S7 E10 | Three Tips to Recharge Your Homeschool (Julie Ross)
Homeschool mom, if you feel like you are lacking vision, clarity, or purpose in your homeschool, join Julie for this energizing coaching session! Julie gives you an opportunity to reflect on where you are and dream about where you want to go by asking pointed questions and guiding you through the process of recharging your homeschool.
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.
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Welcome to The Charlotte Mason Show, a podcast dedicated to discussing Ms. Mason's philosophy, principles and methods. I'm your host, Julie Ross, and it is my 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. I'm glad you're here.
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All right. Now, onto today's show.
All right. Hello, everyone. Welcome to Recharge. I'm so excited that you're here today and I just want to honor you for taking this time out of your busy homeschool day to join us on this call. It's my prayer that this hour that we get to spend together will bring you a recharge and some refreshment that will give you a motivation and boost to keep on going through the month of February here. I found that in my homeschooling journey, February always seemed to be the hardest month, even though it was the shortest.
Definitely the time of year when exhaustion starts to creep in, people tend to get sick in the winter. You're just waiting for the warm days of spring to come back. You might be stuck in your house. A lot more people's attitudes, we start to wrestle each other's feathers a little bit. We start to get overwhelmed. So I wanted to offer this class this time of the year to hopefully just give you all some perspective and a few things to think about that might help in your journey.
So I encourage you, if you can, I know it's hard when you have a bunch of little people around, but try to eliminate distractions. If you're on your computer, shut your other tabs. You might want a piece of paper to take some notes. I will ask for you to type some stuff in the chat if you're able. I always think you get a lot more out of these things when you're participating full out. So if I ask questions, type your answers in the chat or write it in your notebook, but just I'm going to give you some exercises to complete as we're going through this. So I want you to participate. I think you'll get the full benefit of that as well.
So again, thank you for joining us. I'm Julie Ross, the creator of A Gentle Feast, and I've worked with countless homeschool moms for the past two decades, but recently, I also became a certified Christian life coach, and it ties in so well because as homeschool moms, it's very hard to separate school from the rest of our lives, and we really shouldn't actually because education is life. So it all ties together.
I found in my own journey when I was struggling emotionally, our homeschool was struggling. When the house was chaos, our homeschool was struggling. So everything ties together, and so we really do want to take the time to work on ourselves. As we grow as people, as children of God, that's going to affect our homeschool as well and bless that as well. So I just want to honor you for taking the time out of your schedule to invest in yourself. I always believe that that's a worthwhile investment.
So let's get started here. I'm going to share my screen with some notes and PowerPoint helps me stay focused here to have something that we're going to look at, but also some quotes that you might want to screenshot as well if you want to see those later.
So as I was thinking through Recharge, the reason I called it that is I thought of the battery on our phones. So when our phones get to, well, I don't know if it's like this with Samsungs, but with an iPhone, when it gets down to around 20% battery power, we get this little notification like, "Your phone's on low battery. Switch to low battery mode," and we're given the option of whether or not we want to do that.
If we switch to low battery mode, it slows the processing down a little bit on our phone. Then when our phone is about 10%, we get another one of those, right? Do you want to switch to low battery mode? We're only at 10% here, people, and then we get the final warning. Your phone is about to turn off in the next minute if you don't plug it in.
I think sometimes in our own lives as moms, we care so much about serving our families, and that's so important, but that we neglect these little signals that our minds and our bodies and our lives are giving us going, "You're only at 20%. It's time to recharge," or, "You're only at 10%. Plug in now," right? We just keep pushing ourselves until we get to the point where it's like, "If you don't plug in the next minute here, this is all going to turn off." Our bodies, we might get sick, we might have a mental overload, and we're not performing optimally at that point just like our phones don't perform optimally when they're in low battery mode.
So we want to learn to respect our body's signals and to respect ourselves enough to go, "Okay. I need a moment to recharge so that I can keep showing up as my best self and provide everything I need to for you all." So that's why I came up with this recharge term, but I like the visual picture of seeing it like that.
So the first thing that we need to recharge is our why Like I was saying, at this time of year, in the month of February, it can get very challenging and we tend to forget why we're homeschooling in the first place. Now, I'm sure if I asked you this you would all go, "Well, I know, I know exactly why I'm homeschooling," but on the day in and day out, is that what's before you? Is that's what's motivating your behavior here? Really take the time to ask yourself this, and I have some other questions here, but take some time in the next day or so to really just journal through this of not only, "Why am I homeschooling?" but, "What is my vision for homeschooling?" Because, well, here's the signal that you need to recharge your why. Here's what you might be struggling with.
We get lost in the how swamp is what I call it. We get all focused on, "Well, how should I teach Math and what's the best way to do dictation, and is my child's narration good enough? Well, maybe I should switch this book out," and, "Oh, maybe I should just go buy this whole new curriculum," and we are so focused on these how aspects, and I call it the how swamp because you can get totally lost in it. Anybody else done that? Right? Then you can't see the forest from the trees. You can't try to find your way out because you're so focused on all these little minute details, and we lose the big picture.
We can also get trapped in the tyranny of the urgent. That's another reason why you have to recharge your why. So if you constantly feel like your whole day is a game of whack-a-mole, and you're going from one problem to another problem, to another problem, to another problem, you need to recharge your why and your vision here because those problems can consume you, and that's not life-giving, and that's not fulfilling to constantly be putting out fires everywhere. So we really want to have days that are more purposeful and more intentional.
Then another signal is you lack clarity. Again, you just feel like you're spinning your wheels like you're going in circles, and every day is ... I don't know if all saw this movie Groundhog Day that came out in the '90s with Bill Murray, where every day is the same stuff and we're just doing the same thing, and you're losing that focus and that intentionality of what you want your homeschool to look like.
