How do you homeschool when it’s CRAZY? (Homeschooling with babies and toddlers)

Are you homeschooling with little ones in the mix— underfoot, climbing on the table, needing snack every 4 minutes, causing general havoc?

I have lived this life for quite a few years. Somehow we all survived and now my two oldest are homeschool grads and in college, so apparently they must have learned something along the way, in spite of shrieking toddlers and their mom being on her last nerve much of the time.

Starting around 2011 when Toby (our fifth) was born, things got crazier and more difficult every school year. Just this year, I am starting to come down the other side of this particular rugged mountain experience. The peak of the mountain was probably in 2017, when I had five in school, 1st grade to 12th grade, and three too young for school, ages four, two and nine months. 

Amanda recently sent me the question below. I have heard at least three other moms voice a similar question in the past few weeks. Amanda has Annie who is 10 years old and in 5th grade. She also has James and Leah, twins (adorable pics throughout!) who will be two in October. This conversation is shared with Amanda’s permission.

(I also added a few more ideas at the end, that didn’t necessarily apply to Amanda’s situation, but might be helpful for others.)

Amanda: Hi! With the “virtual” school year approaching…I have a question for you!

Just how in the world do you homeschool on the HARD days? The days where the little ones are throwing fits every 3rd minute? The days where no one is listening? The days where it’s just plain hard?! We amazingly are getting to keep Annie home from school this year (one good thing I can blame on covid!) ..still enrolled in public school but it’s not going to be enough instruction, so I’ll be doing additional math and reading/language arts with her and Bible!

Even with reviewing math all spring/summer with her it’s been hard at times, but given the situation we were able to be super flexible. But with her being home full time now, I want to establish such a schedule that it’s still “school” to her..not a whole bunch of free time, etc? How do I do it?! 🤷🏼‍♀️😬😆

Annie and the twins

Me: Great question, and believe me I get it!! Homeschooling with little ones in the mix is just plain hard! Here are my thoughts and suggestions, for whatever they are worth: 😅

Continue reading “How do you homeschool when it’s CRAZY? (Homeschooling with babies and toddlers)”

Stay at Your Post

God has you where you are for a reason, even though you may not understand what that reason is. None of us fully understands God’s plan at work in our individual lives. It’s tempting to think that something really important, something that makes a lot more sense, is out there somewhere.

“That something else is, in our imagination, a very important thing, and it has an imagined importance that makes sense to us. It is a creature of ours. And if it makes sense to us, then it is a sure thing that we are flying blinkered and blind.” -Douglas Wilson, Ploductivity

Trust the Master Planner. He is working all things together for His kingdom, and He has given you a part in it that is uniquely yours. Continue reading “Stay at Your Post”

If you give your child your phone charger

If you give your child your phone charger, she will use it to charge the tablet in the living room. You will get a vague sense that she may have moved it to one or two other rooms in the course of the day’s events. Since you are too tired to worry about it, you will go to bed and your phone will not get charged. The next day, you will write on your to do list, “Look for/find phone charger.”

The next day, late in the afternoon, you will go looking for it, starting in the room where it was originally taken. Seeing no sign of it, you will track through the other two rooms in question, but will not find it. You will ask the child in question, “Where is my phone charger that you borrowed yesterday?” Continue reading “If you give your child your phone charger”

Did you enjoy mothering and staying home right from the start?

Question: Have you found it more enjoyable to be home with your children the more you have had and the older they have gotten, or did you really enjoy staying home and mothering right from the start with one baby? I love staying home and I love my baby, but sometimes I wake up in the morning and think, “what do I do all day long with a 1 year old!?”

Sometimes I prefer the days when I am also babysitting other people’s kids and there is more going on, or when we go help at someone else’s house, but I also want to take good care of and enjoy what God has given me. I want to make the most of my time but do not always feel very productive or fit to the task of staying home with my baby.
Maybe that’s more than one question!

nest
The children found this nest on the ground with one beautiful egg.

My long and rambling answer: Thanks for the good question; it has been helpful for me to think through my answer over the past few days.

What I hear you saying is that you are somewhat underwhelmed with your job right now, you feel lonely some days and you sometimes feel inadequate for the task at hand. I hope I have understood the heart of your question correctly.

As I have thought this over, my answer has turned out to be longer than I thought it would. 🙂 I don’t ever mean to sound “preachy”; truly these are all lessons that God has taught me along the way, little by little. He is so gracious and He leads us along gently.

I hear you and I understand. To be perfectly up front and honest, I haven’t always enjoyed staying home. I don’t always enjoy it now. Continue reading “Did you enjoy mothering and staying home right from the start?”

