Podcast / Podcast Season#1

Episode #7: Your Homeschool Mom Identity with Pat Fenner from Breakthrough Homeschooling.com

“When you don’t have another identity,

your homeschool mom identity

becomes your ONLY identity.”

Pat Fenner

In this episode, I’ll introduce you to Pat Fenner, a twenty five year homeschooler of five children, and author of the breakthrough course, “The Empty Homeschool Nest“.

Pat is making the most of her retired homeschool mom status as she supports moms who homeschool high school at her blog BreakthroughHomeschooling.

She now helps moms find meaning and purpose in their post-homeschooling stage of life through her signature course, “The Empty Homeschool Nest Blueprint.”

We discuss how our homeschool mom identity isn’t our only identity. We discuss the value of self-directed learning and how it develops when we maintain boundaries. And we talk about how dark chocolate and Netflix routines might be the new norm post-pandemic, no longer a self-care strategy.

Simple Self-Care Strategy

Remember, it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s not you failing, it’s not them failing, it’s just life.

Pat Fenner

Hello Homeschool Mamas.

Welcome to the Homeschool Mama Self-Care Show!

I’m Teresa Wiedrick at Capturing the Charmed Life.com, here to help you turn your homeschool challenges into your homeschool charms, especially if you are looking for a strategy or a few to tackle those challenges.

I am so delighted to introduce you to our next guest, after almost 25 years of home educating her five children, Pat Fenner is making the most of her retired homeschool mom status. She is continuing to support moms who homeschool high schoolers at her Breakthrough Homeschooling blog. She helps moms find meaning and purpose in the post homeschooling stage of life through her signature course, the Empty Homeschool Nest Blueprint.

Teresa Wiedrick: “I am so glad you’re here and that we get to chat again because I genuinely enjoy our conversations. Pat Fenner is someone that you need to know. She has been a home school coach for me online, various times, and just didn’t know it. She was my tech coach.”

Pat Fenner: “Well, that’s pretty sad, Teresa.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “That speaks volumes about me. I am really glad you are here. Would you start by telling us a little bit about your homeschool experience, your children, and how you got started in homeschooling?”

Pat Fenner: “Sure, Teresa, I just want to thank you, this is so much fun. I enjoyed our last conversation and just getting to know you a little better and look forward to speaking into the lives of your listeners today. I am Pat Fenner. I’ve homeschooled for 23 years, and I can say that in the past tense now because I am officially a retired homeschool mom. We have five kids, and the oldest is way too old to be one of my kids because they’re getting up there. They range from 32 down to 16. We’ve homeschooled the four of them through high school. It’s a long story, but our youngest will be wrapping up public high school in a few years.

When we got into homeschooling, we were in a very small community in the south, way back when my husband and I had been overseas with Habitat for Community for a few years with our older kids. We came back to the States. And we’re both from the Northeast. We realized it’s too cramped, crowded, busy, and fast after living two years in a laid-back town in the Dominican Republic, right on the border of Haiti. Our lives have slowed down a lot while we were out there and decided we don’t want to go back to the Northeast. So, we decided that Habitat for Humanity had its headquarters in Americus, Georgia, and we would stay there for a year then see where the Lord leads us.

We didn’t even buy a house; we lived in volunteer housing in the habitat community. We stayed for a year, then two years, and we thought okay, now we can buy a house. Long story short, like 25 years later,  we moved to where we are living now.

We loved Southwest Georgia. But weren’t totally enamored with the school system, so we brought our two older kids home. Our church had a lot of active homeschoolers, and they were always trying to get us to do this. Come on, you gotta do this, it’s great, it’s great. My husband and I were both― Paul, especially his parents, worked in education in all their careers in a traditional university, and middle school. And we just thought that homeschooling was kind of weird. Fortunately, we saw the error of our ways, and once we started homeschooling, we realized it was a wonderful lifestyle. And it enabled so many wonderful opportunities for our kids over the years, and we are definitely in the homeschool camp. I still consider myself, even after two years as a retired homeschool mom, as a homeschool mom. I don’t know why.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “I remember saying I was a mainstream kind of gal. I wasn’t one of those people, as homeschoolers. So, I identify with what you said as well.”

