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Home > Support > Homeschooling > How do I keep on track with an energetic toddler? She is unstoppable.
Question: How do I keep on track with an energetic toddler? She is unstoppable. Someone has to always watch her to make sure she's not making a mess in the kitchen or drinking medicine, etc. We don't have any relatives in town to help. Then, the oldest boy and the middle two girls fight constantly. What should I do?

Dear Mom,

I see that you have been homeschooling for one year. I would have to say (and I think that most of the moms in your position would agree) that one of the most difficult adjustments families make when beginning the homeschooling lifestyle is not schoolwork but sibling and household dynamics. It seems that there is a type of detoxing to the ways of the world before families can settle into a workable and smooth running routine.

Let me explain. Siblings who have been away from one another due to outside school schedules need some time to readjust to interfacing with different aged siblings. With my own children I felt that this was the biggest hurdle that we had to overcome. When I brought my children home for their education our entire family had to relearn how to deal with younger siblings, noise, demands on time, and the day to day operating of family issues. My older children were used to their school schedules and being surrounding for the greater part of a day by a peer group of children nearly all the same age and skill level. When I began homeschooling I had a nursing baby and a preschooler in addition to the school children. I had to learn how to juggle the new priorities in my day. For many years while my children were in public school, my day was situated around the exclusive needs of preschoolers. I had a routine that did not include older children.

Curiously enough the older children knew how to behave when they were home from 3:30pm until bedtime but they were at a loss as to the way things should work during the day when they were normally in school.

The children did their share of bickering and such while I was still trying to manage breastfeeding, watching a preschooler and teaching (not to mention homemaking). I am certain that those first weeks were difficult but I hardly remember it as an entirely bad time. On the contrary it felt right to be able to address the issues that we were facing with regards to 'people skills' from the standpoint of the importance of learning how to behave in the family.

Gradually we became a team in every sense of the word. Over the months a closeness developed because we were once again depending upon one another and celebrating the unique attributes of each.

Give yourself time and communicate clearly the challenges that you are facing. There were many days when I would bring the children together and sincerely ask for their help and cooperation. In other words I found that I was spending less and less time scolding disruptive behavior and more time explaining how certain behavior served to undermine our efforts as a family.

Small children need to be watched and carefully attended to. This is a fact whether we are homeschooling or not. Now is the time to carefully and strictly 'baby proof' the house. Think about wasted efforts spent reprimanding actions that didn't need to happen in the first place.

I joke with people when they visit that our house is about people not about things. Our home is sparsely decorated and I have worked very hard to learn housekeeping skills and tactics that will maximize my effort and reward me with more time for people.

What I have learned can be learned by yourself as well. Pray to the Holy Spirit and ask for inspirations that will best suit your family. The Lord wants us to concentrate on the people that He has given us to care for and will empower us to do what needs doing. Our challenge is to do the hard work and listen carefully to the common sense inspirations that Jesus sends. We must be patient with ourselves. As a first year homeschooling family remember you are laying down a foundation that should serve to uplift you in the years to come. It may seem like a lot of effort, however what you are teaching is not only about homeschooling but more importantly you are giving your dear children invaluable lessons in the dynamics of family and working with people.

I have observed a common trait among the homeschooled teens that I work with in 4-H. They have a pitch in and can do attitude that makes every task easier to accomplish. This is a direct result, I am sure, from years of homeschooling and having to 'sink or swim' with the Home Team.

Mom, let us pray together a Hail Mary. We will keep the example of the dear Blessed Mother before us as we work through our days. Jesus, we trust in Your desire to empower us to do Your will. Amen.

Sending out a prayer,
Rita Munn

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