S6 E20 | Starting Your School Year on the Right Foot (Julie Ross & Jeannie Fulbright)

S6 E20 | Starting Your School Year on the Right Foot (Julie Ross & Jeannie Fulbright)

Show Notes:

Join Julie and Jeannie for this timely discussion on setting up your school year for success! How can you go about setting goals in a way that doesn’t lead to overwhelm? This episode dives into what it looks like to reach for goals in your homeschool without placing unrealistic expectations on your children or yourself. Julie and Jeannie address the importance of fostering independence and self-motivation in your children through Charlotte Mason’s principle of masterly inactivity. Whether you are at the beginning of your school year or need a mid-year reset, let this episode inspire you to go after grace-filled, life-giving goals in your homeschool.

About Jeannie

Jeannie Fulbright, a 24-year veteran homeschooler, is the author of the #1 best-selling, multi award-winning Apologia Young Explorer science series: Exploring Creation with Astronomy, Chemistry and Physics, Botany, Zoology, and Anatomy & Physiology. She is also the author of the action-packed historical time travel book series Rumble Tumbles Through Time, as well as preschool science books and activity kits, the Charlotte Mason Heirloom Planner, and many high-quality Charlotte Mason based products. Jeannie and her husband Jeff became empty nesters in 2019. All four of their children all went to the University of Georgia on scholarship (homeschooling works!). For more than 20 years Jeannie has traveled around the country speaking to homeschoolers at conventions, covering a plethora of topics from Charlotte Mason to marriage and prayer.

About Julie

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.


The Charlotte Mason Heirloom Planner by Jeannie Fulbright


The Self-Driven Child by William Stixrud

Three-Step Goal-Setting Packet by Julie Ross


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Julie Ross | Instagram

A Gentle Feast | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube | Website

Homeschooling.mom | Instagram | Website

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Show Transcript:

Julie Ross Welcome to The Charlotte Mason Show, a podcast dedicated to discussing Miss Mason's philosophy, principles, and methods. It is our hope that each episode will leave you inspired and offer practical wisdom on how to provide this rich living education in your modern homeschool. So pull up a chair. We're glad you're here.

Julie Ross Hello, everyone. Welcome to The Charlotte Mason Show. I am here with my amazing co-host, Jeannie Fulbright, today. Hey, Jeannie.

Jeannie Fulbright Hello. So glad to be with you.

Julie Ross This is so fun.

Jeannie Fulbright It is. It's fun to see you.

Julie Ross It's so fun to do something together, too, because we're usually doing our solo episodes.

Jeannie Fulbright I know.

Julie Ross It's fun to collaborate here.

Jeannie Fulbright We see each other at the conferences, and then we pass each other in the night.

Julie Ross Yeah, for sure. And so today, we're going to be talking about how to start off your homeschool year on the right foot. And not everyone follows a traditional school year, but most people do. And so as you're kind of diving into the trenches right now, you might be feeling a tad bit overwhelmed. I've had several cries for help recently and messages from people saying, "I'm overwhelmed." And yeah, I can definitely relate to that feeling. I still have three that I'm homeschooling. How about you, Jeannie? Did you feel that way at the beginning of the school year?

Jeannie Fulbright Every year. And I, too, have gotten messages and my planner is out for the first time this year, and I have at the top of the beginning of every month three boxes for goals. And I had somebody email me and say, "What do I put in these boxes?" And I gave her a list of ideas. Learn to bake. Bake bread. Make sure we work on multiplication facts. Just anything can be on your goal list, but it's just kind of sitting down and figuring that out. What do I want to accomplish for the year? What do I want? And how can I break that down into small little segments for each month to move towards the larger goal, which would be the year goal?

Julie Ross Yes. And that's so great. And that's how I kind of break things down as well is okay, first take some time to yourself, even if you have to lock yourself in the closet for a couple minutes, but ideally ask someone for help. I recommend going to a coffee shop, going sitting in nature on the side of a mountain, whatever. But take some time just brainstorming what your vision is for the school year. This is what you kind of are talking about— these long term goals. And then allow yourself just to imagine it. So I say to people, okay imagine it's the end of the school year. What are you so excited about that happened? What are you just so glad that you got to do? What kind of feelings do you want to have throughout your day? What do you imagine your children doing? What is that atmosphere that you want to create in your house? How are you going to celebrate this year? What kind of things? You're like, "Oh my goodness, I'm so glad we took a trip to blah blah blah blah blah." You know? "Oh, I'm so glad we celebrated when so-and-so learned how to do whatever." You know, just really allow your imagination to go with it and just brainstorm. Just writing everything that comes into your head. Don't go, "Oh well, no, we can't really do that because that's not going to work." Like don't analyze it yet. Just allow yourself the freedom.