Pat Fenner: “For the longest time, not that I had a lot of experience with homeschoolers, prior to looking into it, but for some reason just when I thought of that, I thought of denim skirts and the Birkenstocks.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “Me too. But Birkenstocks are in again.”

Pat Fenner: “Yes, you are right. So, this was the first iteration of them.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “What aspects of homeschooling did you fall in love with?”

Pat Fenner: “Honestly, and I know this is going to sound a little weird, so if you have any of these all of a sudden homeschoolers listening to this episode, but I loved being with my kids. I know that there are a lot of moms who are educating at home or distance learning during the time of recording this, during the COVID pandemic. And they’re like gosh my kids are driving me crazy. But I have to tell you, I’m speaking to those moms right now. Because of the stuff, they get from their peers and the environment, where they have been going to school. And that is what you are reacting to. It’s not your kids. God put you guys together for a reason and you can still be in love with those kids who are those darling little babies you remember. They have personalities, and they are not the same as they were then. They are wonderful people, and the problem is that we’ve all got it, or when we do have our kids out in traditional school, we all get into our own little lane. We all do our own thing, have our own answers, and that includes your kids. You want to believe that you are the parent, role model, and the resource they should go to and the person they listen to. But when they are away from you more time in the day, than they are with you. That is an illusion, that’s a fantasy.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “Yeah that is such good advice, Pat. I’ve been steeped on tea for so long that I forget some of the real benefits. And you are right. They kind of absorb their peer environment.”

Pat Fenner: “Absolutely, and that’s not to say you won’t have days that you are pulling your hair out. But they will be too. Here is a secret mom; you are not always fun to be around either.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “What?”

Pat Fenner: “I know, I know. I know you are sitting down.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “P.S. I hope none of my children are listening. They’re not, so it is okay.”

Pat Fenner: “But you’ll still have conflicts and challenges because you just do when you are living with somebody. And when you are with each other a lot. But because you’re living with each other and a lot, you also have the gift and benefit of working through these things. And not handle the escape, like having a kid that bangs the door as they head out the door off to school. And then the fight you had at the breakfast table never gets resolved.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “Right.”

Pat Fenner: “You are together. You fought at the breakfast table. It has to get it resolved before being productive at getting schoolwork done. And then it’s over and done. And you start learning to live with each other and start seeing each other’s struggles.

When your kids are in public school, they only get to see you for half the time when you’re back. If you’re working and you have a problem at work, you kind of leave it at work. So the kids don’t see you working through a problem, whether it’s interpersonal, a challenge with your tact, skills, or whatever. Public school kids lose out on the benefit of seeing you working through struggles on how an adult should do that.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “That’s a beautiful benefit to homeschooling.”

Pat Fenner: “Absolutely.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “So, that was one of the things that you saw as a homeschool mom, as a benefit to homeschooling.”

Pat Fenner: “Right. And we just had so much fun. I just remember the kitchen, like for many families, being home central. And even if we weren’t homeschooling around the kitchen table, as a lot of people picture it, you are preparing meals, and you are cleaning up after a meal, right? It wasn’t around the kitchen a lot, or in and out of the kitchen. But we would be having so much fun, and I would be listening to―my dark little secret, as I like to listen to the 70s and 80s music.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “My kids like the old 80s music too.”

Pat Fenner: “Well, the 60s and 70s, that’s a whole other story, right? See, I would play that stuff, and we would sing and dance in the kitchen. Our fourth son is home from college for a week or so, and he’s helping around the house. He’s so cool. When I woke up, he was getting ready for work, and he had the 60s or 70s music playing on his phone or whatever, you know. I know I sound like, whatever that modern thing is.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “I don’t have a phone, so I am with you.”

Pat Fenner: “So he had music on, but my kind of music on, so it was kind of funny.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “Right now, on my kitchen table, I have bacterial cultures, that we got from home science tools. And I’ve got chrysalids, like butterfly chrysalids growing in my pantry.”

Pat Fenner: “Yes, and your point?”

Teresa Wiedrick: “Welcome to the homeschool world. Something is always on the kitchen counter that you wouldn’t normally find.”

