Cousin Teresa Wiedrick shares Life Lessons I’ve Learned as a Homeschool Mom. Need homeschool encouragement? tips she’s learned!
Life Lessons I’ve Learned as a Homeschool Mom
We have been asking our Cousins to share their homeschooling wisdom and advice with us. Our Cousin Teresa Wiedrick is a fount of encouragement! She has learned from years of homeschooling her four kids (the oldest two have graduated now). Teresa shares posts, podcast, and courses for moms at Capturing the Charmed Life.
In this post, Teresa shares some life lessons that she has learned along the way as a homeschool mom.
There were a few things I assumed I would learn as a homeschool mom. Here are seven lessons I thought I would learn:
- Ways to teach a kid to read.
- How to be patient (I did learn a few tools to address impatience;)
- Skills for not losing my marbles (you betcha, girlfriend, definitely learned tools to address this).
- How to multitask (yup, did learn multitasking, but don’t recommend it).
- Ways to incorporate a school in my home.
- Relearn high school math concepts (nope, didn’t learn them!)
- The best way to homeschool my kids. (Spoiler alert, there is no “best way”. Thanks for reminding me along my homeschool journey, 7Sisters!)
Guess what? These were not the lessons I learned!
Rather, the following seven lessons are what I have learned during my decade and a half homeschooling my four kids.
There are probably many more things I have learned as a homeschool mom, but these are tops.
I learned I had wildly unrealistic expectations about how much we could accomplish
In reality, I had such a hard time getting anywhere on time, I did not have a natural ability to get myself and my four kids anywhere before three in the afternoon, because I had sixty-two things still to do that I needed to accomplish that day.
I could hardly believe that just a few years prior, I had been able to get two kids out the door to their private school before eight in the morning. How did I do that?
This inability to manage my time, and the unrealistic expectations I had each day, made my experience of homeschooling unhappy making. I felt stressed every time I left the house (and it was mot because I was worried if the kids were in clean pajamas as we left or whether they were bringing the right instrument to their music practice.)
Straight up, I just felt overwhelmed by the expectations (even if they were my expectations).
I learned that when we:
- clarify how much time we have in a day,
- get clear on how much time activities take,
- and when we create margins to address unexpected events (because there were always unexpected events),
I could feel more at ease with the time I had and use it on purpose.
Click here for a Time Audit you can use to address your unrealistic expectations like I did:
Life Lessons I’ve Learned as a Homeschool Mom: I learned that I needed to take time away.
One homeschool day, after our morning read aloud, I rolled my chair back and forth between three little girls doing their cursive, then their math workbooks, and then their spelling.
My toddler was mostly satisfied strapped into his highchair with a bowl of cheerios, tossing them off the side until he needed more, and he made sure I knew when he did.
I needed a break, a little quiet, to sequester myself in the corner chair of my bedroom, pull out the box of Italian cookies hidden under my cushion, and scroll Pinterest for a few mindless minutes.
I needed a breather. Of course, I wanted to be with my children. But I needed to be quietly alone at times too.
When I could take those rare moments away for self-care, even when I was just at the grocery store by myself, I could come back after an hour and feel a whole lot more present with my kids.
Life Lessons I’ve Learned as a Homeschool Mom: I learned I had to build boundaries for my homeschool and my life.
I have been a mother for over twenty-one years but not until my oldest daughter was three years old did I begin to build boundaries. Building boundaries enabled me to spend more time assessing myself outside others and encouraged me to become more me.
I spent too much time thinking about…
- what other people think about me (or my homeschool),
- knowing that I needed time alone but not getting it,
- sitting on Facebook when I should have been eyeball-to-eyeball with my kids,
- recognizing that I needed time spent developing my interests but not sure if I would have to wait a couple decades,
- spending more time doing extracurriculars than I wanted because I assumed this was the right way to do homeschool,
- giving my time away to meaningful things, but not the most important things,
- creating three-point essays (in my head) in response to unsupportive questions about my homeschool choice,
- feeling exhausted by conflict & dissonance with my partner,
- knowing I was not showing up as I wanted with my kids but not sure why,
- feeling ashamed in how reactive I was with my kids,
- and feeling my kids were mistreating me, but I could not determine if that was just them being kids.
