S5 E15 | Hitting the Wall in Your Homeschool Year (REPLAY)
In this episode, Julie addresses what can be one of the hardest months of the year for homeschooling: February! She offers some great advice and encouragement about how to run the race by pacing, planning, refueling, and focusing on gratitude.
Julie H. Ross believes that every child needs a feast of living ideas to grow intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. As a former school teacher, curriculum coordinator, and assistant director of a homeschool academy, Julie has worked with hundreds of students and parents over the past 20 years. She has also been homeschooling her own five children for over a decade. Julie developed the Charlotte Mason curriculum, A Gentle Feast, to provide parents with the tools and resources needed to provide a rich and abundant educational feast full of books, beauty, and Biblical truth. Julie lives in South Carolina. When she’s not busy homeschooling, reading children’s books, hiking, or writing curriculum, you can find her taking a nap.
Julie Ross | Instagram
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Julie Ross The homeschool world has often said that February, even though it's the shortest month of the year, is the hardest month of the year for homeschooling. I don't know why that is. And there's many different reasons, I think. But it kind of reminded me of this concept in long-distance running. So I don't know if any of you are runners, or maybe know someone who is, but there's this concept in long-distance running--if you run like a half marathon or a marathon--called "hitting the wall". And what that means is, when you're running a long-distance race (around mile ten if you're running a half marathon, which is thirteen miles, or mile twenty, if you're running a marathon), you feel like you've hit the wall. So you can imagine running full sprint into a wall, right? It doesn't feel very good. At this point in the race, usually your bones and your joints start aching, your muscles start screaming at you. You kind of get this like brain fog of like you can't even think clearly, right? And so I kind of think, if you think of the homeschool year as a race, by February we're getting to like mile ten of this half marathon. So let's say May is our end point, right? So February is often the time, I think, where we do feel like we are hitting the wall in our homeschooling. And I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel like I actually am like banging my head against the wall. Or maybe if I banged my head against the wall, I would feel better. I don't know. Haha. But I can totally relate to that concept of like hitting the wall. So I'm kind of going to give some parallels to racing, and to how we get through that if you're running a long-distance race, and how that relates to how we get through this month of February in our homeschool race as well. So even if you don't homeschool August to May, or a typical school year, these principles still relate to that. But if you do follow that schedule, you probably can relate to that. This time of year...right? Kind of feeling maybe discontent in some areas, feeling like things aren't working, things are becoming harder. And so when we're running a race, if you feel that way around mile ten or twenty, there are several reasons for that. And I think those reasons actually apply to what we're doing for homeschooling as well.
So the first reason why runners often hit the wall-- That's when you don't feel great during a race. I'm usually around mile-- We'll just go with a half marathon because that's what I've run. Around mile ten...eleven, that's when this happens. And so there's a reason for that. What happens is, oftentimes in racing, everyone shoots out once the race starts, right? They have like the big arch that you run through, and there's people cheering, and you feel like you're in Chariots of Fire, and you're just like, go out of the gate super super fast, right? And so oftentimes by mile ten or eleven you've been keeping up a pace that you were never...have never run before, or never run that long before, and it just feels really exhausting. And so by mile ten or eleven, you physically can't keep up that pace any longer. And that's why your body is like, "Oh my goodness, I need to stop!" Right? And I think that really relates to homeschooling as well, because we start off in August and we have all this adrenaline and excitement for the beginning of the school year. We're like, "Yay, the school year starting!" And we got our laminated schedules and our little cards cut out and our cute little carts all organized, right? And we tell our kids, “Yeah! Like, here's the plan. We're going to do all these different subjects and all these amazing things!" And we start off the year at a pace that we can't keep all the way through May. And so by February, we're exhausted because we're pacing ourselves-- [Phone rings] Woops, sorry. I got a phone call-- We've been pacing ourselves too fast, okay. So one of the reasons why in February, it kind of feels like, "Uggh, I just can't keep going on," is because you really can't keep up that pace.