Pat Fenner: “Yes, absolutely, or in the pantry if you need a dark space for something. Ours was also the bottom shelf of the refrigerator if it needed dark and cool. It always depended on what you were doing.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “So I thought to the flip side of having your kids with you a lot of the time, and I have to say because I still have three of my four kids home with me until next year, I noticed that I focus on all of the imperfections, in the way that I relate. And yet if I’m on a playground, which has not been happening lately, I find my kids are very respectful and well-behaved and considerate of other people. But when I am at home, I notice those things. So for the already homeschool mom, we get to focus a little bit too closely on our kids, or I call it the mirror in front of us and all the imperfections of them and us; it’s the disadvantage, I think, of how we frame things.”

Pat Fenner: “Yeah, I think the danger of that, the other side is we can tend to scrutinize their behavior. And with little thought, we are going to nip it in the bud. Sometimes I think that is a reflection of we can overidentify with being a mom and homeschool mom. And we can feel like it’s a reflection on us with the way that they behave. And we don’t want that. Because then it looks like that we are not a good parent or not being a good homeschooler or we’re not a good person. But we forget still even as kids; they have their own mind, they’re going to make their own decisions. They will make bad decisions, but they will make good decisions, just like we will do both. It is hard; I agree it is hard to give them the freedom to make a bad decision to misbehave, to fail. Oh my gosh, to fail? You know, and the further extension of that is we have them under scrutiny, be we have ourselves under scrutiny. And we don’t give ourselves grace. I can remember like if we are going through a rough time with one of our kids, I remember thinking to myself, what am I doing, how did I fail him or her? What am I doing wrong that I am not doing well by them? Or worse, I am letting God down with how I am parenting and homeschooling. And he told me to do this and look at what’s happening. It just gets all twisted, muddled, and messed up.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “Yes, homeschooling is perfection, and we should expect utopia. Not true!”

Pat Fenner: “Right. Totally the number one myth. A huge myth. But even when we’re living it, and we have been homeschooling for years, we still can fall free to that. Like we have to keep that in the forefront that you are not perfect, and they are not perfect. It is okay to make mistakes. It doesn’t mean that you are failing, that they are failing, or that you let them down. It is just a kind of life. And it’s a sin nature. I know it’s very popular to say everybody is good. We have good in us. But you know, I hate to be a bearer of bad news, but the core of us is sin, and that is why we need a savior.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “So how do we reframe? This reminds me of one of the conversations that we have had with many people. And that could be discussing uncomfortable feelings of overwhelm. Or that feeling of not good enough, or perfection or all of those different kinds of human feelings that we all have, but when we allow those feelings to become our focus, then we hurt ourselves. We certainly hurt others more as well. So how do we reframe those moments? For instance, that discussion of nitpicking our children. How do we reframe so that we are not always choosing to do that?”

Pat Fenner: “I have to say, you know I am coming at this from a Christian standpoint, so that is my world view. I don’t know how a secular homeschooler, and I am not putting any kind of judgment on how I would do it. First of all, you just have to pray. I think we have the holy spirit can kind of nudge us and tell us this is getting to be too much about you. It’s your conscious giving you that little nudge in your heart or tugs in your spirit when you are focusing too much on you when their behavior is becoming a reflection of you. When you feel bad when it’s becoming all about you, and about me. Personally, there is something wrong. Personally, you have to go to God and say, ‘forgive me of this.’ Because even if though this is maybe a role and a mission that you have given me in life right now, it’s not about me. It’s still not about me. It’s about you, and these kids, the blessings that you have given me. How to best serve them and how to best serve you.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “And the one that is looking after you is the one that is looking after them, and it is a greater advocate for them than us.”

