15 Homeschool Hacks for Pregnancy and Childbirth

Babies and homeschooling; is it possible to mix both? Most people think a mom of 15 should know!

In fact, recently a dear mama sent me a question which inspired this entire post:

I was wondering if you could give me some advice and insight. Here’s what I’m in question about…

Our school year is coming to an end very shortly–as in we are finishing up formal curriculum that lasts about the 36 weeks of a typical school year. I am due with our 5th baby come September. It’s an odd time of year because this usually marks the beginning of the school year for us. I have been finding myself in a tizzy thinking about having a baby and then trying to start a new year of school. My question is this: do you think it would be wise for me to continue homeschooling through the summer? It’s not as if we ever completely stop doing any work; we always read, do math drills, enjoy nature, etc. but I am talking about the more formal type curriculum. I just need some perspective on what to do in the summer months. Is there something you have done to lighten your load, but yet keep your kids minds sharp? I am just so worried about balancing a new baby, new school year, and brains that might be dull from taking too much time off.

Any advice you could give me would be so appreciated! I absolutely love this blog and have grown so much as a Christian and as a mother because of reading it. Oh how I wish I could have a cup of coffee with you and pick your brain for hours! You have so many years (and children!) under your belt!

Now, I know the title of this post says, “15 Homeschool Hacks,” but really my entire experience boils down to one word:

Faith

Listen, I’m a chicken just like you. Without Jesus life looks like a huge, scary monster story. I don’t have it all thought out and processed. My husband and I did not sit down 34 years ago, gaze dreamily into each other’s eyes and say, “Darling, lets have 15 children and homeschool them all.”

Are you crazy? Were we crazy?

Probably.

We didn’t have a clue, and we certainly didn’t have a plan. Most days I still don’t. But that’s the point, Dearies. God loves it when we trust Him.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

So, that’s where you start. You don’t try and micro-plan every aspect of your homeschooling life. It’s impossible. It’s frustrating. It’s downright NUTS!

Instead, you gear up and shoot from the hip, trusting that God will help you hit your target.

How do you gear up? By doing what Hebrews 11:6 says: you earnestly seek HIM, and then He will reward you with the desires of your heart (such as children who know how to read and write before they turn 30).

Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

Along the way, as the Spirit leads, you can keep these ideas in mind:

1.Stack it up

While you are “nesting” and preparing your home for a new baby, why not use some of your energy to “nest” homeschooling? Get them ahead in the areas you are most concerned about. If one is behind in reading, concentrate on that. If one is behind in math, focus in and get them up-to-snuff. This way you can rest more easily during your “baby moon.”

2.Simplify

Take all that you’ve been doing for homeschooling and rethink it: How much is fluff? How much is busy-work? Then cut out all but the essentials and formulate a new way of doing things based on that. You can add back some of the extras after you and your family adjust to having another little one around. For more on this, refer to my post, How to Solve Homeschooling Problems.

3.Cool it

Stop thinking of how you aren’t doing enough. Concentrate on what you are doing right, and it will clear your mind so you can be more productive all around. Remember, pregnancy hormones can make things look a lot more serious than they actually are.

4.Go year-round

This is probably the best advice for moms during the child-bearing years. Remember, I had our 15 children in 25 years, and I had 12 of them while I was actively homeschooling. Since I was going year-round I could afford to miss a month during morning sickness and a few weeks just after the birth.

5.Don’t be afraid to start up right after the birth

Many times I would plan on taking a huge break after the baby was born, only to find out that our lives were actually better if I added that bit of structure. Of course, this depends on how well your body is recovering, but even a little bit of homeschooling helps. Why? because the other children are usually feeling a little insecure with the new baby in the house, and having some learning time with Mommy helps them settle down emotionally. This always helped cut down on the “acting out.”

6.Swing and sling

I haven’t ever had a baby that was happy by themselves. They were all pretty clingy/fussy as infants. This was a real problem during lesson time unless I put them either in a swing or wore them on me in a sling!

7.Go digital

This is a great idea for those times when you are too ill to get off the couch (or even read a book), but you need to get rid of some of your mommy guilt. Here are some free sites that we have found pretty amazing:

8.Use nursing time

There is a few months’ window when an infant will actually rest quietly on your lap and nurse to sleep. This is when you can sit in a chair and read aloud to your children, have them share their schoolwork to you, or have them work quietly and bring their questions to you.

