As my husband and I excitedly awaited the arrival of our third-born, I wondered how homeschooling would fit into the new family picture. Megan recently wrote a post about the challenge of transitioning to three children and about the soul-stabilizing truth of our changeless God. With that assurance, I sought out some specific tips to answer this question: how do you get back into a homeschooling routine when you have a little one that needs lots of attention?
Here are three I came up with. I’d love to hear your answers in the comments.
1. Welcome Others’ Help
Caring for a newborn while recovering from birth (not only physically but also emotionally, as I remember the postpartum blues that hung over me like fog after the birth of my firstborn) is not a task to handle alone. Reject the pride that wants to be supermom. We must mortify the resentment that tempts us when we don’t receive the help we didn’t ask for. Identify areas where others can assist and be humble enough to request aid.
Older siblings are often eager to help with a new baby. (It might take some convincing that washing the dishes is a great way to do that.) A husband, while bearing the responsibility of providing, often wants to support you at home as well. He just may be waiting for some direction on specific ways to lend a hand. Grandma is probably eager to spend time with the grandkids. (Now you just have to figure out how to convince her to move in permanently!)
Besides family members, allow your church family to use their various spiritual gifts to help with pressing needs (Galatians 6:2). An older woman or a teenage young woman who’d like to earn some extra income may jump at the chance to help once a week for a month or two.
How about bringing in an experienced and exciting teacher for each of your children’s subjects? This is possible through BJU Press Distance Learning. Another idea is to have a stock of educational videos, such as creation science videos, in your possession or from the library for those times when homeschooling seems impossible. A stack of well-chosen books can also promote independent learning.
2. Set Realistic Goals
Unreasonable expectations lead to burnout. Forget the grandiose Pinterest lists of craft ideas and the exotic field trips. Pare down your school plan to the bare basics for those first couple of months. After that, my babies tend to be sleeping better at night and settling into a routine that jives with our family’s new normal.
Set realistic goals for completing household chores as well. Spring cleaning and those new or time-consuming recipes can wait for another season in life.
Ask God to give you wisdom in choosing tasks and to give you strength in completing them. He is the Good Shepherd who will “gently lead those who are with young” (Isaiah 40:11 NKJV).
3. Respond with Flexibility
While I might prefer my family to march to my perfectly organized schedule, I don’t work in a factory, and I’m not raising robots. Having a plan is wise, but it takes wisdom to learn how to balance the plan with the needs of the various family members.
Most importantly, do my children see the Galatians 5 fruit of the Spirit in me? Do they hear love, joy, and peace in how I respond to spilled milk and see patience, kindness, and goodness when I’m trying to calm a newborn down for a nap? Do I show faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in helping a resistant child solve a math problem? These life lessons are even more important than the academic lessons I’m hoping to check off my daily planner.
Apart from Christ the Vine, I can do nothing (John 15:5). Daily, I must seek the Lord privately in my devotions, drawing nourishment from His Word, casting my cares on Him in prayer, and surrendering my will to His. Our sovereign God orders each day according to His plan, so I can serve Him from a heart of faith.
For those of you who have homeschooled with a newborn, what advice would you give for getting back into a homeschool routine?