Quarantine Edition – in which we hear from some of you!

I wanted to create a “collage” post of ideas and thoughts about this quarantine period. So, a few weeks ago I asked– What has God been teaching you? What activities have you been doing with your family that are a little bit different from your normal routine? What recipes have you tried? Has something funny happened that you’d like to share? Has your family found a unique way to encourage others? Please send me anything you’d like to share, and I will put it all together into one post.

I have been so blessed and encouraged by the various contributions that were sent in. Keep it up ladies, building your homes during this time! It’s what we do best! God has uniquely gifted you to provide a haven and a place of comfort for your dear ones.IMG_5922

Thanks to everyone who took time to contribute to this post.

From Connie (my sister in law, mother of four boys, ages 11 and under):

Take a hike! No, seriously, with all this “stay at home” going on, those of us with children need to get them outside and run that energy off. If we don’t, it turns into sibling rivalry, unpleasant attitudes, discontentment, and general mayhem at home. Continue reading “Quarantine Edition – in which we hear from some of you!”

12 Strategies to Squelch Sibling Squabbling

Question: Hi Jennifer, Could I ask you for some parenting advice about dealing with sibling squabbling? This is a new problem I am just starting to have in the last few weeks. The girls are just bickering constantly. It’s like they can’t be in the same room together without fighting. It’s just non-stop pettiness…

“She said I did a bad job on my chore.”
“She keeps moving my paper into her box.”
“I have more grapes than you do.”
“She glared at me.”
“I’m glad I didn’t get your chore.” etc etc etc etc.

I alternate between feeling like I need to referee each incident to deal with the problem-causer and try to teach good manners and virtue (We don’t say things to hurt others. We use a nice voice to talk to others. God wants us to be kind, etc.) and being overwhelmed and telling them I don’t want to hear about their bickering and they need to work it out (which they do not seem to have any ability to do). Any advice would be much appreciated!

IMG_7846
Apparently I don’t take pictures of my children when they are squabbling, only when they are having angelic moments. So on this post we will picture angelic moments while we talk about squabbling.

Answer: As I’m sure you’ve realized, there isn’t a fix-it-all answer to this question. Squabbling between siblings is just an inherent part of mothering. There are, however, various approaches that can be taken at various times. I will list my ideas here in no particular order.

1.) You gotta nip it in the bud. (We don’t normally turn to Barney Fife for parenting advice, but in this case, he’s on to something.) This is probably the most effective approach, but the caveat is that it requires mom’s attention and listening ear, and the children need to be playing where mom can hear them. As soon as mom hears the first child mis-step in their behavior, she nips it. Continue reading “12 Strategies to Squelch Sibling Squabbling”

When the Plan Changes (and a special request)

“What??!! But I thought…”

I’m sure you, like me, could easily complete that sentence. Moments like these have become pretty familiar to the world as a whole lately.

The plan has changed. And you’re standing there with your mouth hanging open, at least on the inside. Here comes this major change of plan, and nobody has bothered to ask you for your thoughts or permission. Or me. Continue reading “When the Plan Changes (and a special request)”

Guest Post: Dear Young Mom I Saw in Target Yesterday

I am happy to bring you another guest post by my sister-in-law Esther. She is married to my brother Matthew, and they are raising four sweet and adorable little people who are currently ages 7 (Ger), 5 (Ellie), 3 (Adaline), and 18 months (Naomi, or “Mimi” as she is affectionately called). Esther wrote this over three years ago, before Adaline was born.

Ellie
Esther wearing Ellie.

Dear Young Mom I Saw In Target Yesterday;

I don’t go to Target very often. In fact, this was the first time I had been to the Target in this area. But I had some gift cards for the store and had determined to use them toward a new infant car seat for our soon-to-arrive third baby.

While I was looking at car seats I heard your infant cry in the next aisle. I knew he couldn’t be very big from his cry. While selecting a car seat, I heard him cry a couple more times. Continue reading “Guest Post: Dear Young Mom I Saw in Target Yesterday”

I don’t mean to disagree with my husband

Steve said these are arrows, not dominoes.

At Joshua’s high school graduation, as I envisioned each child reaching this same milestone in quick succession, I remarked that the “dominoes were beginning to fall.” Steve replied, “Not dominoes. Arrows. Today the arrows are beginning to fly!”

edit4I know he’s right, of course. They ARE arrows and it’s super exciting to watch them fly.

But I have to be honest, it sure does seem like dominoes at times. All of a sudden, I find myself looking around and thinking, “Where is everyone? Is this everyone I’m supposed to have?” Continue reading “I don’t mean to disagree with my husband”