I have some amazing news: I’m going to have a baby! I also have some less exciting news: I’ve been overwhelmed with morning sickness for the past three months.
Homeschooling in the everyday can be challenging enough, but when you don’t feel well, the task can seem insurmountable. My ordinary, non-pregnant self loves reading aloud, playing outside with the kids, and planning homeschool lessons. My pregnant version (at least the first trimester model) mostly wants to stay in bed with the covers pulled over her head.
My second and third pregnancies were spent changing diapers, making meals, reading books, and orchestrating lots of free play in the backyard. While I’m still doing a lot of those activities this pregnancy, I’m also homeschooling a preschooler and a kindergartener. In many ways having younger kids while pregnant can be fabulous; the school work isn’t overly demanding and a list of daily must-dos are largely unnecessary. If I miss a day or a week, the year isn’t a total loss.
On the other hand, having young kids also means that there is little opportunity for independent work. Sure, they are great at coloring or doing puzzles for small periods of time, largely unassisted, but they need me to actively oversee most activities—homeschooling and otherwise.
The majority of their day is still spent in direct interaction with me while they learn to master reading and writing, which will take their studies to a more independent level in a few years.
Here's what I'm doing to make this challenging season of pregnancy and morning sickness more rewarding for the whole family.
1. Setting Realistic Expectations
The human body is amazing. It is truly a miracle that I am growing inside me a living human being who will soon be gathered around our table. Yet pregnancy and having a newborn have taught me that I have to recognize and respect my physical limits.
When I push myself too hard, we all suffer. Worn out, tired Mom is simply not the best for homeschooling or anything else.
Expecting another baby is emotionally stimulating not only for me; it’s also a time of transition for my kids and husband, too. While my little ones are happy about having a new sibling, they also still desire their own time with Momma. Fortunately, reading aloud is a favorite family activity that covers both bases of homeschooling and family bonding.
My husband works hard away from home, and still willingly pitches in with housework and errands. I’ve come to realize, though, that when my sweet hubby is already cleaning litter boxes, running last minute errands for foods I think I can stomach, and redoing the budget to ensure we can still afford mortgage payments and hospital bills, asking him to step up and assume additional homeschool responsibilities may be overwhelming. Sometimes for all our sakes, I simply need to step back, slow down, and cross a big chunk of tasks off the list.
I tell myself that it's okay to change my expectations during this short season of pregnancy when my children are so little. If it takes us two or even three weeks to make it through five days of our Sonlight Instructor's Guide, that's okay. We just do the next thing and keep moving forward however slowly it may be.
2. Making Self-Care a Priority
As a family, we cooperate to make sure that my health and that of our baby is a top priority. Every pregnancy is different, and I’ve had my fair share of associated risks. Finding ways that the kids and husband can help take care of me and the baby has been a learning experience for all of us.
I get enough rest.
The kids stay in their rooms until a specified time each morning— when a green light on a click signals that it's okay to get up for the day.
I stay hydrated and eat well.
My kids love getting water out of our refrigerator, so they are in charge of making sure Mommy’s glass stays full. Sure, there are occasional puddles on the kitchen floor, but we have a well placed towel that gets checked routinely for just this reason.
Eating balanced meals and small snacks help with nausea and indigestion, and my kids are great reminders for this. They are all about having snacks during read alouds and love healthy foods like apple slices and nuts.
The kids and I walk, dance to videos, and even have tried some pregnancy yoga together.
I have enjoyable downtime.
Even if it’s just for a few minutes everyday, I take the time to relax with a book, a favorite television program, or a few minutes of bird watching. I have to remember to take advantage of times when the kids are engaged in unstructured play, running around outside or being looked after by my husband or mother. It can be tempting to do just a little more planning or wash a few more clothes during those moments, but my emotional well-being is important, too, so I invest in it.
3. Making Sure Homeschool Happens
Even as I cut back significantly and reduce the family’s overall academic workload, there are still plenty of chances to sneak in some learning for my preKer and Kindergartener even while bearing up under morning sickness. Here are things that seem to work well for me.
- Try being still. Lie down in bed or on the couch while reading and discussing Read-Alouds.
- Get outside. Fresh air can help abate nausea and give younger kids time to run off excess energy.
- Incorporate snacks. Reading aloud can be more fun for them and more tolerable for Mom when no one has an empty stomach.
- Change up the schedule. Do the more intense subjects during times of the day when morning sickness symptoms are slightest.
- Share some of the responsibility. Dad may also have a lot on his plate, but he and other friends and relatives may be excellent substitutes.
- Most importantly, give grace to yourself, to your kids, and to your husband.
Remember, Momma, this is only for a short season, even if it lasts all nine months. The experience the kids will get from watching another life form, grow, and be born can’t be covered in a book.