S5 E10 | Give Yourself the Gift of Self-Compassion (Julie Ross)

S5 E10 | Give Yourself the Gift of Self-Compassion (Julie Ross)

Show Notes:

Episode summary

This is the season of gift-giving, and often we can leave ourselves last on the list! Julie discusses how Charlotte Mason encourages us to keep sight of our own needs during the holiday season as we meet the needs of our families and what that can look like for homeschooling families.


Julie Ross | Instagram

A Gentle Feast | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube | Website

Homeschooling.mom | Instagram | Website

Thank you to our sponsors!

Medi-Share: an affordable Christian alternative to traditional health insurance

A Gentle Feast: a Charlotte Mason curriculum for the entire family

Want to know more about the Charlotte Mason method? Visit www.agentlefeast.com and click on LEARN MORE to receive a FREE four-day introduction course.

Have you joined us at one of the Great Homeschool Conventions? We hope to see you there!

For more encouragement on your homeschooling journey, visit the Homeschooling.mom site, and tune in to our sister podcast The Homeschool Solutions Show.

Show Transcript:

Julie Ross Today, I'm going to talk about, kind of one last mindset here. So, I said in the email that if I could give you one gift-- but this is actually a gift that you're going to give yourself. So just for a moment, picture yourself: it's Christmas morning and you go downstairs. Your kids probably have already woken you up, if they're like mine. Haha. But we're just going to pretend they're still sleeping and the house is quiet and you go down. It's all quiet and there's the beautiful tree and there's a box under the tree and it's for you. And it's from you. And you open the box. Inside-- just imagine like one of those big fuzzy sherpa blankets. I don't know if you've seen those. My daughter has one. I'm so jealous. I want one for Christmas because they're so warm and fuzzy and comfortable, and just wrap it around yourself. This blanket is called "self-compassion", and that's what we're going to talk about today. Give yourself the gift of self-compassion.

Julie Ross And I don't know if you all have heard this term before-- you could drop it in the comments if you've heard this or if this is something new-- but basically it is being kind to yourself and showing yourself the kindness that you would show to your children, to your husband, to your family and your friends. Because oftentimes the person that we're the hardest on is ourselves. And we talk to ourselves in a way that we would never talk to our children. We would never let someone talk to our husband that way. But we think it's perfectly fine to talk to ourselves that way. And for me, this has been a huge mindset change, and it's not been easy because I used to think if I wasn't hard on myself, I wouldn't get things done. Or I'd be this lazy slacker person who just was like, "Oh, it's fine that my house is a mess. It's fine that we ate cereal for the past four days." And I would just like have these really low expectations of life. And there are people that are in that extreme, right? That "I'm awesome! Everything I do is awesome. I don't need to grow and improve." But for the majority of homeschool moms that I have met, we are on the-- including myself-- we are on that other extreme, right? We are so hard on ourselves. We have this ideal, right? That's why we homeschool. It's because we have this ideal; we have this thing that we want for our family, right? We continually see how far short we fall in reaching that ideal and that perfection and the things that we want for our family. What do we do with that space, right? For the longest time, I thought, "Well, if I just beat myself up, we're going to be able to get to that ideal. We'll be able to reach that perfection. If I just get myself in order, if I just shape up a little bit, Julie, come on." And really, by being more kind to myself, celebrating our joys, and having more fun, I'm actually reaching the ideal that I never thought I would be able to do. As you're thinking about this time of year with all the things and all the demands, I just want to take some time today to kind of explore this concept of self-compassion and what that means.

Julie Ross Like I said, we talk to ourselves in ways that we wouldn't let anyone talk to our kids, right? And we can beat ourselves up because of that. And so one of the things I think we need to do is change the way that we talk to ourselves. This is probably going to sound really cheesy and hokey, but bear with me. This is a picture of me. I was like five, I think, or six or something. But it's totally like 70s here, like we have the big wood paneling and the rust shag carpet. It was awesome. I don't even know what I'm playing with. It's like a piece of tubing or something. In the 70s, I think we had toys, but we just found whatever we could, you know? Anyway, so this is me and I have this picture on my mirror in my bedroom. When I'm beating myself up in my own head, I talk to this little picture. I'll say all the stuff that's going on my head like, "I can't believe you did that. I can't believe you messed that up. What were you thinking? You're so stupid. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah." Right? But as I'm saying that to this little person here, it usually breaks me down, and I realize how ridiculous I sound to myself, right? Once I get it out there, either I say to myself or I write it down-- if it's going on in my head, the mental tape can just keep playing for days on end. But there's something just so therapeutic about getting it out. And when I see this little person, I would never say those words to this little person, but I can say them to the 42-year-old Julie just fine, because I think, "Oh, I'm tough, I can take it, right? Come on. What else you got against me?" But I can't, really, in all honestly. It upsets me just as much as it would back then as well.