Pat Fenner: “Absolutely. And as much as you love your kids, God loves them like a bajillion times more. It’s really important to remember that because someday they will be gone. If you have little ones right now and you are listening to this, you feel like ‘huh,’ it’s easy for you to say these days will never go. But I have found the days may be really long, but the years, they fly.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “So true. I thought that was a cliché until it actually happened. And then I went, it happened. “

Pat Fenner: “You are not going to have much influence, not much control. I was just heartbroken the other day. I wrote an article for a guest post a while back on how to be a parent to your grown children because you’re obviously not going to be telling them what to do, but just kind of have that relationship more. I went through a period where they didn’t want to hear it from me. They weren’t interested in my opinion. Even if I had gone through the same thing they were going through, they didn’t care. That was really, really hard. But when you realize that, yes, you love them, and yes, it’s heartbreaking, and you can go ahead and morn and do that. But ultimately, the bigger picture is that God hasn’t forgotten them, and God still has them in the palm of his hand. And He is playing out His will for their lives. It’s their journey; it is not your journey any more.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “Was it challenging for you when they were a lot younger, for you to see that, or to have that perspective?”

Pat Fenner: “You mean that they had their own journey to go through and stuff?”

Teresa Wiedrick: “When they were a lot younger, and those were the feelings you were having, and not necessarily about as an adult child, but when they were a younger child when you were in the midst of it, did it feel like you had perspective?”

Pat Fenner: “No, I feel like one of the things if I had to it over, would have worked more on self-development and maintaining a little bit of boundaries, you know having boundaries. And making time, and this reverts to self-care, that was the big thing that I was not good at. But the aspect that I was not good at was maintaining and developing new skills for myself that I’d be able to use after homeschooling was over. I read books; my life was consumed with homeschooling. I knew methods and learning styles. Curriculum, I researched it so that I could tell you anything. But what did I like to do, and what was I good at? What did I picture my post-homeschool life about? I would look at you, and I would not even know what to say.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “I hear people now tell me that is not their role, and that they are not supposed to be focusing like that. And I understand that because I was also there, and I said on your podcast interview when you interviewed me that I also came out of the womb wanting to be a mom. So, I had that focus, but then I came to understand that you are separate from them. And it didn’t happen for me because my first child left home. But it was more of my own story where I came to understand that I didn’t have really strong boundaries or a sense of my own self. The language that you are speaking speaks directly to my own story at about the age of thirty and realizing that I had very few boundaries, and I had very little sense of my own self. And it is a wild thing that people, moms, and dads, that when we have a real strong sense of our identity, and we have a strong sense of separateness, we can connect more with those people in our world, not less.”

Pat Fenner: “Absolutely. Because one thing, knowing that somebody separate and distinct is seeking into our lives, we don’t feel any kind of fear or defensiveness or worry that they are trying to take over and tell us what to do. So, you can hear something different from someone. She is not medaling; it was just the situation or whatever; and I think I will listen to her. It just becomes less threatening when you know that the person coming into your life has their own boundaries. I don’t know if this is your experience you are working through right now or has been, but because you don’t have that sense of self and this happened, and it’s my experience too, when all of a sudden I found myself a retired homeschool mom, I was up the creek. It was unexpected when I stopped homeschooling; we had moved into this area, and they had a good school system. My husband decided it would be nice; I think he was kind of pushing empty nest thing cause he was looking forward to just doing things as a couple again, so he suggested we enroll our daughter in high school. She was going to be a freshman, so it was a good transition point and see how it goes. Well, I thought for sure that thought would work its way out because we have been homeschooling for 23 years. But no, it didn’t, and because he works out of town, I had to go to the high school and register her. It was the hardest day of my life, and if I stop to think about it, I will sob, and I will not do that.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “I feel you. I have been there.”

Pat Fenner: “It was horrible, and the first couple of days that she left, to save my life, I could not tell you what I did. The first day I know what I did, I sat on the couch, and I sat on my couch, and I looked at the clock until she came home. It’s pathetic, Teresa, I know.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “I know. I followed my daughter to school in Grade 10, the same that I did the first day of her kindergarten. She doesn’t know that unless she is listening to this, and it is disturbing what I just said.”

Pat Fenner: “I know, right?”

Teresa Wiedrick: “We are not our homeschool mom identity; that is an identity, but it is ‘an’ identity.”

