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A New Baby at 40 - How Will She Do It?

By Heather Idoni

Added Thursday, April 21, 2011
Vol. 12 No. 22, April 21, 2011, ISSN: 1536-2035
(c) 2011, Heather Idoni - www.FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to The Homeschooler's Notebook!

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Notes from Heather
-- The Baby IS the Lesson!
Just for Fun
-- An Earth 'n Space Duet
Winning Website
-- America's Story Interactive
Reader Question
-- How Can I Do a Baby at 40?!!
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information


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Notes from Heather

The Baby IS the Lesson

Today's reader question reminded me of a good article about homeschooling with a new baby in the house...

From "The Baby is the Lesson", by Diane Hopkins:

"I thought I was trying to teach math, but in reality I had been teaching, day by day, how an adult values the precious gift of children. My children, by watching how I deal with the frustration of a crying baby or keep a toddler happy and busy with some of his 'own' pieces while we play a math game, are soaking up 'the lesson'. Unfortunately, I had occasionally been teaching that the baby interrupts our learning."

Here is a link to the whole article:


Hope you enjoy today's issue! :-)

-- Heather


Your feedback is always welcome! -- mailto:heather@familyclassroom.net

Just For Fun

An Earth 'n Space Duet


Fifty years ago, in April 1961, Yuri Gagarin was the first human to orbit the Earth in outer space. He was not allowed to operate the controls because the effects of weightlessness had only been tested on dogs at that point and scientists were concerned about how space would have affected his ability to work. (The mission was instead controlled by a crew on the ground, and an override key was provided in case of emergency.)

A flute duet (at the link above) was performed in tribute to Yuri Gagarin and his first orbit in space. What makes this duet so unique? One instrument is being played by an astronaut on the International Space Station -- while the other is being played on Earth. Enjoy! :-)

Winning Website

America's Story - Library of Congress - http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jp/index.php

This site was designed especially with young people in mind, but there are great stories for people of all ages. Here you can discover what Abraham Lincoln had in his pockets on the night he was assassinated -- and see Thomas Edison's first motion picture! And if you've ever wondered what the first cartoons looked like, then click on 'See, Hear and Sing'. You'll also read about a man who in 1896 figured out how to make inanimate objects move. You know about the guitar, the piano and the trumpet, but how about the oud, the zurna and the marimba? These unusual instruments influenced today's modern musical instruments. There is a lot to see and do with plenty of interactivity from this fun website.

Reader Question

A Baby at 40 -- How Will I Do It?

"This is somewhat a life question and somewhat a homeschool question. I have always homeschooled our children, now ages 9, 11, and 13. I just found out that we are unexpectedly pregnant! I know I still want to homeschool next year, but I feel that it is going to be very stressful. Has anyone done this before (with such a large age gap?). What are some tips for homeschooling with a new baby? Anyone had a baby at age 40 (and had no complications)? Anyone had a baby and homeschooled through high school? I think I just need to know that I'm not alone and that it can be done. :-) Thanks!" -- Jill T.

Our Readers' Responses

"Jill -- I had a baby and homeschooled. I don't know what your homeschooling style is like, but I tried to keep a rigid schedule and it was very frustrating! My suggestion is to be more relaxed in your homeschooling and allow for the lovely interruptions of your sweet new baby. There are thingyou can do to combine the age groups. Social Studies and Science lend themselves nicely to combined grades. For social studies how about just snuggling up in bed or on the couch and read historical fiction books together? For science, look at Superchargedscience.com. For $37 a month for a family, you have full access to her entire e-science course for ALL your children. She has instructional videos and science project videos -- and supplies are easy-to-find supplies from around the house. If you can't do the experiements, then just watch the videos. She also has reading material on the website for each lesson. My child loves it -- it is a lot of fun. To take the stress off of mom, you can have the kids watch the course during the week and Dad can help with any experiments on the weekends! I know it can seem overwhelming, but it can be done and it will be a wonderful blessing to have your older kids around to be with the baby. Congratulations! -- Kris E.