Julie Ross It's really changed the way that I talk to myself to kind of see that picture and realize that little girl, I'm still that little person inside and I want to be loved and cared for and treated with kindness just as much as my kids would. There's a theologian I love called Martin Lloyd Jones. He was Welsh, he died in like the 80s, and he talks about this way that we talk to ourselves. And so I'm just going to read to you what he said here. He says, "The main trouble in this whole matter," and the book that this comes from is a book called Spiritual Depression. But he says "The trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression, in a sense, is this: that we allow ourself to talk to us instead of talking to ourself. Am I just being deliberately paradoxical? Far from it. This is the very essence of wisdom in this matter. Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You've not originated them, but they start talking to you. They bring back the problem of yesterday. Somebody is talking. Who's talking? It's yourself talking to you."

Julie Ross In this passage, he's analyzing Psalm 42 if you want to go read that. Psalm 42 starts with "Why are you downcast, O my soul?" And he's saying that that person in that Psalm, the writer of that, is talking to themselves. He's asking himself this question "Why are you downcast?" And then he stands up. He says, "We need to stand up to ourself and we need to say, 'Self, listen for a moment and I will speak to you.' And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, who God is, what God is, what God has done, and what God has pledged to do. Then having done that and on this great note, defy yourself, defy the people, defy the devil and the whole world and say, with this man," (the person that wrote Psalm 42), "I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. Who is the health of my countenance, and of my God?".

Julie Ross So he's saying here, like the Bible talks about taking those thoughts captive, right? We are talking to ourselves all the time, and most of the time we don't even realize it. So first of all, is this practice of mindfulness, being able to think inside our own head: "What am I saying to myself?" To take those thoughts captive, and then to fill that space in with the truth here. What God has done. What God says about me. I love it here where he's saying, "Defy yourself and the whole world." What is this truth? What can I stand upon? It's that I will praise God, despite of all the things that he's going through. I'll put this quote in the email I send out with the replay of this video, so you can go back and read it for yourself, but I just really love the fact that this great theologian is really talking about something I don't feel like we talk enough to people about: How are we doing emotionally and spiritually? And what are the things that we are saying to ourselves that are unhealthy, untrue, right? And that aren't edifying or encouraging or building one another up, right? And so we have to first be aware of it, I think, before we can actually come back and address what the issue is here. And this is something I'm still working through. So I'm just being completely honest with you all, because a part of me feels like I can't show myself compassion or kindness, because then I'm giving myself a ticket to be lazy or to not improve. Or is this just like some like self-help, self-esteem, every-kid-gets-a-trophy thing? "Everyone gets the gold star yay!", right? And if I don't focus on all the things that are wrong, then they're not going to get better, which isn't true, right? And so that's really been a process for me of giving myself self-compassion.

Julie Ross The term self-compassion comes from our researcher, Dr. Kristin Neff. And I'll link to her Ted Talk in there, too. As you can tell him, I think Ted Talk geek. But she says there's three important components of self-compassion. The first one is self-kindness, and I'm reading from-- this is a book by Renee Brown-- who I love!-- called The Gifts of Imperfection. And this is the chapter on perfectionism. Which, I used to think I wasn't a perfectionist because I didn't have to have, like all my soup cans facing the same way. Or like my husband jokes, in our house, that I'm a get 'er done, person. Like, I don't care if the picture's straight. Just hang the picture on the wall! Where he's like, "We've got to measure it. We've got to measure the curtain rods." And I'm like, "Just put the curtains up!" So in my mind, I'm like, "Well, he's the perfectionist, right?" He's the one out there with the leveler. And I don't even know if this picture behind me is straight. Or if I'm painting the walls I never-- I can never get the ceiling. I always paint on the ceiling! Whereas he will take his time and take 17 hours to make sure that no paint on the ceiling. I'm like, "Just paint the walls!" Right? So I'm like, "I'm not a perfectionist!" Well, I might not be about those kind of things, but if it's "Did I do something? And was my work okay?" I'm a huge perfectionist when it comes to that kind of thing, and will beat myself up if there's a mistake or something like that. And so she talks in here that perfectionism is a continuum, right? So it doesn't mean you're a perfectionist in every aspect of your life, right? There's continuous things that you have to do.

