Awaiting the birth of a child is a sacred and special time. This idea can be lost or pushed to the side when you have other children to care for. It can be especially difficult to remember when you are trying to check off boxes and meet the standards set by society, school officials and especially yourself as a homeschool mom. Trying to homeschool through pregnancy and postpartum can be challenging.
The Homeschool Trap
It is easy as a homeschool mom to fall into the ‘guilt’ trap. So often, we feel guilty if we don’t do the co-op that everyone raves about. Or we feel guilty if our child isn’t reading up to the level someone said they ought to be. We feel guilty if one child needs more help and the others somehow fall short. I am no exception. I always feel tremendous guilt when I get pregnant with another child. It is an awful place to be and I truly believe that the Lord does not wish for us to feel this way. After homeschooling through several pregnancies, I can confidently say that the Lord has guided me away from the guilt (mostly – I still have work to do) and into a life of surrender to the lifeschooling mindset.
A New Normal During a Pregnancy
The first few days after seeing the big + on the pregnancy test are euphoric in many ways. There are the excitement, awe, the surprise and a whole host of emotions before reality hits. Most moms dread the first trimester and all of its woes. I don’t think I need to mention them, you know what I mean. You count the days until the 2nd trimester begins. You wonder how you are going to survive these next few months. Ask yourself how you are going to homeschool and care for these other children without letting them get behind. You think that maybe they might even be better off at the local public school. All of these thoughts are completely normal. You are growing a precious new life and this little person needs you, too.
You need a new normal. Your old routine might not work for the time being. Concessions will have to be made. This new life is an opportunity to help the family grow in different ways. Maybe the drills and flashcards will have to make way for time spent reading together on the couch or watching documentaries? Our lifeschool journey began during the pregnancy of my fourth child. At the time, I didn’t realize the impact this new life would have on our entire family.
Lead to Lifeschool
There were days when I was too sick or too tired to follow through with my lesson plans. The kids still got hungry; they needed to play and also needed help with various tasks. Even though there are days, even weeks or months in which a mom feels like she barely exists, she can’t call in sick. She has to do something. This is when my children learned to prepare simple meals. During one pregnancy, my oldest decided that it would be great to learn how to bake bread and so he did. To my surprise, it wasn’t a burden to him, it was something he enjoyed. He learned how to cook with some supervision and guidance from me, but mostly from an inner curiosity and a love of food.
I had no clue that my children were so willing and able to do so many things. I had often involved them in chores but never expected them to do bigger chores like tending the garden or tackling the laundry monster. While I was on bedrest, the garden still got watered and tended to. The laundry got done and no one starved. I don’t have perfect angels for children. Oh, they clowned around and sprayed each other with the garden hose or ate all of the fresh produce without bringing any in. Other times, there were laundry fights. The clean laundry was used as weapons, socks and underwear are great for throwing, didn’t you know? They likely spread their sandwiches with way too much peanut butter, but that was part of the whole learning experience.
Special Bonding Time
Bedrest was actually a blessing. It meant the kids could pour their little hearts out at my bedside and I wasn’t preoccupied or too busy. I have fond memories of reading story after story snuggled up in my bed. We spent hours in front of the television watching documentaries and educational videos. If anything, this special time strengthened our relationships. After the arrival of each new baby, the snuggles continued. Life has a way of slowing down after the birth of a new baby.
With our next baby due in the next few weeks, I have been reflecting on all of the lessons I learned and the memories we’ve made. Reminiscing on how much grace was poured out, I set out to compile a list of my favorite tips for surviving pregnancy while homeschooling and wrote about it here. I included some free lesson planning pages. I keep my planning simple and minimalistic so that there is lots of room for the children to spend time exploring their God-given talents and strengths.
A Note on Homeschooling During the Postpartum Period
The postpartum period is a very individual and personal time. Each person handles the time after the birth very differently. A new mother has to process not only the birth but the physical and mental changes that inevitably take place. It goes without saying that a break from the regular routine is bound to take place. Lifeschooler or not, life lessons will be learned. Hopefully, you will have time to rest and to bond with your new baby, to pamper yourself and to care for your baby.
These early days can be tough. Older children may act out for attention, tempers may flare and tears will fall. There is no predictability from one day to the next in the early days after birth. Some will no doubt be euphoric and others perhaps not so much. The one thing you can be assured of is that your children are learning so many new lessons, lessons that can’t be taught from a textbook. These are life’s most important lessons. The ones that help a family work together, to be kind and patient and to live according to God’s plan.
In the Later Weeks…
My children and I function best when we have a routine. This rings true for many families. Finding our rhythm after baby’s birth is crucial to our family maintaining its sanity. The beauty of lifeschooling is that this can look completely different in your family than it does for mine. I have discovered that part of our journey includes being a role model by taking good care of oneself in addition to the baby. I am a list maker and planner and have created a free “Postpartum Essentials” printable for new moms. And I hope that my advice and resources bless your family. That you experience peace by lifeschooling through your next pregnancy and the postpartum period.
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- Lifeschooling Through the Challenges of Pregnancy and Postpartum - June 20, 2019