Pat Fenner: “‘ An,’ yes. But the problem is when you don’t have another one when that becomes ‘the’ identity. And I will admit I did go through a depression, I was never clinically diagnosed, but I went through a depression. It was hard letting go. It was not good, but out of that and looking back on it, out of me working through it, I resolved my empty homeschool blueprint program, which I am reaching out to other homeschool moms. I know I am not the only one who felt like that. Look, you and I are talking, and we don’t even live in the same country, for crying out loud.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “At opposite ends of the countries.”

Pat Fenner: “Right. And we had a similar experience, so I know that we are not alone, and had I not gone through that as it was really excruciating, and I would not wish that on anybody. And that’s why I pulled all the materials together that I worked through in a program, so other moms didn’t have to go through that. Because nobody should have to go through it, it’s not healthy to go through what I went through when we stopped homeschooling.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “I have heard that many times, that experience. I have noticed in myself that when my boundaries have increased or been maintained because it’s not like they keep going up, but as they were maintained, I’ve noticed that I am more comfortable with the idea of an unschooling approach. However, I am not a radical unschooler by any means. Much more child-directed education, so then I feel freer; and I trust them a bit more to follow their interests more. There are times where I think, my youngest, is eleven, and he loves history, he even started his own podcast once upon a time on ancient roman civilization. As soon as someone in the physical public complimented him on it, then he stopped doing it. I thought it was the most amazing activity for his interest in history. And yet I have all these ideas about how I think he should pursue his interests in history, and yet he just wants to read. And you know his oldest sister is in ancient; she has a minor in her first year of a university degree in ancient Greek and ancient Roman civilization. So, she is nineteen, and she has called my eleven-year-old son to consult him on history concepts. They are very capable of being self-directed in their learning. And when I have a stronger sense of boundary, I enable it more.”

Pat Fenner: “Absolutely. And that’s a strength. We get so tied up into, are they learning what they are supposed to be learning like that supposed to, first of all, I hate that word. I hate that word. I wish the word ‘supposed’ weren’t invented. Because, like, supposed to is a morphic kind of description that somebody invented. I mean, in the United States, even school districts within a state have different requirements for what you will be learning from year to year. And so who decides this stuff? It’s so rejective. The problem with making sure our kids have checked air quotes here, checked off with what they are learning, they start developing this dependency on the school thing. What am I supposed to learn next? Not what am I interested in? What can I pursue that I am gifted at that I might be able to use? Forget about it as a career as an adult. You know how many teenagers have started a podcast. You don’t have to be an age before you start a business or have a cool project that you have developed into bringing income. I mean, the sky is the limit when you are pursuing what you’re interested in. When you feel empowered by the people around you, such as your mom, also like you. And you are healthy, making a healthier environment for them.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “Wow, is that ever true.”

Pat Fenner: “It’s just a win-win, win-win all around a win, you know.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “One thing that I don’t like about homeschooling is I can’t teach stuff, and that be the thing I teach. The most important thing that they learn is the things that they are watching me do. And those are good and not so good.”

Pat Fenner: “That’s true. What’s that saying, ‘more is caught than fought,’ and dang it don’t catch the bad stuff.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “Or that must be my husband, that can’t be me. So we are talking about some really big picture stuff for self-care strategies because it is about how we are approaching things. But tell me something that you think is fun self-care nowadays. I know that you said you weren’t so strong in it before, and you don’t have to answer Netflix or dark chocolate.”

Pat Fenner: “Wait a minute; those are my answers. Honestly, it’s a good saying for on a short term thing. But while during this pandemic season, we have, and I am guilty too, but I think many of us have gone off the deep end on terms of dark chocolate and Netflix. Okay, it crossed the boundary and is no longer self-care ladies. It’s like addiction, okay, so get off the couch.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “It’s daily routines.”

Pat Fenner: “Right, that’s important. That is a good self-care thing, by the way, and that is something I’ve had to incorporate, and not so much through the pandemic but since I am not homeschooling, and I don’t have the kid’s around, and we don’t have other activities that naturally help us do a routine. Like my routine now is on me. And probably you as you let go of your boundaries with your kids, and they get more self-directed. That is somewhat to you too. Even while you are homeschooling, that your routine is on you.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “So, which Netflix show?”