Julie Ross Which with homeschooling in general we can have these ideals, like I talked about, and we can see what other people are doing. And the whole "comparison is the thief of joy". And so we can have these perfectionist ideals, and we can see people post this beautiful flat lay on Instagram. But you don't see the dirty dishes and the stacks of laundry that they just had to move away so they could take the picture. We don't see that. And so we see everybody else's life is not like ours and their lives are perfect. And so we have these unrealistic expectations of ourselves and our kids. So part of self-kindness then-- that self-compassion is the kind to ourselves. And here's what she says, "Being warm and understanding towards ourselves when we suffer, fail or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.".

Julie Ross So that kindness is like that big Sherpa blanket, right? To wrap it around ourselves and go, "You know what? Good is good enough." And that took me a long time. Because before I would say, "Good is not good enough. Good isn't good. Excellence is good enough, and anything less than excellent is bad." And so it was this black-and-white thinking. It's either excellent or it sucks. And now, life happens in the gray, right? There is good to be found even in the things that I'm failing and I'm not succeeding at. So that's the first part.

Julie Ross The second part is common humanity. So when we're showing self-compassion to ourselves, it's so much easier to show it to other people. When we're harsh with ourselves and judging ourselves, we can judge other people, put them in boxes, and have our prejudices and things against other people because we are having that standard with ourselves. And so when we're kind of ourselves, you know, I can look at someone who is nasty to me in the grocery store or someone who cuts me off in the parking lot at Costco. And say, "Man, I bet that person is really going through a lot. Like to have that reaction-- to have to get that parking space like-- yeah, they must be in a really big hurry. I bet there's a lot going with them." Or, "That person, that really angry reaction they had to me. I bet there's something deeper going on." And the more compassionate toward myself, the more I'm compassionate not just with strangers, but with my kids, right? Because I know what's going through my head all the time, and how I'm beating myself up, and when I see them getting angry at a sibling, there's something else going on there. And oftentimes I ask my kid, "Hey, you just totally like freaked out about the fact that your brother took your pencil. What's going on? What's behind that?" "I didn't sleep last night, because I got in a fight with my friend next door and she said she didn't want to be my friend or I'm not invited to her birthday party." I don't know why that's the biggest be all end all with children? "You're not invited my party!" But I know that feeling, right? Sometimes our reactions-- the way that we treat other people-- has nothing to do with actually the other person, right? It's a cover of what's going on deep inside of us. And so that-- being kinder has helped me to have that with other people.

Julie Ross And then the next one she talks about is mindfulness, and that's what I was telling you about before. We have to even know what we're thinking and feeling, right? And for a long time, I would just push away any negative thing. If I was upset. If I were sad. "Don't feel that way, Julie. You're not supposed to feel that way. That's not a good way to feel. That's not being kind. Don't be angry at people." And I would just push, push, push, push, push, push, push, push it all away rather than go, "You know, I just totally told my husband off. Where did that come from? What's going on with me? What do I need to do to fix this?" Instead of just walking past and pushing everything away, to really start to explore, "Why am I feeling these things?" And so that's just part of being kind to ourselves is to not push things away, but to-- and not to make things a bigger deal than they really are either. Like we can go to the other extreme, right? And we can just stew in our feelings and sit there, sit there, and sit there and never go anywhere. So mindfulness really is taking an honest look at everything.

Julie Ross Like I said with that Martyn Lloyd-Jones quote: to talk to ourselves more than we listen to ourselves. And talk to ourselves with the things that are true about ourselves, right? And so I think as you look back at, you know-- I know a lot of you have finished term one, you're kind of wrapping up the year, whether or not you're finishing up the term, or however you take your school breaks, right? You're finishing up 2018. And it can be really easy to focus on, "Well this didn't go well. And I didn't do that. And I wanted to achieve this goal and I didn't make it. And my kid still isn't reading at the level I want him to. And my kid still doesn't know how to do long division. And I still can't get my act together to get up and do morning time at 8-o'clock in the morning. And blah blah blah." Right? I can go on. I'm just telling you, these are all things I said to myself. Or I can say, "Yeah, there are things I need to work on. Of course there are! I am a human being, right? I'm a person who needs to grow and learn. I have not arrived. We are not perfect. I have a lot"-- you can acknowledge the fact that there are things that you want to change next year, right? That's reality. But at the same time, I'm going to focus on, "Wow, that went well. We learned how to do this.".