You started out at the beginning of your school year, maybe doing too much, maybe taking on too many different subjects, maybe trying to do too many different things, and you kind of fell all over the place. And you can keep that up for a while, just like I can, you know, run a nine-minute mile for, well, like one mile and then I feel like I'm going to die. So you can only keep up this pace for so long. So oftentimes in our homeschooling, the reason why February kind of feels like "uggh" is because we've been running a pace that's been too fast for us. So I encourage you as you look at February, maybe you need to pare back some things here. So just like when you're running a race, and if you've been running too fast, and you feel completely exhausted and you know you have like three miles left to go, you have to slow down. You have to go at a pace that you feel good, that you can continue to finish the race well. Nobody wants to be limping across the finish line, right? We all want to finish the race strong. So just picture yourself in May: What do you want to feel like? What do you want the year to be like? Keep your vision set on that. Right? We want to finish strong. So that may mean you just have to slow down this month. Just take things easy. What subjects are like your top priorities here? What are the things that really feeds your soul and that you're really passionate about? And then maybe you need to just let a few things go. Okay, February's short. It's only twenty-eight days. So if you can say, "Okay, we're just going to put this subject aside for the month of February and then we'll see how we feel. Maybe we'll pick a back up." So as you're looking at February, think, "Have I been running the race too fast? Have I been doing too much this year? And this is why I'm feeling so exhausted right now?" And if that's the case, then just say, "Okay, I'm going to step back a little bit here.".
Another way to keep up your pace that you can maintain in February, is to make sure that you're planning well. So what happens is, we start the school year off like woosh out of the gate, right? We're so excited and it's August, and here we go! We're ready! We're going to have a awesome school year! And then we hit like Thanksgiving and then Christmas, and then we get a little bit of adrenaline, maybe like at the beginning of the new year, and we set some goals, "We're going to do this different. We're going to do that." And then kids get sick. And we have like this polar-- I don't even know what their calling this thing that's happening right now with the weather-- And it's freezing cold and we're getting cabin fever, right? And all these different things start happening. And then our schedule and our routine and our plans just kind of go bluuugh, and it all like disintegrates, right? And so I found that for February to be a really good month, I need to have a plan. So if you haven't already gotten this, I made a freebie for you all to plan out our weeks ahead of time. So if this isn't something you've been doing, I highly encourage you--in the month of February, there's four Sundays--to spend thirty minutes on a Sunday planning out your week. Because when you feel prepared, things go so much better. So if you are running a race--and I'm going to keep using this metaphor the whole time--you train, right? You do months of training before you ever go run a half marathon or marathon. Well, most people do. I have a friend who just like, decided they wanted to run a half marathon and just went out and did it, which is amazing. I'm not anywhere close to that good of shape. So if I'm going to run a long distance run race like that, I need to be planning, preparing, training, training, training, training. So think of February as your training month, okay. So for thirty minutes on Sunday, I want you to plan out your week. Make sure you have the materials ready. If you need to go run to Hobby Lobby to get some pipe cleaners for something you're doing... If you need to go to CVS and get-- The other day I had to go get rubbing alcohol for this chemistry experiment. If you have to print out your pictures studies... Whatever it is! To have those things ready at the beginning of the week makes things run so much more smoothly, so that come Tuesday morning you're not trying to hunt down five pipe cleaners for something.