Jeannie Fulbright Yes, exactly. And I think it's so important also to have the mindset of the end looking back, because really what you want is you want to have precious memories. That's what your children are going to take with them for life. All my children are grown and gone and off to college or graduated from college, and what we have is we have collections of memories together and the things that we invested in, the important things. I think it's so important. I wish that I had been more intentional about putting them on a plan because those are the memories that we love to still talk about, that we laugh about, that we're all together and "Remember when we did this? Remember when we used to go to this place? Remember when we used to do this?" And even if we only did something maybe six times in our whole homeschooling adventure, my children have marked that as something that we used to do. That was part of who we were as people, our family ethos. We're people who did this. And so be intentional about making it happen, making it happen at least somewhat. If you make it happen a few times, you're doing great, but put it on the plan so that you're at least getting closer to the goal.

Julie Ross Yes. Yeah, so that's the next step. So once you have time to brainstorm— like Charlotte Mason talks about, you have to start with a captivating idea. So I think that vision is what gives you kind of the motivation because we can get really bogged down. I think that's when we get overwhelmed, right? We're thinking through all the details of the schedule and this kid has to do this, and I need this book for this resource. And you're trying to organize all your school books, and you have these big piles around your living room. Right? That's when you start to feel overwhelmed. But when you lose sight of the vision, that's what gives you hope and motivation. And so it's taking that vision. Okay. This is the end. This is my goal. This is what I want to have happened. Now, how do I actually make that realistic? Because otherwise it's just a dream. It's just a hope, a wish that maybe someday we'll get around to doing blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So the next thing you need to do is kind of break down those goals. And I love how you have those spaces for three goals a month. I do the same thing. I don't recommend writing all your year goals at one time. Just even I do like a term. But a month is good too. And start small. Three to five is great. Like you're not going to be able to start with everything you could possibly want to do this year right now. That's going to be overwhelming.

Jeannie Fulbright Right. Right. You have your ideal. Just be realistic. Be realistic about what you can and cannot accomplish. Be realistic about the phase you are in your life. Do you have babies? You're going to be limited a little bit by the things that happen with babies and toddlers and preschoolers. And you have to be realistic. Set the goals, but don't be so tied to them that you're going to be disappointed in yourself if you don't accomplish them. But just know that you have an intentional vision for your family and you are going— the Lord is going to help you fulfill it. He will help you fulfull what it is that He wants you to fulfill, and just keep moving forward. Keep hoping for we're going to add this in, we're going to do this. Things like nature study. Nature study, we did every day. We went outside every day with the kids, went out and explored every day. But we didn't go to big nature excursions as often as I would have liked, maybe once a month. But even once a month, my children have memories of all the nature excursions we went to.

Julie Ross Yeah.

Jeannie Fulbright So one thing I recommend doing is—before the year begins—go on to an app like All Trails or there's a website, the All Trails website. Went on there recently and I plugged in the name of my city and it pulled up— it had 800 trails.

Julie Ross It's amazing, isn't it?

Jeannie Fulbright Yeah. And it had 232 curated trails that were highly rated that were within pretty decent driving distance to my home. And I thought, oh my goodness, this would be so fun to have a chart. If we had had this app when I was homeschooling my children—we didn't—it would be so fun to have a chart and put maybe a poster on the wall and have a picture of every single nature trail we wanted to hit. Something we checked off, something we did.

Julie Ross We do that with state parks.

Jeannie Fulbright Yeah, something like that. That's a bigger excursion and that's great. I'm talking about just like 15 minutes away, 30 minutes away.

Julie Ross Yes. Yes.

