard to keep up with your normal standards for the house and school work. You might find yourself stressing needlessly. If you lower your expectations, it can help you keep a positive attitude.
Nurse/feed the baby while your child is reading to you.
Nursing takes up so much time. It can be hard to just sit when there is so much to be done! Use this time to sit beside your child and listen to them read or watch them do their work.
As your baby gets older and is too distracted to nurse around the others, have your school age child do independent work while you slip away with baby and remind them that they should be prepared to show you their work when you are finished.
Wear your baby.
This such a time-saver when homeschooling. Sometimes a baby will only be consoled by being held. If you need to get a meal prepared or housework or laundry done, wearing your baby will be fun for them as they get to follow you and watch you work and it will help you to get a few things done at the same time!
This can be a hard decision especially when you have older kids who are involved in many things, but paring down your schedule to the bare minimum may save your sanity!
We have encouraged our older kids to pick the one thing that matters to them most and we have invested in that. A baby is a good excuse to say no to all the extras!
Allow older kids to help.
If you have older kids, allow them to help you. My kids LOVE helping with the baby because it usually means a break in school work for them! As soon as Hollyn wakes up from her nap, she is usually surrounded by 3 or 4 siblings who want “their turn” to hold her. I have to remind them that I want some time with her first!
When you need the extra few minutes, have an older child hold or play with the baby on the floor for a few minutes.
Another thing that is super helpful is to have a big kid read to a little. This is great for keeping toddlers entertained and for challenging the older kid’s read aloud skills at the same time!
Diaper blowouts, toddler tantrums, someone unexpectedly ringing the doorbell…really, a hundred different things could potentially interrupt your day! Remember that you are homeschooling in a home, not a school. Home is not a sterile environment. Real life is happening here! And real life means interruptions.
One memory that stands out to me from when our kids were younger is how our neighbor (with no kids) would always choose the worst time to mow his lawn. Often all morning long, I would juggle between school and babies/toddlers. I was eagerly anticipating our quiet afternoon.
Then finally, lunch would be over and it was nap time! The baby would go down, all would finally be quiet. I could relax on the sofa with my big kids and read with them. Without fail, it seemed, our neighbor always started his mower just as I opened the book. I tried not to, but I would get so mad over this! Even closing the windows would not drown out the noise!
Interruptions like these are inevitable when you are learning at home. You will be better able to handle the interruptions if you accept them. Maximize on the moments when you can progress and accept the interruptions.
Be ok with small chunks of progress everyday.
You may have to temporarily toss out your idealistic plans for the year. It’s worth it if it keeps you from stressing out every day over what you are not checking off your list. Aim for the kids do math, reading, and writing every day and try to read to them as often as you get the chance. Keep your goals small. Kids do better with short lessons anyway.
I have found that my kids learn more when we do less if my attitude is positive and relaxed rather than when I am frazzled trying to cram everything in by the end of the day.
Do the important things during nap time.
What are you unable to do because the baby is awake? Do those things when the baby is napping. Even if your baby hasn’t fit into a nap schedule yet, whenever he or she goes down for a nap, use this time to work one-on-one with whoever needs it most.
Live in the moment with all of your kids.
Guard yourself from being distracted by texts, email, social media. Don’t let your mind wander to other things when your children are right here. Look into their eyes. Listen to them. Laugh with them. Correct them when they need it. This shows that you are attentive. You are their security and they want you to be engaged.
Have the right perspective. . Don’t be short-sighted.
You may feel like your other kids are sometimes ignored a little when you are busy breastfeeding, or buried in the house and school work, but don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. If you have more than one child you know that that first year with a baby is a flash and then it’s gone!
There are times in life where you focus more on one thing or another. Now is the time to focus on baby for a little while. This is a time for a little less school work than normal. This time will pass and other times will come.
I have found in our years of homeschooling that we have had both- bare minimum stretches and intensely productive stretches-and that in the end, they even out.
Be a mom who loves to learn. And who loves to learn with her kids! This will be the best thing you can ever teach them.