Attention — all parents of multiple children, especially those with babies and/or toddlers, and definitely all new homeschooling families — raise your right hand and repeat after me: “My children will not always be this age.” Repeat this exercise as often as needed to maintain your sanity. It can help to realize that today’s problems will not be tomorrow’s problems. (Do not even think about what problems might happen tomorrow — especially if today has been particularly problem-laden. You just do not need to go there right now.) Concentrate on the good things that your children do, focus on what they have accomplished, and hold tight to those thoughts. It may be the only thing that gets you through to the next fill-in-the-time-period-of-your-choice.
You are hip-deep in diapers and baby food jars, your house looks like a Fisher-Price obstacle course, and you can not step anywhere without crunching some formerly edible substance underfoot. You may also be pregnant. Or trying to become pregnant. (The wisdom of which you may currently be calling into question.) And just when are you supposed to find the time, patience, and gentle spirit to lovingly instruct your older children? Not in this lifetime, you scoff?
Again, raise your right hand and repeat the pre-stated oath. Babies will eventually detach themselves from Mom’s chest, toddlers will eventually learn to obey the Voice of Authority, and the preschoolers will eventually get the cereal poured into the bowl instead of directly onto the floor. Your job right now, Mom, is just to survive today with a little dignity intact. You might even get a lesson explained. Ok, half a lesson. But you have just started, and by next week things will go a little smoother. I promise. (But notice I did not quantify “a little.”) Remind yourself as often as needed that your children are growing up, they are maturing, they are learning. (Also remind yourself that anyone daring to criticize your homeschooling and/or housekeeping skills probably does not have the same number of children underfoot that you have, or they would know enough to keep quiet.)
Reminding your children of their accomplishments can help them to recognize their own growth and maturation process. They may see themselves as being unchanging centers of the universe with all others present only to dote on them. It can do wonders for children to learn to see the world through others’ eyes. Try using their outgrown clothing as a tool to show them how they have grown physically, and then ask them to “think backwards in their minds” to how they acted when those clothes were new and fit better. Do the same thing with older examples of their schoolwork and artwork to see how handwriting, spelling, grammar, or drawing may have improved. Point out how they have matured in their thinking, in their behavior, and in their learning. Praise them for the great progress they have made and help them to imagine what changes may come next. Help your children to set a realistic (start small) goal or two for themselves, whether personally or in their schoolwork. Rejoice together over their little accomplishments and celebrate big-time when major milestones have been conquered.
Your children will not always be this age. Yes, the problems will change as the children change, but you do not have to worry about tomorrow’s problems just yet. You can better deal with today’s difficulties by realizing that they will not continue forever. And you can put your hand down now.