9. Give the kids a break and do research

One pregnancy I was so sick I could barely move, but somehow reading about homeschooling kept my mind off of how miserable I felt. The research I did then made me so much more confident and efficient that I didn’t mind taking the break at all.

10.Keep a basket

This is great for anytime, but especially for those times when your brain is fuzzed by pregnancy or extreme postpartum sleep deprivation. Having something physical to jot your memory keeps you on track. There are many times I am multi-tasking to such extremes that I can’t remember what we are supposed to be doing next (and I don’t have time to jot down notes or look up the ones I’ve already made). If I have a basket filled with the books and materials we are using, all I have to do is grab it and “do the next thing.”

11. Use the “herding” principle

This is essential if you are struggling with energy during your first trimester or pregnancy recovery. Keep your other children together doing the same thing at the same time. If one is coloring, they are all coloring. If one is playing with Lego’s, they are all playing. If one wants to play outside, they are all playing outside, and so-on. (For more on this, read this post.)

12.Read aloud

I think this is just about the best advice for homeschooling during morning sickness. I remember times when I tried to “power through” my first trimester only to fall on my face (almost literally). Finally, I was forced to sit with a hot water bottle on my sore belly and read a novel to my children. Not only did this help them in their learning, but it gave me an escape from my agony. Those times are now treasured family memories.

13. Use your pregnancy as a learning experience

If you’re like me, you’re already doing loads of research on the subject because you are so fixated. Why not bring the kids in on what you are learning? They are usually fascinated by the process. If you can explain human procreation and then add in how other creatures multiply you have a whole, huge unit of study that will cover loads of science, health, and, of course, ethics and Bible.

14. Use homeschooling to reinforce your love for your other kids

Tiny ones, especially, can feel pushed to the side by a new baby. Homeschooling gives you the excuse you need to spend quality one-on-one with them. Even if you are holding a tiny newborn in your arms, you can sit and have your toddler color a page as you watch, or look at a board book as you point to the pictures and talk about what they see. The older children need this special emotional encouragement, too.

15.Work around your baby’s rhythm

Every baby is so different. Some of my infants were night owls, some wanted to nurse and fall asleep at seven. Some slept most of the morning, others slept most of the afternoon. Instead of fighting against them, I decided to work around their innate habits. If they slept in the morning, that’s when we did concentrated lessons, and vice-versa.

What about the time around the birth itself?

Don’t even think about homeschooling; everyone will have enough to think about already! Just enjoy your special time and don’t sweat it. We were always able to recover from all of those joyful “interruptions.”

And there you have it; just about everything I think I might know on the subject.

I’m sure I haven’t covered it all. If you can think about anything to add, please share! It might be the very thing someone needs to hear.

17 thoughts on “15 Homeschool Hacks for Pregnancy and Childbirth

  1. This homechooling mom of eleven says yes to all of these! I especially gave a hearty amen to year round schooling and starting right up after birth. Like you, I always planned a two week break for after baby’s arrival, and inevitably, we always got back to schooling just days after the birth. We needed the structure and things seemed easiest while baby was still nursing and sleeping all day.

    One reason we began schooling year round is because we live in south Texas. It’s just TOO hot to do much else, so it made sense to keep going with school. Additionally, it gave us the freedom to take many breaks during the year……which we love!

    If you don’t mind my adding a note of encouragement to this mama….. I understand your concerns. I remember feeling the same way when I was expecting babies #3 and #4….especially during morning sickness, which was extreme for me. I’ve learned that God truly fills those gaps. I did what I could when I could and He faithfully guided me through it. Relax and do your best. You will quickly find your rhythm and know exactly what to do. Take Sherry’s advice and you’ll see that it will all be fine! Blessings!

    • I always appreciate your input, Candace. I can truly understand about the heat in Texas since most of my folks are from there and I spent an entire summer or two there myself. I’m sure the mama who sent me the question will be blessed by your encouraging words.