So some of the questions to help you recharge your why here is, what's your vision? So it says in Proverbs 29:18 that, "Without vision, the people perish." I think in my life when I know I'm lacking vision and I'm lacking direction, I almost feel that perishing. It's like this slow, sad, almost dying away of what I really want and what I'm trying to accomplish in my family, in my life, and why I'm homeschooling, and then I can spill over it in all kinds of areas of our lives.
So vision gives us direction. It gives us clarity so that we can mentally and physically know where we want to go. I think of ... If you're familiar with Alice in Wonderland, where she's talking to the Cheshire cat and she says, "Well, which way do I ought to go from here?" and the Cheshire cat answers, "Well, where do you want to go?" and Alice responds, "Well, I don't care where," and then the Cheshire cat says, "Well, then it really doesn't matter which direction you go in, does it?"
So for schooling, if we don't really know what our vision is, it really doesn't matter what thing you're doing. So it's so easy then to get blown by, "Oh, I'm at this front at the park and they're doing this thing," or, "Oh, I heard this podcast and they're doing this thing," or, "Oh, I went to this convention and they're doing this thing," and we can be blown by all these different directions and all this win because we've lost clarity of what God is calling us to do and what our vision is of how we want our school to be.
So some questions that may help you with that in this little journaling activity, I'd like you to do this in the next day or so, is pretend it's the end of the school year, so whether you end in May or you school all the way through December, but let's say it's the end of the school year, okay? We made it to the finish line, right? Woo! Okay. So what are you celebrating?
I'm so happy we got to do X, Y, Z. Let's celebrate that we accomplished this or we did that. What do you want your kids to be saying? How do you want to feel? Do you want to feel like you just crawled over the finish line here or do you want to feel like you're in chariots of fire and you're running across that with all this energy and enthusiasm? So what will make this a great year? So it's going to be different for everyone.
So what I think, "This will be one of our best homeschool years ever if blah, blah, blah happens," right? My answer's going to be probably a lot different than your answer. I encourage you to not think about what the right answer is or what would Charlotte Mason say or what do the experts say, but what's meaningful to you, okay? Think about that and then go, "Am I headed in this direction? If I keep doing what I've been doing for the past couple weeks, are we going to get these results or is what I'm doing leading us actually down a completely different path?" Then it's like, "Okay, we need to reassess here. We need to reevaluate where we're going here. Maybe we just need to make a small little tweak and we can get back on this road."
Again, I want you to think through of what this means for you because we can get so bogged down into this little box of, "This is what a perfect Charlotte Mason education looks like. You got to do X, Y, Z," and that's like, "What are my biggest pet peeves?" because it's like, "No." In this method, in this philosophy, there's freedom, freedom to take her ideas and her principles. It's not a system, it's not a box, okay? So find freedom in what it is that you actually want, what you want to see, what you will celebrate at the end of this year, and having that vision, again, gives you clarity on which way to go, what needs to be changed, what's working, what's not working, but it'll also give you motivation.
So if your current vision is not motivating you to get out of bed in the morning and be like, "Yes, I get to homeschool my kids," then your vision needs to change, okay? So you have to have a compelling vision, something that is motivating to you to take action and move forward. If it's a continual Groundhogs Day, again, that's not super motivating, and we're going to talk to on a little bit here about some of our thoughts and how they can lead to that unmotivation as well, but having that vision, having that clarity, having that purpose really does help drive your behavior.
So I want you to look at what are your unsaid expectations. Okay. This might be hard to identify. So what are your expectations? You have this vision, right? You probably have an ideal of what you think homeschooling should look like. Most likely, you probably have an ideal of what a perfect homeschool day would look like. So let's talk about that, okay? So we have these ideals of what everything should look like. I used to think that we would all just sit around the fire and knit and talk about books like Little Women and act things out and stuff, and that was going to be what homeschooling was like. I don't think we ever actually have had a day that actually looked like that at all. So my ideal wasn't really realistic.
So we want to look at what our unsaid expectations are because the gap between our expectations in reality is disappointment. So we want to go, "Are these expectations realistic?" Sometimes our expectations can be too low, and we're just like, "Yeah, whatever happens happens," and again, that's why we want to have a compelling vision. Sometimes our expectations are too high and they're not realistic, and that is what is creating a lot of the disappointment that we might be feeling.
So what are your expectations for yourself that you probably wouldn't say to anyone? I want you to take the time to think about them and write them down for yourself. So do you expect that you will always be happy, that you'll never struggle, that you'll always be consistent, that you will be perfect, that you'll always be prepared for whatever could possibly come up in the day? Okay? So these are some of these unrealistic expectations. So we might not, "Oh, well, I don't really think that," but on a given day, do you find yourself going, "Oh, I should have been more prepared. Oh, I should have known that was going to happen. Oh, I mean, this is all failing and it's because of my mood. If I was just happy all the time, we wouldn't have to struggle with this," right?
So oftentimes, our unrealistic expectations are things that are under the radar. They're in our hearts, they're in our heads, but we we're not always aware that we're thinking and feeling them. We also have unrealistic, sometimes unsaid expectations for our children. So did you ever expect that your kids will never resist anything you give them for school? Do you expect that they will love everything you do, that it will just be this magical fairy happy experience every day, that they're never going to be in a bad mood, that they're never going to have a hard time learning anything?
We go, "Oh, of course not. I don't expect that," right? When your child is showing that resistance because they don't want to do X, Y, Z, is a thought in your head, "Why are they making this so difficult? Why are they being such a challenge? Why can't they just do everything I say and this would be so much easier if they would just get on board with this program?" Again, our unrealistic expectations sometimes come out, but we don't always think them consciously.
