Homeschool Survival Tips


(Image credit:  From the Molly Green site.)

If the locomotive toddler wakes up at 5 in the morning, naps for 45 minutes, and goes to bed at 7 pm, where does that leave you from 7-9 at night?  Flat out on the couch staring at re-runs trying to foggily calculate how many more days of toddler-hood and homeschooling your once strong constitution can handle.  Two.  Two more days.  No.  It’s a weekend, and the hubby is around to help.  Might stretch it out to four days.  Except there’s more cooking and cleaning to do on weekend days.  Mmm.  Drats.  Might make it only one more day.  THEN—keeeer-ack.  CRACK.  There she blows.  Whoa.

How?  How?  How?  How on earth does one survive homeschooling with a toddler?  And if that’s not bad enough (and oh it is), how does one survive homeschooling three age levels with one demanding toddler at Christmas-time with strep throat running through the house and Santa-bashers coming over to play?

I know!  I know!  I’ve got the answer for you!  You don’t!  You don’t survive!  Oh.  Not the answer you were looking for?  Okay.  Then–I know!  I know!  You survive with a headache!  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Headache it is!  But you survive.

My survival tips

Make sure you have your expletive friend on call.  Don’t call your mom.  She’ll wonder why you don’t just send them to school.  And don’t call your nice friend.  She’ll tremble at the F-bombs spewing from your mouth.  Call the friend who can drop the bomb as well as listen to them and forget it about it the next day.

Markers.  Markers are great for toddler chewing.  Coloring on paper, skin, and clothes.  And eating.  I’ve also found that markers are great for encouraging the proper finger grip in early writers.  Much more fun than fat, yellow pencils.  Invest in markers.  Company always frantically yells, “She’s got a marker!”  And?  So?  Look at her.  She’s quiet.  Don’t you touch that marker.

Bathroom feng shui.  Keep the light, soothing music playing in the bathroom all day.  Add a bouquet of fresh flowers and change weekly.  Invest in a soft rug that feels nice on your bare feet.  Add a nice scent, you know, aromatherapy.  Your friend sells those oils.  Buy some from her to support her in the “pyramid” scheme.  Enter bathroom and lock the door three times daily.  Titrate up as needed.  Add drink of choice for an even more spa-like atmosphere.  Ask for a little refrigerator for the bathroom for Christmas.  Next year ask for a hot plate for it.  Aaah.  Never leave your little home.  Tell them to go pee somewhere else for Pete’s sake.

Simplify laundry.  All laundry goes in one load.  ONE.  If it can’t tolerate that, it is not tough enough to belong in your house.  Only the strong in your house.  No wussies allowed, and that includes laundry.  (It excludes wussy moms, the whole purpose of this post.)  Then, sort laundry AFTER being washed into baskets for each person.  Don’t fold.  Toss.  Place in suitable place for kids and husbands to dig through to get what they need each day.  If it doesn’t fit in the basket, give it away to the needy.  You’re nice like that.  Buy three cozy house robes and pajama sets for yourself since you never seem to get further than that each day.  There’s a time for jeans, blouses, and boots.  In five years, if you survive the next four days.  And don’t pop out more kids.  (Lock that bathroom door.  Your feng shui room is NOT for THAT.  Did I ever tell you about the time my 6 year-old stood outside the door saying, “I’ll wait.”?)

Read sad stories.  If you put a computer with internet connection in your feng-shui’d bathroom, you can surf the net for sad stories.  There are lots of them out there.  Once you read the stories of kids dying from chicken pox, leukemia, and school shootings, you’ll tear out of that bathroom faster than Olaf out of hell into the waiting arms of your family.  Sad stories pull me up by my chin strap every time.

Elves and Santa.  December is a hard time to homeschool, toddler or no.  Public school or private school or home school.  Period.  December is hard.  Don’t judge yourself or your school by the month of December.  You’ll have the worst marks of the year if you do.  I suggest investing in some simple, festive, and fun ideas which make Jesus’s birthday party a lot more fun:  elves and Santa.  Psychological straight-jackets.  (I really like having my breakfast in bed, my dishes done, my vacuuming done, my toes painted, my hair brushed, my back rubbed…) Then, make sure you don’t have homeschool play dates with kids who don’t believe in Santa.  Spoil-sports.  You are not invited back until after the Easter bunny visits.