      • Sherry, you are such a blessing to me and so many others. If you’re ever down our way (San Antonio), please let me know……we’d love to host your family, or even grab a cup of coffee! Blessings!

        • Thanks for the invite! It would be great fun to sit and sip some coffee with you:) I spent a summer outside of San Antonio in a little town called Lytle. We live in Colorado but rarely travel far from home. If we ever are down your way I will be sure and look you up.

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to add that extra word of encouragement. I am so grateful for women like you and Sherry who have gone before me and can speak from experience to say that God will fill in the gaps. I am learning to trust Him more and more every step of the way. I guess if you guys have survived homeschooling 11 and 15 kids, then surely I can survive 5, right?

      • You are so welcome, Kristi! You will not only survive, you will stand back in awe years down the road and see all that He has done. You’re doing great, Mama!

    • Hi Candace! Just wanted to interject here that I am a homeschooling mama of 10 and live in south Texas also! Portland (Corpus Christi area). We have been here five years and STILL haven’t completely acclimated to the heat! We school year round also; partly due to the weather and partly due to the fact that 5 of our children have birthdays around the holidays (between Thanksgiving and up until right after New Year’s), and so we need to just take those weeks off anyway. We start our “new” school year in January–although what that really means is just picking up where we left off, lol!

  2. Thank you for these tips. I was recently at the Dr office with my 6 children (oldest just turned 8) and he asked if it was my goal to have 6 kids by 30. I had to laugh.

  3. This is great, Sherry! Thanks for sharing!

    For me, the hardest part about pregnancy is not the end (3rd trimester, birth, postpartum) but the beginning, a.k.a. MORNING SICKNESS, i.e. 24/7 month-after-month. You know the drill, I’m sure! This past year I experienced this for the first time during a school year, and I just had to close up shop, school-wise, for a while until the peak was past. Then I just gradually added back as I could make it. It went much better than expected, academics-wise, and I really don’t think we missed much. God really was faithful to fill in the gaps.

    By the way, if you ever need a post idea, how about tips for dealing with morning sickness? I bet you know them ALL!!

    Love all your posts!

    • I can really relate, Diana! Morning sickness was really an issue for me, too. It is amazing how much learning my children got done, anyway, and looking back at my records from those years I am always amazed at how little “down time” we actually had.

      I did a post on morning sickness once on my old blog, Large Family Mothering. It wouldn’t be too hard to resurrect it, with some interesting modifications. Thanks for the idea 🙂

  4. The herding principle definitely works when you can use it, and minimizes those unexpected messes that happen when someone creative disappears to do their own thing for awhile. Then you always have a group together to work on the cleanup of one thing before we all move on. Another quick idea that helped me so much when preparing for and then adjusting to the birth of twins was to get in the habit of dressing my other 4 children the night before in comfy clothes they could wear the next day. That saved me so much effort and the extra laundry of pj’s. My children liked it because they didn’t need my help the next morning with their morning routine and we called it “being ready for the day.” Even sometimes dealing with messed up clothes and needing to change one or two people later in the day was much more bearable this way. This is one habit that many of us came to appreciate and still practice, now that we have 8 children.

    • I love this idea, Lynn! I felt a little sheepish about it, but we didn’t use pj’s either, although I didn’t take it as far as you have.

      • Mwa ha ha ha! So I’m not the only one who does this, LOL!!

        I actually got the idea from a working mom who took it even further – she not only dressed her children the night before, but also did her little girls’ hair (very tightly!) so that they were literally walk-out-the-door ready when they got up in the morning. I haven’t taken it that far, but I do dress our children for the next day the night before. It saves SO much trouble, time, and laundry!!!

  5. The children get such an education just from watching Mom and Dad through this time, I believe. I did not have younger siblings and I see my children have a wealth and depth of learning that I missed in areas such as family life, childhood growth and development, family economics, the doctor/hospital/midwife/insurance/health share ministries ins and outs, etc.

    I also have watched as some of my older children have naturally started helping my littles with their schoolwork. I am right there at the table with all of them, but if I am busy with one, they just naturally pitch in to help another with a question. I have started encouraging this because it helps the older child reinforce what they have learned by teaching, and it helps the bottleneck of waiting for Mommy.

    I think large families that love the Lord are beautiful!

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