Then what are your expectations for your plans? Do you have plans or expectations that your plans will always go perfectly, that you will always check off every box by the end of the day, that you will never be, quote, unquote, "behind", whatever that means, whatever set thing that you're saying you have to follow to be behind? Will you fit into all the perfect little Charlotte Mason boxes and do everything she said for all a million subjects and do all those perfectly all week long? Okay?
Then we go, "Of course not, Julie. I don't really think that," but at the end of the week, are you sitting there going, "Oh, my goodness, we didn't get to .... I don't even think I can be a Charlotte Mason homeschooler because we didn't do sofa," or what did I hear the other week? "We didn't poetry every day." Okay. I don't even remember her saying that or, "We didn't go for a hike every day." We have these unrealistic expectations. Sometimes they're put on us from other people. Sometimes we have them for ourselves, and we're just making this up, but we have the script that we're supposed to follow to be the perfect homeschooling parent.
I really want to encourage you to look at that. What are these scripts? What are these expectations that you're telling yourself that you have to follow in order to be successful? Do they match up with your vision? So again, that's why it's so important to have your vision here and have clarity on where you're going. All right.
The second thing that we need to recharge is our thinking. So the question I would like to ask you is, are your thoughts serving you or are they limiting you? Oftentimes, like I'm saying, most of this is automatic programming. We don't even realize half the time what we're thinking because we're so busy and we're so putting out these fires and doing all these things for kids. We don't even realize half the time of what we're thinking. So it's important to stop and ask yourself, "Why am I thinking that?" especially like I was saying with the expectations, "Are these realistic? Do I actually really believe that I'm supposed to have all the boxes checked off at the end of the week or my child's never supposed to show any resistance?" I might not say that, but is that showing up in the way that I'm acting, in the way that we're structuring our days?
So let's take a look at our thinking here. So Charlotte Mason said this, and I shared this quote on social media, but I remember the first time I read it I was like, "Oh," and I'm not sharing this with you to make you feel guilt or shame because we want to kick all that to the curb, okay? I'm just sharing this with you to give you some perspective here because I think oftentimes, it's very easy to fall into the trap that the problem is all of this stuff like, "If my children just had better attitudes, homeschooling would be so much easier. If my spouse was more supportive, homeschooling would be so much easier. If I had a better homeschooling space, homeschooling would be so much easier." Fill in the blank here, anyone. We have all these expectations, but if I could change all these things, then it would be easy, right?
The problem with that is that we're focusing outward, and we might not be able to change any of that, okay? We need to turn in and look at ourselves and look at what we can actually change, which is ourselves. So Charlotte Mason said, "Let not the nervous, anxious, worry mother think this easy, happy relationship with their children is for her. She may be the best mother in the world, but the thing that her children will get from her in these moods is a touch of her nervousness, most catching of complaints. She will find them fractious, rebellious, unmanageable, and will be slow to realize that it is her fault, not the fault of her act, but of her state."
So I struggle with anxiety for a very, very long time here. My anxious feelings, my nervousness about how I'm showing up and, "Are my kids okay? Are we learning everything we're supposed to do? Am I checking all these boxes off?" that does affect our children, and we tend to not realize that it's doing that. I think of it like being the thermostat in your house. You may not be consciously aware that by your moods and what you are thinking, you're raising the temperature or lowering their temperature of your homeschool environment.
Oftentimes, our children, she's saying here they're catching complaints. So they're being rebellious, they're being unmanageable, and we're going, "Ugh, they're the problem. I need to fix them. We need to focus on their behavior. We need to come up with a better behavior plan and all that or maybe I need to motivate them better or maybe it's the book. Maybe that's why they're rebelling," and not realizing that our state, our emotional wellbeing, our thinking is actually affecting all the atmosphere here of our house.
Then if we do realize that, we go, "Okay. Well, maybe I just need to change my behavior. I need to show up this way or I need to get up early or I need to do X, Y, Z." We focus on our actions and we don't take the time to think about our state, our emotions, our thinking, and what that's creating in our home.
The good news is, though, that if what I need to work on is right here, I can do it. I'm responsible for myself, for my emotions, for how I'm showing up, for what I'm doing, and I can change that. I can work on that. That is something that can be improved. Whereas if my homeschool can't be perfect until all these external things work out, then I'm probably going to be disappointed a lot at the time.
Today's episode is brought to you by A Gentle Feast. A Gentle Feast is a complete curriculum for grades one through 12 that is family centered, inspired by Ms. Mason's programs and philosophy, and is rooted in books, beauty, and biblical truth. You can find out how smooth and easy days are closer than you think at agentlefeast.com.
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So let's talk about our thinking here and some of the ruts that we can tend to get into as homeschooling parents. So I teach this cycle in my life coaching classes, and this tool is just really helpful to illustrate what happens here. So we have a thought. That thought creates certain feelings inside of us, and then based on those feelings, we act. We take certain actions, and when we do certain actions, we get certain results in our lives.
So let me give you an example of a thought that I have had before, and maybe you can relate. My child is so challenging. Anybody else? You don't have to raise your hand, but anybody else have that thought? Okay. My child's so challenging. So what do you feel when you think that thought? I would love for someone to share if you're willing in the chat here. Insufficient, hopeless. Yes, definitely. That's why. Frustrated, yeah, I'm sure. Good. Like I'm doing something wrong, helpless, yes. Good. These are great. So yeah, despair, right. Okay.
When we think to ourselves, "My child is so challenging," and it might not be something like we would actually verbalize or tell someone else, but we're thinking of this in our head when they're resisting or they're having a bad mood over something.