Julie Ross I love... someone posted the other day all the things their child-- some of the books they read in term one, and some of the things they learned, and then at the end she put, "My daughter learned how to do a cartwheel." And I was like, "That is awesome!" Celebrate the fact that cartwheels are hard! And I can still do a cartwheel. Like that's fantastic! And I was like, "I'm so glad you said at the end of your list, because that is something that's worth celebrating, too." Reading, math, all those other skills, those are great things. But is your child growing in other areas as well? Celebrate those and let them hear you say those. I think that's a thing that I've really learned too is, as I've been more kind to myself, I can show kindness to my kids and encourage them in those little things as well. Because before, I mean, quite honestly I had the mentality of, "Well, if I encourage them that they are great because they did a cartwheel, then they're not going to want to try harder to do this other stuff. So I need to be like the tiger mom. I can't tell them what they're doing good because then, you know, they won't want to grow and improve." Like, that's ridiculous! Right? Who wants to grow and improve when you're in an environment where you're never good enough and nothing you do is ever celebrated? I don't. I want to grow-- and I'm encouraged to try new things when people are there to support me. And even if I do this and I totally flop and I fail-- which just happened-- that I have people who are in my corner, who are my team, who care about me. That gives me the desire to want to try new things that are hard or difficult and to grow-- That whole growth mindset ties into this really well. Anyway, I'm not going to go too much more depth in it. I'll post some things with that. But especially in this season because we're so busy and we're so strained and there's so much going on and, I don't know about you, but I have like seasonal affective disorder. So when there's no sunshine and it's cold, I'm like, "Oh, I'm so tired and I have so much to do." And I can just get really down. And so during this time, I really just need to be kind to myself and be like, "Hey, you seem a little down.".

Julie Ross Okay, this is actually the conversation I had with myself this morning. So I'm not just making this stuff up: "Julie, you seem a little down." (It's probably because I've been stuck in the house for two days with the snow with my with my family and haven't been able to go anywhere.) "What do you need today?" That's what I would want if my kid was really down and sad. I would go up to them and say, "Hey, man, you seem like you're having a hard time. What can I do? You want to make some cookies? Have some hot chocolate? Watch Netflix? Wanna hang out?" I would want someone to do that for my kid. Why can't I do that to myself? So after we get off the phone call here, I'm going to go make myself my chocolate and I have a new book. I'm going to sit under a blanket. Maybe I'll steal my daughter's Sherpa blanket and just love on myself for a little bit. You know, we need to do that.

Julie Ross Actually, I found a parent review article where Charlotte Mason says the same exact thing. I just love this lady! So this is an article about Christmas. It's called "Happy Christmas to You". Because in England, they say, "Happy Christmas" not "Merry Christmas". And in this article, she's talking about children coming home for Christmas. So, you know, in England, it's really typical they would send kids away to boarding school at a ridiculously young age, and at Christmas time, everybody's coming back for holiday, and that's where the story kind of picks up here. So this is Charlotte Mason's parent review article. (I'll put this in the notes as well.): "But the Christmas holidays. Boys and girls at school are counting off the days to homecoming. The father says, 'Darling, we shall soon have our young folk at home again.' The mother-- nobody but the youngest of the school girls is so glad is she. She thinks of setting out for church on Christmas Day with, let us hope, the whole of her scattered flock about her. And yet there is a shade of anxiety in the mother's face as she plans for the holidays." (Anybody relate to that?) "The brunt of domestic duties falls necessarily upon her. It is not quite easy to arrange a household for a sudden incursion of new inmates who's stay is not measured by days. Servants must be considered. It may be tiresome." (Don't you hate that when you have to tell the servants what to do for the holidays? So much work! Oh!) "Amusements, interests must be thought of. And then, does the mother stop short and avoid putting into shape the 'and then' which belongs to the holiday weeks after Christmas?" (Not only do we have a plan for Christmas, but then we have the week after Christmas between Christmas and New Year's! Where you're like "What are we going to do then?" Right?) "'Let us have a happy Christmas anyway,' she says, "and we must leave the rest.'". And then it says, "It is a council of perfection that the mothers should have quiet days for the rest of the mind and the body, and for such spiritual refreshment as may be to prepare them for the exhausting, however delightful, strain of the holiday.".

