Babies and Toddlers and Unschooling

My Unschooling Book Series (20)

This morning, I’ve been working on an article about unschooling and babies and toddlers. And although I’ve spent a few hours writing and playing around with my words, I haven’t got anything polished to publish as a post. But I can share a thought or two…

When we were homeschooling rather than unschooling, and we had babies or toddlers in our family, life sometimes got very stressful. Keeping up with the older children’s learning and, at the same time, seeing to the needs of our little ones sometimes seemed almost impossible.

I once wrote:

There were days when I’d crack: “If you don’t do your school work… if you don’t learn this… or that… if you don’t try… I will send you to school. I can’t take any more.”  I’d rush out the back door and sit on the garden wall, my head pounding, my heart racing. I’d kept my children home so we could enjoy each other, so I could give the best to my children. And some days we didn’t enjoy anything at all: the baby would be crying, the toddler was demanding, and I didn’t seem to have the energy to encourage the older ones along, to make them do the work I thought they should be doing.  I didn’t enjoy feeling so tired and helpless and frustrated. I felt I was failing both as a mother and a homeschooling parent. Was it worth it? Should I just carry out my threat and send my children to school? But I couldn’t quite do it. I knew this job of raising and educating my children was mine alone and I had to find a way that worked.

Of course, I did find a way that worked. Over time, we made changes and eventually arrived at unschooling.

And that might be the end of the story because babies and unschooling are perfectly suited to each other. All we have to do is go with the flow. Forget about what we normally do and accept the new situation. Learning will continue whether we’re looking after babies or doing what we used to do pre-baby. Actually, the baby seasons of our lives are unique and very rich learning experiences.

I could write all that and then move on. But maybe that’s not enough. Although we know in theory that everything in life is a learning experience, we might still worry. We feel pulled in multiple directions. We want to fulfil the needs of our older kids as well as the younger ones. Even if we’re not directing our children’s learning, they still might need our help. What about strewing and getting involved with all their projects and working on our own interests? Will our children become resentful and complain if we haven’t got time to take them places or find resources or offer our help? Will their learning be adversely affected if we can’t be involved? And what about our own needs?

We could fight to keep life the same. We might try to make the baby fit into the family so that life can carry on as usual. Or we could accept and adjust. But what will help us do this? What do we need to hear so that we can put aside our concerns, relax and enjoy this very special family time with our little ones?

Do we need to change how we’re looking at the situation, think more about what we learn during baby times, do some creative thinking about other possibilities, think about love and self-sacrifice, consider what’s most important and what being a family really means, recognise that this is a time when we need to trust…?

I’ve jotted down some ideas of my own, but I’d really like to hear your thoughts, ideas, suggestions and concerns. I hope you’ll stop by and share!

And now for something different!

If you’d like a glimpse of my daughter Imogen’s week, you could watch her latest vlog: The Bell Pepper Vlogger. The other girls make appearances too. There are some great clips of Sophie and a very dramatic Gemma-Rose running in their first 5 K race!

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  1. Reply

    Yes… I often fight to keep things the same! There is always a way though because unschooling is life and babies are a regular part of life, a good part! Although the prevailing culture seems to see babies as nuisances, I shouldn’t. That’s no good for anyone in the family! I’m working on the guilt of my divided attention. I try to give my older kids space and special times with me and their dad. It’s definitely a balancing act. I know that if I am positive about the little ones that helps soften some of the difficulties for the older ones and allows them to benefit from our family dynamics.

    1. Reply


      Yes, babies are part of life, a very special part! We always loved having babies in our family. My children were so proud of their younger siblings. When anyone paid attention to the baby, her/his older siblings always grinned, and I’m sure they thought, “She/he belongs to us! Aren’t we lucky?”

      It is hard balancing everyone’s needs. Babies, of course, have to come first. Maybe we have to accept that it’s impossible to give equal attention to everyone. Babyhood doesn’t last for very long, even though on tired days it feels like it will never end! Before we know it, this delightful stage is over, and life enters another season where it’s easier to spend time with all children.

      Being positive about the little ones… I agree! Sometimes it’s our attitude and example that sets the tone for the family. It can make all the difference!

  2. Reply

    I remeber learning a lesson. Somebody once asked my children: “What are babies good for?” Actually meaning that they were only a nuisance, especially if you were little and had an irritating baby brother. My three youngest were almost 4, 2 and 0 years old then. The almost 4 year old took my breath away answering. “They are good for loving, cuddling, making funny faces and smiling at.”

    1. Reply


      What beautiful children you have. Your heart must have flooded with a wonderful warm feeling of love as you listened to your 4-year-old’s words. Yes, breathtaking words. Obviously, baby times in your family were cherished. And there was no need to be jealous of the baby. Everyone was loved. And still is! Thank you for sharing your story!

    • Nancy
    • November 27, 2017

    Though having babies is a blessing, we did homeschool when all 4 of our children were little or being born and it was a wonderful time but also a very difficult time. Often I was so exhausted, when I was pregnant and homeschooling. I would not have traded that time for anything. The Lord gave me strength, but it was challenging

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