If you’re homeschooling, or even helping one or more children with a good-sized homework load, and juggling a baby or toddler as well, things can get…challenging. Elementary-aged children especially often need a lot of one-on-one parent time when learning, and babies and toddlers really don’t care about this. So what’s a well-meaning parent to do?
Probably my least favorite (but definitely doable) solution to this is to plan the parent-intensive parts of the day during your baby’s naptime (this probably isn’t a solution at all if you are doing homework after school). Why do I say it’s my least favorite? Well, to be honest, I love naptime. It’s a chance for me to recharge as well as for my baby, and if we are spending that time working on schoolwork, that chance is gone. So the downside is purely selfish, but the upside is it’s likely to be the quietest time of the day.
Another idea is having things like busy books or other independent and hands-on activities for your babies or toddlers to work on. These are especially nice if you can keep the younger child self-contained while doing them, like in her high chair, where you know she is safe and occupied and won’t be wandering off and getting into trouble if you are concentrating on school work. I like to organize my homeschool curriculum each week by getting all the supplies I’ll need and separating them out for each day. You could do the same for your baby or toddler, and pre-bag different activities for him to play with each day while you work with the older children.
Baby wearing can be a viable option for some of the instruction period. Wearing your baby is especially useful when you are standing and doing hands-on or cooking/baking type activities.
Of course, portable centers like exersaucers or areas cordoned off with baby gates and with toys inside are also good options, especially if your child is very active. Some kids love more sedentary things like busy books, and others just want to move.
As your baby grows older, you could even provide her with her own workbook or “homework” that she can do alongside her older siblings. The older siblings rarely agree about this, but younger siblings are often jealous of homework and would like their own to do.
Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home mom to two little boys. She’s currently trying to stay afloat and stay sane in a sea of schoolwork and other kid activities.