Lower your expectations.  School will start at 9:30 am…school will start at 10:30 am…school will be finished before 7 pm.  We will do math, grammar, spelling, history, Spanish, and music…we will do math and grammar and sometimes music and sometimes Spanish…we will do half the math lesson, maybe grammar, and listen to “Feliz Navidad” (counts as Spanish and music) three times a week.  We will NOT read internet blogs or talk with friends who make remarkable, impressive, deflating crafts.  And we definitely will not talk to or read about any childhood prodigies.  This is not the month or time for that.  (My toddler can use markers.  I think that’s pretty good…)

Can you…?  No.  No.  No.  I cannot.  Look at me.  I’m in my bathrobe.  I don’t answer my phone, and I don’t reply to texts.  No.  I cannot.  Even if I think I can, I CANNOT.  Instead of asking me if I can, take to telling me I cannot and should not.  Because I have a toddler.  And they take up 27 hours a day with nothing left over for anyone.  I cannot.


And there you have it.  Some of my own personal tips for surviving while homeschooling with a toddler in tow.  Life’s a little crazy right now at our house.  And this doesn’t even include the things that happen in life that make life really difficult.  But we all have that.  And life is good.  And people are special.  Some of them.  Some of the time.  Well, they can be, when you’re in the mood, anyhow.  I hope you have a fun month and can step back and laugh and not take life too seriously.  I wish we all could.  Giving and sharing is a gift.  Children are gifts.  It’s a gift to love them and be there for them.  Be strong.  Be brave.  Carry on.

Leave more tips below.  I’ll need them.




12 thoughts on “Homeschool Survival Tips

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Hello, Elizabeth! Happy December and thank you for reading. When my first three were toddlers, I remember thinking, “I will not forget how this feels and I will help any toddler-mom in any way I can when mine are grown…” Then, I forgot what it was like! Haha! It is a good reminder! But, boy, is she precious! I hope your month is going just like you want! Thanks for stopping in.


  1. frogotter

    We gave up all pretence at school work on December 1st. So, however much you manage, you’re ahead of us!
    My only tip is to get in a supply of squirty cream and marshmallows. I make hot chocolate whenever the day needs a bit of a boost, or I need to bribe the children to go for a walk. It gets harder to get them out into the fresh air at this time of year.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      It does get hard to go outside this time of year! And it only gets harder in January and February, doesn’t it? Squirty cream…now that sounds fun! I’d forgotten about that stuff.

      I should give up too. It’s December 11th. I’d only be ten days later than you in throwing in the towel. But can you imagine having 30 kids in a class and having to muddle through? Oh, man!

      Okay. I’m giving up and going for a walk outside. Aaaaah.

      Thanks for reading!


  2. Lindsay

    You’re my favorite 😉 This was just what I needed to read right now! Not that I homeschool, but the whole toddler thing is spot on. Especially since we’ve been sick…

    Now if only I had kept that bathroom door locked so I don’t have to worry. And “I’ll wait”?! Hysterical!

    Hang in there, mama!!! Give me a call if any of those f-bombs need dropped 😉 Oh, wait… Type me an email then, I guess!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Aw, thanks! You know I will take you up on that, of course! Frenzied. Frantic. Fantastic. Failure. Flu. Fury. Fun. Flubbed it up. FRIEND!

      (And, by the way, I firmly believe that you don’t have to homeschool to homeschool, although Common Core seems to be trying to put a stop to that. My dad was told, “John, you may not have homeschooled, but you homeschooled.” My dad always read, always was doing something new, and my mom always looked over my papers, always helped me when I was stuck on essays. I think yours were behind you all the way, too?!)

      You like the waiter, eh? She did wait, too. But definitely not long! Aaah.

  3. Susan

    Haha…I remember those days – exhausting and I only had one but was forty when I had him!

    One thing that kept him busy for the longest time was shaving cream on the kitchen table for drawing pictures, practicing writing letters and numbers – and the reward of a clean table after the big wipe off 🙂

    And of course repeating the mother’s mantra – this too shall pass…saying it in the bathroom of course!

    Merry Christmas!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Merry Christmas to you too, Susan! I might try that shaving cream trick; I’ve never tried that one. Only problem is, I know my big kids will want to do it too. Agh! I’m also waiting for her to get a bit bigger so she can stand on a stool at the kitchen sink and play in the water.

      The Mother’s Bathroom Mantra. We should write a poem or essay entitled that! Right!? Ha! Or maybe we might could fill a book!

      But they are amazing, and I love seeing them change into the people they will be. Who they are. Just wonderful.



    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Everybody needs flowers and aromatherapy! Right? And everybody NEEDS good, good friends. I’m so grateful for mine. Aaaaaaaah! Think I saw a new post coming from your direction. Will check it out shortly! Have a great, great week!


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