And the other key, I think, is keeping your plans simple. So we, as homeschool moms, have this amazing ability to overcomplicate things. And so, you know, we start the school year out, we have these beautiful planters and we have colored pens, and we're going to color code every kid, and we have this amazing system. But like I said, it's just a pace we can't keep up. And so this time of year, planning that way becomes so hard and difficult. So just keep those plans simple. Y'all, I've been homeschooling for over a decade and do you know what I use for my plans? I use a ten-cent spiral notebook. I will post this on the Facebook in the comments. But for those of you on Instagram, if you go to YouTube and look up Julie H. Ross, I have my planning video on there of how I plan out my week in thirty minutes for five kids. And I use a cheapo spiral notebook for my little kids. And my older kids, I use the customizable schedule you can get with A Gentle Feast. And it seriously takes me thirty minutes. But I feel so much more prepared, and when I don't do it our week just kind of descends into complete chaos. And so planning and being prepared will help you run the race strong. Alright, so, the first thing that we've talked about here is our pace and planning. So that's my first tip to make February a great month. Think about your pacing. If you've been going too fast and too strong all year long, you might need to cut back on a few subjects or activities or things in the month of February to kind of regroup. And then you need to be prepared. So you need to have this plan so that when the hard month comes, you're not like, "Oh my goodness, why do I feel this way!? Why do I feel so exhausted and tired and stressed out? And something must be wrong with me! Something must... Maybe I'm not even supposed to be homeschooling!" Right? We think these thoughts rather than, "No, I'm supposed to feel this way in February. This is normal. Okay, I'm prepared for it this time." And that's the difference. You know, so when you're running a half marathon and you get to mile ten or eleven, and your mind is screaming at you, ""Stop doing this to us, crazy lady!" Everything in your body hurts. You can go, "No! No, I knew this was coming. I knew that this mile, I was going to want to quit, but I'm not quitting. I'm prepared." Right? And so the same thing in February, when you kind of feel that way. When things feel hard and difficult, go, "No! No! I know this is how it's supposed to feel. I know these challenges are normal, and I'm ready for them. I'm prepared." So in the month of February, every Sunday spent thirty minutes--you can set a timer-- Everything that you can get done in thirty minutes...plan out your week and get prepared so that you're ready for it. Kind of like, "I'm going into battle here. I'm going into this race. I'm prepared. I'm ready.". If you need help, one of the things I created-- If you go into my profile on Instagram, you'll find a link to it. But I also link to it, those of you that are watching on Facebook, a free February calendar. And you'll see on there every Sunday it says "Plan, Plan, Plan, Plan, Plan." So every Sunday, you're going to spend these thirty minutes planning, preparing, regrouping...getting strong for this month.
The second thing-- Or the second reason why people often feel like they're hitting the wall when they're running a race and they get to this mile ten or eleven in a half marathon, is because they need to refuel. So our body can only hold so much glucose and energy. So after we've been running for like two hours our glucose stores are just gone. And so that's why racers, you know, they give them like Gatorade to kind of replenish them. Another trick that long-distance runners do is they'll carry kind of an energy thing with them. So when I ran half marathons, I carried these little packets of this thing called goo, which sounds really disgusting, but it's just basically like liquid glucose. And so at mile ten, I knew that I was going to start feeling like puggggh, right, because I'd already been running for well over an hour and a half at this point. And so I would just suck on that glucose to refuel myself, to get me through to the end of the race. So one of the reasons why in February, we just kind of feel like, "Ugh, this is so hard. This is so difficult", is because we are like on zero. Like the little notification you get on your phone, like low battery mode...some of us have been operating in low battery mode since November. Right? And it's like on zero-- We are on zero percent here. And so we need to refuel if we're going to make it through and have a great February. So the way that we do that is by taking care of ourselves, and mother culture. So on this February calendar, I just have a little idea every day for a way for you to take care of yourself or some kind of Mother Culture--a way to feed your mind and your soul. These take like five to thirty-- Thirty minutes is the maximum one here. And it says like go for a thirty-minute walk. But the other ones are shorter than that. Okay, so, five to thirty minutes is all you need every day to refuel yourself throughout the month. So, for example, one of the days it says, "Turn up your favorite tunes and have a fifteen-minute dance party." I find, if I just turn on some music that I love and dance around--I love Abba and like 80s hair bands--and I feel so much better. Paint your nails. I mean, that takes like five minutes, right? And some of these you can do with your kids. If your kids want to join you while you're doing it, you know, go for a thirty-minute walk, you want to bring them along, that's fine, too. It doesn't have to be this big thing. So I think as moms, we often feel like, "Ah, I don't have time to take care of myself. And I don't have time to do all this stuff. I don't have time to go to the gym. I don't have time to read." But just setting aside-- You put it on your calendar so you can follow this every day--see how long do you think it'll take you--for five to thirty minutes, set that time on your calendar and make an appointment with yourself. I used to put myself last, and so I would do all this stuff for everybody else. And then I was like, "Oh, if I have time left in my day, I'll go read a book. Or if I had time left, I'll go for a walk." Well, you know what? There was never any time left. Because when we fill up our schedules, right, everything else gets squeezed out. So make yourself a priority. Put this on your calendar this month. You need to refuel. You cannot make it to the end of the school year running on zero battery, right?
