Welcoming a newborn is a special time for the whole family. It’s also a big adjustment. Homeschool moms, in particular, have a unique experience of adjusting to an infant while having other kids home with them all day. Recently the Lord blessed our family with a new baby, our tenth child. In the thirteen years we have been homeschooling, we have had six babies born during the homeschool year. Needless to say, homeschooling with a newborn has become very familiar territory for us! Here are some things I have learned about how to homeschool with an infant.
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With a newborn in the house, any routines you may have had are now on stand-by as you adjust to this new family member who who comes with a completely unpredictable schedule. You may be in the kitchen after your kiddos are in bed finishing dinner dishes or bouncing your crying newborn late into the night. It can be a full time job meeting the needs of your baby while feeding everyone and keeping the house clean. You (and your husband) probably have little time to yourself. What should you do about homeschooling during this time? I hope these suggestions will give you some direction.
Video: How to Homeschool With An Infant
Homeschooling: Take a break or keep going?
When I was a younger mom with all littles, I took a complete break from homeschooling when we had a new baby. The time after having a newborn can be very overwhelming, especially when you have a lot of little children. Everything you do takes longer, everyone needs mom all the time, more little ones make more clutter. Almost no one can do anything for themselves. The one “schoolish” thing I did make an effort to do every day was to read to our school age kids whenever I could fit it in.
Things look a little differently in our home in this season. We have more older kids who are able to do a lot of their school work on their own. I act more as a facilitator and counselor in their school work. In this stage, it is easier for us to keep going with homeschooling for the older kids. Having older kids at home with no structure, milling around, can also be stressful. Continuing with school helps them to have just enough structure to their day to make things run smoothly.
How will you know if you should take a break or keep going homeschooling? A good rule of thumb is this. If the number of your dependent kids outnumbers the number of independent kids, it might benefit you and them to take a break for a period of time. If, on the other hand, your independent kids are in the majority, you might find it helpful to keep going. I would define independent kids as children who can read and write fluently, learn new concepts with minimal help, and follow a checklist on their own.
Recognize and communicate your needs to your spouse
This seems to be something I don’t hear much talk about, but adding a new baby is a big adjustment for your marriage. All at once, you have a child who needs to eat every 2-3 hours, doesn’t sleep through the night, and has no predictable schedule. If you are a breastfeeding mom, you are probably up several times a night. Often your infant will only be consoled by you. Having a child “attached” to you 24/7 along with the regular needs of other children means that there are more demands on both mom and dad. This can temporarily change the dynamics in your marriage.
This big life change combined with the resulting exhaustion from caring for an infant can easily lend to miscommunication and frustration in your relationship with your spouse. The best way I have found to prevent this is to communicate with each other beforehand. Talk together about both of your expectations and what you can do to help each other get breaks and also have personal time to do things you enjoy. This doesn’t need to be formal or planned.
Here are good questions to ask each other.
“What is one thing you would like to get done today?”
“Do you need a break?”
“What can I do for you today?”
For us, it usually looks like this. I like to have some time during the day to do something productive and creative without the baby or other kids around. He likes to have some time during the day to get outside to work on projects. We try to find ways to do this for each other.
Tips: Caring for Baby and the Family
Because your baby’s schedule is completely unpredictable, you lose some of the control you had before baby as your routine suddenly goes out the window. You will probably find yourself saying,”I can’t get anything done!” Here are some ideas that might help.
–Wear the baby. Wearing your baby will open up a whole new world for you! As baby comfortably sleeps up close to his/her favorite person, you can get some work done hands-free!
–Let siblings hold the baby. Let your kids hold the baby so you can get a few things done. This gives them time to bond with their new sibling while giving you some free time to get things done.
–Jot down (or make a mental note) of the small things you do with your kids. I think it’s normal during this time to worry that you are not spending enough time with your other kids. By jotting a quick note in your planner of the small one-on-one time that you spend with individual kids, you will have a visible reminder for yourself to see that you ARE spending time with them, just maybe not as much as normal. Don’t make it formal or planned. Just note when you sit down eye-to-eye to talk with your teen, play a game with your preschooler, sing with your toddler, or work together with another child on a task, etc.
–Minimize the baby products in your home. It’s amazing how much stuff we think we need to have for a baby, but really, how much does a baby need? More than anything else, your baby just wants you. Over the years we have seriously cut down on the baby items in our house because they just aren’t necessary. With less baby clutter, our home is simpler to clean and manage.
–Find a sleep routine that works for you. This doesn’t mean that there is one “right” method that is going to give you a full night of sleep with an infant. What it does mean is that you shouldn’t fight against something that works for you just because it’s unconventional or not the way you are “supposed” to sleep your baby. For us, co-sleeping has been the answer to a workable sleep routine for me and our babies. I sleep, baby sleeps, and we can all function the next day. What sleep routine fits you?