The process was messy, as you can imagine, because every relationship I engaged in, every activity I chose, and every mindset I assumed, was dissected.
Am I really me in these relationships, these activities, and these mindsets?
I would learn that I was not me. I did not even know who I was. (Except for someone who was always thinking defensively.)
And though it was terribly uncomfortable, it was even scary, it began a domino drop of false identity and false self.
Let me explain. I had to own who I was and why I was on the planet.
I had to own how I:
- was speaking to myself,
- spoke to others,
- expected others to speak to me.
And with a lot of work on the interior, I have come home to me.
From that time on, I have been drawn to authenticity, freedom, and purpose.
Boundaries & self-compassion have required me to assess my relationship with others, but most importantly, my relationship with myself.
- I have learned that building and firming boundaries:
- have clarified my identity.
- decreases my reactivity.
- gets me clearer on my purpose (and that I simply can NOT be everyone for everybody, not even to my kids all the time), but I am (most of the time) fully me.
I discovered that building and firming boundaries was a long-term process with many zigs and zags along the way, but every step brought me closer to me. And now I know I have come home to me.
Here’s a resource to help: Get the Boundary Checklist to begin your journey to come home to you.
Life Lessons I’ve Learned as a Homeschool Mom: I learned I had to build self-awareness strategies into my days so I could address my big emotions.
Journaling is a profound self-awareness strategy.
It is a powerful tool for understanding ourselves as we sit and listen to our uncomfortable feelings.
Journaling offers other things too.
You can journal in several ways as a homeschool mama. You can:
- have a memoir of stories at the end of your homeschool years.
- start a record of the exhausting first parenting years, and you will realize that even this becomes a memory.
- keep a record of the read alouds that remind you of kids playing with Legos on the floor beside you, or when you brought that book to your NYC trip, or when you read the first page of a few books so the kids could decide which book should be read next.
- journal in your Daytimer the days you did science experiments that molded on your kitchen counter, warning your partner that you better not use everything on the kitchen counter for the stew.
- or journal through photos that will jam your iCloud, and you will be grateful you did because over the course of three months your eleven-year-old son will have sprouted two feet taller.
Over the years, one of the most profound benefits to journaling big emotions is that you will come to understand your emotional climate.
Whenever you are feeling triggered or intense (because there will be a couple times? ), you can head to your journal nook and do an emotion dump.
First, take a deep slow breath and ask yourself:
- What are the various feelings I am experiencing right now?
- Where am I feeling it in my body?
- Why do I feel what I feel?
Second, tell yourself, “It’s okay that I’m feeling what I’m feeling.”
Accept all your feelings. Be gracious with yourself and do not judge your feelings as good or bad, rather, observe them instead. They just are.
Humans have all sorts of feelings and even though you are superhuman (How do I know? You are a homeschool mama!) but you are still a human.
Because you are a human, you occasionally feel:
- and a whole lotta other feelings too
Recognize that feelings often pass like clouds in the sky: they do not stay static. (Typically, a feeling will last not more than ninety seconds.)
- So, all we must do is learn to manage that one ninety-second feeling. We can feel most things for 90 seconds.
- Stay with the feeling. And breathe. Slowly.
- Breathe in for four beats.
- Hold for four beats.
- Breathe out for four beats.
- Hold for four beats.
- Allow the feeling to just be until it leaves, or until it passes with less intensity.
When you spend enough time assessing your emotional climate, you will get clearer on how to address your emotional triggers.
Sometimes we have not allowed ourselves to feel emotions, because others have not taught us to hold a safe space for our emotions.
Because we have not learned to be with them ourselves, we must learn to do this for ourselves. (And since you have a child or two or twelve, suddenly you realize that you have more than your own feelings to hold a safe space for.)
There are a whole lotta feelings to hold.
Yes, you might be thinking this is difficult. This is as difficult to practice as it sounds, in the beginning.
Because you have not practiced doing this for yourself, how will you do it for your kids too? You can. (Ask me how I know?). But start with you.
However you engage your own emotions is how you will engage theirs.
When you have a moment of frustration with a child
Find someone objective to discuss it with, someone that genuinely wants you to work through your frustration.
- Then you feel heard, seen, and witnessed.