[00:19:25]Today's episode is brought to you by a gentle fist, a gentle fist is a complete curriculum for grades one through 12 that is family centered. Inspired by Miss Mason's programs and philosophy and rooted in books, beauty and biblical truth, you can find out how smooth and easy days are closer than you think. At a gentle thestar.com. [20.3s]
There's an article in the Parents' Review--and I know most of you have read this--called "Mother Culture." In here, the author of the article kind of asks the same question you're probably asking me, like, "Where am I going to find time for this?" "Is there not need for Mother Culture? But how is the state of things to be altered? So many mothers say, 'I simply have no time for myself. I never read a book.' Or else, 'I don't think it's right to think of myself.' They not only starve their minds, but they do it deliberately with a sense of self-sacrifice, which seems to supply ample justification.'" So you're not alone. In the eighteen hundreds, mothers were still asking, "I don't have time for this." Right? But it is saying here, "She must weigh things in balance. She must see which is the most important, the time spent in luxuriously gloating over the charms of her fascinating baby, or what she made do with what time to keep herself growing for the sake of the baby someday, when it will want more of her than it does now. The only way to do it, is to be so strongly impressed with the necessity for growing herself that she herself makes it a real object in life."-- So that's what I'm talking about. Make it a priority. "I need to take care of myself first. This is my priority. This is going in my schedule first."-- "She can only rarely be helped from the outside."-- Okay, so here's how this mother-- And I love that this article is talking about a mother with young children here, and how you can still make this time.-- "The resolute planning of Miss. Three-year-old in her chair at one end of the table with her toys, of Master Five-year-old at the other end of the table with his occupations, and fascinating Master Baby on the rug on the floor with his ring and his ball, the decided announcement, 'Now mother's going to be busy,' will, do these young people a world of good. Though some of their charms will be missed, they will gain respect for mother's time, and some self-reliance in the bargin..."-- Which I think is really important-- "...while mother's tired back gets a rest, if only for a short time, either on the sofa or flat upon the floor. Then she can listen to her children and perhaps do a little thinking, not about frocks..." I don't know about you. I think about frocks often. Haha-- "...not about frocks and foods, but about character, how to deal with them. Or she could take a book and grow in that way. This would do something, but not enough. Mother must have time to herself, and we must not say, 'I cannot.' Can any of us say till we have tried, not for one week, but for one whole year, day after day that we cannot get one half hour out of twenty four for Mother Culture?" Okay, so this-- I mean, it's pretty convicting here, right? It's good for our kids to see that you're taking yourself a priority. You're teaching them this, right? So even if you have little ones, like in this story. They had the three-year-old at one on the table playing with something, the five-year-old at the other end of the table playing with something, the baby playing on the floor, and she says, "Now mommy's going to be busy." So even if you do these things in the same room with them-- Like one of them, it's like, "Take a nap". Well, you might have little ones like that, and you might not get-- "Listen, mommy's going to be busy. Mommy's going to lay here on the floor with her earbuds in, and I'm going to set the timer for ten minutes. Let's not...let's see who can not disturb mommy." Right? To make that time for yourself. Make yourself a priority here. So there's some links on here. Like one of them is a yoga video, I linked one of my favorite yoga instructors. "Have a poetry tea time just for yourself." And read some poetry, grown-up poetry, to yourself. I link to my favorite poet Emily Bronte. So there's some links on this calendar as well. So if you don't have the self-care and Mother Culture calendar for February--it's free--there's a link in my profile on Instagram. I put it in the comments for the Facebook video as well. So step number two, to make February an awesome month, is to refuel. Take care of yourself first.
Julie Ross So just to recap: Step number one is thinking through your pacing and plan to be prepared. Okay? Plan out your week every Sunday ahead of time. Just 30 minutes. Keep it very simple. Scratch some stuff down on a piece of notebook paper. It does not have to be anything super fancy or complicated. You do not have to read every book that your kid is going to read in the week ahead. Do you have time for that and you love that? Great. Awesome. Go for it. Okay? But we're focusing on what simple things need to get done. So, simple. So the timer for 30 minutes. Plan out the week. Go run to the store. Do things if you have to, but stay focused. Just get prepared.