Tips for Housework and Meals
-Keep up with your regular chore routines. This will help the whole family maintain some amount of order as well as keep tasks from getting behind and the mess piling up.
–15 Minute Pick-Up In our home when I start to feel things getting a little out of hand, we set a timer for 15 minutes and everybody works as quickly as possible to do a quick pick up. Often the kids complain whenever I announce a pick up, however, by the time we are done, everyone’s attitudes are much better as they appreciate the results of a clean space. The 15 minute pick-up is an automatic reset.
-Use paper plates. We use paper plates for almost two months after having a new baby. Why not? It’s a minimal cost and it saves so much clean up afterwards.
–Do Less. It’s ok if your house is not up to the standard you normally keep. It will take some time for you to find a “new normal” as you adjust to the addition of a new family member.
Homeschooling Tips: Prioritize Home Over School
When you begin to start school again, here are some things to keep in mind with an infant in the mix.
–Keep relationships a priority. Your relationships with your kids are more important than your school work. A new baby is an adjustment for siblings as well. Don’t let the only time you spend with your other children be spent over their school work.
–Hold your homeschool schedule loosely. Be content with small chunks of progress every day. The grand goal is progress, not completing your regular schedule. Do less school. One of the benefits of having homeschooled for several years is that you can see the ebb and flow of homeschooling. You recognize that there are seasons when you don’t get as much done, but its OK because you also know that there are seasons when you get twice as much done. It all evens out.
–Enjoy the baby. Your homeschool is the only learning environment where can bring your baby to school. Make the baby part of your lesson. Look at those tiny ears and adorable toes. Wonder at God’s handiwork. Relish the first smile. Don’t miss any of these precious moments.
–Be Flexible. With a new baby, you are likely to have more interruptions. If people stop by to visit, do a little school work before they arrive, then stop to enjoy the company. When baby is crying or needy, it’s ok to put the lesson away and try again tomorrow. Having an infant is a very temporary stage in your life. You will have plenty of time to catch up later.
–Have child read to you when nursing the baby. Also, if it is convenient to you, you can use the time you are nursing to read aloud to your kids.
–Reading covers a multitude of sins. Whatever subjects you are not getting to during this time, fill in the gaps by reading a little bit every day. Or have older kids read to younger kids while you rest. You may worry that you aren’t getting enough school done during this time. Reading aloud is going to make up for some of the subjects you are not able to get to right now.
Take Care of Yourself
As a new mom again, you are at the mercy of your baby’s schedule. You may not have time to do many of the things you did when you did them before your new baby came along. Your emotions can be touchy as your body adjusts to hormone changes. Taking some simple precautions to take care of yourself will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed.
–Rest. I have often thought that I don’t have time for rest, but do you know what happens when I do too much? It usually comes back at me full circle. I get sick or exhaustion eventually leads to feelings of being overwhelmed which can paralyze all progress. Getting adequate rest prevents this.
–Listen to the Bible App. Fill your mind with truth. Hearing God’s Word will remind you that you are living for something that will outlast you, something eternal. It will also remind you that the Lord will give you the strength for whatever comes your way today.
–Limit activities. Resist the urge you feel to “get back into the real world” too quickly. It may be helpful to get away for a break here and there, but jumping back into your normal life schedule is likely to make you feel overwhelmed very quickly.
–Go outside. Fresh air and sunshine can work wonders for your spirit. Going for a short walk can completely change your perspective. Even if it’s only for 5 minutes, go outside!
–Enjoy a hobby or creative pursuit. Taking some time during the day to do something I enjoy helps redirect some of those postpartum emotions. Focus on some small task that will give you a feeling of accomplishment for that day. Here is a quote that has helped me when I struggle with postpartum anxiety. “Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.” -Roy T. Bennett.
Have the Right Perspective
Having a newborn is a very temporary time in your life. Lower your expectations. You are caring for your little baby during the most critical time period of his or her life. Infants are fragile. Your baby needs your tender care now more than he ever will at any other time in life. This time will fly by and eventually be a blur. Don’t let the pressure of school keep you from enjoying your new addition. Instead, take advantage of the opportunity you have in homeschooling to truly relish this special time in your family.
Pin it for later! How to Homeschool With an Infant
Hi, I’m Sheri! I am a Christian saved by grace, married to my high school sweetheart, and a thankful mom to ten incredible kids. I’m a former public school teacher who never thought I would someday be a homeschool mom! Drawing on 13+ years of homeschooling experience, follow along to find help for getting started, tried and true homeschooling advice, life skills learning, simple Morning Time ideas, and interviews with everyday homeschool moms just like you!
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