Kara S. Anderson is a writer, podcaster and speaker who loves to encourage parents in connection, not perfection.
In 2013, she began blogging at what is now www.karasanderson.com. There she shares real-life encouragement from the trenches.
Along with Cait Curley, Kara started The Homeschool Sisters Podcast in 2017, and since that time, the show has reached more than 1.3 million downloads around the world.
Kara’s book More Than Enough: Grow Your Confidence, Banish Burnout and Love Your Homeschool Life, will be available in paperback in spring 2021.
Kara lives in Illinois with her husband and two awesome homeschooled children. She enjoys yoga, tea, chocolate, cats, and books.
This homeschool thing is a marathon, not a sprint. So run it like you’d run a marathon. You have to stop and take breaks and refuel and sometimes just stop for a minute and take a deep breath.Kara S. Anderson
At least homeschooling gives us some extra time. If you screw it up in the morning, you go in your room, you have some chocolate, you breathe, you come back out and you say I’m sorry and you begin again. And you do that until they’re ready for college.Kara S. Anderson, podcaster at the Homeschool Sisters
Kara’s Advice for Homeschool Parents:
- On the hard days, don’t doubt yourself or your kids.
- Know that combining school and home has its challenges.
- Some days are bumpy.
- On those days, curl up with snacks and good books.
- Or hop in the car and listen to audio books while you go get ice cream.
- Start slow and gently.
- Layer more in as you build confidence and your kids get used to the routine of homeschooling.
- It’s important not to get caught up in the methodology or style of homeschooling.
- It’s great to research.
- Pick things that work for your family and build your own style based on experience and trial and error.
- We all go through lots of trial and error.
- Don’t worry, it’s normal as you find your way.
Kara can be found online at:
Welcome to the Homeschool Mama Self-Care Podcast. If you are a Homeschool Mama challenged by doubt, not sure if you can do this homeschool thing, if you are a Homeschool Mama challenged by overwhelm as there are too many things to do, or if you are a Homeschool Mama looking for connection and encouragement, then this is the podcast for you.
I’m Teresa Wiedrick from Capturing the Charmed Life.com, and I am here to encourage you in your homeschool journey. So, let’s change our homeschool challenges into our homeschool charms.
This is a special message to all you Homeschool Mama Self-Care podcast regular listeners.
Woohoo! We’re celebrating the 50th podcast episode. I cannot even believe I am almost at 50, and by the end of the season, there will be 52 episodes.
It has been a fantastic year of being able to connect with community beyond my backyard. Because as you all know, we’ve been in our backyards a lot this last year. And I have met incredible people around North America, really, United States, Canada, all over the place. So, this has been a phenomenal year to connect with other homeschool mama mentors and encouragers and people that can really help us to nurture the nurturer.
So, I ask you if you have been listening to this podcast regularly to encourage me and throw a review upon it. I don’t know where you listen to this podcast, Spotify, Apple, and all other places, but would you add a review? This equips other homeschool mamas to know I exist and that this community is for everyone to be encouraged and nurtured and to learn all about nurturing the nurturer.
So, if you would do that, it would mean so very much to me. And when you do that, I am going to share your reviews on this podcast.
By the end of June, I will have concluded my first season of the Homeschool Mamas Self-Care Podcast.
I am excited to share with you that I will have an interview with my husband, a homeschool dad, who will share all about his perspective on what it’s like to be a Homeschool dad, in honour of Father’s Day, of course.
And I am going to be sharing an interview with my just-about to graduate homeschool daughter, Madelyn. I am excited to share that interview with you as well, to give you a little snapshot into the life of one homeschool kid.
So, in honour of that 50th podcast episode, I ask if you would encourage me and add a review to the place you most likely listen to these podcasts. And thanks for joining me for the last 50 podcast episodes.
Okay, in honour of this 50th episode, I am so excited to introduce you to Kara Anderson from the Homeschool Sister Podcast. Let’s get started.
Teresa Wiedrick: Today, I get to introduce you to Kara S. Anderson. Kara is a writer, podcaster, and speaker who loves to encourage parents in connection, not perfection. In 2013, she began blogging at tarasanderson.com. There she shares real-life encouragement from the trenches.
Along with Kate Hurley, Kara started the Homeschool Sisters Podcast in 2017. And since that time, the show has reached more than 1.3 million downloads around the world.