Step number two is refuel. Take care of yourself. Self-care and mother culture. And if you need some ideas, get that calendar. But if you already have that practice, just keep going with it. I find that in my life, when things are super stressful, super challenging, super difficult, I need to ramp up my self-care. So I'll do some of these ideas that are on this calendar, but I'm going to step it up. I try to do like an hour every day in February now.
All right, and then the third thing, my third little tip for you to make February an awesome month is to think through your mindset. So I've been comparing this to a race and we're going to run, let's just say this half marathon until May, which is like mile 13, right? We oftentimes like mile 10 or 11, if you're running a race, you feel like you hit the wall, which is how oftentimes we feel in February. We're just like, oh, I'm so done. This is so hard. I didn't think it was going to be this difficult. I'm so tired. Right? Our energy stores are just gone down to nothing.
Another thing that really helps though get us through is our mindset, keeping our mind from going to, "This is so hard. This is so challenging. This is so difficult," because what happens is when we have those thoughts, our brain starts collecting evidence to support those thoughts. So if I'm going in this, "This is so hard. This month is going to be so difficult," I'm going to find evidence to prove that to myself. "Oh my good— See? He's throwing a temper tantrum again about having to do multiplication. This is so hard. This is too difficult. Oh, we sat down to do this experiment, but we're out of this and we've got to run to the store. And this is so difficult. Now we're all sick. Oh, this is so difficult," right? And our brain will collect evidence for that.
If we go in it with the mindset of, "There will be challenges, but I'm strong. We're going to get over them, we're going to rise to the occasion, we're going to get through them. A lot of good things are going to happen this month," and we purposely look for those good things, then we'll find more of them. Okay? And I talk about this— if you're in the A Gentle Feast membership, I know you've heard me talk about this a million times, but what we focus on increases. So, you know, like when you go buy a new car and then you're driving around and you see all those cars that are the same as yours? It's not like everybody else just went out that weekend and bought the same car you did. It's that now, you know, oh, blue Toyota Sequoia. Now you see Blue Toyota Sequoia everywhere. There's the same amount on the road as there was last week, right? But you didn't notice them before. So when you're purposely looking for good things in your day, you will find more of those good things. It's not that they weren't ever there, it's just that you weren't looking for them. So I encourage you to look through your day and write down the good things that are happening.
One of the things I do is when I feel like I'm starting to have a little pity party for myself— which I can do. I mean, I am a master pity party planner. Welcome to the party, people. I am really good at it— is to go, no, I'm not having a pity party. And I say, "Drop and give me 20." And I'm not talking about 20 push-ups, but it fits with that military line. So that's how I remember it. Drop and give me 20 means I give myself 20 gratitudes. 20 things I'm thankful for, 20 things that are going well. It helps to write those down. There's something really powerful about writing them down. But sometimes we can't. Sometimes I'm in the car, sometimes I'm in the middle of doing something with the kids. And I just think through, one, I'm thankful for this. Two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. If you can't get to 20, just do at least ten things that you're thankful for, and it really does change our mindset.
So when you get to mile 10 and 11 in a race and your muscles hurt and your bones hurt and everything hurts and your brain is screaming at you, "Stop, stop! Stop running! Stop running!" Right? I focus on the things that are going well, and I start looking around, right? Like, oh, that house is really cute. Oh, look at that cloud. That cloud kind of looks like a dinosaur or, oh, look at that little boy over there cheering me on. Thanks, bud. And I stop getting out of my head and all the like head junk that's going on, and I turn to what's around me and start being thankful for that. So find the good things that are going on in your day and focus on those.