Jeannie Fulbright But, you know, this is just one of the ways that we can be more intentional about making memories and really building in some more excitement into the nature discoveries that your children are making and adding to their bird life lists, or you can create a scavenger hunt that they will look for an acorn and a cocoon and different things from nature that you can have on a scavenger hunt that makes it more fun. There's a lot of ways to make that time in nature more exciting: having sighting goals. We've got to find two birds with red on them. Just fun, exciting goals like that. There's just a lot of really fun ways that you can make sure that when you're getting out in nature, your children are— it's not just trudging through the trail. They're really discovering, they're exploring, they're looking they're a part of the whole experience.

Julie Ross Yeah, I love that. And nature study was one of the ones I thought of, too, because I feel like that can be real ambiguous. Like, one of my goals is we want to spend more time out in nature this year. Well, that's very vague. So if you're— I've heard before, if you have vague goals, you're going to get vague results. So there's the acronym S.M.A.R.T. goals. So those of you who are familiar with it, the S stands for specific. So we are going to go on one nature hike from All Trails a month. That's a specific goal. It's measurable. Can I measure that? Yeah, we either did it that month or we didn't. Is that attainable? So like we are talking about with the season of life that you're in, is that attainable? Oh, I have children with special medical needs. We're going to therapy several times a week. Having a goal to go on a nature trail walk once a week probably is not attainable. So you have to look at kind of what your season is, right? Is it realistic? Yeah. So I can say I want to do this every week. Right? But I know me. I know my life. Once a month— that's realistic to me. For some people, it might be once a term, right?

Jeannie Fulbright Yeah.

Julie Ross And then what's the T stand for? My brain just went blank. Oh, timetable. So putting it on the calendar on June 15th— or not June 15th. On October 15th, we're going to do this trail. So you have it planned out. You have picked a date. Now, if something happens and you have to switch October 15th, it doesn't matter. It's the point that you have it scheduled and then it's easy to switch. But if you say, "We might go do this trail sometime this month." Well, is sometime this month actually going to happen? Probably not.

Jeannie Fulbright Yeah. Put it on the calendar. If you write something down— there's so many studies they've done that shows that when you write something down, you are greatly more likely to achieve it. And that means even sitting down and doing life goals, ten year goals, five year goals. I know that if I don't write it down, I often don't accomplish it. And so it's really important to write it down, have it on a plan or have it on a piece of paper or tape it to your mirror, wherever it needs to be for you to see it will help you to be more intentional about achieving the goals that you have.

Julie Ross Yeah, I actually write down mine every day. So I'll pick like five that I'm working on for right now, and I'll write those five down every day.

Jeannie Fulbright You are one goal-setting woman.

Julie Ross I'm a little achievement driven, but it does help so much writing that down. Like, it just reminds me this is my goal. And then I can kind of focus— because you lose track, right? And so that's where I think scheduling those things on the calendar are so important. And then something that you can control, right? Like so sometimes I hear people have a goal like, "I want Timmy to memorize his multiplication facts." Well, you're not Timmy. So you can't actually control that. You can control, "I'm going to practice multiplication facts with Timmy five times a day." That's a realistic goal and you can control that. And then, "I want to instill a love of learning in my children." Right? Again, that's very— sounds really pretty, but it's very vague. And what does that actually even mean? Right? Can you actually control whether they love it or not? No. But I can create an atmosphere full of beauty and books and biblical truth, and I can— I'm in charge of that. Right? I'm preparing this feast. They're going to take— you know, again, they're humans here. So my goal can be I'm going to have morning time every day with something beautiful in it. I can control that.

Jeannie Fulbright Exactly. And if we were homeschooling Jesus, all of our goals would happen. But we're not. Humans to shape into the character of Christ as much as we can, but really, it's all up to him. He's in charge of all of that, so it's in his hands, for sure.

Julie Ross Right. Yes. For sure. Yeah. So think through, okay, these are my three to five goals that I'm to focus on for the first month or the first term, however you want to break it down for you. And then you had mentioned kind of talking a little bit about masterly inactivity when we're thinking through some of these goals. Can you touch on that?