Kara’s book, More Than Enough, Grow Your Confidence, Banish Burnout, and Love Your Homeschool Life, will be available in paperback in Spring 2021.
Kara lives in Illinois with her husband and two awesome homeschooled kids. She enjoys yoga, tea, chocolate, cats, and books.
Teresa Wiedrick: Welcome, Kara. It is a pleasure to have you here.
Kara Anderson: Well, thank you so much. I am excited to be here and talk to you.
Teresa Wiedrick: You know, yesterday’s Instagram post, when you had written something about, you know you are a homeschool mom when—and you were talking about going out to an appointment, and you had an eraser. You’ve got to tell me what that is about. Does that mean you found an eraser in the car? Or what was going on?
Kara Anderson: Okay. So that was the thing, it was one of those things where I’m heading out of the door, I go to leave, and I just posted that. That doesn’t make sense to anyone but me. Because of what happened, I was walking out the door, and I literally found an eraser in my pocket, of course. Why do I have an eraser in my pocket right now? But, I mean, it made sense as it is my favourite sweater. So, at some point when I was tidying, I picked it up and put it in there. It was like, okay, so I am finally on my way to do something outside the house, and of course, I have to bring an eraser with me.
Teresa Wiedrick: Well, yeah, of course, you do, and as a homesteader as well, I’ve got all different sorts of things in my pockets. In fact, you don’t want to look at my feet at any given point. Once a week, they are clean for sure.
I was so pleased to read an advanced copy of your book. That was so much fun. I really enjoyed listening to your conversation about Waldorf and how you got started in homeschooling. For everybody that doesn’t know you, will you share a little about your homeschool world, about your homeschool story?
Kara Anderson: Yeah, for sure. So, we are accidental homeschoolers. I did not plan to homeschool my kids. My son, actually when he was three, went to a cute little church preschool. It was great, you know, just not for him. He would get in trouble because he wouldn’t sit on the line during story time. I mean, they had this masking tape circle, and everybody was supposed to sit there. And you know I would get held up after class, and the teacher would say, “Mrs. Anderson,” which was so funny to me because I was like thirty, and I still felt like a kid. You know, and she was still calling me Mrs. Anderson, and she said Owen just wouldn’t sit on the line during story time. So, on the way home, I was asking him, you know Buddy, why won’t you sit on the line during story time? And he said because there is this really cool McDonald playset. You know. He just wanted to be up and moving around and playing while he was learning. And I thought you know, when we are at home, if I am reading a book, sometimes he cuddles up on my lap, sometimes he’s right next to me, sometimes he’s playing on the floor with blocks, and sometimes he’s moving. You know, later on, we’ll talk about the book, and he totally gets it, you know. He hears it; it’s just he’s just kind of one of those precocious kids that just needed to be able to move while he is learning.
Teresa Wiedrick: Well, he is four, yeah.
Kara Anderson: Right. Yeah, exactly, exactly. And so I thought, you know, why don’t we try homeschooling and just see? I mean, he’s four; how much can we mess up when they’re just four? How far behind could he possibly be entering kindergarten. Well, we tried it, and it stuck. He is seventeen now, and he just started college classes this year, so, yeah. So I guess they have made it pretty much the whole way.
Teresa Wiedrick: You did it. I actually have a Waldorf school in our town, and I am very familiar with the lifestyle. It sounds very charming. But the whole discussion about no tv, and that you surprised your husband that there was no tv, that it magically disappeared. And that was between you and him.
Kara Anderson: What I don’t say in the book, oh, I think I did mention it somewhere that he works in television. Like it is literally his job to make sure the news aired throughout. So clearly, this is going to create an issue, right? But I thought with everything that I read, it was so against TV, and I thought if we were going to do this right, we would have to get rid of the tv. And so, we put one into his office, which was shut off to everything, so things worked out eventually. But, in a broader sense, it really showed me that you hear about these lifestyles, you know. You hear about these ideas, different curriculums, and different methodologies and everything else. But, like, I didn’t stop to consider that this methodology was used before there was a tv, so it would be based on not having a television. So, yeah, that taught me a really valuable lesson that you’re going to have these things come up, and you’re learning your way in homeschooling. And you have to decide what makes sense for your family and what it doesn’t make sense to your family.
