Homeschooling With a Baby - Part 1: 10 Tips to Get You On Track

Just when you think homeschooling is challenging, you have a baby and realize it never was until now!  I have to say that it has taken me weeks of trial and error and I'm still not completely in my groove yet of homeschooling with a baby.  There are some things I've learned along the way that I thought would be beneficial to other new moms out there with older children they homeschool or a mom who is thinking or going to have a newborn soon.  I'm sure there will be a part 2 to this in another few months but for now, here are my tips:

  1. Pray - Pray for wisdom and knowledge on how God wants you to do this, after all, he is the one that called you to homeschool, He will make a way!  Seek His wisdom for how to run your day and homeschool, and pray for your baby to be on a schedule and sleep through the night, etc.  God does answer prayers like these - He has for me!  You have not because you didn't ask!
  2. Take off the first 2 months - Spend those first 2 months getting everyone, yourself included, used to the new baby.  Wait till you finally start being able to get some solid sleep before you try and teach your older children please!  Who knows what you would teach them after only 3-4 hours of broken sleep.  No one is going to be any less smarter if you skip 2 months of school, after all having a new baby IS school - it is called Child Development 101 and its a high school level course to boot!
  3. Get the baby on a schedule - many moms think you can't do this and that is sad because you can, straight from the womb.  I started as soon as my baby came home the 2nd day from the hospital by training him about night and day.  Open the blinds at a set time each morning that you want him to wake up - for me it was 10:30 a.m.  Then talk to him and stimulate him at that same time every, single day.  Routine, routine, routine is what babies need!  Then at night at 10 p.m. it was lights out - we made it dark in the house and talked in low voices and didn't talk to the baby.  When he was waking up during the night to feed during those first 4 weeks, I made sure to not talk to him but feed him and then put him back down and keep it dark.  That way he learned there is no fun at those hours - so no need to be awake.  By the 4th week he was on a schedule and sleeping 5 hours at night and now, at 3 months old, he sleeps 12 hours straight through all night with no feedings, thanks to the SCHEDULE.  Then, during the day, schedule the feedings and naps by noting their natural feeding time and nap cues.  For Zach, he eats every 2 since he is on special formula that is already predigested - so we schedule his feeding times and nap times from morning till night.  He also has set bed times and wake up times - 10 to 10.
  4. Redeem the time - when baby is napping - school!  When baby is just fresh from being fed and content, put him down and school!  Don't wait till the worst moment when he is tired or bored and is crying - you won't be able to do much quality schooling then.  Learn to redeem those times you have, no matter how short - and make the most of that time.
  5. Plan meals and use the crockpot - Spend one day a week planning the week's meals and do mostly crockpot meals with leftovers if possible.  This is not the time to cook elaborate meals or time-consuming meals.  The most important things are to have something to eat - whether is it sandwiches, frozen pizza or a crockpot meal, gourmet is not happening right now.  I found that freezer cooking is currently not possible for me right now but that would be a good idea if the baby is older or you have someone to watch him while you spend a day cooking.
  6. Use paper plates/cups/utensils - I've found that the dishes are harder to do when you homeschool with a baby.  It is so much easier to use paper items but for budget reasons, we are only trying to use them on the weekends right now.  I plan on teaching my daughter how to load the dishwasher soon though!
  7. Assign more chores for the older kids - My daughter has taken on more responsibilities since the baby has been born.  She can now cook a few things and do a few more chores than she was doing.  Depending upon the age, children can empty trash, sweep, vacuum, wash or fold laundry, dust, clean bathrooms, wash dishes, load the dishwasher, cook, etc.  There are 9 year olds that cook full meals for their families I found out, when asking for tips for myself recently among a group of homeschooling moms - so guess who learned how to cook rice?  Yep......and she is going to learn a few more things and then make us a full meal soon, thank you Jesus!! 
  8. Lessen the homeschool load - you don't have to do it all during those first few months, take it easy with the actual homeschool workload.  The second month of the baby, I had my daughter do independent work - math fact cards, latin flashcards, spelling tests online, reading (lots of it!) and online educational games.  Then, we started back "full" school but still are not doing a heavy workload yet - no one is going to die if school doesn't get done this year.  Seriously, if you homeschool, your child is already ahead of most children.  Don't believe me?  Take a standardized test - we did and despite our half-schooling while I was pregnant, Katie managed to score advanced (1-2 grades ahead) in Math and English and average in Science and we rarely ever do science LOL!  Kids that read..........make the grade, bottom line.  Lessen your load - they will turn out ok and get back to it the next year when things are easier.
  9. Get out - taking a break when things are getting hard and the baby won't stop crying is crucial for a new mom's sanity!  Go for a walk, to a friend's house or the park - anything to put the baby to sleep, get out of the house or help you breathe some fresh air.  If you have a daughter like mine, you will be doing walking-school, she reads while we walk......seriously, this girl is a bookworm like her momma!  If she isn't reading while we walk, she has her magnifying glass and bug container to catch another specimen to investigate.  
  10. Let the house go - I'm not talking about living in filth and ending up on hoarders here - just stop cleaning so much and let go of the OCD lady!  Dust will still be there if you skip a week or two of dusting.  It isn't going anywhere - one wipe will still get it, whether you wait a week or month.  There are two things you must get done however - dishes and laundry, so make those priority and everything else is "whenever-you-get-to-it."  I was doing a bit every day, but now I'm back to my once-a-week cleaning and I force myself to not clean until that day the next week.  Skip deep cleaning, spring and fall cleanings this year - your baby needs you more.  A homeschooling mother's home should not look like the home of a mother who has no children at home during the day.  And a homeschooling mother's home WITH A BABY sure should not look like those who don't have kids at home all day!  My husband called me from work one day, he was doing a job in someone's house that had the sign on the fridge that read "A dirty house is a house where the kids are loved" or something along those lines - that is partly true, there are some people that are just plain d-i-r-t-y and they don't love their kids either lol, but then there are those that realize that spending time with kids is more important than a spotless house.  Choose your love - what will you regret spending less time doing - cleaning or loving your kids?
Related: Part 2