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Having a toddler around this year has made everything a little bit interesting. If your toddler is anything like mine there is never a quiet moment. Parenting with a toddler is tough enough, let alone trying to educated other children. If you happen to find yourself in the middle of a math lesson with a toddler precariously perched upon a chair screaming because she wants to eat the abacus, please know you’re not the only one. In addition to offering you some moral support and camaraderie I’d like to give you my best tips on how to keep that cute pudgy toddler happy has a clam while you save your sanity during this season of homeschooling.
Take Advantage of Nap Time
This. Is. Everything. Nap time is sacred, am I right? For us I usually try to schedule our group learning or read aloud subjects during this time. This might include our “morning basket”, science or history. If you don’t know what a morning basket is it’s basically a basket full of good books and other things that we read through during the mornings or in this case whenever that toddler is napping. Reading aloud while the toddler is awake is one of the most difficult challenges. Scheduling this time during nap time just makes it more peaceful and helps the older kids to focus more on what I’m reading rather than being distracted by the little girl climbing all over us (as cute as she may be).
Assign the Older Kids Toddler Duty
This has worked well for us while I give my four year-old some one on one time during the morning to do his preschool for the day. I will usually have my two oldest children (the seven and nine year-old) take turns entertaining the baby and keeping her happy and off the table. It has been such a help as then I’m able to devote twenty or thirty minutes to my little guy in the morning filling up his bucket as well. The older children enjoy the responsibility and enjoy playing with her too. Other times I do have to remind them that this is a part of their responsibility and a way for them to help give to the whole family.
Meal times and Snack Times
Anytime I can keep her occupied with food and contained in her highchair is a good time to do some group work. Lately I’ve been using this trick in the mornings during breakfast. We’ll usually gather together for breakfast and listen to our hymn for the month, recite our scripture and monthly poem, and do our Bible lesson. It works really well because the littlest one is happy to eat her breakfast next to us in her highchair for at least fifteen minutes.
Finally, if all else fails here are some of my favorite toys for keeping little hands happy for at least five minutes or so. I mean that’s really about all the time you can expect a one year-old to be entertained for anyways, right? I usually keep a small collection of toys tucked away only to be played with during our school time. Here are some of our favorites:
Tomorrow is a New Day
Having a toddler around definitely makes homeschooling look different and more challenging but not impossible. Before you know it they will be moving beyond the climb-on-every-surface-and-pull-down-all-the-books phase and ready to join you at the table sitting in an actual chair. So, even though there will be days when you want to pull your hair out remember it’s a vapor.
Please also know despite all of my good efforts there are just some days that are HARD. The toddler’s nap is not long enough, the older children aren’t as helpful, and everything seems to be unraveling thread by thread. On these days I try to remind myself that there will ALWAYS be days like this with or without homeschooling, four children, and a screaming toddler; our lives are filled with those days when things just won’t line up. Tomorrow is a new day mama, wipe that brow and carry on we don’t do this alone. His grace will carry you through today and revive you for tomorrow.