Julie Ross So Charlotte Mason is saying the exact same thing I said. I'll read it once again. I don't want you to miss it: "It is a council of perfection that mothers should have quiet days of rest for mind and body and for such spiritual refreshment as may be to prepare them for the exhausting, however delightful, strain of the holiday." So this is from the wise Ms. Charlotte Mason herself telling you, telling me, that we need to prepare ourselves. That even though the holidays are delightful, there is a strain, that there is work-- even when you have servants, apparently, there's still strain and work. And that we need to have quiet days to prepare ourselves. So as you're thinking-- I know you're in the midst of it and it's coming. You may be traveling, you may be having inmates come stay at your house. Haha. I thought that was a funny way to put having her children back home for the holidays! But what can you do to prepare yourself?

So she talks, and you hear, about these quiet days. You might not be able to have quiet days, right? As you can hear from my house. That just doesn't happen. But I can find quiet pockets in my day. I can find quiet places in my house, like my bathroom has a lock on it and it's quiet in there if I turn the fan on I can kind of drown out the sound of craziness. What do you need to prepare your body, your mind? And she says in here, your spirit as well. We do need to kind of get our game on. Plan for this marathon here-- the strain. What can you purposely do to kind of prepare yourself for this holiday season? I just thought that was really wise advice.

Julie Ross And then later in the article she talks about-- and I put this in the advent packet, if you have it, this is the last quote. I just love it so much-- But this is really what Charlotte Mason would say to give your kids as a Christmas present. This is the gift that you need to give your kids this year-- every year-- and it's just so wise. She writes, "Actions do speak louder than words to a young heart. He must feel it in your touch. See it in your eye. Hear it in your tones. Or you will never convince a child, or boy, that you love him. That you labor day and night for his good and his pleasure. Perhaps this is the special lesson of Christmastide for parents. The Son came, for what else need not inquire now, to reinstate men by compelling them to believe that they-- the poor shrinking and ashamed souls of them-- that they live enfolded in infinite personal love, desiring with desire the response of love for love. And who, like the parent, can help for this wonderful redemption? The boy who knows that his father and mother love him with measureless patience in his faults, and love him out of them, and is not slow to perceive, receive, and understand the dealings of a Higher Love." So she's just saying, what's the most important thing we can give our kids? What the special lesson of Christmas for parents? Is to give them this love. And that this love is in our actions, right? Our tone of voice, our touch, even our eyes.-- What are our eyes saying? I need to think about that. Because most of the time my eyes are like... Oh I need to think about what my eyes are saying a little bit more!-- And that we're going to love them in all their faults? I mean, that's self-compassion, right? That's showing... We need to love ourselves and our faults in order to love them and their faults. But we're also loving them out of them.

Julie Ross That reminds me of Romans 2:4 where it says the Father's love: "It's God's kindness that leads us to repentance." It's our love that's helping our kids build these habits and build these things that we want to see in them. Not like, "I can't believe you're so messy! When are you going to learn to pick up your snow clothes when you go in the house?" So we need to lovingly get them to change in these habits? And then it says here (I love this last part.), "Parents, 'love your children' is presumably an unnecessary counsel to anyone reading this paper. At any rate, it is a presuming one. But let us say to reserved, undemostrative parents who follow the example of righteous Abraham, and rule their households. Rule nonetheless, but let your children feel and see and be quite sure that you love them." And then she says, "But dear mother, take your big schoolgirl in her arms just once in the holidays and let her have a good talk, all to your two selves. It will be to her, like a meal, to a hungry man. For the youths and maidens, remember, they would sell their souls for love, and they do it too. And that is the reason many of them have ruined lives that we sigh over. Who will break down the partition between supply and demand in the home where there are hungry hearts on either side of the wall?".