"Jill -- Congratulations! I had a baby at 42. When my youngest daughter was born, my oldest daughter was 19 and I also had 16 and 14 year old sons. So there was a huge age gap. I had a high risk pregnancy according to the obstetrician. I was AMA - advanced maternal age. Complications arose, but God healed me of them all! At about 34 weeks I ditched the OB when God placed some great women in my path and allowed me to birth at home. It was an awesome, God anointed experience. I can really only encourage you about your pregnancy. For me it was totally starting over since my youngest was going to be an adult in a few very short years.

I did not homeschool my older children, though I wish I had. We made the decision to homeschool our daughter somewhere along the way. It is hard to really pinpoint when I decided to do that. But by the time she was ready for formal schooling I didn't have any other children in school. And because I saw the results of the public school system I didn't want to put my daughter in that system. I also made a decision that I wanted to keep her at home for moral reasons as well. We are unable to afford Christian school, but even if I could afford Christian school, I think I would make the same decision.

Be encouraged! This is not the first time you have done this. And you have been homeschooling right along. I think you will find that the baby will work right in with your homeschooling. I think the older children will be more involved with the baby, helping you out. God Bless you and your family." -- Cyndi


"Hi, Jill -- I had my 9th child at age 40 and have been homeschooling for 17 years. I have graduated 4 of the 9 and the youngest is now 8 years old. The situation you are in doesn't have to be stressful. In fact, you have 3 helpers to pitch in for the first 2 months while you get your energy back. My older kids all pitched in and learned so much from that life experience. I was so impressed with them and their ability to keep up with their lessons as well as helping while I nursed the baby. When I needed to work on school with a particular child, I would choose one of the kids to care for the baby. They didn't mind the opportunity to get away from the books. I hope this encourages you!" -- Barb


"At 40 I did not give birth to a child, but I was 57 when I adopted my youngest child. I am homeschooling my 13 year old, 5 year old and 2 year old. It can be done. There are many resources out there. Find an online support group that can give you ideas.

I do, however, have a friend that gave birth at 46. Her daughter is a beautiful young lady now which she is homeschooling through high school. She had no complications.

Blessings as you walk forward." -- Maryann


"Hi, Jill -- YES!! You are not alone! We have 5 children, with another on the way! I will be 43 when this one is born. Our children are ages 17, 14, 13, 7 and 4. I am due in September, so not so convenient with school! I am planning to do some school this summer, before baby comes, so I wont be so stressed in September, when baby is born. We will take some time off then, but actually they will still do schoolwork that is independent: Teaching Textbooks, Rosetta Stone, grammar, etc.

Hang in there -- it can be done! You will do fine. If you need to do some work in the summer, that's okay! For meals, I find using the crockpot extremely helpful... throw in some meat, liquid, and spices -- and let it cook all day. Then you don't have to wonder -- 'What are we going to have for supper?'" -- Danielle P.


"First of all, Congratulations!! What a wonderful blessing God is giving you!! Secondly, it can be done, and you can do it!

I have not had a gap baby, but I have homeschooled with a newborn about every 2 years ever since I began homeschooling in 1994. My oldest 2 children have graduated from homeschool/highschool. I have never sent any of my children away to school. I have 10 children and my current baby is 16 months old. My 9th baby was born when I was 40 and my 10th when I was 43.

I have to say, homeschooling with a newborn is much easier than homeschooling with a toddler. In my mind, newborns are barely any work at all! Toddlers are work -- in all their little busy explorations. :)

Your other children are old enough to help you, and will be better off because of having a baby sibling. It will make them less focused on themselves and more other-focused.

When I am expecting a new baby, I make sure I get a good start on the school year, by beginning in July. (Many times it is too hot outside for the children to really enjoy playing out anyway, so if they are inside, they might as well be learning.) This way, I can feel less stressed when I need to take a day off for doctor appointments, and I have more days I can take off when the big day arrives.

We generally take 1-2 weeks off completely when the baby comes, then we gradually get back in the swing by doing the bare bones necessities for a week or 2, then adding more each week after that. For instance, we start by doing reading and math, then then add writing/spelling, then history, etc.

I also try to have meals in the freezer for the rough days, as well easy-to-fix things around -- like sandwich makings and soups. This way we aren't doing takeout.