Resentful, yeah. I get that like, "I'm doing all this work. I've made all these beautiful lesson plans in this books for you. How dare you show me some resistance?" I get a little angry. Anybody else? Sometimes I'll, again, think maybe it's my fault, so then I start to feel ashamed, I feel helpless. I don't know how to help them. I don't know how to change them, but I don't feel good.
So what happens when we have those feelings? What happens when we feel resentful or discouraged or helpless or frustrated or angry? Well, for me, some of the things that I might do is I try to control the situation, "Oh, okay, you're resisting this. You're so challenging." I think of this in my head. "Okay. Well, then I got to change how I'm doing everything. Maybe it's this book. Maybe we need to go read outside. Maybe I need to shorten the lessons. Maybe I need to research more. Maybe we need to go buy a whole new set of whatever that will help solve this problem." I feel all this need to control and fix everything.
Your child probably picking up on some of these feelings, even if we're not verbalizing them, they might feel some of this resentment that we have, some of this frustration that we have. What might your child do when you're feeling this way and you're trying to control them or you might get angry and say something you don't want to say? Well, then your child feels probably ashamed, doesn't feel comfortable. That doesn't motivate them to want to keep trying, right? They might shut down. They might resist even more or your child might seek out negative attention.
So if you're feeling like, "Oh, my child's so challenging," you might shut down. You might try to avoid that child or avoid that situation. Your children can pick up on that, and then your child feels disconnected from you. What do children do sometimes when they feel disconnected from us? They try to get our attention and sometimes not in the best positive ways, right?
So what's the result? So I have this thought, "My child is so challenging. I'm feeling frustrated. I'm feeling angry. I'm feeling discouraged. I can take different actions, and that may look different for you, so you need to think through what you might do in that situation, but some of the results, like I was showing you, aren't the results that we want, right? We don't want our child to seek out negative attention. We don't want to feel disconnected. We don't want to shut down. We don't want our child to resist us more, right?
So the result that we're getting isn't what we want, but what happens is is how we get into this mental rut is that confirms our thinking. So if my child is seeking out negative attention, if my child is shutting down, if my child's resisting because they can sense in me that I'm frustrated and I'm discouraged or I feel hopeless, that's going to reinforce my thought that my child's challenging. Now, I have evidence, right? Look, this is all, and we don't see that we are the ones that are making the cycle keep happening.
Let me give you one that's more personal. So what if the thought is we're so far behind, "I'm such a failure as a homeschool mom. Why am I doing that? I'm just screwing up my kids." These are all thoughts I've had, by the way. So I'm taking these all out of personal experience here. So if we feel like, "I'm failing, I'm behind," I mean, if we're thinking that, well, how might we feel? How might you feel? If any of you have ever felt this way, hopefully I'm not the only one that you're failing, you're behind, how might you feel?
Inadequate, yeah, for sure. Frustrated, yeah. It's frustrating to always feel like you're catching up. I don't like that feeling, for sure. I'm discouraged, yeah, like, "Why bother?" Yeah, overwhelmed. You keep feeling more and more like a failure, a lot of shame. So if you're feeling those feelings, I want you to think about what actions might you take, what might you do when you feel overwhelmed or you feel like a failure or you feel discouraged or you feel resigned or you feel like you're inadequate and you're not going to catch up. What might you do? Well, I don't know about you, but I might just give up. "Okay. I'm not going to really put that much effort into planning out a week," or I'm going to show up in the morning like, "Oh, okay, what's going to happen today?" or sometimes I just want to fall into bed and take a nap.
If I am feeling shame and I'm shutting down, what result will that happen? So if I feel frustrated, I feel overwhelmed, I'm feeling like I'm not doing well, we're getting further behind, I always feel like I'm trying to catch up so I shut down because that doesn't feel good, what result will I get? We're going to be further behind, right? You all see that, right? Yeah, because I'm not putting as much effort into what we're doing every day. I'm not showing up as my best self. I'm not planning and making sure we have all of our things in the morning, right? So all of that can go on, right?
Yes, Stephanie, I know. It gets harder, and I'm not trying to make you all feel bad. I just want to show you this pattern because I think we do this to ourselves and we don't realize that we're even doing this because some of the results that we're creating, we can actually change by changing the way that we're thinking. So hopefully, I'll be able to give you some points here, Stephanie, that can retrain and help you think about things a little differently because the power is within you, right? It's a recharge habit. Yes, Stephanie, I love that. Yes, that's exactly what I'm going to talk about here.
So what happens is when we're in these, I call them negative thought cycles, what happens is we can spiral down like Stephanie was talking about real fast here because this one negative thought is going to lead to this action and these feelings, and then we're going to get these results that we didn't want, and then that's going to create more negative thinking. Then we're going to think another negative thought, and we're going to add that one to it, and neuroscience proves this that our brains, our neuropathways, the more we think something, the stronger that neuropathway is in our brain.
Like Charlotte Mason was talking about, it actually makes mental ruts in our brain, and then it makes it easier for the next time something goes wrong for you to automatically go, "Oh, see, we're behind. Oh, see, I'm a failure," because that pathway is so strong, but praise the Lord, He made our brains neuroplastic and we can be renewed and we can change your thinking, and that's really what I want to talk to you about here today.
So I think we all can relate to that. We can all see how this cycle and this pattern works in our lives. For me, that was so eye-opening, really, because I really for years spent so many times spinning my wheels, thinking these thoughts, feeling these feelings, having these results that I didn't want over and over again. I didn't know how to get out of that spinning around in the mud thinking. I didn't know how to change my thinking.
So hopefully, I'll be able to share some of that of my own transformation and how I was able to change that with you all here, but you'll know when you're in a negative thought cycle, you can feel it. Some of the signs is you might, like I said, not plan for the week ahead, not pre-read or look through your lessons for the week.