Pat Fenner: “Yes. Over the past three months of the pandemic, I have binge-watched NCIS because I just love the characters and how they relate to each other.”

Teresa Wiedrick “I have to tell you something, I am one of the very few people that are not binging on Netflix because I fall asleep and I aspire to be a Netflix binger. But I fall asleep. I am getting old. I may be the only one in North America.”

Pat Fenner: “You know what, that is good. What I enjoy doing, well, one of my kids taught me about self-care, and I have to say if it’s not fun, there has got to be some element of fun in it. You know, I have to enjoy it. Last summer, the local gym around here did a discount where teenagers got a free summer membership if a parent enrolled. Well, you know, I need accountability, so I felt my daughter, and I would go to the gym. We didn’t enjoy it. Neither one of us enjoyed it. And all her friends that were going to join together and everything, nobody showed up. So we decided that we would just do this for fun, and then no, why are we doing this to ourselves. I like to bike ride, work in the garden, and I may be one of the weird people, but I enjoy house cleaning if I can crank the music loud. I have to have the 70s music going around so I can be-bop.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “That’s great. I am with you. I am a gardener and likes to be outside to exercise. My almost fifteen-year-old ask me to ab workouts every day. And that’s for three days in a row, I have shown up for about thirty crunches. That’s it.”

Pat Fenner: “That’s okay. You showed up, girl. That would be like, I don’t know if I can do this, as much as I love you, dear.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “My son tells me that I do have a six-pack; it’s just hidden.”

Pat Fenner: “That’s so sweet. I love it.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “What would your favorite fun self-care strategy? Obviously, not going to the gym.”

Pat Fenner: “Well, what I need to do, we are kind of new to this community, and both my neighbors on both sides have pools, and like see, I love swimming. Water is my jam! What I prefer is the ocean. I love the saltwater. So my favorite fun self-care strategy would be swimming in an outdoor pool. So I have to gotta get a friend…we used to have a pool where we lived, our house for twenty-five years. We don’t have a pool anymore.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “It’s time to make friends with the neighbors.”

Pat Fenner: “Yes, yes, most definitely to get in their backyard. Gardening and bike riding right now would be primarily exercising. But doing the household chores to move it.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “What would you say is an identity of yours, that is not a homeschool identity?”

Pat Fenner: “Well, this is a brand-new thing that we still have to get comfortable with, but I have become a short-term rental host. Years and years ago, my husband and I had this dream of having bed and breakfast. We have a guest wing in the rear of our house that my father-in-law was living in when he was with us. So prior to him moving in with us and since he passed, we use it as an air BNB. So we are doing it again, and it is so much fun. I love meeting with people, and they are gravitating towards us. Traveling nurses, very interesting people, and a really interesting career path that I never even knew about before we started renting. My daughter in Atlanta, not only hosts in her own home but co-hosts for friends and other people, like a business. So, she will run other people’s rentals. She is so smart, and she is just so sharp, and I am learning so much from her. I remember when I have a question, I will ask her. What should I do?”

Teresa Wiedrick: “Yeah, isn’t it wild that you get to return and learn from your own children?”

Pat Fenner: “Absolutely. “

Teresa Wiedrick “Yeah, so what do you normally do Friday nights, or have you lost track of the days?”

Pat Fenner: “I have lost track; it’ terrible. Well, honestly, Friday nights are what I’ve started to call in my life, the first Saturday, and how I came up with that is my husband works out of town Monday through Thursday. He gets home on Thursday night. Now Thursday night, he barely talks because he has to drive five hours from where he works. So when he gets home on Thursday night, he pretty much crashes. That’s it. Friday is like our first Saturday, and we do chores and stuff, and I try not to open my laptop and do any of my work-related things like writing and recording stuff like that. And we work together and try to do date night on Friday nights. We are not very good at it all the time, but we are trying to get better. Then Saturday, we just relax and chill.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “So dancing and listening to 70s music on Saturday night?”

Pat Fenner: “Well, we don’t go dancing together. “

Teresa Wiedrick: “In the family room?”

