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Homeschooling From the Sick Bed


Homeschooling From the Sick Bed

I was feeling pretty good. Our curricula seemed to be working well for each child, our routine was consistent but flexible, and most of the time we’d been enjoying the homeschooling process. The kids were learning, we were making progress, and I was congratulating myself on how I actually seemed to have this whole homeschooling thing down.

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And then I got pregnant.

Yep, child #3 turned our whole world around, and he/she hasn’t even been born yet. From almost the moment the stick showed 2 lines, I felt terrible. Not just worship-the-porcelain-god terrible (although there was plenty of that), but the kind of terrible that you feel when you have the flu. Weak, exhausted, and often unable to even stand up without feeling faint, pregnancy hit me like a tractor trailer. The first two hadn’t been anywhere near this bad, so I tried to figure it out…Was it the third child? Was it because I’ve hit the dreaded “advanced maternal age”? I wasn’t sure, but the bottom line is that everything in our household came to a screeching halt.

Not having the energy to even prepare food for myself (and if I didn’t eat something every hour, I didn’t have the physical resources to even get out of bed), regular tasks became insurmountable burdens. Cleaning went out the window. Laundry piled up. Food didn’t get prepared. Normally being a never-sit-down kinda gal, I didn’t know how to manage. I’ve never been seriously ill, never been in any type of convalescence for any period of time prior to this. I essentially had only enough energy to make a simple meal for myself so I’d have the energy to make food for myself again. I felt like an invalid, and, even worse – I was still responsible for educating my children.

The good news is that we made it through. It was a long three months, but eventually I got better and was able to move back into the world of normally functioning adults. And, yes, we even got school done. The lessons I learned from that period helped me to realize that homeschooling can occur even under duress; even when Mom isn’t feeling well. With some patience, flexibility, and plenty of accommodations, we were able to homeschool from the sick bed. And you know what? I think in the long run it actually made us all stronger.

Here are some of the things I learned from our time of homeschooling from the sick bed:

  • Kids don’t die from eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for days at a time. If it’s the only thing they can fix on their own, sometimes nutrition has to give way to bigger issues.
  • Just about every academic subject can be taught while lying under the bed covers together.
  • Paying for a housecleaner once a month is worth every dime when you can’t clean yourself.
  • You never know just how much you need family and friends until you can’t do things on your own. Always accept help when it’s offered.
  • Children can be surprisingly responsible when Mom can’t do things herself. Kids will step up to the plate if they’re expected to.
  • Children can still learn, and enjoy it, even if the science experiments, art projects, and fun learning activities get put on the back burner.
  • Sometimes the normally off-limits t.v. can be a tremendous blessing. And there are a surprising number of great educational t.v. options if you investigate them.
  • A lap desk is just as good as a table. And in some cases, a lot more comfortable.
  • Sometimes just reading a great book together (or lots of great books together) is the best education there is.
  • Kids as young as 4 can do some pretty decent housecleaning if Mom gives clear directions from the bedroom.
  • Perfectionism is your enemy. Figuring out what is most important and focusing on only those few things helps you keep your sanity.
  • iPads have some wonderful, creative, and educational apps that make learning fun when you can’t move past the bed.
  • Take-out is your friend. Use all the money you save on gas from not going anywhere to get food brought in.
  • Children have a surprising ability to entertain themselves nicely when a parent is not available to keep them engaged.
  • By humming the correct note and naming note names, Mom can even help the kids practice the piano while she lies in bed.
  • Music appreciation takes on a whole new dimension when you’re listening to the songs on the bed without any distractions.
  • Even kids who struggle with attention can work independently for short periods of time, if given specific guidelines and lots of encouragement.
  • Husbands have a new appreciation of what homeschool wives do, when those wives can no longer do it.
  • Siblings who might normally tend to bicker pull together nicely to help each other when there is no other option for getting things done.
  • “Good enough” is the new “Excellent”.
  • The main caretaker being out for the count brings the family together in new and wonderful ways.
  • Pregnancy makes for great anatomy and biology lessons, good creative writing project ideas, and plenty of vocabulary words. And when it affects them personally, kids are a lot more invested in learning!
  • The inability to run around for extra-curricular activities makes family time more precious and more creative.
  • Adversity makes people stronger, and sickness helps us put into perspective what really matters.
  • Children can get a good education, and families can be strengthened, even if life has to happen from the sickbed!
Rebecca Capuano

Rebecca Capuano is the stay-at-home mom of three children (one of whom is in heaven) who also makes attempts at being a homeschooler, writer, photographer, scrapbooker, and truth-seeker. She earned her Master of Social Work degree from East Carolina University, and has worked in a variety of capacities (including group homes, day treatment centers, and public schools) with at-risk children and staff, including developing a therapeutic and educational day treatment center for delinquent youth in Wilmington, North Carolina. She currently resides in Virginia, and has written on a variety of topics for both and Home Educators Association of Virginia. Rebecca believes that family is created by God as the most fundamental institution in society, and she is dedicated to helping families nurture their children to become responsible persons of character and integrity.

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  1. Having just gotten over a nasty flu, I can promise you, you are correct! LOL

  2. Noe

    I have been pregnant for the past 6 years so trying to homeschool 3 kids (6 and under) has been challenging. I sometimes feel guilty going long periods at a time without doing any official “lessons.”In the end, we all survive and make it successfully through the year. They might not be Einsteins, but they are learning.

  3. Outstanding article. I am currently pregnant and feel so guilty when I fall asleep sitting up! But I cannot complain – my last pregnancy was like your experience. I wish I could have had all these resources then. Good luck to you! I remember hearing a man say that there is always homeschooling that can be done – even stuck in bed with morning sickness you can do read alouds. He obviously never felt that way!

  4. Sherrie

    I appreciate your comment. I had a similar experience with the birth of our fourth child… However after four and half months I finally enrolled my two oldest in school because even reading stories was to much. I am so grateful I did because it ended up being really tough the entire pregnancy then I was really sick with an infection for months postpartum. Now almost exactly a year after enrolling them in public school, I am starting homeschooling again and they were able to continue progressing when I was simply too sick.

  5. Chrissy

    I really appreciate this article. There are times I’ve been really sick with a cold for days and really struggled with raising kids at the same time. This article was encouraging and practical at the same time. I won’t feel so guilty next time I have to have them fix their own p and j’s!

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