I need help! My toddler is so demanding, and takes up much of my attention and time, that I am having trouble homeschooling my other children.
It’s tough—I sympathize!
Having a bin of interesting toys for your toddler to play with on the floor while you are reading aloud or teaching can buy you some time. Rotating the toys (so your little ones expects to find something new in the bin) helps keep interest. Something they have to manipulate works well and keeps them busy longer. My favorites are Stacking Pegs and the Toddler Tote. A ramp racer is a good one too!
Have you tried “Baby Duty”? That worked very well for me. Basically, get a box and put in some interesting learning stuff designed for the age level of your toddler that she cannot play with at any other time, such as puzzle, storybook, small healthy snack (peanuts, etc.), big Legos, dress-up doll, playdoh, a story book, watercolor paints and read aloud cassette tape set, educational toy, safe scissors and glue stick with construction paper project, whatever. The child can’t get into the box contents, but it is a resource box for the older child that is on “Baby Duty” so he’ll have lots to keep her busy and happy. Post a schedule of Baby Duty so that the older children take a 20 to 30 minute rotation with the demanding child, as part of school. Schedule a time, or just wait until there is a need, and then call “Baby Duty” and the child whose turn it is, does it.
Here how it works: when you call “Baby Duty”, the sibling in charge of it takes the box and invites the child in a happy, enticing manner (this takes some practice) into another room to do some of the activities in the box. Their sole task is to entertain and play with the “baby” (toddler, or whatever age) and keep that child happy and smiling. This gives mom, and whoever is left, time to work together, or this is time to nurse a baby, etc. The little one really looks forward to it, and the older child learns a lot too about helping mother, child care, teaching someone younger, being attentive, etc. It bonds the children wonderfully well. It gives a refreshing break that helps the “baby” stretch longer, and gives mom a breather. When the weather is warmer, I include going out and swinging and playing on the playset, or taking a bag to do a collecting nature walk around the backyard as one of the requirements of “Baby Duty”. When I had 7 kids operating on a “Baby Duty” schedule, the “baby” ended up having 3 or 4 stints per day, with a different sibling each time, and enjoyed it to the max! And I was more able to school the kids.
One of the secrets that we moms seem to forget is putting the kids on the parenting team as soon as they are able. They can do a lot to help us! I taught my 2nd grader how to do the laundry totally start to finish by himself, and also how to bake bread using the bread mixer–out of necessity (difficult pregnancy). I was amazed at what he was capable of, and also amazed to see how his own self-esteem grew, and pride in his work, and feelings of capability emerged. It was a tremendous blessing in disguise, that enabled me to see what these children really are capable of when there is a need. Don’t do it all yourself!
May I recommend: