What Did You Do Before There Were Older Kids to Help?



From the comments:

What did you do with the little ones before you had an “older kid” old enough to be in charge of them? My oldest is eight and is often the one I need to be spending the one-on-one time with. But the one and just-turned-three-year-old cannot be trusted to their own devices and the five-year-old is not responsible enough to watch them. The one-year-old does not watch videos (not something I choose, he just is not interested)…the three-year-old would but they would disrupt the eight-year-old since our living/dining areas are open to each other.

Oh yes, I do remember those days!  This is the season of your life when you're going to have to turn to unorthodox methods and do what works.

When there are more little people than big, I tend to turn to an afternoon school schedule, or at least tackle the one-on-one stuff when the little ones are napping or resting.  It all depends on the little person, too.  Some of them are quite content to sit and look at books or color while I'm working with an older child, others-- not so much.

Ask yourself what you can accomplish during the morning time all together. For me, that tends to be chores, a nature walk, an exercise time (mine have even liked doing a workout video with me!), some memory work, art, Bible time, singing, cooking, and reading aloud.  Do you see how much of that really is educational?  Then when you've got a quiet couple of hours in the afternoon, get to work on the subjects that take focus: math, history, science, grammar, etc.

It's unorthodox, but who cares?  My husband often reminds me, "This is the benefit of homeschooling".

Make sure you're prepared in advance for what's ahead. Set the table for breakfast the night before, and make it be a no-brainer: muffins, peanut butter on toast, cereal, baked oatmeal, crockpot oatmeal, applesauce.  Set out the kids' clothes, too.  Plan absolutely everything in advance that can be planned, and get it down on paper so you don't have to think about it again.

Be flexible. What works this month might not work next month.  This was one of the hardest lessons I had to learn, because after I'd spent time making lists and charts and schedules, I wanted things to stay exactly as planned.  But then inevitably something changes; the baby drops her morning nap, I get pregnant and am sick for months on end, my husband has an emergency patient at 6 p.m., the older boys start water polo or get part-time jobs, and on it goes.  Nothing is static.

Remind yourself that this is a season.  Pray and ask God to direct your steps and make it all come together.  Ask Him what you should be doing right now and what you can drop from your agenda.  If He calls you to it, He will make a way.