Julie Ross Oh, I love that last part! "Who will break down the partition between supply and demand in a home where there are hungry hearts on either side of the wall?" And I just love that. I just think of that wall, that partition, right? Because I can get so busy and so focused on my agenda and what I want to do today. And there are hungry hearts. My heart is hungry just as much as theirs on both sides of that partition? And as she's saying, "Who's going to break that down?" And I love that. Take your big schoolgirl in the arms and go out. And that's one of the things we're trying to do this Christmas, is focus on experiences over gifts. My brother yesterday was like, "You didn't get your kids anything for Christmas!?" I'm like, "No, they're going to have something to unwrap under the tree! I'm not a Scrooge!" But small, small little things. And to focus on experiences. So like, I took my almost 18-year-old daughter out Saturday night, we got pedicures together and I'm like, "Merry Christmas!" (Of course she's at the age, she doesn't have to have something to open under a tree, she can understand that.) But I got like my little two girls, I got them ballet tickets. In March Cinderella's coming. Of course, we're going to the school performance that only costs 10 bucks, but they don't know that. To have these experiences with them and to have that one-on-one time, even if it's just, "Hey, you and me, we're going to make some pancakes and we're going to go eat them in the dining room away from everybody else." Just to intentionally spend time with each kid over break as much as I can. So I just love that. And I love that that's her focus of: What's the most important thing we can give our kids this Christmas? It's ourselves. And showing them that we love them. And spending time with them.

Julie Ross She also-- there's another parent review article that I'll link to where she talks about what to do over break-- They call it "holiday" in England. Which I just love. It sounds so fun. "What are you doing for holiday?" I have a terrible British accent, sorry! But that's for everything, not just Christmas-- spring holiday, summer holiday. So this isn't just an article about what to do over Christmas, but here she talks about how-- the dangers of filling our kids' time up with too much amusements. And so I used to think, "Our holidays would be a lot smoother if we just do a whole bunch of stuff. And then everyone will be happy and our days will be full, and..." She actually talks about that in this article, that that can actually backfire on us. Here it is: "Occupation: Many Interests. Occupation, of course, we know what befall idle hands. The more excitingly interesting that interests, the more apt they are to disturb the domestic atmosphere and make one sulky, another domineering, and a third selfish in each naughty in that particular way which is his nature to.".

Julie Ross So she's saying here-- too many interests-- the more interesting it is, the more apt they are to disturb the domestic atmosphere. And I was like, "Oh yeah!" I don't know about you, but there were so many times I'm like, "Oh, we're going to the super fun, exciting thing!" And then it brings out all the nastiness in everybody, including myself. This kid who's naturally grumpy, is more grumpy. And this person who gets irritable and angry at the drop of a hat, is more irritible and angry at the drop of a hat. And I'm more short with everybody. And so I've kind of learned to step back and say, "What are just a few simple things we can do?" I feel like when everybody's tired and everybody's loaded up on sugar, it just goes downhill super fast. To really limit those times where we're out of the house and we're doing a bunch of stuff this time of year, because these things can be, like she said, "too interesting" and make not a happy, pleasant time as much as I want it to be. So in here, she talks about the dangers of that. And so she says, "What do we feel are our holiday time with?" And she's talking about how really, if all during our normal school time, we're having these afternoon occupations, and we're building in them the ability to use their leisure time well, we would just do that more so during the holidays.

Julie Ross She also says that it's important for them to make handicrafts for other people, to benefit people-- the elderly, sick children, she talks about in here-- that our handicrafts shouldn't just be for ourselves to hang on the wall and look pretty. But can we use these gifts to bless other people, especially during holidays? I mean, that's a great time to be thinking through those things. She talks about the importance of kids getting outside. Even though "the weather outside is frightful" we can still be using our time outdoors. That, for my kids, helps so much with attitude problems and grumpy attitudes. If we can all get outside for several hours, it really helps everyone here. She talks again about some of the different handicrafts that you might do during this time of year. She talks about the importance of reading, that this gives your kids ample opportunity to get in those free reads. To get in those books that you might not have had time to read during the term. It's a great time to bring in a novel. Let's say you were learning about-- Well, let me give you an example: we're learning about the Great Depression right now. And so I could bring in a novel. Why is it that almost all Christmas books either have to do with orphans in Victorian England or the Great Depression? I don't know what it is! I guess it just makes us all sad and warm and fuzzy feeling. I don't know. But so I was able to find all these great children's books about the Great Depression Christmas books, so she's able to read those like this time of year, and that's super fun as well. And so it might be a great time, whatever it is that you were learning about, like if there's a novel or some other kind of book that you wouldn't want them reading during the school year, maybe a comic book or a "I survived" fun an action novel that has to do with that time period, it would be a fun time to bring that in. I always get my kids books on Christmas Eve. They get pajamas and a book. And that way I know over the week after Christmas-- which is sometimes way more stressful than the week leading up to Christmas-- that they'll have something to do to kind of occupy themselves. One of the gifts that my kids get, either in their stocking or as the gift is some kind of handicraft-- a little sewing kit, or this year I'm giving my daughter a slime kit-- which isn't really a handicraft, right? There's not like a marketable skill in slime making. But it's super fun! Right? And so that's a great thing to be able to do over Christmas, some of those kind of fun handicrafts that might not fit into school, but are just fun. Fun little building toys-- my son get some of those. We learned about the Wright brothers this term, and he was so interested, the Wright brothers had a gyroscope-- which I had never heard of before, so you could google that because it's like the coolest thing ever. Actually, I put it in the notes. There's this cool YouTube video. You're all going to want to buy one for your boys, for Christmas, or girls. Because it's so cool!-- Gyroscope. It's like a little cool-- it has like two circles and it'll spin-- like you can spin on top of a pen. So the Wright brothers got one of these and it broke in. So their mother, I guess, was super handy, which is so neat to read in the story. She was super mechanical, and so she built them like a new one, and they had to try to figure out like, why is it doing that? Why is it working? Even as they were really young boys were really interested in the stuff. So I bought my son a gyroscope for his stocking. So cool! He's going to be so excited about that.

