So, we’ve talked a lot so far about what YOU can do, but how about getting some help?! That’s right, homeschooling with a newborn requires help!
Let’s talk about what I call the “small helpers” first. These are divided into two categories:
Ready Made Helpers
Years ago, I read a blog post where the author called baby paraphernalia “baby containers.” While I do think there are parents who rely too heavily on swings and walkers and the like, most homeschooling parents I know are not neglectful, and would never put their child in a “container” in the hopes that they would not have to deal with them.
So, with that said, I want to encourage you to get the ready made help you need to homeschool with a newborn.
Here are some examples of Ready Made (or Mama Made) items that can be a huge help to your homeschooling efforts:
1. Wrap, Mei-Tai, Sling, Backpack, etc.
I started slingin’ babies when my 3rd child was born. I started out with a Maya Wrap inspired sling I made myself. The one in the photo above is my 4th baby in a homemade Mei Tai I still use (in fact, just the other day, we went fishing and I packed Creed in it!). I prefer my wraps and mei tais over the other carriers I have, but the thing that connects them all is that I MADE THEM ALL! (Take a look at my Baby Wearing category for more info and ideas!) Most baby wraps are easy to make, but even if you aren’t much for sewing your own, it is still a good idea to own one…or two…or ten!
- Your hands are free to help other children.
- Most babies find the act of being carried quite soothing.
This was THE BEST purchase I made this go-round! A friend of mine posted a photo of hers on Facebook and I fell in love! I decided to use the money my Grandma always gives me when a new baby arrives to buy one of these little gems, and I am so glad I did! This is where Creed sleeps. When we travel, it folds up and goes with us!
- Lightweight and portable.
- Allows baby to be in the same room with you all the time.
- Baby can use it to sleep or “play” during school hours.
3. Playpen or Bassinet
There are 9 million of these to choose from! We use our playpens as beds for older babies and toddlers because they don’t take up as much room as a crib. (By the way, these are my favorite sheets for playpens! They are fantastic!) But, a playpen or bassinet set up in the main homeschooling room can be a nice safe place for baby to be during school hours.
- Easy to set up and take down.
- Keeps baby safe from little hands.
There are some wonderful infant swings on the market right now. The ones that swing from side to side are my favorites. There are even swings that can be plugged in to save you on batteries.
My colicky baby would only sleep in my son’s arms or his swing, so we purchased a portable swing to take with us to grandparents’ houses. It was a lifesaver!
The one we own is very similar to this one.
- Often soothes a very fussy baby.
- Provides a 2nd “bed” for baby that is in the main homeschooling space.
Not every baby loves the Bumbo as much as my little Creed does, but I must say the use it is getting this time around is well worth the price I paid for something baby tends to use for only a short time. I’ve shared my Bumbo with friends too so I don’t feel bad about spending the money. And yes, it’s purple. I like purple. Creed hasn’t objected.
- Lightweight and portable
- Keeps an older baby engaged with the family
- Protects baby from being stepped on (tell me I’m not the only one who deals with uncoordinated toddler feet!)
6. High Chair that leans back
A few years ago I would have told you this was a waste of money, but one thing we cherish as a family is our time spent around the table for family meals. We like baby to be a part of that, and while the Bumbo allows Creed to sit up, it leaves him on the floor. The Graco high chair we own (very similar to this one) has height adjustments and a reclining seat so Creed can sit with us for meal times. The same concept applies for any homeschooling done around the table. Baby gets to be right there in the middle of it all!
- Baby is eye level with everyone
- Seat reclines to accommodate younger babies
Other items of interest might be a walker or an exersaucer; however, I’ve owned both of these and my children just do not seem to like them.
Small Home Grown Helpers
These are the helpers you have in your home who are still too little to be given huge baby care responsibilities, but who are still able to help. In my home, these are the 2-7 year old crowd (in your home, this age range might be different).
What can the little ones do?
- fetch diapers, blankets, and other needs
- “talk” to baby
- “play” with baby
They may not be able to carry baby around, but they can be super helpful and super entertaining!
What about those big helpers?
My big helpers are 8, 12, and 15.
Some people take issue with older children helping to care for younger siblings, but this isn’t about mom eating bon-bons while the teens do all the work. They are not my slaves. This is about giving my children opportunities to learn and bless others. It is my prayer they step into adulthood as prepared as they can be (because nothing really fully prepares you, does it?).
So, what can your big helpers do?
- Care for the baby while you are working with other siblings.
- Make meals (please, please, please teach your teens to cook!)
- Learn to work independently, thus cutting down on the number of people who need your direct supervision for school.
- Help teach concepts to younger children.
- Help set up fun activities for younger children.
- Be your “Teacher’s Aide” by running copies, finding books, researching, and gathering supplies.
- Keep things clean and running smoothly.
So many people complain about their teens. I love mine! And many people underestimate the abilities of younger children, but I totally consider my 8 year old a “big helper” because she is very capable and willing to pitch in wherever needed.
If you don’t have a big helper in the house quite yet, don’t hesitate to ask another homeschooling family if you can borrow one of theirs a day or two a week. However, be VERY clear about what responsibilities you need a Mommy’s Helper to help with.
By the way, if you are looking for help with teaching children to do chores, there are two fantastic ebooks on that very topic: (affiliate links included)
This series is part of the Summer Hopscotch. Click the link to read more great posts on a myriad of topics from other homeschooling mamas!