Balancing the Babies: How to Educate with a Baby in Your Arms
January 17, 2018
Mercy Every Minute  
I had 8 babies in 17 years; a new baby every other year—and my other children all excelled in learning. Not by my own might, nor by my own strength, but by the help and strength of the Spirit of God! I learned to lean hard on Him.

Yes, homeschooling with a baby was hard. In fact, it was near impossible to continue schooling as usual—as if nothing amazing just happened. Instead of reveling in the newborn, I would look around me and see chaos. The fact that a miraculous display of the image and splendor of God was in my arms didn’t cross my mind. What I saw was the mess and my lack of ability to perform. Foolishness! I am a slow learner, but by baby number four, I learned to rest and trust. 

So how did I do it? When a baby would come, I would call that year the “baby year.” That meant things would be slower, “teaching” time would be less, training the others to obey immediately and work independently was my main goal, and I purposed that grace would rule the day. I read the Bible aloud at every feeding. This was because I knew I should desire the “sincere milk of the Word like newborn babes” (1 Peter 2:2); it’s what brought life to this poured out mother-teacher. 

My other children were learning what could not be tabulated on an academic test. They saw mom lean hard on God as she learned perseverance. They learned you could slow down and just do the next thing. They saw a glimpse of the God who loves His children and cares for their every need. 

Don’t feel guilty about what you are not getting done when you have a newborn. God is a Good Shepherd who “gently leads those who are with young” (Isaiah 40:11). He is not hounding you to get more done; He is leading you gently. Be gentle on yourself and don’t listen to the accuser. You are doing eternal things that last, and the academics can always be caught up, or filled in, with a little creativity. 

Some days, you will feel like you did nothing of importance. Let me reassure you, having those children home with you is more reward than having a spotless house and a checked-off list. Rest in the assurance that your obedience to God and His Word will bring eternal rewards whether you can see them today or not. As you hold that baby in your arms, remember your Father who has you in His arms. Rest there. Be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10) as you keep them Home Where They Belong.

“The eternal God is thy refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms” 
Deuteronomy 33:27


More encouragement:
Kari Lynn Dundass   
As you probably read this article, I will either have a newborn baby or one that should be arriving any day! As many of you may have experienced, homeschool life with a baby can definitely take some adjustment, but it can also be a very special time for the entire family! Here are my tips on how to manage your homeschool with a baby: 

  1. Invest in a great baby carrier! Life on the ranch doesn’t stop because a new baby has arrived. I have used a baby carrier daily with my children as it allows your hands to be free while also bonding and nursing the new baby. It is a wonderful way to get lots done with the older children, and I wouldn’t know what to do without mine. I also invested in a great backpack for when our babies were older and used it daily in and out of the house.
  2. Take advantage of nap times! Nap times work very well to give one-on-one time with each child or children. If the baby is sleeping, take this opportunity to work on some school with the others. 
  3. Plan some independent activities that the other children can work on when the baby is awake or needing attention. I love to have a variety of activity books and art books close by the kitchen for the moments when my older children are looking for something to do. 
  4. Helping with the baby can be a great learning experience for the older siblings as lots of life skills can be learned when they are helping you with the baby, cooking, and cleaning. Try to incorporate your older children in with your daily activities as it allows them to have a key role while teaching responsibility. 
  5. Play a family game. One of the best ways to incorporate all ages of children in an activity is to play some family games. Not only does it give each child some valuable time, it helps to encourage working together and learning. A family puzzle, a board game, a game of cards, or playing tag outside are just a few options. 
  6. Take some time to adjust. Sometimes no matter how organized you are or how prepared you are, there will be days that don’t go as you had planned. That’s okay! Spending time as a family is special and homeschooling can wait for a few days until you get rested. I have found that on the tough days if we get outside to play, go for a walk or help with the ranch chores, it helps to reset everyone so that we’re ready to do some more school the next day. 

Our children grow up so fast and the baby cuddles only last for a few short years—so enjoy the moment! One of the best aspects of homeschooling is that the learning can happen anywhere and everywhere, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be planned. Most importantly, enjoy the cuddles and the family time and treasure these moments!

Kari Lynn Dundass is a cattle rancher and homeschool mom to two boys, soon to be three, in British Columbia, Canada. She works with her parents on their family ranch while her husband has employment off the ranch and assists on his days off. The ranch has been operating for 50 years, and her two boys are the fourth generation. Kari Lynn has a bachelor of Nature Resource Science and loves writing about her lifestyle of ranching and homeschooling. You can find her blog about life on the ranch while homeschooling at .  
Katie Furlong
About 18 months ago I found myself in the position of homeschooling my 2 oldest special needs children while caring for a very active toddler and a sick infant. Most people assume that would be extremely hectic and chaotic, but it wasn’t thanks to some planning and flexibility.

