Posts Tagged ‘multiple kids’

Keeping Baby Entertained While you Homeschool

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Keeping Baby Entertained While You HomeschoolIf 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.

Tips for Road-Tripping with Babies

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Tips for Road Trips with BabiesWe recently completed a cross-country move with our 5-year-old, 2.5-year-old and 13-month-old daughters, driving from Fort Worth, Texas to Queensbury, New York.

When I sat down to Google Maps and started making our route, I was scared. Three days. Stretches of 8 to 11 hours of driving each day. Two overnight stays. How were we going to do this and all stay sane? We don’t even own a portable DVD player.

Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, sometimes flying isn’t an option and you need to road trip. Here are a few things I learned from our experience that can make your trip easier.

  1. Give yourself options. Kids love change, any change, no matter how small. So make sure you can keep things interesting when everyone has had enough. Change seating arrangements, change toys, change seat partners, change coloring books, or change snacks. We bought silly dollar toys at gas stations, had emergency snacks and different toys from home that I could distribute when things were getting ugly. Having a few new shows and games downloaded on the iPad and Leapster before the trip helped, too.
  2. Plan at least two extra hours for each day of driving. When I drive alone, I am a fill-up-the-tank, gulp-down-the-coffee, hook-up-the-catheter kind of road tripper. I live and die by making “good time.” So it was helpful for planning purposes, and for me mentally, to realize that having the kids with us added two hours to our total drive time each day. That way I didn’t stretch us too far.
  3. Get multiple rooms overnight. The tiny room at Motel 6 may seem like a wise choice on paper, but it’s very helpful to have room to spread out in the evenings. I love AirBnB when traveling, because we can rent an entire home for the price of a hotel room. Each night we all had our own rooms, we could put the baby down early without having to sit in darkness, and the kids had space to run and explore.  This can be especially helpful if you cloth diaper, because you can get a place with a washer/dryer if you want.  AirBnB isn’t the only place you can book travel this way—there’s VRBO, and more home-sharing or renting options online. Obviously, you want to be safe when traveling with your family. I have several conversations over email and on the phone with my host to get a general vibe before I stay somewhere, and I always pay through the site.
  4. Pack by the day. A friend who has four kids gave me this tip: Instead of packing each person their own bag, pack clothing for the ENTIRE family per overnight stop. Since we were staying in different locations and would have to pack in/pack out each night anyway, this made so much sense! Toiletries for the whole family went in one bag, and PJS/diapers/clothes for the next day in one bag. When we got to our destination for the day, out come the two bags and the pack n play. DONE.
    Tips for Road Trips with Babies
  5. Lower your expectations. The first night, I realized there was not going to be “bedtime” on this trip. We got to our first stop after 13 hours on the road (11 hours of driving), and the two older girls were running circles around the cabin, yelling. I told them they could run but no yelling, and they complied. The baby wanted me only, and wanted to nurse all the time, so we nursed. The girls crashed hard way after their bedtime, which resulted in napping in the middle of the afternoon in the car—normally something that would inspire fear in me. I knew we’d get back to our routine eventually, and it might be painful, but this was not the time to fight that battle. How strict you want to keep schedules while on the road will depend on your kids’ personalities, how old they are, and how well they adjust to change. Once we got to New York and got settled, we were back to normal bedtime within a few days. In my mind, the relaxed standards were well worth the saved sanity.

I think the key to any trip or vacation, even if it’s out of necessity and not for pleasure, is to enjoy yourself and the people you are with. Make memories when you can. Most of all, enjoy the journey!

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mom of three girls. She lives and writes in Queensbury, New York.