Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The One Armed Homeschooler

Years ago when I was doing some online window shopping in the cookbook section on, I came across a book called The One-Armed Cook. I had to do a double take at the title, then laughed when I realized it was cookbook for moms...who all too often have a baby (or a toddler) on one hip and only one free arm to cook with.

Lately, I have felt like The One-Armed Homeschooler. Andrew is our fourth child, but he's the first one to be born into our homeschooling life. When our last baby (Jake) was born eight years ago, we were not homeschooling yet. We didn't begin homeschooling until he was about 10 months old, and then I was only homeschooling our oldest child.

Well, this year, Andrew got the honor of being born into a homeschooling family going full throttle in the midst of our homeschool year, with three different grades being taught at once. I knew this would present a few challenges...

Andrew is a morning person. As in, earlier in the morning than I like to be up. Which would be OK, except that...right around the time the other kids are up and ready to start school, he's ready to go back to sleep. And...during the day, he only stays asleep if he's being held. (He sleeps just fine in his bed at night.) So I was faced with the dilemma: get him to sleep and attempt to do school while holding him so he'll stay asleep, or put him down, which means he'll wake up, and attempt to do school with a tired fussy baby.

So far, I've opted for holding him while he sleeps. It's easy enough during the parts of school where I'm reading aloud. I do OK telling them their assignments and helping with everything but two things: doing science projects and helping Becca with her math.

Science projects often require two hands on my part. Sometimes they just have to wait until evening when Tony is home to either help the kids or hold the baby while I help. Becca's math is often the same. She struggles with math so oftentimes I find its easiest if I sit down with her and work through the problems with her, often on a separate piece of paper where I can draw fractions or graphs to help her really "see" the concept. So sometimes that gets pushed back til after dinner as well.

But that's OK. I'm not stressed by it or anything, it's just different. I think before long things will shift again...I'm going to start trying to keep Andrew awake through the morning so he'll actually nap in the afternoon (right now, he's pretty much awake from around 11 am til 8 pm with only a couple of 10 minute catnaps in between). That could make for some fussy mornings in my future, but I've been around the parenting block enough times to know that every difficult phase now makes for an easier time later. This too shall pass, and all that.

On the plus side, Becca and Jake both love to hold Andrew. Jake is a little awkward still (he's just not quite big enough to hold him comfortably...comfortably for Andrew, anyway), but Becca is wonderful. She doesn't get stressed at all if Andrew starts fussing, she loves to change his diaper and pick out his clothes in the mornings (when I let her...hey, I love to pick out clothes, too!). So sometimes she'll hold him for 15 or 20 minutes while I get some things done around the house.

Which is not to say he gets held all the time! Oh, no, when he's awake and happy he spends plenty of time laying on a blanket in the floor, or on the couch, or on the bed, or wherever I happen to be. He lays next to me on my bed while I fold laundry, or propped up on his Boppy on the kitchen table while I cook, or in the living room floor while I do whatever else I need to do!

So, for now, just call me the one-armed homeschooler. Soon enough, I know, I'll be wishing he would he content in my arms...soon enough, he'll be...crawling! Eeek! Time to baby proof the house! :)

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