Having the following things in place is what worked for me and made things run smoothly most of the time:
  • Independence. I encourage my children to be as independent as age appropriate. When we needed to go out, my 18 month old already knew how to follow 2 step directions plus put on her own shoes and coat. She loved to help out with chores around the house like emptying the dishwasher and taking clothes from the dryer. Both super helpful as I was recovering from my c- section. My 2 oldest knew how to run the household so they were able to make meals, do their own laundry, and keep the wood stove going. They also completed their schoolwork independently, and my toddler would often join them at the table to do her “work.” This helped free up my time to assist in any homeschool challenges they ran into or to help teach a lesson.
  • Environment. I have the entire downstairs of my old farm house childproofed and set up for the children. This allows the littles one’s open access to their Montessori home classroom, playroom with toys, books, art supplies, climber with slide, and small bikes to ride in the house. It gives them the opportunity to explore and learn independently at their own pace while the big kids do their schoolwork.
  • Flexibility. Most days run quite smoothly; however, there were times when my infant was upset and my toddler was having a tantrum. Those are the times when we closed the books and headed outside for a walk in the woods; or one of the older children would do a special activity with the toddler like a craft, baking, or building a fort while I would settle my infant. 
  • Baby wearing. My baby carrier saved my life with my 2 youngest. It allowed me to keep my baby close to me and enabled me to nurse on the go, at home, or while out at homeschool related activities. 

This is how I survived homeschooling with a baby and toddler in tow. The benefits, fun, and joy definitely outweighed any challenges.
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Lee Binz, The HomeScholar
How to Homeschool High School with Toddlers at Home
 Gold Care Club member Elisabeth began with a box for Legos, watercolor painting, stickers, play dough, and a cutting activity with safety scissors. She was thrilled, because with only these 5 boxes, she was able to get through grammar instruction every day. This activity should be kept special—so they are only allowed to do it when this box is brought out for them; it’s desirable and fresh each time they see it. These boxes can be used at home while teaching calculus, or for outings to the doctor’s office, or while traveling in the car.

Make at least 5 boxes (so they have one each day of the week). If possible, make more so you can spread out those activities even farther. The less frequent the activity, the more fun and special it is for the child. Busy boxes can be collected in plastic shoeboxes, old cardboard boxes, or even paper bags. By rotating 3-4 boxes a day, you are providing a new-to-them experience that will give you sanity-saving time for homeschooling older children or for yourself.

Create Sibling Partnerships 
Pair your younger children with an older sibling to play each day. You can decide in advance an activity they can play together, like Legos, or Hot Wheels. Or you can treat this as a 1/2 hour of free babysitting, where the older child is simply responsible for the younger one so you can attend to homeschooling someone else. You can be specific about the time, and say that 10:00-10:30 is the time for Sarah to care for Evan so you can teach algebra to Rachel. You could also use these partnerships as recess, where the two can go outside for fresh air for a while, hunting bugs, riding bikes, or picking flowers. Going outside together is great for sibling bonding, but it also can help children learn more when they have been outside and active for a while! This partnership might be for just 1/2 hour a day, but every half-hour of peace is worth the effort.

Prepare for the upcoming year by spending some time organizing activities for your little ones. I know it can be difficult when you are homeschooling with little ones or have a large family. It’s important to find ways to keep your sanity and make the family run smoothly. Spend a few moments reading about how to make life easier for you!

Lee Binz,  The HomeScholar  is a dynamic speaker and  author   of over 30 books on homeschooling high school. She is an expert on  homeschool transcripts  and getting scholarships. Lee’s mission is to encourage and equip parents to homeschool through high school. You can sign up for her free  monthly homeschool e-newsletter  where you can also get a daily dose of high school help. Check out the  homeschool freebies    on the website. You can also find Lee on Facebook at .
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Danika Cooley
Let's just be honest, shall we? Almost everything is a little challenging with a baby in your arms.

Don't get me wrong—I loved my babies immensely! But they rarely operated on my schedule, and they often needed 125% of my attention and effort. Here's the thing about babies: they're little for a really short time (Then they're toddlers, but that's a different thing altogether).

So, when you're educating with a baby in your arms. . .

Be flexible. Things aren't going to go according to schedule with your homeschool—and that's OK.
Be patient. Your older children are adjusting to having a new human in the house—just like you are.
Be creative. You can wear your baby, have your newly established reader read some of the read-aloud for the day, use audiobooks, watch an educational movie when you know the baby will need to nurse, or have your kids work independently on skills they can tackle.
Be fun. Don't forget your older kids need a little of your time. Come up with ways you can all spend time together.

Take breaks when you need to, let your oldest kids help teach the younger ones, encourage your kids to take a little more responsibility in their work, and—when necessary—take a week or two off if you need to.