And that doesn't mean that bad things or challenges aren't going to come up, right? Because that's life. Those are normal. They're to be expected. And so like I said, when you get to that point in the race and things start hurting and you want to quit, you're like, oh yeah, I'm supposed to feel this way. I'm supposed to want to quit now because I've been running for an hour and a half and my body is tired and I really want to stop. And because I know it's coming, I'm prepared for it. Because I know it's coming, I can just kind of laugh at it and be like, I'm not quitting. I'm not tired. I don't know what you're talking about. And I can turn my focus. And so when we go into February going, yeah, there's going to be stuff that happens, right? Our kids are most likely going to be sick in February. Just so you know. You're going to probably be sick in February. That happens. To expect it and not let that derail you and think, oh, no, look at all these other people. They're not experiencing what I'm experiencing. Like when I'm running a race, right? And your body's like, stop, stop. And you look at the people next to you and they're running faster and they don't look like they're out of breath and they don't look like they want to stop. Man, I'm probably not cut out for this whole racing thing. I should really stop right now.
And we do the same thing with homeschooling, right? We look at the people on Instagram and they have these cute little flatlays of little snowflakes and little things that they made today. And I'm like, oh my goodness, we barely made it through today. I'm probably not cut out for this whole homeschooling thing. I mean, look at them. Nobody else struggles like this. And that's just a lie. I mean, that is really just a bunch of bunk because everybody does, right? And so we need to go in it going, yeah, it's going to be hard. And I'm probably going to want to quit this month. And there's probably going to be challenges and things that I don't like. To expect that and to go, oh yeah, that's normal. I'm supposed to feel this way, but I'm not going to believe it. I'm not going to let it get to me. I'm going to keep on going. I'm going to focus on something else. I want to focus on what's going well. Yeah, Timmy might be over there throwing a temper tantrum because he doesn't want to do his multiplication facts, but we have this. We have that. Start naming all the good things that are going on as well.
Just to give you an example. This happened to me the other day. I had to really use this mindset shift. I woke up— like I said, I've had this cold, so I woke up on Tuesday. I just felt terrible, you know, like that whole body ache, fever thing. My throat hurt and all this stuff in my head. So I woke up and I was just like, ugh. And then— this is funny. Well, I guess it's funny. I went to go warm up my coffee and instead of putting my coffee in for like a minute, I don't even know how long I put it in. Maybe 10 minutes. I have no idea. But I went and got my coffee out and drank it and poured boiling coffee down my throat. Which I've never done this and hopefully will never, ever do it again, because I just— it was so incredibly painful. So I'm sick. I poured boiling coffee down my throat and then my puppy got diarrhea and went poop all over my office. And here's my office now. You can see it. I love my office. This is my little personal sanctuary here. I mean, it just smelled so bad. It was such a disgusting mess to clean up. And so while I'm cleaning up all the puppy mess, I get this phone call from this publisher guy I've been working with for stuff for A Gentle Feast, and there was this problem.
And I just put the phone off and I just started laughing. Like where before, I would just be like, okay, I can't do all this. I was never cut out for all this. This is way too hard. This is so difficult. And now I can just go, oh my goodness, this is hilarious. All this stuff is happening to me today. But you know what? I'm strong. I'm going to get through it. This ain't going to take me. I'm just like, okay, bring it on. Is this all you got, day? Come on. Let's go. I'm going to keep going, which is a huge mindset shift for me to really go things are— I'm glad you think that's funny, Lauren. No I'm just kidding. So when challenges come up this month, just go, yeah, this is normal. This is to be expected, but I can do it. Bring it on. We're going to get through it. And have that mind shift. Keep focusing on the positive things. And as you do, you will find more and more of those throughout your day.
Get your kids involved, have them help you find the good things. One of the things I sort of do with my kids when I put them to bed at night, I just say, "Hey, share with me a win for today. Share with me something you did well, something that you're thankful for." We just call it a win. Okay? To get them to start thinking through the positive things as well so that they're able to find more of those in their lives as well.
Another mindset thing I think is huge for February is we get to the point in our year and things are really hard, and then we start thinking about next school year, okay? Raise your hand if you do this, because I should do this all the time. I was super great at planning next school year in February. I mean, I would have the whole year planned out. We're going to do this. We're going to do that. I start looking at curriculums. I spent hours on Pinterest, right? Looking at all these different things we could be doing because what we're doing right now is hard. And so I don't want to think about it. Our brains don't like to think about hard things. We want to think about things that are easy and fun. And so it's like, well, if I start thinking about next school year that might can take up my time and then I'm not having to dealing with all this stuff that's right before me right now that's really hard and difficult.
