If you’re a mom, you know about sleep deprivation. It’s just part of the job.
When they are infants, you stay up to feed them, rock them, and cuddle them back to sleep in hopes that you’ll catch a few winks yourself.
As they get older, you worry about them when they go out with friends, start driving, head off to college, get married and until the day one of you is no longer here on Earth. Motherhood never ends.
I never imagined motherhood would be so exhausting. My mom was a rock star and rarely let her anger show or her sleep deprivation get to her. Me, on the other hand, I feel like I fail at this miserably. I am an insomniac with a chronic illness. Add four kids on top of that and life can spin out of control pretty quickly. And homeschooling is often the first thing that suffers. However, over the past few years I have a few tricks that help me when I have a sleepless night.
Tricks for Homeschooling While Sleep Deprived
1. Have Substitute Plans
As homeschoolers, we don’t get the option of calling in sick or hiring a substitute. However, having some substitute or back-up plans in place can be a life saver.
Depending on why I had a sleepless night determines whether or not my husband works from home that day or stays home to help with school. Since he is not the usual teacher, it helps to have alternate plans that make it easier on him and fun for the kids. My favorite option is to mix it up with some fun and/or holiday themed printables.
2. Videos and/or Netflix
If my husband can’t stay home, I often use educational videos and Netflix to help supplement our learning for the day.
My oldest’s favorite DVD’s are How It’s Made and Popular Mechanics for Kids. He watches them all the time anyway, but at least on days I can’t homeschool with him, I know he’s getting a little science.
My littles love to watch Wild Kratts on Netflix, so they get some fun science in as well. There are also a host of other educational videos on Netflix that you can access, including Sid the Science Kid for younger kids and a host of history videos (use your discretion as they are not necessarily geared toward a younger audience).
Netflix even has a couple math videos for little ones and a plethera of LeapFrog videos, from Phonics to Numbers, perfect for your little learners! And don’t forget The Magic School Bus!!
If your children have a tablet, an iPad, or a Kindle Fire, then you need to invest in some educational apps. There are some super fun math, science, geography and even grammar apps that older kids can use to increase their knowledge and encourage learning. It is also a great way to keep them learning when you need to spend the day on the couch.
4. Learning Games
My kids love games. All sorts. We use dice games to encourage counting and math, as well as dominoes. We love to play simple games like Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land, which reinforce taking turns, colors and patience for my littles. One of our favorite dice games is LCR: Left Right Center. It teaches directions, taking turns and learning to give and take graciously (not that we do, we’re kinda loud about it). Another favorite of ours is Connect 4, which teaches strategy on a simple level. And of course, older kids can play Ticket to Ride or Settlers of Catan that encourages strategy and planning.
5. Scavenger Hunts
When my oldest was about 5 years old, we had just started homeschooling and I had two kids under two to take care of as well. So there were many days I was living on less than 2 hours of sleep with three young kids. As I nursed the youngest, the oldest would get bored and loose concentration with his schoolwork.
So I created a way to reinforce our letters, colors and association while I was nursing. I simply gave him a small brown paper bag and asked him to find objects in the house (his room, the living room, etc.) that began with the letter of the week, the color of the week or that were fuzzy, smooth, shiny, etc. He had so much fun finding objects and bringing them to me, all the while learning and staying out of trouble.
6. Nature Walks
I know walking may be the last thing on your mind if you’re tired, but sometimes its good to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. There are printable scavenger hunts all over Pinterest that you can just go to the website, print and go. If you have older children, that you trust, you can always send them out with the younger ones and in turn. Bonus: This gives you a few minutes to grab a nap!
7. Read Alongs
Okay, so you probably don’t want to read if you can barely keep your eyes open. But, Books on CD can be a life saver! My kids love getting the latest popular movies in book form and on CD. They can follow along in these books and listen all while I get a chance to relax or close my eyes for a few minutes. My kids also enjoy The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and Secret Garden just to name a few.
The longer books don’t always keep the attention of the younger ones, but they are allowed to sit and play quietly while the story is on, so they are still hearing the words. The point is they are hearing literature and still learning.
These are not things I like to do on a daily basis, but there are times with my chronic illness that it does happen. However, I take comfort in knowing that my children are getting at least some learning in, even if its not from our usual methods and workbooks.
How do you homeschool when you’re sleep deprived?