Teresa Wiedrick: Well, I appreciated that entire conversation because for a long time, I did like you, and I dabbled in all the different methodologies for homeschooling. And I stayed with Susan Wisebower for three years, when my little kids were very young. And so a six-year-old writing a three-page narration on everything she read or she heard me read for history for an hour before, so why are we being unrealistic for even my very academic child. And though I have gleaned many ideas from that book, and I go back to that book, Well Trained Mind, it’s called actually to put it into practice, and I did that. So I was a purest for a while. And then I switched, and I did Charlotte Mason, then I switched, and I did Unschooling for six months. And then, I switched and gradually realized that the three components of a really solid education are not a methodology. It is about what I think is an important education, what my husband thinks is an important education, and most importantly, my child. And who they are, what they are about, how they learn, what they learn, and I was like you I took little pieces of all these different methodologies then I just said, let’s do this.
And really, I am following them; I have four kids, and I follow each of them very differently. So, I really appreciated your discussion on that because it’s a lot for homeschool parents to take on. You have to be this, and you have to do this thing purely, and this is the only way to do it.
Kara Anderson: Yeah, yeah. That’s really beautiful how you put it. I really, I love that. Because it’s such a gift that we get to give our kids individualized education and look at the child in front of us and think, what do you need, how are you going to survive, what is the best way you could learn this, how are you going to grow up enjoying to learn so that you can go on and continue wanting to learn as you are older?
Homeschooling is hard work. So, we must hold on to those things that make it so great, and this is one of the things that made it so great that we can do that.
But you said, and then I switched, and then I switched, and I was thinking, that should be like we should write a book called “And Then I Switched Guide” about the early years. Because that is what it is about, you know, finding yourself and realizing that we see these beautiful pictures of people doing things in different ways on Instagram or whatever. And that’s great, and that works for them, but you don’t have to do that, and you don’t have to feel bad about not doing that. And we are all so different, and all of our families are so different. So we should really embrace that instead of trying to cram ourselves into this tiny box where no one is happy when they took away the tv.
Teresa Wiedrick: Yeah, I often think we should often be focusing on our homeschool toward happiness, and yet, the reality is that is not always going to be the case. But you just finished saying that there is a hard part of homeschooling. What is the hard part of homeschooling for you?
Kara Anderson: I think the worry, I call it, the elephant on myself that wakes me up at night that tells me like, what if they don’t or you can’t figure out how to teach them this. Or what if we can’t figure out how to handle this problem or how are we going to do this way in the future.
You know it’s funny. When we were first homeschooling, we had people like, what about prom? You know, what about high school sports? And it is like, they are four and one. So, like, give them a little time. You know, could we just take a minute, please, before we start worrying about these things way off far in the distance?
But you do worry, and as homeschool parents, we do have the weight of our kid’s education on our shoulders, and that is not something we can mess up.
So, it is a lot to carry around, and the worry can completely take over if you let it. And then when you start adding things like we just talked about, like guilt on top of that, I was like oh and on top of it you know she is supposed to be writing a three-page essay, and you know, she’s six, and her fine motor skills maybe aren’t at that point to write yet. But her brain is going a million miles an hour, and she is getting frustrated. So, I mean, we just don’t want to add any more stress and anxiety, which already comes naturally with the idea that we want to give our kids what they need to succeed and whatever it is that they want to do next.
Teresa Wiedrick: Right. So how do you handle that? Or how do you tackle those feelings, that uncertainty, or that worrier, like you said that, the elephant on your chest, you said elephant, right?
Kara Anderson: Yes, yes.
Teresa Wiedrick: And I get that. I kind of wondered if some part of it, I don’t think you are as old as me, but there is some part that is the perimenopausal middle of the night waking, that is a little gentle crisis every night just for fun. And then throw in an entire pandemic, and fun.
Kara Anderson: Yeah, absolutely. One of the big things is when you start to worry about all that outside stuff, what’s next, and what are the other people doing. If you can bring yourself back to just looking at your kids and seeing that they are just good, kind, funny people. And they are really learning stuff all the time. It might not be something you can check off, but that was absolutely language arts, which was absolutely this period of history. But they are. They are learning all the time, so sometimes I take social media breaks when it feels like I am really getting stuck into a lot of comparing. I have really been into journaling lately, and I will just write things out like, what am I stressed about? And then realistically, is this a real problem or is this something that you said would be better in like, two weeks, wink, wink, you know. Is this my own body turning against me right now, my own hormones starting to get to me and telling me like you have to figure this out right this minute? And really, you just needed to eat some chocolate and give it a minute. And it is not quite so scary anymore.