As for complications, age is no predictor of complications. Your overall health is the best indicator. I have chronic high blood pressure and that tends to get a bit ugly with pregnancy, but that has been going on since I was in my early 30s, so it isn't really an age-related condition.

Blessings to you while you await your new little one!" -- Sandra G.


"Hi, Jill! Life in general is stressful, and you know what? You do it just like you do anything else -- take it one day at a time, and rejoice in God's blessings! In your case, it is the unexpected blessing of a new little life amidst the already in-full-swing active learning lifestyle of your family. That little one is especially blessed to be joining you at this time. There are so many positive ways to look at this, and I'd encourage you to think that way. Dispose of the negativity -- and guide your children along the same path. Your older children will have the grand opportunity to care for the new baby and play the big-sis or big-brother role. There is so much to learn from (and to teach) a new arrival. Remember, God knows exactly what He's doing here!

My first son was born to me at age 32 after two heartbreaking miscarriages, and my fourth and last son came at age 41, following two more miscarriages. I look at all four of our sons as miracles, which they are! I had them all at home, no complications, and happily homeschooled them all from birth through high school! Stress? Yes! Survive? Absolutely.

As for tips: Our sons were roughly all three years apart. The baby always was present and just did what the rest did. We always made him feel welcome and found something constructive for him to do to help. That's how they all learned -- as part of the family. In your case, the older children are so capable of doing their own thing, and will be especially so in the high school years. You are there as a guide; give them more responsibility and watch them shine! I'm totally convinced that we mothers do too much for our teenagers -- and that includes household helping and chores! Let them be in charge of more.

What an awesome experience for your entire family at this time!" -- Kathy R.


"Jill -- You are not alone. I know the surprise can seem more of a shock than a blessing, but hang on and enjoy the ride (and speak words of welcome and blessing over your baby). I gave birth to children when I was 39 and almost 41. Both pregnancies went very well -- my OB said they were 'boring'. :-) We had children ages 11 and 12 when our third child was born. We dealt with their jealously and embarrassment (teens can have a hard time dealing with the evidence of their parents' intimacy). In some ways, it's actually easier having babies with older kids at home. They are more independent and can be more helpful. Just be careful not to take their help for granted -- they need to be shown they are valued for more than their babysitting ability! After they adjust to the idea, your children will probably really enjoy having a little sibling around. And it is great experience for them to see a balanced view of the work and enjoyment that a baby brings.

As for homeschooling, you can do that too. Of course you'll utilize nap time for teaching time; your kids are also at an age where they can begin working more independently. You can also schedule time for each of the older kids to play with the youngest one, while you work with one or both of the other two. This not only frees your time, but provides good bonding time for the older ones with the littlest one.

I trust you and your family will find joy in this new stage of your journey together." -- Laurie


"Jill -- I so understand where you are coming from. We/I also have had a blessing later in life. I have 2 older children (now 11 and 7.5). My youngest son is 19 months. I was very sick during my pregnancy and my son was my first preemie (4 wks early). Baby is fine, but I did have physical problems after his birth. I developed Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Don't be scared -- you may NOT have any complications. I will pray for peace for you. I won't go into any details of my illnesses, but I did have 3 surgeries (C-section, biopsy, lymphnode). Our first year was trying, but GOD was with us at all times.

I am sure you are diligent with your children and schooling. When I first found out I was pregnant, I started school early and didn't take any breaks -- just in case. You have time to plan -- get ahead in school so you can rest and relax with your newborn. You are blessed to have older children; teach them NOW how to be independent. Get their books organized (I use the Workbox System in magazine boxes). Train the kids how to start their day, how to work with each other and to help each other in their school work. Prepare yourself and family to take a month off and enjoy your new blessing!

I had to nap when the baby napped. I would have the kids watch an educational movie during quiet time (How America was Made). Get a long series or books on audio and have them draw what they hear. It is a learning experience for all and the kids will enjoy learning how to take care of their new family member.