I mean, there's a reason why, like curriculum companies and homeschool conventions happen in February, March. Yes, people need to plan and prepare. But a lot of it is because in February and March, we're just like, this is so hard. There must be something wrong with my curriculum. There must be something wrong with what I'm doing. I've got to totally change what I'm doing. And we getting this panic mode where that's not really the case. Oftentimes, it's just we've got to hunker down and do these practices like I'm telling you about with what we already have. And if we just took that time that we're spending on Pinterest or in Facebook groups asking what other people are using or on the internet researching stuff— of we took that time and put it into what we currently have and come up with a doable plan and we were prepared and we were taking care of ourselves— if we took that time instead, we would be so much better off, in my opinion.
And for years, I would do this, right? Every spring, you're talking to people and they're talking about what they're going to do next year. And you're like, oh, well, I don't know what I'm doing yet. I better go think. Oh, well, what I'm doing right now is obviously not working because it's hard, so I'm going to go find something else. And I would just— because I'm a planner, right? And I'm a future person. I mean, I would just spend hours looking at other things and talking to people and finding out what things were going on.
And so just think about it in terms of a race, right? Nobody running a half marathon and mile 10 or 11 is like, man, I can't wait till I get to run again. I wonder what my next race is going to be like. Maybe I should sign up for that race or, oh, maybe I should go run a race in Boston or I don't know. Nobody does that right? Just like in labor, like you're not thinking about like, oh, I can't wait to do this again. I wonder when I'm going to have my next kid. You're just breathing and trying to get through it. And then, of course, after the baby, you're like, oh, I can't wait to have another one. Right? But during the labor, people don't think that. During the race, people don't start planning and daydreaming about the next one because we have to focus to get through what we're currently doing.
And so instead of daydreaming and planning— I'm not saying you can't look at things or think about the future, but just for like 28 days for February, be like, I'm not going to spend all my time researching other curriculum or thinking about how I can do things different next year or the charter school or whatever it is that you want to do. I'm going to focus on myself. I'm going to focus on finishing this race well. And so in order to do that, I need to hunker down. February is only 28 days, so for 28 days here, we're going to hunker down and we're going to be strong and we're going to focus on what we are currently doing.
And then you can, in March if you want to, you know, start looking at other stuff, you can because it'll still be there. But for this month, just focus on doing what you're doing really well because we want to run the race strong. So nobody wants to be limping across the finish line. I don't know why this is. When I'm running a race and I'm running across the finish line, I want to feel like I'm an Olympic athlete, even though I am incredibly slow. I just want to run across like Chariots of Fire and people are cheering. And I'm never going to see these people ever again in my life, right? And they're probably not even looking at me. But there's this motivation when I know people are watching me that I'm going to sprint across that finish line and end strong.
But we do have people watching us, right? We have a cloud of witnesses. God is cheering us on, right? We need to finish this race strong. And so in order to do that, we need to do this mile, February, mile 10 where things are really hard, we need to do this well in order to finish the year off well, right? There are people cheering you on, right? It says, "Do not grow weary in doing good for you will reap a harvest if you do not give up." So don't give up. Don't give up now. When you feel like quitting, when you feel like having a pity party, right? Use that mindset shift to focus on what's good. Drop and give yourself 20. Name 20 things you're thankful for and refocus yourself so that you can end the race well and just keep that vision in your mind.
So I do that when I'm racing, and it says in the Bible that Jesus endured the cross. He was focusing on what was coming, right? For the joy set before him. Imagine yourself at the end of the school year, like, woohoo, we did it! We might not have finished all those pages in the math book, but man, we learned a lot of math this year. Man, we had some good times. We went on some fun field trips. We had some great conversations. We had some great tea times and snacks. We all enjoy each other's company. We don't enjoy each other's company every day. But overall, we have good, healthy relationships in our family and that's what I want at the end of May. This is my— I'm sharing it. This is my personal vision, and so I can keep that vision in my head. And when things are going wrong, and the dog is pooping everywhere, and the day is just kind of falling apart, go, "Nope. I'm not going to give in to my pity party. I'm not going to quit. We're going to keep going on. We're strong. We're going to do this. I have this vision. We're going to keep marching towards it." And let that be your kind of motivation here to finish the race well.
