If you’re a regular reader here at Mama’s Learning Corner (thank you if you are!), you know that we added a sweet new one to our family in February. My little man is nothing but sheer delight and we are so blessed to have him!
The last time I homeschooled with a newborn, we were just starting my oldest child’s Kindergarten year. In August of that year, I had a 5 year old, 3 year old, a 16 month old, and one due in November.
3 months into our first homeschool year, my Red Head was born.
Yes, it was a very busy time. 🙂
However, it was a much more simple time than now. Everyone napped and they just had little people problems and challenges. Now they have bigger people problems and challenges and everyone is awake through the whole afternoon. Sigh.
That took some getting used to, by the way.
This time around with a newborn, our homeschool day looks drastically different. I prepared us as best as I could prior to his birth, and I learned a few things along the way.
And I’d love to share those with all of you who have new babies coming this school year!
Like anything else on the internet, glean what you can use from this post and leave the rest. No guilt, Mamas!
Lower your expectations
First things first, it’s helpful to lower your expectations. I consistently struggle with having expectations that are way too high – that I should have a clean house all of the time, that I cook 2-3 meals each day, that my kiddos are homeschooled with copious amounts of individual attention from me.
The list goes on and on.
Lots of days I go to bed disappointed because the multitude of items on my to-do list haven’t been accomplished.
But when I think about it, that’s just silly. No one can accomplish the things I’ve set out, much less a homeschooling mama that has 5 children. My expectations are completely unrealistic at times.
I actually did lower my expectations drastically before the baby was born, and I can’t tell you how it helped. As long as my children had on clean clothes and healthy food to eat, I considered the day a success.
Everything else was just icing on the day’s cake!
Now the baby is 4 months old, and I need to give myself a talking to. My daily expectations are through the roof again, and that’s just not good for anyone. Life is way too short to go around feeling disappointed and guilty about things I can’t get around to.
Train your big kids to help around the house
If you have big(ger) kids, make sure they know how to do several chores, and they can do them well.
Just getting the dishes out of the sink and into the dishwasher is an enormous help.
If you have children that are 6 or older, they can pitch in to a tremendous degree as long as someone teaches them how.
An average 6 year old can empty trash cans and replace the bags, help bring in groceries, fold towels, match socks, make up their beds, and empty the dishwasher.
But it does take teaching them to help around the house. If you don’t feel up to it (and it IS a job!), enlist your husband or mom or mother-in-law.
It’s much easier to focus on getting the basics of homeschool done if the house doesn’t look like a tornado blew through.
Brainstorm about what you’d like your homeschool to look like
Keep in mind that the newborn phase doesn’t last long, so this is really just a short season of life. What your homeschool looks like during this period will probably not be what it looks like in a few weeks.
Spend some time brainstorming about what your homeschool should look like during this newborn phase only. Resist the urge to dream about “when the baby is ______.”
Fill in that blank with taking consistent naps, sleeping through the night, sitting up, etc. That type of thinking only makes you wish the days away, and believe me, you don’t want to do that.
Do you want to do school at all during this time? There’s pros and cons to homeschool during the newborn phase so think long and hard about whether you even want to take that on.
If you do choose to have school, can you do only the basics and leave out the extras for a time? What are the main subjects that are must-do’s? Is it better for your kiddos to continue on with routine? Do you have a mandatory requirement by your state for completed school days in a year? How can you streamline school for the next few weeks so it requires little planning on your part? Can you put it on auto-pilot for just a few weeks?
These are all questions to ponder and determine what the right answer is for your situation.
Do only the basics for school
I chose to start school back when the baby was about 2 1/2 weeks old. My husband wasn’t able to take any time off when the baby was born, so it was pretty much just the kids and me.
My children were starting to climb the walls a bit, and needed some structure to the day. I decided for us to do only the basics for the next several weeks, and that turned out to be a great decision.
Each day, my big kids worked on math, English, and Latin independently. My oldest girl also worked on Spelling with me and practiced her violin. I answered questions when they arose and made sure I checked their work at least every other day.
My two youngest don’t work independently at all yet, so we had English and math together and phonics with my youngest.
We also read aloud quite a bit as we could find pockets of time.
And of course our school days were filled with consistent “interruptions” and we had to start and stop a million times. Don’t dare think that it was all smooth sailing. 😉
That type of schooling is definitely not what I would consider ideal, but it only lasted for a short time.
And the best thing about it? I didn’t feel guilty in the least. I actually felt like we had accomplished quite a bit and it added routine to our day.
Prepare lessons as much as you can before the birth
If you’re able, prepare and plan your homeschool lessons as much as possible before the baby arrives.
If you have kids that work independently, make a list of their next lessons. Hand the list over and lay out what you expect them to accomplish. Let them know when they should seek you out for help and when their assignments are due.
If your kiddos are nowhere near independent school work, plan only math and phonics for several weeks. Make sure all of the materials and manipulatives you need are in one place where you can easily get to them. Possibly plan one craft or activity if that would appeal to your children.
But don’t go over the top with planning. Just keep it simple.
The Most Important Thing
The absolute most important thing you can do when homeschooling with a newborn: enjoy your baby.
Those newborn weeks are so fleeting and pass in just an instant. You won’t be able to get those early days and weeks back, so make sure you take the time to truly enjoy them.
What does that look like? It’s different for different people.
It may be that you school in the morning so you can spend the afternoons with your baby. It may be that you don’t homeschool at all and you don’t have structured time for your other kiddos. It may be that you send your bigger kids over to Grandma’s for a bit. It may be that your husband takes several weeks off from work.
I was determined to not let those newborn days go by in a blur. With the busyness of other children, that can so easily happen.
Even though we did resume our homeschool fairly quickly, I did make sure I took time every afternoon just to sit and be with the baby. I took the time to stare at him, learn his face, pray over him, and just hold him. I refused to let myself be held captive by any other agenda.
I’m so glad I did that! A lady in my Sunday School class reminded me to “enjoy” him and I’m so thankful she did. It helped me be intentional about my sweet boy, as opposed to just letting the busy days pass by.
Do you have a new addition in your family this coming school year? I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to leave me a comment!