Your question is excellent in that it brings up a major point that many homeschoolers must reconcile before they begin homeschooling.
Homeschooling is first and foremost a calling from the Lord and secondly, a lifestyle. How do you handle any life/family event when homeschooling? You weave homeschooling around the event. Put this another way. How will we manage the laundry, cooking, and more importantly, "parenting" during a life event? We must set priorities (the needs of people are more important than things) and be realistic in goals (do only as much as you are able to accomplish without creating stress). We must take time to adjust (sleep when the baby sleeps and give yourself the time it takes to recuperate) and keep moving forward (every day is a better day). If one is following the will of the Lord, then "the Lord's own strength will uphold you."
You are very wise to bring up a real concern about the mother's health. Outside stresses are the main problems when our family is in the middle of a life event (and it seems there is always a life event unfolding around this house!). Homeschooling is not the problem because it is the calling, however garden club, co-op school, parish council, girl scouts, dance lessons, piano lessons, 4-H meetings, youth council, etc., are. I have to eliminate outside stresses until I am recuperated or I have adjusted to the life event.
Recently my husband has taken a job assignment in another city. We are separated through the week and he returns on the weekend. I needed 1-2 weeks to adjust and get used to the shift in family dynamics. Now I can return to my former schedule. When our first grandchild was going to be born, I warned everyone that I was going to be out of pocket for a time. My daughter called with the first contraction. Myself, my husband, and the 2 smallest children left for Knoxville. After my granddaughter's birth I stayed on for a couple of weeks. My mother came and managed my household while I was gone. In other words, this is the glory of the Lord. The Lord will provide help as it is needed. We are all part of that network called the Body of Christ. We are called to be Christ in action.
It has been my experience that the homeschooling community is the most understanding and willing group of people. They are eager to be "Christ in action." It is a learning experience.
Children in normal, busy, and active families will adjust beautifully as long as the adults lovingly take time to explain the situation and what is to be expected of the children.
The most practical piece of advice I can give is to use an organized system of teaching. I prefer lesson plans and curriculums which understand the call to homeschool and the realities of families where people are the priority. I believe that CHC curriculums are a good example of such a system. Using a system of this type makes it possible for me to "get back in the fast lane" after I have been sidetracked.
I sense from your letter that you are a loving and concerned individual. You appear to have the best interests of the homeschooling mother at the heart of your question. This is certainly a strong witness to the calling that is asked of each Christian. We are to be compassionate and loving to all individuals and to be "Christ in action."
Thank you so much for writing, your letter has reaffirmed the presence of Christ in the world.
Jesus, You are a loving teacher. Teach us Your ways, Lord, as we deal with the details of life. Give us the grace necessary to do Your will and be Your hands in this world. Amen.
You and your family are in my prayers. Please pray for my family as well. Thank you.
Sending out a prayer,