My 19 month old is busy! I have had to take turns with my 2 oldest. I would teach one, while the other entertain the baby and vice versa. Please do not stress! God has a plan -- give it up to Him. Who says that you have to school Monday through Friday? Have hubby help on Saturday or do it later when you have the most energy. I choose to school year round by taking 2 months off (July and December). This allows me to take a day off here and there -- sometimes a whole week. The best thing about home schooling is that you can make up those days! Field trips, journals -- simplify your curriculum. I had to.

I do Classical Conversation (this I can do with both kids). I read out loud to all 3 kids; we watch educational shows when the baby is fussy; we listen to classical music while drawing. Try to combine your schooling. I do know there are many resources out there.

Oh, I also incorporated GAMES as a part of learning -- Ten Days in Europe (we enjoy this geography game), math war, Scrabble, Monopoly, cooking -- think outside of the box and make learning FUN!

I can promise you it won't be easy, but we so enjoy our little guy! PRAY! RELAX! ENJOY! BE FLEXIBLE! SIMPLIFY! PRAY some more! I hope you are smiling! God bless." -- Lisa H.


"I was 39 when I got pregnant with my son (now 11). His siblings were 11, 13, and 16. Life, and the homeschool lifestyle are challenging; this is just a new challenge. It is not an impossible one -- it is not even a more difficult one than the ones you've surmounted to this point. Teach healthy pre-natal care, infant care, and so on. Teach budgeting for a new baby. Teach home repair/remodeling and let them help with the baby's room. There is so much real-life learning for the older ones! And there are lots of opportunities for them to step up to increased self-reliance, self-discipline, and responsibility. Let go, and Let God." -- Beth D.


"When I was 37 years old I found out I was pregnant. When my son was born my daughters were 16, 14, 11 and 8. Six months later my 8 year old daughter was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor... and six months after that she passed away. My son is now 18 months old... and looking back I am amazed that we were able to keep homeschooling. But we DID -- and the girls are less than six months behind in their schoolwork. We squeezed in schoolwork during the baby's nap time, and did reading and spelling while riding in the car or sitting in the waiting room at appointments. We spent 114 days in the hospital with my daughter... and my girls would come to the hospital every morning and bring their schoolwork. I won't deny that it was stressful at times, but it can be done with some creativity. I'm very thankful that we chose to continue homeschooling through the difficult times."
-- Lanaye Burnette, http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/courtneyburnette


"Dear Jill -- I've had plenty of friends and relatives who have had babies after age 40 with little or no complications -- and the babies were just fine. In fact, my grandmother had 11 kids, several of which were born after age 40. She said it kept her young. :-) If your other children are girls (or even if they're not), you have a perfect opportunity to train them to be parents by allowing them to take on responsibilities with the baby. When you schedule your homeschool, the older ones can take 'baby breaks' to help keep their baby brother or sister occupied. It will help them bond with their new sibling and keep the baby from being destracting to the others. And don't forget that you will have a chance to mentor other new mothers, since you've had more experience.

As to homeschooling for another 18 years, that's up to you and God! Sounds daunting, but if God wants you to do it, He'll give you the grace you need to accomplish His will!" -- Carla E.


"I am 38 and have a 10 month old baby, with a 6 year age gap. So while not exactly in your shoes, I do understand! I have 4 older children, and I thought, 'Oh, my!' I have to tell you, though, this baby has been the biggest blessing to us. He is delightful and his siblings are in love with him. They love it when I bring the baby in to wake them up; they rush in from wherever they have been to see if he's up from his nap, they take him outside to see what they are doing, and they love to show him off to others. We made them a part of getting ready for the baby and have let them have a part in caring for him now, but are careful NOT to take advantage of it, because after all, we are the parents! The biggest thing that I have learned is that I HAVE to keep some sort of schedule and I HAVE to have the big kids do their chores. We have a chore list and there is absolutely NO computer or videos or games until certain chores are done both a.m. and p.m. My husband has been wonderful to back me up in this and frequently checks to make sure things are getting done. I nursed this baby until just a few weeks ago, and we just made that a time that I could read to the older ones out loud. We have spent the last several months on the Little Britches books by Ralph Moody and have countless hours of discussions about hard work and problem solving. This baby has changed our life -- changed it for the better, for sure! Our school looks a little different this year, but I think that it's better! My boys will be better dads for having had this experience, too, I think. Hang in there!" -- Brenda B.