Here's one that I used to do all the time. I don't like feeling all those yucky negative feelings, so I would just check out. One of the ways that I would check out that was acceptable as a homeschool parent was I would start researching. So come February every year, I would start looking at curriculums and looking at things that I could buy for the next year. Oh, it's way more fun to plan next year because next year's actually not happening.
So next year's in fantasy land and it's going to be amazing and wonderful, and I'm going to buy this and it's going to solve all our problems, and I would spend hours on Pinterest, and I would call my friends, and I would listen to all these things. Instead of actually working with the kids that were right in front of me, I'm on Pinterest going, "Ooh, look at that. I got this all played out," and I was so proud of myself, and I love all my friends are impressed like, "Wow! You're so ahead. You're planning in February." Really didn't notice for years though, but that was actually my coping mechanism for not dealing with what was actually happening in my current life.
If we're in this negative thought cycle, we tend to complain. So when we're feeling these negative feelings, we notice everything negative that's happening all around us, and it makes us so hard for our brains to notice the good things that are happening. Our brains are naturally wired to find what's wrong, and that's great. That helps protect us. Thank you, brain, for finding this, but that doesn't serve us, and it doesn't help us get out of that negative cycle.
I tend to procrastinate, so I put off things that I don't feel real great about and I don't feel real confident about. So I'm going to procrastinate having to talk to this child about X, Y, Z or I'm going to procrastinate about planning these lessons or figuring this thing out because, "It just doesn't feel good. Why bother?" I become resigned to it.
Another thing is I would try to put bandaids on a bleeding wound. Sometimes I felt like, "Let's just try something new. Okay. Now, let's try this new thing and this new thing and this new thing," rather than going, "Okay. What's the actual underlying issue here?" There's some things in the chat here, so I think some people are relating to this. Yes, right? Okay, I'm glad I'm not the only one that did that, and you can relate to that. Okay.
So what we want to move is from this negative thinking cycle that in this mental that we can get stuck in, and we want to move to a higher level thinking cycle. So again, we want to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. So we want to think different thoughts. As we think different thoughts, then we start to notice, "Oh, wait, I'm actually doing X, Y, Z pretty well," or, "Oh, wow, my child actually did this really awesome today," and we start to find the good things and those things start to build, and we get this snowball of positive results in our lives.
So this allows us to be more motivated. It allows us to have clarity. We know where we're going. We have that vision before us. We're getting more control over what we are thinking, which then controls how we are feeling and our reactions, and we can take actions based on what our vision is, what our purpose is, and make steps and decisions out of love and not fear. So oftentimes, our actions are based out of fear, "I don't want to be behind. I don't want to be out of control. I want everything to go well." So we make these fear-based decisions rather than going from a place of calm and clarity and, "I know what I'm doing and I'm ready to move forward here."
So how do we get out of this cycle? A few things that I hope will help you as well. So Charlotte Mason actually talks about this. She says, "But what if from childhood they have been warned, 'Take care of your thoughts and the rest will take care of itself. Let a thought in and it will stay. It will come again tomorrow and the next day and it'll make a place for itself in your brain, and it will bring other thoughts like it.'"
So like I said, we start to get these negative thoughts even though we don't realize we're thinking them most of the time, and then our brains start to find more and more negative to attach to it. So here it is. Your business is to look at the thoughts as they come, to keep out the wrong thoughts and let in the right, see that you not enter into temptation. This teaching is not so hard to understand as the rules for the English nominative. Can I get a Amen if you're teaching grammar? Right? This is something that's understandable. It is of infinitely more profit in the conduct of life. So English rules, grammar rules, not as important as this.
"It is a great safeguard to know that your reason is capable of proving any theory you allow yourself to entertain." So what she's basically saying is once we allow one of these negative thoughts, it's going to come again tomorrow, and neuroscience proves this. Most of our thoughts are repetitive. 90% of what we think every day is the same thought that we thought yesterday and yesterday and yesterday. So it's repetitive thoughts, and 80 some percent of them are negative. So it's really human nature to go to what's wrong, go to what's wrong.
Has this ever happen to you where you wake up in the morning and you start thinking about all the problems that you had yesterday. I'm not even out of bed yet, and I'm already worrying about stuff. I just want to be like, "Can I just get my coffee here, people, before we start bringing back all these thoughts?" but that's our brain. It's just naturally wired to keep thinking along the same lines. It's always thought.
So she's saying we need to look at these thoughts as they come in, and at first, that takes awareness of stepping back and going, "What am I actually feeling? What am I actually thinking in this moment?" rather than reacting to, like I said, putting out that fire, reacting to the child that says this, reacting to that feeling of, "I feel out of control. I don't know what's happening here."
Then she says we need to realize that our reason, and she talks about this. This is from parents and children, where she talks about this in the way of the will and the ray of reason in her last volume of philosophy of education in terms of teaching our children this skill, which is just so very important, but our brains will prove anything that we have a belief in.
So when we have a thought, "I am a failure. My child is challenging. Homeschooling is too hard, I'm screwing up my kids. They always have a bad attitude. They think they know everything," when we have thoughts like that, our brains will find evidence to prove that we're correct. Our brains are naturally very helpful sometimes, but not in this situation.
In order to change our thinking, we also need to allow the fact that, "Hmm, there might be another possibility here. There might be something else that's going on. Is this thought 100% true? Am I really a failure 100% of the time? Probably not or I wouldn't be homeschooling my children, right?" I used to ask myself that, but more so than, "Is this thought 100% true?" is, "Is this thought serving me? Is this making my life any better for me to think this? No. Can I find evidence for the contrary? Can I find evidence of things that have gone well? Can I have evidence of the times my children put forth effort or my child didn't resist X, Y, Z, or my child was helpful? Absolutely, right?" So we have to train our brains in this. We will not naturally do this. This does not come easy. This is not human nature. This is purposeful intention of changing our thinking here.