Jeannie Fulbright I think it's so important. And you talk about attainable and just whether you're going to make goals for your children. And I think one of the most important things that I as a mother learned sometimes the hard way, sometimes it just was the natural progression of how I ran our lives. But I learned that the best and the most important aspect of parenting and being a homeschool mom—whether you're homeschool mom or not—is masterly inactivity. And Charlotte Mason talks about this so much, and it really is one of the foundational teachings that she teaches, and it really is about stepping back. She talks about masterly inactivity being it is the desire for the mother to intervene, the desire and the knowledge of how to help and how to intervene. But the wise passiveness, the wisdom to not intervene. The wisdom to be wisely passive, meaning you're the master. You are the authority, but you are choosing to wisely not try to influence every situation. And she calls—a lot of times—people who are not practicing in this— I would call it an art of masterly inactivity— the people who are not practicing it are the fussy parents. They're constantly hovering, hovering, hovering over, redirecting their children, and trying to get them— "You need to do this and you need to do this," and they're ordering every single one of their children's steps. And they're completely in control of every single moment of the child's mind and their lives. And the children— what this does is it takes away their autonomy. And autonomy is probably one of the most important aspects of raising our children is giving them autonomy because what an autonomous child has is the desire and the will to be motivated— they're self-motivated. The will to do their work, to do what's necessary. So there was this man who wrote— his name's William Stixrud. He wrote a book called The Self-Driven Child, and I have a quote out of it that I'm going to read.

Julie Ross Oh yes. It's a great book. Yeah.

Jeannie Fulbright Oh, yeah. Okay. "Autonomy is built into our wiring in the same way as hunger or thirst." Autonomy is built into our children's wiring as the same way as hunger and thirst. "When we lack this basic need, we experience decreased motivation. And so when our children are unmotivated and we find that our children don't want to do their work or they won't do anything, a lot of times is because we have taken away their autonomy. And so one of the ways that we can help our children to become more self-motivated is to give them more autonomy in their lives and in their schedule. We can control the where we're going, what we're doing, but give them some freedom and choice of it. And this Self-Driven Child, he says, "We can't become a self-driven person if we don't have the sense that your life is your own. The phenomenon of failure to launch," you know, hundreds of children living at home, "is in part attributable to the idea that young adults don't have the same drive for independence they used to have. They're accustomed to someone else being in charge of their lives." Hello? That's all of us, right? And their internal motivation system is stymied. And so I think this is kind of one of the reasons Charlotte Mason—before all this research was done—she saw how important this was to children growing up. She knew that they needed more autonomy. And you know she followed the teachings of Rousseau, who, of course, we know was very much about children getting knowledge for themselves and being in charge. And he was, of course, you know— and so was Charlotte Mason. They all believed and followed and listened to the teaching of John Locke. And I'll just give you one more quote from John Locke, which I love. This is so great. John Locke says, "Of the natural qualities which children possess, curiosity and liberty seem to guide the young people most."

Julie Ross Yeah. And Charlotte Mason says that, right? We're born with that innate curiosity, but we teach it out of children.

Jeannie Fulbright Yeah. "And liberty here does not mean the complete absence of restraint." So, of course, we're not just, like, "Go live your life."

Julie Ross Yeah. "Go do whatever you want today."

Jeannie Fulbright "Math? Math, no." "But it does entail a sense of independence in action. Children want to show that their actions come from themselves and that they are free. If children were forced to play, they would grow weary of it in the same way they tire of study when forced to learn. It is not any particular action that become irksome to a child, but the denial of liberty and the use of force." So I just feel like the whole concept of masterly inactivity is going to transform your life. If we can discipline ourselves to give our children more autonomy and to believe in them— of course, that's part of the whole masterly inactivity teaching is we need to have faith that God is the ultimate teacher of our children. That God doesn't give over to the parents the raising and the teaching and the education of children. That he is in charge of it all. That the divine life is constantly at work in children and growing them into the people that he has determined and planned for them to be. That's his job. And our job is to be cooperators with God. It's not all on our shoulders.

Julie Ross Yes, and that's huge because I think we feel all that pressure. That's what's creating a lot of the overwhelm at the beginning of the year is that this is all resting on me, and all these results, and how my kids are going to turn out, and what kind of person they're going to be for the rest of their life. It's all dependent on what I do next month. And can be very overwhelming. And it's having that faith and trust to step back and to trust that the divine teacher is at work, but also that we're preparing the feast. It is the child's job to come at the knowledge. We're not filling the bucket. And like she talks about the mother bird, like forcible feeding to the baby bird. But they loathe predigested food. And we're not filling our children with a bunch of sawdust and information. We are providing this feast of ideas that they're invited to. And our children feel that. When we feel stressed and pressured that has all got to be perfect, and we've got to make this all work, and oh, did you learn this yet? Oh why didn't you learn that yesterday?