Julie Ross So think about some of the stuff you've learned the school year too... If your kids have gotten really interested in science... All those nature magnifying glass... I got my kids binoculars one year. Actually this year I got them those backpacks with the little straws on them, because when we're hiking, they want me to carry the water bottles and carrying all those water bottles is heavy and I don't want to do it. And so, for Christmas, everyone's getting their own backpack with their own straw so that when we're on hikes... Yeah. So think about some of those things that you could get for gifts that have a tie-in with what you're doing for school as well. And so that's really great too, because that will really help occupy them. If you do take the week after Christmas off, it'll give them some things to do that are still-- aren't these super high, exciting toy kind of things-- not that there's anything wrong with toys. Don't get me wrong. But things that you can use that are practical and you can use all year long too. Cause at our house, if I give somebody a toy, a week later it's broken and they're not playing with it. I'd rather give them something that's useful and that's going to be around for a while. And then my daughter, oh, I got her a bath bomb making kit again. Just fun, handicraft things. Now, yes, we get lots of toys from grandparents too. So that's been really helpful for me to give them ideas of, "Hey, so-and-so could really use a pair of binoculars." I got my older kids Eno's. I don't know if you've seen those. They're these hammocks that you can tie up and they fit in these little bags really easily. They're-- I don't know what the material is-- like the windbreaker kind of material. They're called Eno's. Anyway, those are great when we're hiking or outdoors, because the teenagers, they're sometimes a little too cool to be digging in mud for worms and looking under rocks for bugs anymore. So they can sit in their Eno's and read a book or be cool. But they're still outside and they're still with us and with our family. So those are another gift idea as well.

Julie Ross All right, so I will link to those so you can read about what Charlotte Mason had to say about holidays and Christmas. Just wrap up what we talked about today: the gift that you're going to give yourself this Christmas is self-compassion and to be kind to yourself-- kind in the way that you talk to yourself, to praise yourself for the things that you're doing well, to not beat yourself up for the things that you're not doing well yet-- are not where you want them to be yet-- and to give your kids the gift of yourself-- to find time, to talk to them, to show them one-on-one, "Hey, I love you. I want to spend time with you this season, even though things are extremely busy. And we're running a million places. Hey, can you? And I just have a little personal tea time right now? Hey, can we play the Mario Kart together? Cause I just love spending time with you."

Julie Ross Thanks for listening to today's episode. If you would like to know more about the Charlotte Mason style of education, check out AGentleFeast.com and click on the "Learn More" button for a free four-day introduction course. I would love to meet you in 2022. I will be at all five of the Great Homeschool Conventions. To find out more about attending one of those, go to GreatHomeschoolConventions.com. If you'd like the show notes for today's episode. You can find those at Homeschooling.mom and click on The Charlotte Mason Show. Until next time, I hope your days are full of books, beauty, and biblical truths. Thanks for listening!

Previous PostS4E26: What Makes a Living Book
Next PostS5 E15 | Hitting the Wall in Your Homeschool Year (REPLAY)