So again, how do we get out of this mental rut? So the first is awareness, being aware of your thoughts. Journaling is so helpful with this. So we're going to talk a little bit about recharging our routines here. They're going to kind of help you with this, but finding time in your day to journal. I did this in the morning while my coffee is making. So I have five minutes in the morning where I write down my goals, I write down thoughts that have come up. Again, like I say, they just pop in my head in the morning and I'm like, "Where did that come from?" Just journaling, so finding time and stacking those habits in a way that makes it easy for you to, "What am I thinking here?"
If you get in a point in your day where you do feel extremely overwhelmed and you're noticing some of this negative patterns, just take a time out and allow yourself five minutes to go into the bathroom and journal about what you're thinking, okay? Make yourself aware of your thoughts. Start taking those thoughts captive. So we're going to stop letting these negative thoughts just automatically come in our head without us even no noticing them.
Sally Clarkson, who I absolutely love, who's one of my mothering and homeschool just idol people that I just love everything she teaches, but one of the things I heard her say once is you can't keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep it from making a nest in your hair. So those thoughts are like birds, right? You can't necessarily keep the thought from popping into your head, especially if it's something you've had for a very long time just like you can't keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep it from making a nest in your hair.
You can't keep from letting that thought sticking to your head. You can keep yourself from feeding it, which we're really good at. I think of it sometimes like we're feeding the thought monster, right? "I'm so discouraged," or, "Oh, this is so frustrating," and then we're like, "Yes, yes, it is. Let me tell you about how frustrating it is. Let me just keep feeding the monster with more examples and more food," and then that thought grows. We want to stop feeding it, okay?
So you need to start talking to yourself is the other way. So first is awareness, "What am I actually thinking here?" Taking those thoughts captive, what you're going to allow in and what you're not, and we do that by also talking to ourselves, so intentionally telling yourself what you want to think, okay? So here are some that I wrote out several years ago that I had to tell myself every day. I don't do that anymore because now these are automatic here, okay?
So let's look at one of these. "I'm the perfect person to homeschool my children." How does that make you feel? Needed, relief, empowered. Yes. So if I am telling myself, "I'm the perfect person to homeschool my children," and again, my kids resisting, right? Okay. We've had this behavior dynamic here. We've had this situation going on, and they're resisting. I don't go, "Oh, they're so challenging. Oh, I'm so a failure." I say, "I'm the perfect person to homeschool my children. I feel like Wonder Woman. Man, I know how to solve this problem, okay? God put me with this child so we can work this out. We're going to work this out. Okay?"
I don't feel the need to give up. I don't feel the need to go take a nap. I feel equipped like it says here, "I will not fear because I work in cooperation with the divine teacher," and I love that Charlotte Mason includes that in her writings because, ultimately, it isn't me, right? It is the Holy Spirit working through me and with this child, okay? So I don't have to solve this problem today. Whew. That's a relief, right? I don't have to get it perfect today because the holy Spirit's working on this kid and they're working through this situation, and I can trust that this is part of this process here.
I don't need to take it personally. I don't need to get in a power struggle about this situation because I know that mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow and we're becoming better every day. All of these thoughts that I wrote out for myself, in those moments, I can choose to think differently. Is this easy? No. Okay? I've been working on this for years, and there's still times where that little negative thought just automatically goes right in there and I'm like, "Oh, why am I doing this?" but I know it now and I'm aware of it now. Whereas before, it was all an autopilot. So at least now I can go, "Wait a minute, Julie, we're not going down that road anymore. Okay? We're changing this path. We're going to think something different."
So you might want to screenshot these or I can put them in the email with the replay, but I want you to write what feels good for yourself. Now, are these thoughts always going to feel 100% true? Let's put this one out. Our days are full of beauty, laughter, and rich ideas. Is that always going to feel true to me? Can I give you examples of days where it didn't feel like our day was full of laughter and beauty and it was just frustrating? Yes, but that happens very rarely nowadays or I'm grateful to be homeschooling my children and I truly, truly am 100%, but are there moments sometimes where I'm like, "Life would be maybe a little bit easier if I wasn't doing this all day"? Of course.
So it's not like you're going to think these things 100% of the time and you're never going to have a negative thought, especially if those mental ruts are very strong, and you've been doing this for a while, but it's this process. I like the last one here, "I'm becoming better each day that I'm growing, my kids are growing, we're on this journey, we're on this process together." I love the second one too, "I'm on a journey. We're all progressing at the perfect pace."
So if you believe that, "Ugh, we're so far behind," which I really don't like that, behind who? Behind what? Whatever your plans were or wherever you're supposed to be right now, if you feeling like you're behind, I encourage you to look at this and start saying this to yourself, "What if you just believed that we're progressing at the perfect pace? We're exactly where we need to be. We are getting better each day." How does that make you feel? Does that make you feel discouraged? Does that make you feel like giving up? No, right? That makes you feel, I don't know about you. I guess you could tell me. How does that make you feel when you say the thought to yourself, "I'm progressing at the perfect pace. We're all on this journey. We're getting better each day." How does that make you feel?
Yeah, relieved, hopeful. I love that. Worded. The pressure, it's not all on me, right? We're here. Okay. So that thought serves you, okay? So again, you might be thinking, "Well, I can find so much evidence of where we're behind in X, Y, Z." I'm not asking you, is the that thought 100% true? I'm asking you, does that thought serve you, and it's not, right? It's creating feelings that don't feel good, which leads you to take actions that aren't serving you, that gives you results that are reinforcing that. So let's have a different thought.