Jeannie Fulbright Have you done your work? Constant. Yeah. She talks about letting children learn to stand and fall by their own efforts because they need to learn the consequences of making the wrong choice. And the best time to learn those lessons are in our home when we can lead them to the Lord under those circumstances and show them, you know what? God is capable. You need to forgive yourself and you need to— God lifts us back up. We fall and God lifts us back up. He continually does that when we go to him and he gives us strength to try again to do better next time. And show them that it's possible to fail and then come back from that, come back from failure.

Julie Ross Yeah. And that's why I think it's so important to kind of firm yourself up on what your educational philosophy is. Because when you get into things and your child's throwing a fit because they didn't want to do XYZ assignment, it's okay. Why am I even doing this right? What is the purpose? What is the foundation? And so I think that's why I keep talking about you have to go back to your why. We become overwhelmed I think when we get so focused on the how. How am I doing this? What's my schedule going to be for this? What curriculum I using for XYZ? And we miss the big picture of the why and the philosophy.

Julie Ross Today's episode is brought to you by A Gentle Feast. A Gentle Feast is a complete curriculum for grades one through twelve that is family-centered, inspired by Ms. 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 AGentleFeast.com.

Julie Ross So we set our vision. So we have this long-term picture here. We have our goals for the year, and we make those attainable by having a plan, actually putting something down on paper for when this is actually going to happen, whatever that goal might be— nature study, the math example. It could be maybe this year we're going to try Shakespeare. We've never tried that before. Okay, that's the goal. What's the plan? So we're going to read this play in term one. We're going to read it for this many minutes each day. Maybe our end-of-term celebration, we're going to do this scene. Like actually putting it down on paper and making the plan for whatever that goal is kind of takes the pressure off of having too much going around in your head. Once you see things on paper, it's like, oh, I could do that. That's attainable. That's realistic.

Jeannie Fulbright Or you could say, "Scratch that. We're not going to do that this year."

Julie Ross Yeah. Right. Or I'm tabling Plutarch till next year. Whatever. And I've been doing that every year. So one of these years, we might try it. And then kind of knowing your foundation, which is what you were talking about with kind of the the philosophy and the approach that she recommended.

Jeannie Fulbright Yeah.

Julie Ross And just kind of digging into that a little bit before you start your year.

Jeannie Fulbright Exactly. And I just I think it's so important that we believe in our children as persons, that God is going to lead and guide in the way that he has for them to go. And when we put it in his hands, they will rise to his occasion. Have you ever noticed that your children are so motivated to do the things that they've decided to do on their own.

Julie Ross Oh, yeah.

Jeannie Fulbright So we need to give them more of that in the educational realm and watch them. Just watch them blossom. We will.

Julie Ross Yeah, that's great. One of the other things I think it's important to plan for and make goals for is fun. And I started doing that about five years ago. It really radically changed not just my homeschooling, but my whole life in general, because honestly, I wasn't having much fun ever. And that changes the atmosphere of your home, right? And your school. And why are we all crabby and complaining all the time? Well, maybe it's because I'm crabby and complaining all the time, right? So it was like, oh, I have to look at myself? Okay, thanks, Charlotte Mason. So my goal is to really have more fun, and I really had to plan it out. Okay? So I would have a goal to do three fun things a day. It could be something that took five minutes, like singing with the windows rolled down in the car on the way to soccer or whatever. But to just pick something fun. Or we're all going to go like play outside. Just to allow myself the time to do that. But make a plan for that. And plan for celebrations, too. Like you were saying, like with your older children— my older children talk about, "Oh, it was so fun when we went and we took that field trip to do XYZ." Or the day we dressed up like pirates. Like you said, that happened like once, right? We did that one day. But it's still a thing they remember, you know? So actually look at what you're doing. Okay, how can I make this fun? Maybe we want to plan it. We're learning about this this year. What are the field trips that would tie into this that are nearby? What is the thing fun that we could celebrate or act out or do wild together or something like that? Or maybe the goal is to learn multiplication facts this year? Well how are we going to celebrate when we do learn them? You know, to have a plan for scheduling that, too. Make it happen. Otherwise it's not going happen. And the next thing that needs to happen and when you're planning out your year—that we always forget as homeschool moms because we always put ourselves last—is plan to take care of yourself. So one of those goals has to be just for you.

