You know that saying, "every baby is different"? Well, it's definitely true. I have two completely opposite children. I know, you're probably thinking that I'm overwhelmed just because I have a baby now... but no, really, my two boys are like day and night. My 4 year old is an early riser, early to go to bed, very demanding of attention, once asleep hard to wake up, easy to put down for naps... and my 5 month old is a night owl, sleep in late, goes with the flow, doesn't like to nap, when asleep wakes at the smallest noises... I can tell you that I don't have much time to prepare school stuff much anymore, unless if I want NO sleep whatsoever, and that is just not possible for me. I think I can last maybe 2 days without sleep before it really affects my mood.
So, how do "I" homeschool with a baby in the house? Well, I have become more creative. Since my baby has nights where he wakes in the middle and wants to be up for a 2-3 hours at a time, and lack of sleep on my part, usually means slow mornings for me... I have been staying up for about 1 hour after the baby goes down to put together an envelope system for my 4 year old.
This envelope system has been a life saver for me!!! I guess it's similar to the workbox system, but I don't have one of those fancy drawer things that can be all labeled and put together so perfectly... let alone, have the room for one more thing to take up space in my house. So, envelopes is what I have!
I took 10 red envelopes and labeled them one through ten. Then I took index cards and wrote on each card an activity for each subject. I then put together manila envelopes and labeled those with some fun stickers, each sticker being different, so it was easy to find. Some of the index cards would tell my 4 year old to locate a certain big envelope and complete the activity inside. Inside those manila envelopes I would put everything he would need to complete the activity - scissors, glue, pen, markers, crayons, etc. - whatever he needed. Since it was all at his fingertips, all I had to do was tell him to open the numbered envelopes in order and read the cards to him!
Talk about a life saver. Since I have a baby that seems to be hungry ALL the time, fights naps, and has a tendency to be a little clingy... I had to find something to help my 4 year old out.
Now don't get my wrong... there are days I have been ready to throw in the towel and pack my kid up and take him into school and sign him up! Especially after nights of no sleep. Or days of constant whining. Or days where I'd just like 5 minutes of peace and quiet. But hey! God gave me two beautiful boys. And obviously God wanted to test me with having two different boys with opposite sleep schedules... but I love them both! And instead of throwing in the towel, I've chosen to take each day minute by minute! Yes, truly, minute by minute. I have learned that I can "plan" the morning for my son to complete on his own, so that I can tend to baby and the house or even catch up on some extra Z time of my own. And have the afternoon free to do some one on one time with my 4 year old - well, sometimes, depending on if I can actually get a baby down to sleep and if he will nap longer than 20 minutes.
Though life is hard at times. I just keep reminding myself, this season will soon pass. So, I am learning to count it all joy at this point.
We have gotten creative during feeding times for the baby. My 4 year old loves to read books, so he will grab his readers and sit next to me and read his books to me. Or sometimes he will grab his daily calendar notebook and work on that. Lately, he's been grabbing his alphabet blocks and his monster trucks and monster truck track. He will build up a word out of the blocks, read it, then send the monster truck down the track to smash it up.
Homeschooling is a challenge on some days and other days it's a breeze. My newest addition is a joy to have and brotherhood is amazing! Jordan loves his baby brother so much! But I also know when it's time to take a break. Jordan said to his baby brother, "Hey! I need mom too, so you will just have to wait."
Balance in life?! Yeah, that doesn't really exist. Instead I'm learning to become a very early riser and live off of barely any sleep. I take my early mornings to relax and to talk with God. I start the day asking God to take control of my day and let the things get done that need to get done. I don't fret anymore if something doesn't get done. I've actually gotten to the point where I don't really keep a schedule or a list anymore. Just put a few important things on the calendar and then take each day truly minute by minute, because right now I have no idea how each day OR night will turn out.
All in all I truly believe moving to family with 2 kids has been an eyeopener to my husband and I to do the following:
- Choose actions of self-control ourselves, so that we can model the responses we want our children to do.
- Choose to be happy even if we are tired, grumpy, moody, frustrated, because it's not worth wasting the time to complain about it, when we get to enjoy another day with 2 beautiful boys.
- Choose to speak positively over our boys. We decided to make a worship time in our house. We put on praise music, dance, shout to God, and do popcorn prayers for whatever is on our heart. At the same time my husband and I have chosen to speak forth those things we want to produce in our boys' lives... and I have to say what a difference this has made all around!
- Choose to count each moment as joy, no matter what.
- Choose to depend on God because no one else can bring us peace, comfort, wisdom, guidance, or protection.
How do you balance your homeschool with multiple children?