- That person did not magically swipe the discomfort or frustration away, they simply witnessed your challenge, issue, or moment.
- You will gain clarity to engage in the next step. By allowing yourself to be witnessed, clarity rises.
That is what you can practice for yourself too.
See yourself, listen to yourself, and witness yourself. You can do this in a few ways:
- speak to your journal (aka write your stories as you are feeling them in your journal).
- head to the mirror and speak to yourself like your friend standing sad or frustrated in front of you.
- speak with me. As a homeschool coach, I can hold space for your needs and concerns, make you feel seen through reflective listening, and together, we can create a plan to address your challenges.
- use the Big Emotions Audit to get clearer on your triggers, frustrations, and big emotions.
We have developed an emotional climate over a lifetime and become intimately familiar with certain feelings under certain circumstances, but those patterns do not have to continue.
If you want to address your triggers, frustrations, and big emotions, use the Big Emotions Audit for the homeschool mamas. Or connect with me at this link,
Life Lessons I’ve Learned as a Homeschool Mom: I learned that I am more capable to homeschool when I do not do it alone.
In the first few years of homeschooling, I had one support person in my homeschool. Homeschooling was a new concept for my family and some of my family was against it before I discovered it.
The person who supported my homeschool choice was a homeschool mama of five (whom I did not know previously) but who managed a local curriculum lending library. Linda and I did not have the same kids, we did not have the same educational approach, and we did not have the same framework for life.
But my weekly visits to her home were gold.
She imparted random nuggets of wisdom and encouragement that I just did not have. (And I really needed for clarity and confidence.)
I’ve learned that I’m not the only homeschool mama without support.
So, I now offer support and community to homeschool mamas. (If you are looking for support and community, I invite you to the Homeschool Mama Patreon Support Group).
We get together to chat, connect, and share real stuff from our real homeschool lives.
This can be a time just to get to know each other, talk about our homeschool stuff, or talk about the inner work required to show up on purpose in our homeschools.
Whatever comes up comes up.
In the Support Group, you can access discounts to group coaching, courses, and one-on-one sessions.
Above all, you get authentic and meaningful connection and coaching to shed what is not working in your homeschool and life so you can live authentically, confidently, and purposefully in your homeschool life too.
If this strikes you as something you might need, join me:
Teresa Wiedrick is creating a community for homeschool mamas to show up on purpose | Patreon
Life Lessons I’ve Learned as a Homeschool Mom: My homeschool years taught me that parenting is not a thing.
This construct that someone can strategize the outcomes for their children (like a chess game) as though our kids are products is only a thing we can create on the board.
Move enough pieces in just the right way, and you will end up with a perfect human product, a grown-up.
(No, no you will not.)
In real life, I became a mother almost 22 years ago and when that sweet baby girl entered my world, I was beyond thrilled.
My entire childhood, I wanted to be a mother. I:
- researched my kids’ names (which were planned before I entered adolescence).
- read about how to cook.
- learned how to organize my days with kids.
- discovered how to garden.
- learned how to create meal plans.
- I even learned how to design & decorate houses (via the Sears catalogue).
And in the years before I deleted parenting books from my life, I read all things parenting.
Parenting books gave me ideas on how to create a grown, competent, independent, and relatable human being. In real life, those formulaic intentions and ideas did not work like algebraic equations.
Though I carried and grew five human beings inside me, birthed four of them, and kept each of them from endangering themselves (some were more difficult to protect than others), my role as mother was not about creating, shaping, and forming those human beings into anything.
What I have ever-so-slowly come to understand about my mothering role is that I was placed in my children’s lives to nurture them, validate them, listen to them, lead them, encourage them to feel what they feel, and walk alongside them despite my incompleteness and theirs.
I’ve learned they were placed in my life to learn from, and they were placed in my life to learn from me too.
You’ll find more encouragement from Teresa at:
- Homeschool Highschool Podcast episodes: Homeschooling in Canada and How to Engage Your High Schoolers in Their Learning.
- Her book: Homeschool Mama Self-Care: Nurturing the Nurturer
- Capturing the Charmed Life (Homeschool Mama Podcast)
- Homeschool coaching
For more encouragement, check out this listing of top homeschool blogs from feedspot.
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