Teresa Wiedrick: Yeah, it can be challenging.
Kara Anderson: Yeah. Cause we are just human. Our own minds can really take us off in bad directions sometimes if we don’t kind of reign it back in.
Teresa Wiedrick: I listen to a lot of Caroline Leaf. Are you familiar with her?
Kara Anderson: No.
Teresa Wiedrick: She is a neuropsychologist. She has done a lot of research on how the brain is invaluable. You can actually create different thoughts or frameworks of thinking around different internal challenges that we feel. We are all unique, so we all come up with natural tendencies or pensions for different things. If you have a sibling-like, I have a couple, and we experience life very differently in our homes. And even though maybe we could say yeah, mom likes these things, or she thinks about life this way, your experience of her was very different. And I have seen this also with intimate relationships like having a partner or a really good friend. They don’t always see things the same way, so I have learned that from Caroline Leaf that you can actually learn to frame things differently. You can practice thinking differently. And it is a huge practice, a huge effort, but when you do that, you don’t necessarily get caught in those thought patterns if you practice thinking out of the way that you have always practiced thinking.
Kara Anderson: Yes, yes. I just wrote that down, Caroline Leaf. I am going to look into her work. Is it a podcast?
Teresa Wiedrick: Yeah, I am a huge podcaster. I love listening to her podcast. It has been so much fun. I have really enjoyed this podcasting thing, and no surprise if I don’t have earbuds in my ear, I love talking to podcasts guests, so it has been a lot of fun.
But yeah, I listen to her on a podcast, but she also has a book that has recently come out about changing your brain by Caroline Leaf. We all have these different experiences of homeschooling. Like you are speaking to the experience of what it’s like to try to be a person that does something outside of the mainstream, and how not to get caught up in what other people think about what you are doing. And you referred in your book to being pioneers and really being in the pioneer phase of homeschooling. Will you tell us a little bit more about that? I bet people already know, and it’s not because they are constantly watching Little House on the Prairie.
Kara Anderson: Hahaha. It was more like the early settlers, like we had the pioneers who were the ones to kind of started almost on the sly homeschooling, quietly homeschooling. I have heard people that are now second-generation homeschooling that people were not allowed to play outside until 3:00 o’clock because our parents didn’t want the neighbours to know. And they had to order stuff from these black and white catalogues like there were four curriculum options, you know, a totally different kind of generation.
And we are kind of the early settlers; we have somebody to draw from who has some experience and so we can listen to what it was like for them. We don’t have to figure out, like corn is going to grow, okay, good. We know some of these things to draw from, but there is still a lot we need to figure out, and then, of course, it is totally different for us now because there are a million resources.
There is amazon, and you can literally have a panic about something and have a new book come two days later. So it feels like I can just fix everything. We can get completely overwhelmed by curriculum options, and I feel like I want to do six of her history programs. Like why can’t I do all six? And wait, I only have 13 to 14 years to do this? That’s not fair; I just figured I could do more.
Teresa Wiedrick: You could have more kids!
Kara Anderson: Yeah, right, good idea. I always think if I could have 15 more kids, I would figure this out. I would find the perfect curriculum. But that is not going to happen, so it is an interesting way. We have a lot to draw from, there are good things, and there are bad things about where we are right now. And it is going to be interesting to see this generation, to see what these kids do with homeschooling because I feel like it is just becoming more mainstream. Especially with the pandemic, a lot of people were introduced to ‘sort of the idea of homeschooling’ but really more of the idea of covid schooling or pandemic schooling because it was so much different, especially if they were to follow a school curriculum. They didn’t have that freedom that we have to say, okay, this book is not working, we are going to try something else; it is a whole different thing.
Teresa Wiedrick: Yeah, it really is. It has been a very different experience this year. I have followed you the entire year, and I listen to how you are engaging your homeschool. And I remember the discussion on strewing, the second last podcast episode you had and which is very much an unschooling concept to throw stuff around and hope your kids are interested in it, and if they are not, you have to back off and let it go.
Kara Anderson: I love that description of it.
Teresa Wiedrick: And then your very last one, though, you were talking about things that you don’t do?