I don't know why this just came in my head— a funny race story for you. So I was running this half marathon, and they always had the water first and the Gatorade second. And I would always get water. Well, then I got to the wall, right? I think this was mile 11 in this race. And I was like, okay, I need to refuel. I'm going to get the Gatorade and then I'm going to get some water because I was so hot and I was just going to pour the water over my head, but they switched. So instead of having the water first and the Gatorade second, they had the Gatorade first. So I got the Gatorade thinking it was water and poured it right into my eyes, thinking I was like pouring it over my face. And then I was like, oh, I can't see. So totally has nothing to do with homeschooling. I can't make a metaphor work for that, but just be careful what you're drinking is the moral—I guess—of the story. And I guess I need to do that since I poured boiling coffee down my throat this week. I need to look at what I'm drinking before I drink it, but a little funny story for you.
So my three tips just to recap here— think through your pace. If you've been running the race too fast, if you've been doing too much this year, in February, you might need to slow down a little bit in what you're doing. Take some things off of your daily plate. And plan. Be prepared. So spend that time every Sunday to get ready for the week so that you're ready. You know it's coming. You're ready for battle, right? Then the second step was to refuel, so don't let your tank go down to zero this month. Your energy stores, the adrenaline that you had at the beginning of the year is gone. Okay? Christmas takes all of my energy have me. So I know in the winter I purposely have to recharge.
So if you haven't already done so, you can get this free February self-care and mother culture catalog. It's in my Instagram profile and I'll link to it on Facebook too, but you don't have to do what's on here. I mean, you can do something that you like and you enjoy. Another thing that really helps me in February is getting outside every day, even if it's like super cold and I have to bundle up and I just go outside for five minutes. I need that vitamin D. It really does help my emotional health as well. And then the third tip is mindset. It's going to be challenging. Yes. If you focus on the things that are hard, you're going to find more things that are hard. So instead, focus on the things that are going well and have gratitude for those things and you'll find more of those things in your day.
And don't be discouraged. Don't despair when things are hard. Expect that to be the case and be like, yeah, I got it. Bring it on February. I am ready for you. And have that kind of fighter mindset that you can do this. You can make it through it, and then you're going to feel great. So what happens is in a race, mile 10 or 11 and you feel like you want to quit and everything in your body hurts and your mind starts playing these mind tricks on you—I mean, it really does—of trying to get you to stop. Once you get through that, you feel fantastic. I don't know why. I don't know how it works. But if I slow down in mile 10 or 11 and I refuel and I kind of play these tricks with my mind to keep myself going through, mile 12 and 13 I'm rocking it, man. I like, woohoo! The final adrenaline kicks in and usually there's people cheering towards the end of the race.
So making it through February, making it through this mile, right? Then the rest of the school year is all downhill. That race? You're going to slide right through it. So just keep that in mind through this month that usually, you hunker down. You do these three steps that I talked about. The rest of the year is going to be awesome. It's going to fly by and it's going to be summer. And you'll be like, what? Where'd the school year go? It happened so fast, right? So just keep focusing on that. And I hope you guys have an awesome February. And if you have any questions or anything or about anything I've said or any tips, just leave a comment on Instagram or Facebook. And I will be looking at those throughout the day, and I just can't wait to hear what amazing things you guys are going to do this month and how things are going to change.
Last public service announcement. I put this on Instagram, but those you who are on Facebook. Flowers, fresh flowers this time of year are a super great deal. And I love fresh flowers, but I normally don't— I don't always buy them because they're super expensive. But this time of year, especially if you go shopping on February 15, the day after Valentine's Day, you get some awesome deals. And just putting those flowers out every morning just makes me happy. So do things in your day that make you happy. Those little things might seem like they're not that big a deal, but they do add up. And doing a lot of those little things that make you happy in your day really will help you get through this month. So thanks everyone for joining me. Get your free calendar. And happy first day of February. Bye.