||With all praise to God, we are expecting our 7th child in November. While we are very excited and warmly welcome this little one to our family, I am a bit apprehensive about our homeschooling situation. When this baby arrives, our oldest child will only be 9. Yes, that's 7 children 9 and under!! We have always homeschooled our children, and I have discovered that 'flexibility' is indeed a virtue to be cultivated!!! But, I am concerned that I am pushing my limits. Am I really capable of running this household (a very busy one at that), teaching lessons and raising these children?? (let's not forget my poor husband!!! J) Do you have any suggestions on how to better handle these nagging doubts?
I was so inspired and uplifted by your wonderful letter. Let me share with you what occurred after I read your letter. I finished reading your letter and remembered that I needed to make a banana pudding for my husband's birthday. It is his favorite dessert. As I was preparing the ingredients I kept hearing in my spirit the Lord say to me, "See how wonderful is the gift of fertility. See how I am able to empower each of you to accept what I give." I was so overjoyed to hear this word from the Lord.
It is as though the Lord was giving me the answer to your question, before I had even given the answer serious thought.
For you see this is the answer to the questions we bring to the Lord. He alone will empower us to accept and work through the challenges that He lovingly places into our lives. When we approach Him with an openness and docility of spirit, ready to accept His counsel then the power of His Holy Spirit empowers us with the skills necessary to do the work ahead.
You are very blest to have the summer months to get your homeschooling plans and efforts under control. In other words you have time to decide how to approach the upcoming year so as to make the transition to a new baby less stressful for yourself and the rest of the family.
Look at the priorities of the education that you are trying to provide for your children. What are the most important skills that you want to focus upon in the upcoming year? Remember that your dear children are still very young learners and as such do not need a great deal of intense formal training. History and Science can be easily taught to several children at the same time. These subjects are not necessarily core subjects and can be accomplished in one or two days of the week. These two subjects can be taught just as effectively by your reading the lessons aloud and discussing what was read. For that matter, you can read these aloud to your children in the evening while your husband entertains the smaller children or vice versa.
The most important skills in my mind for children is reading. Keep your children reading. Make a plan to go to the library once a week. Here again your husband can help out if he has the time. He can take the older children to the library in the evening and make certain that everyone is stocked up on books for the week.
Religion is another priority that should be covered every day. But you can teach the same concept to several children at the same time, especially at the ages of your children. Settle on one religion book that fits the needs of the children. Do not fret if the material seems a little below your 9 year old's level. That is the beauty of the Catholic faith and the teaching of children. The same concepts are usually addressed each year but at a different depth.
Mathematics is another important core subject that needs daily attention. However you can use a workbook format to teach the skills necessary. Your children are at the age where workbooks are easy to use and fun for them as well. This makes it nice because they can work on their own after the concept has been explained. While nursing the baby, you may find the spare moment to explain something that seems confusing for the children.
Spelling and Language Arts are subjects that lend themselves nicely to workbook formats. Here again working a little each day on these skills is better than stressing yourself to get a certain amount of work accomplished on a deadline.
Housework is the biggest challenge, isn't it? Having a large family myself I have come to a philosophy of housekeeping that suits me and seems to work for me. I can share with you that for me the most important priority is the laundry. I have a system in this department that works well for my family. I am a minimalist. I do not decorate with nic nacs or fussy things. The children were always allowed to have as many toys out as they were willing to put away. J A big laundry basket in the room is where everything was stored. Certainly you will come up with some timesaving ideas through the next few months.
I really feel that the most important part of your situation is your health, well-being, and peace of mind. Please take the time to nap and eat properly. There is an old saying that I think is true and from the Lord: "Mother the mother first so that she is able to mother." Make time to come to the Lord in quiet prayer. Even if this time is in the night when you are up with the babies. When possible ask your husband to baby-sit and spend time adoring the Lord in front of the Blessed Sacrament. It is in these moments that the Lord will speak with you and give you the encouragement and insights that will make your journey not only possible but a joy as well. Take time to enjoy your babies. Being there for your children is the priority that will give you peace of mind. Whether or not your children finish all their school work is not nearly as important as their knowing that you love them and are ready to listen to their concerns.
Do not let the Tempter burden you with doubts, fears, and feelings of unworthiness. Do not let him convince you to look back upon a hectic day and see failure. This is his technique to veil your eyes to the wonders that the Lord has done for you on that same day. Do the best you can and leave the rest up to the Holy Spirit. Remember that the Lord honors our desire to come to Him and offer to Him our efforts. He gladly accepts each effort as a gift of great value.
In the evening after everyone has had their bath and all are cozy and ready for night-time rituals, make the rosary part of that ritual. Do not concern yourself if the little people fidget and squirm. I darken the room and light the candle on the altar. It has always been and continues to be a time of quiet peace and comfort for us all. My older children recall this ritual in the same way. Sometimes there would be a little laughter, if a small child decided to cut up a bit. I always felt like the Blessed Mother was smiling as well. Now when my granddaughter visits and we pray the rosary the cycle begins again. Sometimes Catherine comes center stage and wants our attention but we continue to pray (fighting back the giggles) and she will usually find a lap. In no time she is nursing and so cozy surrounded by all the people who love her.
Jesus, we love You and adore You. We praise You and thank You for the gift of life. We would ask that You guard and protect the pregnancy of our dear sister in Christ. Please ensure that the persons who love her take good care of her during this time in her life. Give them the insights and wisdom to be helpful and tender as they care for her needs. Lord, we would ask that You keep her dear family healthy and close to You each day. Please send a fresh anointing of Your Holy Spirit to give this family the insights necessary to adjust to the transition. I would ask for a special blessing upon the efforts of her dear husband. Keep him healthy and able as he works to provide for his family. St. Joseph, please pray for us. Our Lady of LeLeche, please pray for us.
CHC has several workbooks that are wonderfully easy to use and fit right into busy families. Take the time to investigate what you feel will be the most helpful for you.
Sending out a prayer,