Yeah, these are great journal prompts. Yeah, absolutely. I had to stick these on little sticky notes around my school room to remind me or, "Oh, I have to do math with this kid over here, so I need a lot of these notes right here so I can keep looking at them while we're working on this. We're exactly where we need to be. We're on this journey together." Again, when I feel, like you guys were saying, at peace, supported, relieved, empowered, how does that change how I show up for my kid? How does that change the actions that I'm going to take here? Am I going to get as easily frustrated with him when we're ... Let's say the math lesson, for example. Always going to pick on math, but will I feel as frustrated? Will I want to give up as easily? Will he be able to sense my anxious feelings because if I feel that we're behind, I feel anxious, and we need to control it and, "We need to finish this lesson right now, and I don't know why you don't understand this because we explained this yesterday. Oh, gosh, we have 10 minutes till we have to go to the doctor. Just sit down and do this problem," right?
Maybe I'm the only one that talks like that, but when I feel anxious, that's how I act. I don't want to show up with that. When I believe that we're at the perfect pace and we're all on this journey and we're learning together and we're becoming better each day, I can relax and just go to my kid, "Yeah, wow, that problem's really hard. Hmm, wow. Yeah, I need to think about that because that that problem is hard," and then two minutes later, my kid's like, "Oh, I figured it out," and I'm like, "Oh, cool. Awesome." Their brain shut down when it was feeling all that anxiety coming out of me and all that controlling and all that frustration, they shut down, their brain can't think.
I mean, think about it for yourself. Do you perform your best when you have someone going, "Okay. Come on, we got to do this. We got to finish right now. Why are you so behind? Why don't you understand it?" Of course not, right? You feel better when you're relaxed and you feel like, "Oh, well, I have all this time to grow and I have all this time to do X, Y, z, and I feel comfortable." So we want to create that atmosphere in our homes that are going to allow our children to be successful. So these thoughts will lead you to have feelings that are more positive, which will allow you to take more empowered action, again, in line with your vision. That's why we need to recharge why we're doing it, where we're going, but then also start to become aware of what it is that we're thinking here.
Charlotte said this as well. So picture this. So we are thinking as we've always thought, like I said, these are ruts here, these are train tracks. You do not deliberately intend to think these thoughts. You may indeed object strongly to the line they are taking. That ever happen to you where you're thinking a thought and you're like, "I object. I do not want this thought. Why is it coming in my head?"
So she says we need to barricade it and say, "No road," like a train check to compel the busy populace of the brain world to take another route. I love this because, I mean, Charlotte wrote over a hundred years ago, and neuroscience now proves this that we're taking these neuropathways, if they're really strong, and we want to change them to go in a different direction, and this is actually possible. When you have these thoughts coming in that you're like, "I don't want to think that. I don't want to go down that road," and I actually say that to myself, "I'm not going down that road," so when I have a thought and it doesn't feel empowering, it doesn't feel good, I'm not going down that road anymore, and I tell my brain that, right?
I've also given this example to people of telling your brain it's time to go in timeout like, "Thank you for that thought. That thought is not serving me. You can go sit in the corner right now," or in Taylor Swift, "Go sit in the corner and think about what you did. I don't need you to keep giving me these thoughts that are not serving me." As they come in, again, you have that power to be aware and telling your thoughts which direction to go in here. All right.
Then recharge yourself. So I talked about recharging your vision, your why, recharging your thinking, and then you need to recharge yourself. So most people know the school from Charlotte Mason, if mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when they're done, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play. She goes on to say, "If she would only have the courage to let everything go when life becomes too tense and just take a day or half a day out in the fields with a favorite book or in a picture gallery looking long and well at just two or three pictures or in bed without the children, life would go on far more happily for both children and parents."
So again, like I said, we can get so stuck in this tyranny of the urgent and putting out all these fires and taking care of everybody else that we don't take time to recharge ourself, and our battery is low and it keeps going, "Hey, plug us in. Hey, you need to recharge," and we just keep pushing through to we're at the point where we're so exhausted and we're so overwhelmed and we're so burn out. At that point, we don't have anything to give anybody else, and that's when we become anxious and fearful and start complaining and we're getting more of the results that we don't actually want.
So it is well worth it. You are worth it to take the time to recharge yourself, okay? Like Charlotte Mason here, she says, "Take a day or half a day." So it may mean am locking this out on my calendar that this is a day where I am recharging myself. You might think, "I don't really have that much time." You can just take half a day or an hour or 30 minutes. In this example in her mother culture article that was in the Parents Review magazine, she gives us an example of a mom who has little toddlers, and she's sitting on the floor relaxing and thinking and reading a book, and they're all in their highchair, eating food, doing all this other stuff, but the mom was taking purposeful time to recharge herself.
So I want you to ask yourself, what feeds you? What feeds your heart and mind? What feeds me is probably different than what feeds you, right? So what recharges me might not recharge you. So often, I think we think we can only recharge a certain way because this is how other people do it, and that's acceptable. No. Okay? So Charlotte Mason talks about going out in the fields. I think time in nature always recharges me. That always feels good. So I purposely schedule in time every day to go sit on my porch or to go for a walk. I have to be outside.
Time with a favorite book. Spend time reading filling your mind. Looking at art was one of the examples, even just laying in bed. I tell my children, I'm like, "I'm just going to rest my eyes," and I take these little 20 minute power naps sometimes, but what refills you? So I have a little recharge challenge for February, which is just little 28 cute little ideas that you can download, but I'll send that again with the replay. Look through that and if something doesn't appeal to you, but fill it with something that does appeal to you. Come up with 28 ideas in February to get yourself in the habit of recharging yourself. This is a habit. It needs to be a priority because you know what? You're never going to have extra time. It's never magically one day you can be sitting around and be like, "Oh, wow, I have all these hours and nothing to do. Man, I should really go for a walk in nature," or, "Oh, I should listen to some music," or, "Oh, I should read a book." That just doesn't happen, okay?
