This post is part of our how to homeschool lots of kids with babies and toddlers series. Be sure to read the rest of the series.

Living the full life with children ages baby to adulthood, all under one roof, is… well, it’s full.

There’s a lot of moving parts! Finding time to train littles & remember to love our big kids can be tricky. Just know that as I share, I’m right in the trenches with you!

Homeschooling a Big Family Baby

Grace, Dear Mama!

Honestly, I never expected motherhood or home educating to be so hard! But guess what? I often wash the darks with the whites. My cup of coffee is usually cold when I drink it. I never finish every lesson in the math book.

I sometimes forget that my children are my treasures & speak in a way that hurts instead of loves. Sometimes I even forget to make dinner. (Seriously—please tell me I’m not the only one who does this regularly?)

I end the day with a long list of things not done, wondering if I nurtured all of my children. And that is when I whisper to myself, “Grace!” I remember Jesus.

He must be my strength and, as mamas, we will need to lean into Him each day to find strength.

The beauty is that as we seek Him & repent, He is there to forgive & guide us. As we model this to our children & seek their forgiveness, their own faith grows! “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Homeschooling a Big Family

Focus for the Early Years

Some of us thrive with curriculum, others with a looser approach but wherever we fall on the spectrum, I encourage you to make obedience the core of your little one’s early years. (With tons of play & outside time! Sorry, I couldn’t help but add that in.)

Math & writing—and even phonics—can wait. I promise. Before the pressures of school begin, focus on your children delighting to listen. If a child learns early to say “yes, ma’am” & obey, it just makes things run smoother & improves the morale of the household.

Encourage them along the way! Turn on music & work alongside your littles. (Maybe have a dance party, though around here, we like to save those for just before bedtime.) Follow through & bring them back to finish what you asked. These things take time out of our day but the fruit that comes from teaching our younger children is sweet… eventually.

Now I know all too well that some children are faster learners than others. Be at peace if the road is rocky. Be at peace if the road extends way beyond the little years. This is worthy of your time, your prayers & even your tears. Go back to that grace!

Homeschooling a Big Family

The Blessings of Siblings 

“There’s one of me and so many of them!” I remember lamenting those words to my husband.

It kinda cracks me up now, but there are so many moments when I feel stretched. One way I help maximize my time, as well as build our family culture, is to begin our day with Circle Time or, as Pam calls it, Morning Time.

It provides many opportunities to train littles to (somewhat) sit for extended periods of time. We all learn patience as we meet together. This daily gathering lets words on encouragement flood over us all through things like Scripture reading, poetry, songs, Shakespeare, read alouds & singing. I think by learning together, my children see that siblings are blessings.

Sibling bonds are also fortified in play so I make sure there’s lots of time for that each day, helping to free up my hands in the process! In the beginning, this will provide more training ground as littles learn to listen to an older sibling and big kids learn to extend grace to little people.

Our kids (usually) love spending time outdoors together & I also try to find something FUN for them to do like baking, games or crafts. I do not recommend glitter when they craft. In fact, I never recommend it. Ever.

Homeschooling a Big Family

Time for Mentoring Our Big Kids

As some of my children have grown older, I’ve realized my role has grown from training to mentoring them, guiding them on their paths into adulthood. I think one of the greatest treasures a mama can give to our big kids is time. Time to listen, look into their eyes, smile and time to share dreams. We mamas are great at multi-tasking, but this is not the place.

Let your child be the focus! Take your older child out for coffee or a walk around the neighborhood. Ask a question & then let them lead the discussion. Let them wrestle with ideas—it will often sound clunky or maybe a bit scary. Don’t panic.

Give them time to think through the things you’ve taught them & how to apply the Scriptures to a certain topic. Gently guide them by sharing but if you’re like me, you’ll need to focus more on listening than talking.

Sometimes, when we’ve been distracted from building this kind of relationship with our big children, it’s going to take awhile for them to trust us to listen. That’s okay—simply do it again. We mamas can always use another cup of coffee (& I for one could definitely use more exercise)!

Of course it goes without saying that husbands & littles will treasure mama’s time too. It’s just been my experience that in a large family, older children can get the short end of the stick. Also, my big kids love time just with Dad so we look for ways to fit that in too.

Homeschooling a Big Family

Don’t Miss the Wonder!

And since documentary photography is dear to my heart, I’m going to end with this last thought.

Don’t miss the beauty of your days filled to the brim with multiple ages all around you. You’re days are full. Often, they’re going to be messy & hard. With large families “a season” of babies or toddlerhood stretches into a lifetime for us mamas.

But don’t stop seeing the beauty that surrounds you! For me, picking up my camera & documenting life as it is, helps me to see.

I talked a bit about this here: Writing then helps me to reflect on what I saw.

Maybe for you, it’s a camera, journal or paintbrush. Find something to help you slow down so you don’t miss the wonder of living a full life!

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Heather Tully

Heather Tully

Heather Tully is a homeschooling mother of 10 who also has a flair for photography, which she says gives her the opportunity to find and remember the beauty in the everyday. She posts pictures, Circle Time plans, and more at her blog Heather Tully Photography.
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