If you have homeschooled for any length of time with a toddler in the house, you know that doing so is absolutely no easy task. Now add the fact that your Toddler just might have ADHD, you have a recipe for disaster. So what is a Mom to do when school still has to get done? That is just what I am talking about today. There is no magic potion to make all your ADHD troubles go away, but there are ways to lessen their impact on your kids’ education. There are several general ways that parents seem to handle homeschooling with a toddler in the house. So let’s go over them and talk about why they just don’t seem to work for ADHD kiddos. Doing so will help you realize that you aren’t a bad parent, that what you have been dealing with is not typical and it is okay to be frustrated. There is hope and there are ways that can help you.
Work on school while the toddler is napping.
Ha, ADHD toddler napping at the same time everyday? Yeah, that just never happened for me. I am sure there are parents out there that made it all work, but it didn’t for my kiddos. Sure they would take naps, but it would only be for about an hour, maybe two if I was lucky. When you have been dealing with an ADHD kiddo all day, nap time is like grace from God, literally. The break is so needed and trying to manage to gather the muster to start homeschooling then just never worked for me. I was tired, cranky and just needed that break. Even using that break to fold laundry was a break because I could stand in one spot and not move. I could have some quiet and not talk. I can’t tell you how many times I would have to say no to my toddler and then have to run after him before he got hurt on something. It is draining. So the quiet and stillness was nice and helped to re-energize me.
Give them busy toys while we work on school.
Yeah, this seems like such a great idea. I have seen so many people have variations of this that worked for them…but I doubt they had and ADHD toddler. It sounds so nice doesn’t it, mom and her older kiddos working on their lessons while the toddler sits quietly on the rug playing with toys. Oh, if only that were true we wouldn’t be having this conversation. ADHD toddlers just don’t sit. Okay maybe that is a stretch but they for sure don’t sit for long. Honestly, the longest I could ever get my ADHD toddlers to sit and play quietly was 5 minutes. Really what can you get done in 5 minutes with your other kids? I ended up running all over the place from kid to kid, answering questions, running after the toddler who got bored with the toys I laid out, setting him up with new toys, answering more questions, chasing the toddler, dealing with a melt-down because by now he wanted nothing to do with being anywhere near that rug. In the end, nothing gets done but accomplishing frustration.
Make them a part of school
Ah, how sweet. Picture it, everyone is cuddled up on the couch while mom reads out of their science text. The toddler sitting on momma’s lap pointing out the pictures. Yeah right! That just wouldn’t have happened in my house. Sure I would cuddle up on the couch with my older kiddos and read, but to have my toddler sitting with us, just didn’t work. Honestly, he would have been squirming, trying to rip the pages in the book, and honestly anything he could think of to get away. Just like I said before, he would not sit for very long at all. What about involving them in art? Ha that was just another disaster. Give an ADHD kiddo paint while you are trying to keep track of other kids painting. Not a pretty sight, unless you count toddler painted walls pretty.
Now that we know what doesn’t work, let’s talk about what does work.
Simplify homeschool lessons as much as possible
I made sure all my older kids were working on the same bible, science, history, and anything else I could combine. That way our school time was as short as possible. This wasn’t forever, so if you are worried about your kiddos missing out on all those cool crafts you see on Pintrest, don’t fret. This is only a season. Your toddler will only be a toddler for a short while. When they are past this stage you will have the time and patience to add to your school load, but for now keep it simple.
Stick to a Routine
I know that sounds simple but honestly that was the biggest thing that helped. Sure there is more to it so let me dive in. We had a spot picked out in the house that allowed my toddler to roam and honestly trash the place while we did school. For you that might be a specific room in your house that you can close the door and lock. For others it might be your dinning room with tall gates blocking the exits (this never worked for my kiddo, he would just climb over all of them or knock them down.). Whatever that space is, be prepared to have it messed up. The reality is that as a mom of an ADHD kiddo you can only do so much. I had to choose to either focus on keeping the house clean or focus on homeschooling. I choose to make sure my kids got an education.
Once we were in that room I would make sure to have toys that my toddler liked to play with, a few activities he could work on, some snacks, diapers (potty seat if your kiddo is ready for that), a bean bag for him to nap in, etc. Anything that he might need while we were homeschooling. That way, we did not have to leave that space till we were done homeschooling. Did this always work? No, but more than not it did. We would focus on our school work, and honestly would have to deal with him screaming, and making loud noises with his toys but at least I knew where he was and could make sure he was safe. The older kids learned to work in the noise. Having headphones helped, as could ear plugs, although I didn’t think of that at the time. Our ADHD tornado could pull out toys, run around, take a nap, eat a snack, “read” a book, etc. all in sight of me. Sure there were still diaper changes that needed to happen, boo boos to kiss, and cabinets to pull him off of, but I was still there for my other kids. As I was changing a diaper I could be answering a question for an older kid.
Utilize your Hubby
I know you are thinking it…that mess. Yes, I know it is HUGE after a school day like this, but we got school done. That alone is a HUGE accomplishment. When hubby would get home, he would take over on toddler duty and I would have a break to pick up that trashed homeschool space. I learned over time that having our homeschool supplies stored up high or locked in a drawer was really important. Doing this helped to keep the mess to a minimum. Really I was just picking up the toddlers toys, some snacks that probably by this point got crushed into the floor, and a few rows of books from our bookcase. I would also take this time to store away any work that was done by my older kids that day. The rest of the house would be pretty much untouched so there wasn’t much clean up needed. I could walk out of that room and tackle dinner or anything else knowing we were in a good place. If you like to homeschool in the mornings do it, just walk away from that homeschool space and don’t look back till your hubby comes home. When he does, you get that break you so desperately need and your school space gets cleaned.