Kara Anderson: Yes, we do have an episode specifically devoted to things we don’t do. I am going to talk about it because it’s going live on my website in probably a week or so that I call homeschooling essentialism. And it is all about this vast, huge amount of stuff that is amazing. There are people in their homes doing this with their kids and creating ideas and sharing them with the world, and we just have so much to choose from in it. It is wonderful. But what happens is like we can get so easily overwhelmed, and then we can feel like we are constantly running in different directions and everything. So, the idea of homeschooling essentialism is to find what works for you and your family and really find ways to stop comparing. Because that is going to take you away from your path, so stop getting distracted by all the bright and shiny new things. Some bright and shiny is really good, and I talk about ways to keep track of things if you come across them. And if it is something that continues to spark something in you, that is one thing, but you know sometimes you will see something online where it is like, let’s buy a chicken and then it keeps falling to the bottom of your list. Cause I don’t really want a chicken or salmonella, or I don’t know, you know, so those things fall off your list, even though they sounded like a good idea at the time. So that is important not to jump at every single thing that comes along. You have to zero in a little bit as it brings a lot more peace because I think that it is so important for homeschool mamas, homeschool parents to be able to find their own mental peace with things cause you really dictate so much of the environment around you, as you set up the tone.
Teresa Wiedrick: Absolutely, yes. I just thought it was hilarious in your book when you said, a $10.00 chicken, that is something that I am going to eat, not something that I am going to mummify. I raised chickens last year. I raised twenty chickens, and eleven actually made it into my freezer. And needless to say, my husband is literally going vegetarian now. And my three kids that are at home don’t want to eat the chickens that we raised. They are probably better off than any chicken you can buy in the store. But I can guarantee you I am not mummifying them. No.
Kara Anderson: Right, right, yeah. And that is just the thing, we all have to draw the line somewhere, right? There is a line that you go, no, I am just not going to mummify a chicken. So there is this wonderful woman in one of our coops in our body systems class, and she brought in chicken parts and beef bones and everything else, and at one point I ball, and I was just ??? hugely because that would never happen at my kitchen table, you know.
Teresa Wiedrick: Yup, yup. I mean, we have so many options nowadays. I think either I have been doing this long enough that I generally don’t care anymore what everybody else is doing. Because I have spent so much money, I am into this for fifteen years, and I am still using stuff that I didn’t use the stuff for fifteen years. And so, when I go, I am mostly homeschooling my youngest right now, who is 12. My oldest is graduated, she is in university, my second is about to graduate just like your son, and she is so independent and academic that it is super easy. I don’t even think of homeschooling her. She asked me yesterday if we wanted to do trig together, and I’m like no, no, I don’t.
Kara Anderson: It gives you some independence with that one.
Teresa Wiedrick: Exactly. I try not saying I definitely don’t do trigonometry, but she already knows. And then my third daughter is actually in public school, l the first year this year, and my youngest is twelve. So, he is the only one that needs more hands-on stuff, but the truth is he is the most academic and best reader out of everybody, and he blows all the other kids out of the water. So, I don’t really need to spend a ton of time with him. But if I am going to buy something, I am not buying it unless he says yes; I absolutely want to do this. Cause if I don’t hear the resounding yes, it will not be a yes later. And even if it is a resounding yes, it will not necessarily be a resounding yes in a month anyhow.
Kara Anderson: I love that, though, like you have cracked the code for your family, you know what I mean? I mean, it takes time.
Teresa Wiedrick: Yeah.
Kara Anderson: And I think that is what is so hard for the newish homeschooling parents to realize that you didn’t just figure that out the minute your kids were born and go okay this one is going to need this, this one is going to need this, this one is going to go to public school, you know it takes time. Once you have some time, it is so freeing to be like this is what we are going to be doing for math and just be able to stick with it. You have to figure out what works first. So, you just get to a point like I don’t want to get distracted by what everybody else is doing even though it is really pretty and all their entire Instagram is the exact same colour every single square, and how do they do that?
Teresa Wiedrick: I have mine that way now.
Kara Anderson: Have you?
