When we started homeschooling last year, we knew we wanted another baby but we didn’t think too much about what would happen if I got pregnant again. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’ve been using Learning the Alphabet and Reading the Alphabet with the girls. We got off to a really good start, and were working through the material at a good pace, so towards the end of the year I planned out the first half of 2016, confident that we would keep going the way we were.
I learned I was pregnant in December, and by Christmas it was clear to me that I was going to have to reevaluate my expectations for homeschooling – both for myself and for the girls. Instead of doing school in January, I spent my time between the bed and the bathroom. Fortunately we were living with my parents at the time while waiting for the purchase of our house to go through, so it’s not as if the girls were left to their own devices all day.
When I started feeling better, we picked up with school. I had to work with my own energy limitations, so I simplified what we were doing and let go of the need to do a craft every week. The girls are still in preschool – there are years of crafts ahead of them, right?
We’ve finally finished the alphabet, though I haven’t finished posting the updates – again, working with limited energy here – and I’ve decided not to start another curriculum just yet. We’ve been doing alphabet and number revision, and Angie is learning more sight words, but our school days are very relaxed. If I haven’t had a good night’s sleep, then we skip school, or do the work in the afternoon.
Things are going to be even more relaxed once Peanut is born, and I can honestly say I have no idea what the rest of the year is going to look like. That doesn’t stress me out as much as it would have this time last year.
People are always saying that homeschooling is as much about the parents’ learning as it is the children’s, and I’ve found that to be true. In my case, I have learned:
1. To be flexible
I’ve always been quite happy to go with the flow, but I also like to make plans and lists. I had an idea of what our homeschool was going to look like, and for the first few months it was pretty much how I envisioned it. But I was forced to change my plans with the pregnancy, and we’ve been fine.
2. To relook at my expectations
Right now, we’re doing the bare minimum. Actual school time is about an hour a day, and that includes our Bible time and calendar time. There’s a lot of art time, since Angie’s current obsession is drawing. She posed a hot water bottle and a blanket on a chair the other day, then sat back to draw it “because I’m an artist, Mom.” There’s also a lot more outside play now that we’re in our own house and I don’t have to worry about the girls falling into a pool.
And, yes, TV time, too. Because sometimes I need some peace and quiet so that I can get some work done. Or put my feet up. Whatever. I’m nine months pregnant. TV time is a lifesaver.
3. To slow down
I’ve neglected my Pinterest boards lately. I just don’t have the energy to try any of the fun crafts and activities with the girls. I also don’t have the energy to figure out what to do with the finished crafts. (Don’t tell the girls, but the marshmallow igloos we made a few weeks ago found their way into the dustbin. I don’t even feel the least bit guilty.)
Our mornings are slower these days. Sometimes we all begin the day cuddled in my bed. Sometimes we watch a movie in bed before even starting the day. Sometimes we do school in our pyjamas.
I’ve also initiated Quiet Time in preparation for Peanut. I’m hoping his midday nap will coincide with Emmy’s. Angie uses this time to draw. I’m dreaming of the naps I can take.
4. To recognise my own limitations
There are days when I just can’t do school. It took me longer than I’d like to admit to learn this lesson. When I am so tired that I can’t even think, when I’ve been up since 3am with heartburn and Peanut rearranging my internal organs, when I can’t walk properly because of a pinched nerve or ligament pain – then I can’t teach my children.
Oh, I can try, and I did try, but there were tears (from everyone) when I let my exhaustion and impatience get the better of me. Everyone grumpy and irritated with each other, and fighting over little things, and the inevitable questioning of our decision to homeschool, to have children at all, to have a third baby, to get out of bed in the morning.
I think this has been the most important lesson I’ve learned while homeschooling when pregnant. I’m certain there are going to be a lot more lessons learned while homeschooling with a newborn, too. But I think if I keep this last point in mind, I might just survive it.
Have you homeschooled when pregnant or with a newborn? Any advice?