I frequently get asked what it’s like homeschooling with a newborn. So picture this: two preschoolers quietly sitting at the table, attentive and obedient, eager to do the work. The baby is either fast asleep in his cot, or kicking happily on his playmat. Mom sips her hot tea, smiling adoringly at her children.
Ja. It’s nothing like that.
This was our day yesterday, which should give you an idea what an average day looks like.
Rafe wakes me for a feed. He only woke up once in the night, so I can’t complain. Jacques and I pray together, then he leaves for work just after six.
Emmy wakes up about an hour later than she usually does. She joins me in bed and plays with Rafe while I check Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
We get up. Emmy plays in the lounge while I start breakfast and put a load of washing in the machine. Emmy decides Angie has slept long enough, and climbs into her bed to annoy her until she gets up. She’s basically a human alarm clock without a snooze button.
We eat breakfast. I’ve made mielie meal for a change because the girls suddenly don’t like oats. Emmy complains that it makes her tummy “hot” while Angie wolfs it down and asks for more. Rafe decides he’s hungry again, so he feeds while I eat.
The girls are supposed to get dressed and make their beds while I hang up the washing. Rafe falls asleep so I shower quickly. I do the girls’ teeth and hair, and Rafe wakes up. He wants to eat again, of course.
We start our school day with a Bible story – today it’s Nathan’s story of the rich man who stole the poor man’s lamb – memory verses, and prayer time. Then we move to the table for bookwork. Angie is learning “us”, “brown”, “if”, “three” and “are” this week. Emmy is revising the letters K – O.
Today, Angie is in dreamland and Emmy is “too tired”. Also, Rafe is uninterested in the playmat. It’s apparently been years since he last ate, because he will not let go of my boob.
We finish school. The girls have yoghurt and pretzels, then play. I put a sleeping Rafe in his cot so I can go to the loo. He wakes up, of course. He falls asleep on my chest while I have my quiet time. I manage to get through my whole prayer list for a change, before Angie comes in to ask me to dress a Polly Pocket doll for her. Two minutes later, Emmy brings the same doll to be dressed in a different outfit.
I should put Rafe back in his cot, but it’s so nice to cuddle like this and I know, before long, he’ll be too big. Because he’s my last baby, I’m going to make the most of these moments.
Besides, he’ll probably wake up as soon as I put him down. And then we’ll both be grumpy.
I need to get lunch ready. Rafe is still asleep on my chest. What a dilemma! I procrastinate by checking social media.
Rafe wakes up when I put him in the cot, she he gets to watch me make lunch from his car seat. I scramble eggs while mediating an argument – “Mom! Emmy’s ROARING at me!” Then I give the girls their food and get: “I only wanted a little bit of butter!” and “Why isn’t my egg on the toast?” and “This isn’t how Daddy makes it!”
I do not respond. Rafe feeds while I eat.
Emmy goes to nap. I remember I have a cup of tea in the kitchen. It’s on the cool side of lukewarm. I drink it anyway, then put on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe for Angie. She’s only seen it about a million times.
I top and tail Rafe, and feed him. Again.
This is my working time. Today I plan the menu for the week, then do some lesson prep. I also have a one-sided conversation with Rafe, and take a dozen photos of him to get just one that isn’t blurred.
We leave for Nana’s house. She babysits the kids while I tutor. My student is actually keen to work for a change, but cannot tell me how they work out division sums in class. I don’t want to teach him differently, but when he gives me a blank look, I decide to just show him my way.
We get home. Jacques is back from work and busy washing the dishes. I start supper and feed Rafe while the girls chase the dog around the garden. I remember Jacques has an elders’ meeting at church, so I ask him to bath the girls before supper – because I don’t have the energy to bath them afterwards.
We eat. Jacques leaves, and the girls tidy up the lounge while I feed Rafe. By tidy up, I obviously mean play.
It’s storytime, I read one library book and a chapter of Heidi, then it’s bedtime! We pray together, and I switch the light off.
As I leave the girls’ room, I remember I didn’t brush their teeth. Or their hair.
I’m not getting them up again.
I watch three episodes of The X-Files season one. (Conduit, Ghost in the Machine, and Ice.) Young Mulder and Scully are so sweet.
I keep trying to put Rafe in his cot, but he keeps waking up, so I leave him in my arms because snuggles.
Jacques gets home. He brought leftover carrot cake from the meeting. How can I say no?
He starts learning lines and I go to sleep, even though the temptation to watch just one more episode is strong. My desire for sleep is stronger, surprise, surprise. I snuggle down with Rafe, and hope he doesn’t wake me too soon.