Jeannie Fulbright Yes. And one of the ways that we need to be careful about taking care of ourselves is not being a slave to perfectionism. Because when we allow perfectionism to rule our our hearts— I have to finish this perfectly. Even if you have a plan and you don't fulfill it perfectly, do not beat yourself up. You have got to be gentle with yourself. Being a slave to perfectionism is the most wearying thing a homeschool mom can experience. It's that fear. It's fear-based. Fearful. Fearful of not measuring up. Fearful of what others think of you. Fearful of what your children, your husband, what anybody— just there's so many fears that are surrounding perfectionism.

Julie Ross Yes.

Jeannie Fulbright Fear of failing your children. Fear of— you have all these fears wrapped up and then you feel like if I perform this perfectly, then I have kept that fear at bay. But what you really need to do is deal with that fear because that fear is based on a lie. And that lie is that you're in control and you're going to be able to do all this when God says his powers make perfect in weakness. And so we should be celebrating in our weaknesses. We need to be celebrating in our disorganization. We celebrate in our— in anything that is a weakness of ours, we take it to God and say, "God, I am weak, and I'm grateful. I'm glorifying my weakness because in this area you will be my strength." And guess what? He'll do a better job than we could ever do if we felt like we were in charge. So I think that getting rid of this perfectionism idea is going to be the key to— one of the keys to taking care of yourself, but also making sure that you don't overschedule your week. That is what I always found. When years were really hard for me, I found it was because I was putting too many things in my week. I had too much kid stuff scheduled in my week because I had this fear, oh, I'm not getting getting them out with their friends enough. Or they need this thing and they're not going to be well-rounded kids if I don't have them enrolled in this and they're not doing this and we have to do this. And I would sign them up for too many things. And that was fear-based. And so make sure that you're making your choices on what your children do in total peace that you have the Lord's absolute peace and the tranquility to know this is the peace of the Lord in this decision. Because if you feel like I got to do this because I'm not going to be a good mom and I'm not going to be doing things right if I don't—

Julie Ross And everybody else is doing it.

Jeannie Fulbright Right. And it can be curriculum, it can be extra things on your schedule, extra— it can be anything that you add in on out of fear, out of fear of not measuring up or whatever it is. That is draining, and that is not taking care of yourself. And you're not going to be the best mom and the best wife and just everything that you could be as a human if you are adding too many things to your schedule based on fear.

Julie Ross Yes, that's great. Actually in my planning sheets— like for goal setting— and it's only like three pages, but I'll link these in the show notes. But one of the things you do before you write your goals is— one of the questions I ask is, "What are you most afraid of about this year?" And own it. I mean, when your fears are kept in the dark, that's where they grow. When you bring them to the light—talk about it to your spouse, talk about it to a friend—those fears dissipate. They're big, scary monsters in the dark. Like when we're little kids, right? And the lights are off. We turn the lights on, you're like, oh, that's my coat on the chair. You know? So once we name these things and bring them out to the light, that's when those fears can kind of dissipate. But when they just sit in our heads, it's not a good thing.

Jeannie Fulbright I once read somebody in a book said, "You're only as sick as your secrets." So when we have these things, these fears that are bothering us—they're kind of like secrets of our heart—they make us sick. They make us anxious, and anxiety is just another word for fear. So if we're feeling anxiety, we're feeling fearful.

Julie Ross And as you're planning, how are you going to take care of yourself? Again, make it S.M.A.R.T— realistic, put it on the calendar, make a timetable. So when my kids were young, one of the things I did was during rest time, I had like my personal tea time. And I'd light a little candle—that's from Sally Clarkson, who I love—and have a little tea. And it would just be 15 minutes of me listening to poetry or beautiful music or something, trying to read a little bit. But I had to schedule it or it was never going to happen. Now my kids are older and so I can just kind of do that stuff whenever, but when they were younger, that was very guarded time.