So if you keep waiting for that to magically happen where you're going to have all this time to take care of yourself, that's not going to happen. So you need to make it a priority. We go through different seasons in life. So look at your schedule, look at your routines and how you can fit that in. Like I said, I journal for the five minutes while my coffee's brewing. It made it a very easy habit for me because it was something I was already doing. If you brush your teeth, putting a habit with brushing your teeth is usually very successful. So think of what you already are doing, "Can I add this habit to it?"
When my kids were young, they had room time every day after lunch, and I read aloud, and so I would put them up in their rooms and the first 15 minutes, and I would set a timer, I would have a personal tea time. So I would brew myself a little cup of tea, and I had my little book that I was going to read, and it was 15 minutes because what would happen is if I didn't purposely schedule that and I hadn't made it a habit, I would put them in their rooms and then I would start making dinner or I would do laundry or I would do all these other things that are more important than taking care of myself. So I had to make that the first thing, "This is the biggest priority. I'm going to do that."
I still had time to get the laundry done and make dinner, right? We fit things in around the time that we give them. So that might be an idea for your season, before your kids wake up in the morning. I had a season where I had to train my younger ones to not come downstairs before 8:00. I bought them all digital clock so they could read time, "Here's 8:00. Do not come out of your room till 8:00." It took a while. Now, they're all teenagers. If they got up at 8:00, I would be so thrilled, right? So again, it's just different seasons, but I had to have that 30 minutes to myself in the morning to take care of myself, workout, read, et cetera.
So think about your morning routines. Can you add a little bit of time for yourself in there? Even if it's just waking up 10 minutes earlier than you wake up right now, it doesn't have to be this huge overhaul of your life. Sometimes I feel like people are like, "I have to redo everything." No, no, no. Take small little steps with what you already have going on. Think about your evening routine, okay? So maybe it's after dinner, after the dishes are done, telling your spouse, telling your kids, "Okay. This is mommy's 15 minutes to herself." Again, scheduling it around things you're already doing makes it really easy to fit in.
I leave a book on my pillow every night. I read to myself for at least 15 minutes. Most of the time it's 30 minutes a night before I go to sleep. That book is on my pillow to remind me to do it. So I can't lay my head on the pillow. I'm going to hit a book. So making these things where you're going to see them and you're going to do them. So if recharging yourself, if it helps you to read, if it helps you to read books, and I'll include some of my favorite ones that I've used for mother culture in the replay as well, I really believe that will help with recharging your why is reading books on homeschooling, mothering. Those are always so encouraging to me, on habits as well.
Leah Boden, I just interviewed her for my podcast, she came out with a new book called Modern Miss Mason. It's awesome. It's just like a breath of fresh air. It really is so freeing. That's why it has a little butterfly on it. I wish this would've been around when I started homeschooling because there was all this Charlotte Mason little boxes that we had to fit in, and it was not the beauty and the freedom of the philosophy, but she's so good about focusing on that. Plus, there's some super really practical ideas in it, but you can read one of these chapters in 15 minutes. So again, it's just having these little pockets of time.
Karen Andreola has a book called Mother Culture, and those little chapters, I read those in five minutes. So again, it doesn't take that lot of time, but it takes intentionality of, "Where am I going to schedule this on my calendar?" So looking at that February, February's 28 days, so it's not that long, and thinking of something you can do every day for this month that's going to recharge you, that's going to help fill your tank, and then how are you going to schedule that into the life that you already have, into the routine that you already have?
Make it simple for yourselves because ... Yeah, Automatic Habits, yes, I love that book. That's one of mine on my list. Again, making it easy. If it's hard for you to find the time to recharge yourself, and then you have to go hook the TV up so you can find the YouTube workout video that you wanted to do, and then you spend 15 minutes trying to figure out which workout video to do and then time is up, figure these things out beforehand. That's why I said looking at the whole month of February is super helpful because you just wanted to make it easy. I already know at Wednesday at 1:00 I'm going to turn on YouTube, I'm going to do this workout video for 20 minutes. Having the plan already in place and then having all the materials just like we do for homeschooling.
Our days flow so much easier when we have things planned and laid out. So if you want to feel empowered for the week that is ahead, I always tell people I spend 30 minutes every Sunday planning out our week, looking at what's coming, planning out, "Okay, on Thursday, we're doing the science experiment with soap. Do I actually have soap? That's good because otherwise, Wednesday morning I'm trying to hustle all the kids into the car to go to the store to buy soap," and that just disrupts everything, but that 30 minutes I took to realize, "Oh, we don't have soap," and go and get it, it would take longer if I have to actually go get the soap or send someone else to go get the soap, our days are going to run so much smoother.
Honestly, like I was saying, at those times when I felt so discouraged, the planning would be the first thing that would go, that Sunday planning. I know I'm in a negative thought cycle if I stop Sunday planning because that is what makes me empowered. To me, it's just a non-negotiable. It's a habit. Like Sunday, we had all this stuff going on and it's 8:00 at night and I realized, "Oh, I didn't plan this week," I literally stopped everything I was doing and came into here and started writing out what I was going to do for the week because I know that the week is going to go downhill super fast come Monday morning if I haven't planned things out. It's just non-negotiable for me.
So you want these things to just become habits so we're not having to think about them because that decision fatigue is a real thing and we get tired and we get overwhelmed when we're constantly having to think through, "What do I do next? What happens this time? What happens on Wednesdays? How do I do this read alouds?" If we're always asking ourselves all these questions and we're always having to think about all of it, it makes it extremely difficult. So finding the time and making it a habit makes everything just fall into place a lot easier here.
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