Homeschooling With a Newborn in the Mix - How Do You Do It? November 17 2011

"It is obvious that you guys do a lot of work in here!," a friend who recently stopped by our house unexpectedly announced. I know it was a polite way of saying that our living room was a mess... and she stopped by on a good day.

Indeed, a tidy house doesn't generally appear very highly on the priority list for homeschooling families, at least through the early grades. Organization is quite important, but when you are homeschooling and have a newborn, a neat and tiny house is probably the first thing to go out the window.

Many moms are terribly worried about homeschooling with a newborn. Besides the inevitable piles of laundry, you may fear curricula gathering dust too. Having a new baby is always a big change for everyone in the family, but homeschooling older children when you also have a tiny baby doesn't have to be a disaster. What can homeschool mothers who have just had a baby do to keep the family happy, learning, and with all basic needs met? Here are some tips:

  • Housework doesn't need to take a lot of time for it to show results. I personally use Flylady's (you can find her online) suggestions and do ten-minute cleaning sessions. Depending on the age of your children, everyone can participate in short cleaning sessions. One child can be responsible for the "emergency rescue" one room. With a timer, they will know that the end is in sight and they'll stay more motivated, as will you!
  • Taking a few weeks off school after giving birth is perfectly reasonable. A break that didn't happen to coincide with an actual scheduled school holiday doesn't amount to educational neglect. Really.
  • Don't feel guilty about readjusting your whole schedule, so that you can school around the newborns naps. I found that getting things done was much easier when I wore my newborn in a baby carrier like a mei tai or Ergo that keeps your hands free. If you have a baby who only likes to sleep in arms, you can get non-noisy or dangerous subjects like math and phonics out of the way while baby naps in the carrier. Obviously, you may want to exclude your newborn from certain science experiments!
  • Physical education is something you can easily join in on if you are hoping for some serious weight loss after pregnancy. You can organize pilates classes for the whole family with the help of books and YouTube. Nature walks with baby in the stroller will aid your postpartum recovery too, and are a lot of fun for most kids.
  • Consider reading in bed as a family in the immediate postpartum period. For younger kids, you can read to them and have them narrate. Older kids can read and answer questions about materials orally.
  • Cut yourself some slack if you have a bad day. They happen. It will all be fine!

Olivia is a homeschooling mother. She also writes about fertility, how to get pregnant, and babies at Trying To Conceive.