The following is a guest post written by Angie Warren of musings from me.
The spring of 2011 brought my husband and I to the decision that come the fall, we would homeschool our then kindergartner. Having many experienced homeschooling friends and an arsenal of online resources – I felt armed with the best advice and enough ambition to tackle this long-time dream.
Then life threw a curve ball. We were pregnant.
An exciting time, a welcome addition to our family – yet I began to worry about our first year homeschooling with a very pregnant me, and then a new baby. My well-meaning friends advised me that the first year (or so) could be a challenge and it would take a bit for our routine to fall into place. As fall approached, I prepared. Our school corner was set up, my laminator warmed, and a new board full on pinterest. I was ready and nothing could stand in my way.
We started the year out well. The creative part of me was thrilled at all the fun we were able to have while learning, and my vision was falling into place. Our first grader adjusted without issue and the unfortunate situation of an out-of-work husband proved helpful as our three-year-old began to cause all sorts of ruckus.
Another curve ball. Bed rest.
Pre-term labor reared its ugly head and I found myself forced to rest. That very same week my husband was offered a job. While wonderful news, we were thrust into a new chapter of life with challenges all their own. How would I continue at the rate I was going, would we be able to push through the frustrations of our new situation? I wanted so badly to continue homeschooling, but questioned my ability.
So I did what I felt best, and we took a break. The break went on longer than planned and though I felt guilty for not being on top of our previous routine I remembered the wise words I read here on Simple Homeschool long ago–learning happens all day long. I knew our hiatus was temporary and took heart in the knowledge that we were still making the right decision.
Now that our sweet girl has arrived, our days have taken on a totally new tone. Sleep deprived and learning life as a mama of three, I’ve finally come up for air and in her fourth week of life we have begun to find our way. We live our days from feeding to feeding, and I’m thankful for patient and understanding boys as we learn the ropes of life with a new baby again.
A few things I’ve found to be imperative as a new homeschooler with young ones:
1. Be prepared – If I can have even 30 minutes on the weekend to plan for the week ahead I feel 100% better as Monday rolls around.
2. Wear the baby – Whether it’s around the house for school or a day trip, I’m so thankful for our Moby. My hands are free and we’re able to go about our day with a happy and quiet baby.
3. Embrace the mess – Life with baby #3 can be messy. Late nights, little sleep, and more kids than parents – it’s easy to let housework fall to the wayside. I’ve come to accept my goal is ensuring our kids both learn and love each day. If there is extra time after that, it’s anybodies game.
4. Surround myself with support – I’m so thankful for my homeschooling friends. Many an afternoon has been spent in the kitchen of friends, sharing my concerns, and being nothing but encouraged by their wisdom and friendship.
5. Celebrate the small things – It could be that we finished math without a meltdown, or that the baby slept long enough for us to do art. Perhaps that lunch was made and eaten all by noon. The tiny accomplishments are worth celebrating!
A typical day for us can change and I’ve learned the art of being flexible. It now looks something like this:
7-8 Everyone wakes up, mama feeds baby on the couch while we read a chapter book. Then breakfast and we get dressed (though I’ll be honest many a morning school happens in our PJs).
8-9 We start school and get little brother set up with a computer game, show, or toys – usually Legos. Lately Danny and I have begun with our story-writing time. He writes a bit of a story each morning, slowly adding to it. Writing is his least favorite subject so we’ve tried to get creative with what he writes.
Next comes language arts, math, and history. We alternate days between art and technology, he is starting a blog soon, can’t wait to get started with that! Science is his favorite so we save that for last.
10-11 Time for another break, we all sit on the couch while mama feeds the baby and we watch a show together or read more of our book.
If we’ve not finished school by now we would finish up at this point. We’re usually able to get done what we need to in the first block of time, but again, finding ourselves flexible as we embrace our baby sister and her needs.
12 The goal for noon is lunch. Sometimes it happens, other times it’s pushed back a tad.
1-4 Our afternoons are filled with more couch time feeding the baby, household tasks and hopefully outside time – whether in our yard, a park, or visiting friends. Often the boys will play video games or with their toys during this time.
4-5 Dinner prep. Goes without saying this is all based around when mama needs to feed the baby. The goal being that we eat by 6.
6-8 Family time. The boys love daddy-time and will wrestle or play games with him while I work on photos, snuggle the baby, or pick up from dinner. A shower sometime during the day would be nice, but let’s face it, I’m not always so lucky.
8 Bedtime happens somewhere around here and I crash Morning comes before I know it!
Are you new to homeschooling this year? Perhaps you are juggling life with a new baby as you embark on this journey. How do you find balance and embrace the chaos?