I love homeschooling. It’s truly what my husband and I feel is the best fit for our family. Homeschooling offers us so many benefits. We have flexibility with our schedules, can tailor our lessons to the interests of our kids, can adjust our pace (faster or slower) to meet their needs, and so much more. Like anything else, though, it’s not always sunshine and kittens. Sometimes homeschooling is hard, and complicated, and exhausting. Homeschooling with a new baby is one of those times.
That birth and recovery were complicated by some rather unusual life circumstances leading up to it and after (you can read about that here and here). So, while it’s been quiet on this site, it has NOT been quiet in my house! About a month after Isabelle was born we started back to school. The transition went smooth as silk. The baby peacefully slept or cooed through every lesson and the toddlers patiently and quietly played with toys the entire time while big kids faithfully completed their work without a bit of whining or impatience.
Wait. No. That’s not right. That’s what I had fantasized about, but it’s NOT how it worked out!
The reality was that our days were ROUGH! The baby fussed and cried. A lot. The toddler and preschooler alternated between wreaking havoc and bickering. The big kids? Well let’s just say that taking a month off didn’t exactly do wonders for our routine. Throw in me being exhausted with roller coaster hormones and I’ve never felt less capable of homeschooling! I can’t give into that lie, though. Like anything else, I have to find a way to push through and make it work. Here’s how I do it.
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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Your first step should always be prayer. Why do we (and when I say ‘we’, I’m pointing right to myself) always seem to forget this step? We jump right in to trying to fix everything on our own, in our own wisdom. I’m pretty sure God made it clear in Matthew 6:33 when he said, “Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Before we turn to our best friends and favorite blogs, we need to turn to God. Ask him for strength and wisdom. Ask him for the energy and patience to get through the day. Pray, pray, and then pray some more.
Take A Break
You NEED to take time off from schooling to recover. It’s not silly. Taking a break is not being lazy. It is a NECESSARY part of your recovery (read here about why recovery time is so vital). Your body is physically struggling just after birth. It just endured one of the most physically taxing experiences known to mankind. Respect your limitations and take a break! My suggestion is at least 4 weeks off from school (more can be really helpful). You’re not letting your kids down or failing them. You won’t irrevocably harm your children by taking a month off of school.
Trust me, they will still be learning a ton during this time. They will learn how to respect their own bodies and allow themselves time to recover (a skill far too many people lack). Baby care (feeding, changing, rocking, nurturing, etc.) are vital life skills they can learn. You will give them the gift of learning how to enjoy and thrive during periods of rest. They will learn about the importance (and blessing) of stepping in to help others when they need it. Let them learn about what it truly means to be a member of a team. Did you know that Google’s recent research at their own company and found that skills like empathy, support, and leadership are more important than a tech education to succeeding in their company? Trust me, taking a break from school will serve your children just as much as it serves you!
Ease Into Homeschooling
There is no rule that says you have to jump right into the deep end of the homeschooling pool. In fact, I would caution you against it! Start SLOW! Ease your way back into your homeschooling routine. Start with the subject or two that are MOST important to you and do only those for a week. The next week, add in another subject. A week later, add in another. Trying to jump back into your full routine from day 1 is usually a disaster. After a break from your routine, and after the physical strain of giving birth and caring for a newborn, your stamina will be down. Respect your limitations and slowly build up to your full homeschool day. Pushing to do too much too soon will just make it so all of you hate homeschooling!
Get Some Encouragement
Every year I find the OCEANetwork conference so refreshing. It’s filled with speakers who are there to both challenge and encourage us as homeschoolers, as parents, and as spouses. I look forward to it all year as a source of encouragement to get me through these rough patches of homeschooling. The cost is pretty minimal and the support you get is totally worth it! Do you ilve outside the NW? Not a problem, nearly every state has its own homeschool conference and there are several national conferences that travel across the US. If you absolutely can’t go to a homeschool conference in person, but still want the encouragement, consider buying conference recordings. You can hear the inspiring words of almost all the speakers from the comfort of your own home!
Remember What Matters Most
What matters most in your family? I’m guessing it is loving and caring for each other. That is what you need to focus on right now. Keep your eyes on the prize. Remember what matters most to you. When you look back on this time in 20 years you probably aren’t going to wish that you had pushed yourself harder after having a baby. You aren’t going to regret spending time bonding as a family or recovering physically. I don’t even think you will look back with guilt at having taken a slow start back to your lessons. Why? Because what matters most IS your family. Preparing your children for their futures involves so much more than academics. Take this time now to teach those life skills that are far more valuable than times tables and parts of speech. Teach them to be members of a team, to care for others, to support their colleagues (or family members), to prioritize, and to think critically. Teach them to seek God’s strength in difficult times. These are the skills most associated with success in work and in life. Oh, and don’t forget to cuddle and snuggle, it’s as good for you as it is for them!