Let me introduce myself. I’m a busy homeschool mom of six kids. Yes, they’re all mine. Yes, I have identical twin toddler girls in that mix. And yes, I’m probably a little bit crazy. Or tired. Or both.
This is my sixth year homeschooling, and to be honest, having toddler twins around has potentially made this one of my most challenging school years so far. And being that I have four other kids at different ages and grade levels I’m teaching, that says a lot. In the past, when I had a busy toddler around during our school time, often the solution would be a little one on the hip while simultaneously helping a little student. Those of you with twins, especially if you’ve had a singleton to compare the experience to, know what I’m talking about when I say it’s just not the same with twins. An available hand to write or even just to point to something is not always a viable option while holding two littles. So this time around, I’ve had to get a lot more creative. A little extra work and preparation has saved me from a few meltdowns, I’ll let you decide from whom, while allowing my homeschooled students to still have plenty of time and attention from me for their education.
Now let me say that I definitely don’t have this whole thing figured out I’m not quite sure if that’s even possible. But I have found a few things that have helped keep me more sane than not while having to keep two toddlers busy during a homeschooling day. Here are 5 tips that have worked for us:
1. Give them snacks
What toddler doesn’t like a good snack, right? Many mornings, when we first get started with schoolwork, the twins hang out in their big play yard and sit down with a mini-Larabar or a little box of raisins. A little healthy snack keeps them happy and occupied for a bit while everyone else is getting situated, and I can help whoever needs help getting started while the littlest ones are munching away on their goodies.
2. Include them
Some days, my twins are just fine to play with stacking cups or their baby dolls together in their playyard. Some days, they are less than thrilled with that option. If there’s a way they can join the big kids, even for a bit, often it can help bring a little peace to the school day for everyone. You’d be amazed at what giving them a couple pieces of paper and a handful of crayons can do in these moments!
3. Have PLENTY of little activities
I’m talking a ton of activities! You are trying to occupy two toddlers, after all. I’m a huge proponent of making these, but like every other twin mom out there are thinking who has the time? So do what you can and make more along the way if needed. Plus, a bonus with twins is that you can get twice the use out of something when you have your little ones swap the activity. One of my favorite activities I call “muffin pan color sorting”. Basicallly you take different colored pom-poms and have them sort them into different colors in a muffin pan. I also make sure I have Lego Duplo blocks, chunky puzzles, and coloring books available for them to use.
Some people choose to have daily or weekly bins to rotate activities; I personally just have a large bin full of a variety of options, and I just grab some and change it up as necessary. Toddlers enjoy lots of repetition too, so in all reality, you probably don’t need to make two of each one of the 1,001 toddler busy bag ideas on Pinterest. Just kidding, that doesn’t exist. Well, I don’t think so at least. There truly are endless inexpensive, simple ideas out there to keep your toddlers having fun, and even learning in the process, though.
4. Have a “mini teacher” just for them
Now, I don’t really mean this literally. There have been moments that an older sibling will be finished with one subject and either before they move onto the next, or when they’re completely done with their work for the morning, they will spend a bit of one-on-two time with the twins playing with them or “teaching” them by reading to them, helping them learn animal sounds, or maybe singing songs with them. In addition to it keeping the twins occupied while the others finish up their work, it also fosters a sense of responsibility in the older sibling, I believe, and helps form a unique bond between them all.
5. When all else fails, call for backup
Anybody else’s twins fans of Elmo’s World? Some days, nothing you try works; or perhaps more accurately, it doesn’t work for very long. While homeschooling doesn’t necessarily take up the same amount of hours as a traditional school day may take, it still involves hours of the day during which toddlers need to be occupied. Luckily, my twins’ naptime coincides with our school day, so some of our learning can be done while they’re sleeping. But if a little bit of that time is filled with some moments from PBS Kids or Disney Junior, cut yourself some slack, moms. They’re happy, and your kids are learning.
In this season of life with toddler twins around, I’ve learned that flexibility, both while homeschooling, and with pretty much anything involving toddler twins, is key! Remember that this toddler stage doesn’t last forever. Embrace the crazy, busy toddler years, whether homeschool or not. They don’t stay little for long!
Honey Woods lives in Indiana with her husband and six kiddos ages eight and under, including her identical twin toddler girls. She spends her days homeschooling her four oldest, getting lots of snuggles, making giant meals for tiny people, working on the family business, and basically organizing the chaos. And in her free time… wait, nevermind. You can follow Honey and her busy life with six littles at Blessings and Boogers or on Facebook.