When you homeschool, much of the pressure you may feel actually comes from you. So take a deep breath, get really creative, and marvel in the little human you have in your arms.

From one mama to another, I don't think having babies and navigating public school is a whole lot easier. I've done that, and it's a lot of work! The grass is always greener on the other side . . . unless you water your own grass well.

Our time with our littlest people is short—they become big people in what seems like a matter of moments. Take a deep breath, thank God for His blessings, and relax in His sovereign care.

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Danika Cooley is an author and homeschool mother of four. Her passion is equipping parents to teach Scripture and Christian history to their families. You can learn more about Danika's popular  Bible Road Trip™  curriculum   and teen historical novel  When Lightning Struck!: The Story of Martin Luther   at  Thinking Kids.

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Jaime Gassmann
Wearing Babies While You Still Wear All the Hats
I was discussing the phases of the moon with the tweens in my homeschool co-op class, "Mythology/Astronomy." I am sure they will never forget what waxing gibbous means because we joked about how my pregnant belly was also waxing gibbous, growing larger each week we met. 

I knew soon, like the inevitable coming of the full moon, I would see the face of my second baby. Then I would be in the "fourth trimester" where the newborn would be oh so new, and some of the fun "extras" we did as a homeschooling family might have to go on pause. Perhaps I wouldn't have the stamina to nature hike. Maybe I would be riddled by postpartum anxiety or depression and avoid the social events that peppered our regular schooling rhythm with friends and new perspectives.

I knew I needed tools if I were to keep up with the pace of not just parenting my oldest but also supplying his insatiable brain with challenges. 

Breastfeeding was something I hoped to count on—familiar to me from my first baby as a way to achieve a nap no matter where we were. But I could NOT be sitting with a baby on my lap all afternoon this time around. Enter babywearing.

I researched DIY baby carriers. And I made them, both Osnaberg woven wraps that are simple long parallelograms of fabric, and ring slings that are shorter and fasten like an old '80s belt around you like a sash. And I loved it. One for long walks. One for quick trips. And even a mesh one that would ensure we could still twiddle our toes in the pool. 

What an incredible feeling to fabricate something for the baby in my belly that was also in a way a present for big brother. And to myself! A present that would help us all be connected and more present with each other. 

Babywearing was everything I thought it would be. I wrapped that baby and administered a standardized test at our dining room table. I slung that baby on my chest, and we kept going to meetups and attending events around town. I wore him strawberry picking in the spring, at the homeschool fun day in the summer, and in the corn maze in the fall where no stroller dare venture. 

I even wore him when I taught a class when he was three months old during the next iteration of homeschool co-op.

I may have been dipping my big toe in postpartum depression. It's hard to know without a diagnosis, but I could feel that the fog wasn't lifting. Wearing the baby, knowing I was caring for him as he napped on me or as he peeked out watching his brother crafting a lapbook, freed up just enough energy to keep the homeschooling boat afloat for my big kid. 

I also know that the closeness of having him snuggled on my chest was helping my hormones regulate, giving me boosts of "the love hormone" oxytocin. Babies that are worn cry less, say the scientists. And say the parents! That had to contribute to my ability to function during those first few months.

I couldn't keep this knowledge to myself. I was as passionate about babywearing as I had been about breastfeeding education with kiddo number one. So I said to my husband, "I either need to DO something with this or. . . ."

I never finished the sentence. He replied, "Do it," without even knowing what it was. 

We were set to move in six months to another Army post, but I started a babywearing business anyway. I knew working for myself I could still be full time with the boys, working after their bedtimes and in the margins of our days.  

Now, after three years, as the owner/operator of an international e-commerce company, I sell woven wraps and ring slings. However, the thing I love the most is 1) connecting caregivers to tools that empower them to be present with their families and do activities WITH their babies and toddlers, and 2) connecting people in online babywearing communities with each other. It can be an isolating time of life when you feel invisible to the rest of the world, and being seen, even online, is an incredible boost. 

My business is bigger now, though I'm still full-time with my boys. When I work, I want them to see work modeled as something that helps people, that lifts them up. 

For each mother waxing gibbous out there, anxious about the transition as your family grows in both love and number, plan well and yet be optimistic. Take whatever baby moon you can, snuggle that baby close (in a carrier if you can), and reach out for help and connections. 

Connecting to that baby in a baby carrier will help you keep on keepin' on as you wear the rest of your 1,002 hats. You got this!

Jaime Gassmann, Ph.D., is the mother of two boys, ages 8 and 3, the wife of an Army soldier, and a small business owner ( Bijou Wear baby carriers). Born and raised in Kansas, the Army has brought her family back home after many moves all over the U.S.

Jaime enjoys supporting caregivers of babies and toddlers through in-person volunteer work and also in online spaces, where the isolation of that time of life can be changed into a meaningful connection with others in the same situation.  

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