Pat Fenner: “You know when the kids were around Friday night, it was a movie and pizza night. Back then, we would go out to a big movie store that’s closed down. I feel terrible because I can’t remember the name of it now. But we would go out and rent a movie, bring it home, have a pizza, and spend time together. We all liked being together as a family. You know Friday nights were just kind of for that.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “Tell me what would you give for a piece of advice for all those new to homeschool, or those suddenly homeschoolers or the unexpected homeschoolers that are home that have to take care of their kids and do learning?”

Pat Fenner: “First, I say breathe. Because we can get so stressed out, especially parents that have to work as well, who are working from home now, there is a lot to do, so breathe deeply to reduce the stress in your body. I mean, you can feel it if you just take a second, sit up straight right now, and take a couple of deep breaths. I did it just before I said something about it. You do feel a little bit less stressed. We breathe shallow most of the time. And when we do the fight versus flight, we have to get this done, we have kids at home, and we don’t get things done. We get stressed out. Breathe and have a break. Like, have mercy on yourself and your children. Don’t assume the worst about what is going on, about your environment, about the kids fighting, or even the things that you perceive as negative, and it really won’t last forever. It really won’t. And it isn’t the end of the world even though it feels like it sometimes, which has nothing to do with educating your children but has everything to do with educating your children. Because if you are too stressed out, hyper-focused on manesia, you lose sight of the big picture, your relationship, and what’s going on around you. Before you know it, it is all gone whether they have grown, gone, COVID, or people get sick. I mean, it just happens. We are all living with that right now, and things do change whether or not you think they will, they do. And you do not want to be left with regret.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “I was going to ask you, what would you give as a piece of advice for already established homeschoolers, but that is like hitting it right on the head. It speaks to me. Beautiful.”

Pat Fenner: “Yeah. And it is a challenge. I am not minimizing it. You know it is a challenge when you are in this row when you have all the kids around, all the things to get done, and all the activities you have to. Now nobody has any activities. And this can be extremely stressful in itself too.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “You know what is stressful, is everybody is on zoom link, and you just have to be careful that, that is not the moment that you are yelling at your kids.”

Pat Fenner: “It’s like now you don’t have to ask your kids to check the calendar, which is going to go where. Now it’s who is going to be on zoom at two o’clock. I’m recording something I need the bandwidth. You have to get off the game board, or whatever.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “Who knew, we should have taken shares out of zoom.”

Pat Fenner: “Yeah, really.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “This has been a real privilege interviewing you again today, chatting with you. I could do this every week.”

Pat Fenner: “I know, I could too.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “Tell our listeners where they can find you and how we can access your coaching resources.”

Pat Fenner: “Thank you for asking. Well, I continue to blog at breakthroughhomeschooling, all one word, and yes, I know it is very long. I also have a YouTube channel that I am building up, and I am relaunching. I have two podcasts that I have been working on. One of them is Prayers for Lifestyle of Learning. It is a mom devotional, which is where you will find in the future of my interview with Teresa. And the other one is the Empty Homeschool Nest, which is primarily for moms on the verge of, or found themselves retired from homeschooling, and just need some guidance so if you need help walking through that transition.”

Teresa Wiedrick: “Thank you so much for joining me today, Pat. It was a pleasure to chat with you.”

Pat Fenner: “It was so much fun. Teresa, thank you. Thank you so much for this time. “

Thank you for joining me today.

I would love to hear you are so come on over to my Facebook or Instagram page at capturingthecharmedlife.

My goal is to equip you with strategies that will help you turn your challenges into your charms.

If you want to learn more about my course How to Homeschool 101 or my upcoming book Homeschool Mamas Self-Care: Thrive Not Just Survive head over to www.capturingthecharmedlife.com.

You will also find the show notes and links to everything you have heard in this episode.

I hope you and your kids have a charming week, and until next week, I hope that you can turn your challenges into your charms.

Are you a new homeschooling family and don’t know where to start? Are you looking for encouragement and guidance?

I am available for personalized online coaching (or have a course available to inspire you). Let me know if you’re interested in the comment section.

To get you started, here are 19 Tips for new home learning families.

Teresa Wiedrick
Teresa Wiedrick

Am I the right fit to coach you in your new home learning journey?

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