Some days, it feels like it’s impossible to get anything done when you’re trying to homeschool your children. The laundry piles up, the sink must be bottomless because you can never find it for all of the dishes (in spite of doing them constantly), and you could grow pansies in the dust on your furniture. Your to-do list is miles long, and somehow, none of the items on it ever get checked off—even though you’re sure you’re working on it every day.
Then you add a toddler to the equation.
Toddlers are demanding. They require time and attention, and they don’t understand why you have to attend to their older brother or sister’s educational needs. Having one at home is a full-time job all by itself; trying to homeschool an older child at the same time feels next to impossible. However, it can be done!
Take advantage of the presence of older children. Do you have more than one older child that you are attempting to homeschool? Enlist one to entertain the little one while you explain something to a struggling student.
Be organized. With a toddler at home, you know there are going to be times when things absolutely are not going to plan and everything seems to be falling apart. Have lessons already planned for these times—things that your older child can do on their own, without you needing to stand over them constantly. This might be a packet of worksheets; reading a book (educational or otherwise); or completing a project that doesn’t require your constant supervision. It helps to have several of these plans tucked back in a notebook or on your computer for those days when your toddler just requires more of your time, energy, and attention.
Don’t be afraid to let little ones cry every once in a while. One of your goals as a parent is to teach your toddlers that they can not have everything they want the moment they want it. You know the difference between a genuine “need” cry and a temper tantrum meltdown—and letting them have the latter in peace won’t hurt them! Make sure that they can’t hurt themselves, and then walk away and finish doing what you need to do.
Let them do school, too. Are you reading a story (or a passage out of a textbook that you can make sound like a story) to your older child? Your little one can cuddle up in your lap and read along. Are you watching an educational video? They can play in the floor while you watch it—and they might even watch, too! Completing a project? Give them some of the materials to play with. An older toddler will even color while their big brothers or sisters do their writing work.
Use naptime wisely. Don’t run around like a madwoman trying to get everything done; but don’t let it slip by, either. It’s easy to get caught up in what you’re doing and want to finish it before moving on to the next activity, but if there’s something you need to accomplish in your day that’s going to take three times longer with a toddler underfoot, naptime might be the best time to do it.
Any time you have a toddler at home, things are chaotic. However, with time and patience (and a little bit of planning ahead), you can manage with a toddler just as easily as you can without one.