Jeannie Fulbright I did that too. What I did is I had noise canceling earphones that I used to put on. Couldn't hear anything going on.

Julie Ross Still do.

Jeannie Fulbright Everybody had their quiet time, but it was like I had these noise— and, you know, one of the things that I would do during that time is I would do my Bible study, just do a devotional, because I had to get it out of my mind that I couldn't do a devotional in the afternoon, that I wasn't going to have a quiet— for some reason in my mind, quiet time with the Lord had to be first thing in the morning. If I didn't do it first thing in the morning, then there was no point.

Julie Ross The whole day is over. Right? Yeah.

Jeannie Fulbright And I learned that I can have time with the Lord at 4:00 in the afternoon. It's fine. Even if it's only 10 minutes. It's better than not having any time with the Lord, which was what I was doing is if couldn't have my whole hour, then I wasn't going to have that time with the Lord because I—

Julie Ross Yeah, that all or nothing thinking. Yeah.

Jeannie Fulbright God can give you the most powerful 10 minutes of your life if you ask him. So I do recommend making sure you get your quiet times just anywhere in that you can during the day. Get them in. Let God fill you back up with his power and his strength. I think it's Corinthians— it says that we struggle— might be Galatians— says "We struggle with his strength that so powerfully works within us." When we're struggling in our own strength, we run on empty because we don't have any strength. We can't do it. This homeschooling thing, everything— we can't do it. But what we can do is if we are allowing him to strengthen us, then we can do anything. We can accomplish anything with his strength.

Julie Ross That's such a great way to kind of end this, too, because I think I would just encourage everyone: write these out. Once you get things written on paper, you will feel better, right? Once you have a plan and you have steps to take, that feels empowering rather than overwhelm, which just makes you feel powerless. Naming your fears, talking through some of those things. Having a plan for how you're going to take care of yourself. But then my last piece of advice is just take a deep breath and relax. You don't have to have everything figured out before the school year starts. And that was huge for me because I used to think I had to have it all perfect, and if I didn't have it perfect on day one, the whole year was just ruined. Right? Again, this all or nothing thinking that you're talking about, right? But that's not true, right? And that was a huge shift with me with diving into what Charlotte Mason taught. I'm learning alongside my children, and I want to show them that— that this is a process and I'm growing with you. We may not have figured out how to do x, y, z yet. Yeah, but we're growing. And so it's not that you have to have everything figured out and all your stuff laminated and perfect to start. You can say, "Okay, we're going to learn this. Okay, now we're going to work on this routine. Okay, now we're going to work on this habit." It's always growing.

Jeannie Fulbright Agreed. You can have your soft starts. And you can have a soft start every month.

Julie Ross Yes. We can always reinvent things.

Jeannie Fulbright I've got new goals this month, and I'm at a soft start. We're going to see if we can ease into it. And you can do it.

Julie Ross Yes. Right? And after—gosh, I don't even know—15 plus years, I still am writing new goals. Like I'm still trying things different. I'm still— you know, it's not that I arrived at this magical place where now I have everything figured out and I just keep doing the same thing on autopilot. That doesn't happen to me, and I don't know if that ever happened to you, but I'm always growing and trying new things.

Jeannie Fulbright We're always figuring it out. And the worst part is when your kids are all grown and gone, you're like, "I just really wish I could read aloud to them this book I'm reading. This would be so good. They would love this book." But it's like they're all in college or grown up and have children of their own. They don't want to listen to me read books anymore. I mean they might. I might try it at Christmas. We'll see.

Julie Ross I tend to give my kids books as gifts. They laugh. But I don't read them to them anymore. But me giving them as a gift is a subtle hint of I think you'd really like this.

Jeannie Fulbright This would really impact your life.

Julie Ross Yes. Well, thank you so much for talking through this. This was so fun to have a conversation with you, and I know this will really help bless everyone. And if you could put the book that you were talking about in the link in the show notes for people to access that, and I'll put the planning pages for people that want to write out some of their goals as well. All right, well thanks, Jeannie.

Jeannie Fulbright Thank you, Julie.

Julie Ross All right, good luck, everybody. You got us. We are behind you. You got this. Start your year off well.

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.

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