"Hey, Jill -- I had a baby by c-section at 37, while homeschooling a high school senior. Homeschooling with a newborn is easy if you've got your curriculum planned out. I do my planning on a grid made in my word processor. Each square gets one day's assignment in one subject. When we hit that subject we do the next lesson. Each subject is on a separate page (this year I didn't even print them out and I have a copy of the plans on a flash drive as a precaution against a computer crash).

My son wanted me to assign his work, but he worked independently at home and got himself to his college classes. All he really needed me for was to bounce ideas off of when writing. That baby is now almost 10 years old. She's finishing up 4th grade. We're still working on getting her to the point where she works on her own -- she mostly wants me sitting near her while she works, but I don't work *with* her.

I think homeschooling with an older baby is harder! As your year progresses, and maybe for the next few years depending on the new baby's personality, you may need to school in shifts with someone entertaining the baby while you work with another child." -- MaryEllen C.


"I had my first child at 37 and my last at 40. I wasn't homeschooling at the time, though. The baby came a few weeks early, but healthy.

I have a friend who has 4 boys (7-12), a 2 year old girl and one expected in June. They homeschool -- so it is possible -- but I trust others that have done it will help share ideas in that area." -- Nancy


"I've only had 2 children; one at age 19 and one at age 40. I had 3 miscarriages between them, but both of them are in perfect health. I homeschooled my last all the way through high school and she just graduated from college with a 3.97 GPA. Hope that helps you. It can happen." -- Sue P.


"Well, I don't have any real answer to this, but I will be eagerly awaiting the responses! I am 38 and about to have another baby (my other kids are 19, 7 and 6). I am not at all sure how I am going to do it, but I would be happy to be your encouragement buddy. Maybe we could e-mail and give each other a lift when we get down. My main thought right now is 'God's grace is sufficient'! He has called my husband and I to homeschool and He has blessed us with another child UNEXPECTEDLY, so He will provide the way and the strength. My job is just to trust Him and walk in faith. Oh, one other thought -- my oldest was 12 and in public school when my second child was born. My biggest difficulty then was trying to keep up with the school schedule (homework, projects, activities, etc). Then my daughter had some major medical problems at about 8 months and she was hospitalized for 12 days. It was another fight to keep up with the school schedule (even after I called and explained our family situation, there was no compassion or concern for my son from the school). I think that homeschooling will present different challenges, but at least you won't be trying to keep up with someone else's schedule and plans for your children. You can set a more laid-back plan for when you aren't feeling well and for the transition time with a newborn. Congratulations and God bless you and your family -- it really is an exciting time getting ready for a new baby!" -- Sheri


"Dear Jill -- CONGRATULATIONS! A baby is a wonderful event in a family. I had a baby at 40 and another at 42. We have seven, and I have homeschooled through morning sickness, pregnancy fatigue, and nursing. It is true that the older you are, the harder it is to have a baby -- I kept being more tired. But it is still a joy, and homeschooling can continue, albeit sometimes with just a little modification. With a number of children, I set up their schedule so that they have subjects that they do on their own, and then while everyone else is working I work with each child one at a time on the subject(s) they have with me that day. I just keep 'cycling' through each child and their subjects.

Once a child is able to read well, they can do many of the subjects on their own, with supervision or help if needed. I try to have our children as independent as possible. It teaches them to work independently, and makes them more self-motivated. You can do a subject with a child while holding or nursing a baby just by having them sit next to you and read their lesson while you take care of the baby. I wish you all the best and all the joy a little one brings!" -- Mary


"Hi Jill -- I homeschooled my two older children up until 7th grade and high school. When my kids were 8 and 10 we had an unexpected pregnancy also. I worked part-time and homeschooled during my pregnancy. After the baby was born, I took time off, tried to go back to work and eventually resigned my part-time position. I want to encourage you that it is possible to homeschool and raise a baby. For me it took time management, cooperation and help from family and friends. I involved the older kids in household chores and duties to lift the burden of having to accomplish all that on my own.

My daughter, now 15, is a whiz in the kitchen. My 13 year old son has learned a lot about lawns and weeding. Remember to take time for yourself; daily renew your heart, mind and body; try to make special time for each child -- involve one of them in your day-to-day tasks, go out for a quick treat with one while the baby is napping; ask each child to spend special time with the baby to free you up for other things. A friend of mine reminded me that 'this too shall pass' when the schedule seemed too hectic. I also learned that what really mattered was my relationships with my family and friends -- don't get too hung up on accomplishing 'it all' when you feel overwhelmed. Do as much as is possible, keeping relationships firsts, and the education will come in time. I also made sure, as the baby got older, to find something special for them to do also -- even if it was once a week or month. God bless you and your family in this wonderful adventure of homeschooling." -- Cristina in Montana


"I had my last son at 40 with no complications. My other children were 13, 11 and 5 at the time. During the time of infants and teenagers in the same home, we focused primarily on language arts and math. We often didn't do 'school' until the younger children's nap time.

My children are now 23, 21, 15 and 10. The two oldest graduated from homeschool and we are planning to continue with the two younger children. My oldest is married, living in another city and attending Musical Theatre Conservatory. The next is attending a local university in Athletic Training and living at home.

It's a busy, crazy life at times! You can do it! Just enjoy the children God gave you. He knows what He's doing!" -- Debbie


"My kids are six years apart and I decided to take six months off from school. The last two months of my pregnancy (I was working full-time) and the first four months after the baby was born. We still did read aloud and classes at the Homeschool Resource Center but I let myself nap when the baby slept as much as possible.

With my kids fairly far apart I am working on creative options. For example, one friend at church offered to watch my baby the morning I was considering taking my son to a co-op. And I try to arrange a playdate for my six year old once in a while so I can arrange a toddler-friendly outing with my friends with only little ones." -- Melanie E.


"I am 38 and just did this. I have a 16, 15, and 3 year old and now a newborn at home. You can do it. It can be hard some days but really it works itself out. The older kids learn what it is like to have younger children around and really end up helping out a lot -- not because I make them, but because they like it. I have also worked into the time learning how to cook and clean for the older kids. They are not totally responsible for their own laundry, which has taken a few years to establish, but it works. I started teaching them these techniques around age 8. Look for outside support. Know the kids can (depending on your state) take a few classes at the school in your home district. Mine take band. I really would not change this for anything in the world. I love having the kids home knowing they are not being exposed to all the negative things that go on at schools. Prayer is always helpful too. Good luck and don't give up if it is truly what you believe is right." -- Angela B.


"Yes, it can be done! There are only 6 years between my oldest 'littler' and my younger two children, but I had three in elementary, two in middle school and one in high school. Here is your key: be flexible and require accountability. Your older students are going to need to do a majority of their work on their own or you won't be able to take care of your infant's needs. You will need to be flexible or you won't be able to take care of your older kids needs. And both are required for you to fulfill YOUR needs. The house can/will fall apart for a year or two. LOL! Your older kids will need to be flexible, especially if they are used to you being with them. Your older kids can help a lot with the baby too and that will increase their love for him/her. Whatever you ask them to do make sure it is worth following up on and that you have time to follow up and make sure it got done. Don't sweat the small stuff! I would suggest a family meeting to discuss everyone's concerns and ideas. Your kids will come up with some great ones! My older kids are all young adults now, and the younger two are in middle school. We all survived and actually like each other! The first five years were nuts crazy but there is a light at the end of the tunnel... they grow up! Babies only last a couple of years! Hope you all enjoy him or her!"

Answer Our New Question

New to Homeschooling -- from West Virginia

"Hello! I just got approved today to start homeschooling my sons who are in 4th and 5th grade. I decided to start now instead of next year as I planned because of bullies. So Spring Break is this week. I have one week to put together a plan for myself. The school is going to let me use their books if I want to. (I really dont want to buy the expensive currriculium.) West Virginia doesn't require anything except for a portfolio of their work at the end of the year looked over by a teacher. Would anyone like to help me out? Thanks! -- Felicia in WV


Would you like to share some helpful suggestions with Felicia?
Please send your email to: hn-answers@familyclassroom.net

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