Teresa Wiedrick: I have, yeah. In the last few weeks, my goddaughter did a huge redesign of all my stuff. And I am like, cool, awesome, great, I am glad you were born for so many reasons, but that was a kind of an amazing artistic gift. But you know, I feel like it has more to do with my confidence inside myself, the more of the growth about who I am, I just say you know I just don’t care about these gaps that people talk about. But I don’t care anymore because there are going to be gaps everywhere. I am not trying to produce a child that can compete with God or google. I am actually trying to encourage them to be who they were meant to be. And I have the best chance of advocating for that. I have the best chance of seeing what they need. Even the most caring, kind teacher doesn’t care about my kids the way that I care about them. And even still, at a certain point, I realize it is no longer my job to care or really to take the reigns of what they are supposed to do or how they are to develop. That becomes theirs, and I have to let go as well and let them do their own exploration. You know this idea of what are you going to do for the rest of your life at seventeen or eighteen? I don’t know if your son is hearing that, but that is the most absurd question because, at forty-seven, I’m still like, what will I do next year? We’ll see.
Kara Anderson: What we are doing right now didn’t even exist when we graduated from high school. So how would we be able to say, “Well, we are going to be podcasters.” And people are going to be like; you’re from the future. What is happening?
Teresa Wiedrick: Yeah!
Kara Anderson: That doesn’t make sense. That is not a thing, you know. So, you really can’t, and you are not programming robots; you’re raising your precious children who are each.
Teresa Wiedrick: Not all sweet and precious.
Kara Anderson: That is a good point, too, yeah.
Teresa Wiedrick: I like your advice, your way of framing it.
Kara Anderson: A little feisty, yeah. And it is really not like; I mean how much do you want to manipulate and control things too. You know, I mean, it’s really not up to you, and your job is to help bring that forward and give them the resources. It might be easier to program robots; I am not sure because parenting is no joke.
Teresa Wiedrick: No, it isn’t. Well, I mean, it should be.
Kara Anderson: I am not good at the sciences. So I don’t think I could program robots, so I am going to be a mom instead.
Teresa Wiedrick: Right. I really love actually hearing about your background that you did a degree in journalism, and then you were a newspaper editor. That is a cool background!
Kara Anderson: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I loved it. I loved my job so much that it was like a few dream years, but the minute I got pregnant, I was like, nope, I’m out. It was just decided.
This was both awesome and amazing, but there is no way that this life is compatible with being a parent. Maybe it would have been if my husband didn’t also work in media, where if there’s a fire, you go to it. And you know that is just how it goes, and you got kids in daycare, but that is like an expectation, so two jobs like that weren’t going to happen. So I was just going to stay home and freelance for a while, which turned into what I do now—speaking of meandering roads, speaking of futures.
Teresa Wiedrick: You know, speaking of fire, you talked about by November you burned out. You said you burn out, but you caught on fire, and you were in an ash pile by November. I wonder if that is applicable to other homeschool moms where they experience that. They go full in, full-on, they do everything, and then they realize I am exhausted. I definitely was that person, but it took me three years. Three years of Susan Wiesebawer and the Sunlight History curriculum that I followed to the T.
Kara Anderson: Yeah. Well, that was an awesome segway, going from the fire to the burning out. That is impressive. And second of all, that is exactly what happened. I was like; I went all in when I realized this isn’t sustainable. Like, there is no way I can keep doing this. And that is really what it comes down to is keeping it sustainable for the long term, because it is a marathon, it’s not a sprint, you know. So you can’t just be like, I made it through this week, yeah, I’m done. No, it’s like you have weeks and weeks, months and months, and years assuming you want to stick to homeschooling.
So you can’t run it like you would a sprint. You have to run it like you would a marathon; you have to stop and take breaks and refuel. Sometimes you have to stop for a minute and just take a deep breath.
So that is my story of when we put my son back into a different preschool for a few months while I figured out I can’t do all the things. I have to figure out how to make this manageable for my house. I mean, I have a one-year-old, and she needs naps, and sometimes you would be in the middle of reading a book together, and she was still nursing. Things were happening, so it’s like when you combine school with home, home kind of has to be the main priority, I think, even though we all desperately want to make sure our kids are getting a good education.
And that the most important thing is to be a mom, and that is the number one role; teaching is lower on the list for me.
Teresa Wiedrick: You know, I think it is a misnomer that the homeschool word is just giving the wrong impression of what we are really doing. Now having said that, I know some people really are doing the full-on homeschooling thing, and all the best to them. I genuinely think everybody is doing their thing; as long as they are happy doing it and working for them, you go, girl.
But on the other hand, the homeschool idea of this has to become a school; I think it’s a misnomer. Our goal is to create an education for very specific children that have never graced the planet before, so our goal is to focus an education for them specifically.
So the idea of bringing the school in the home, I just, you know, reveals where my philosophy is in general. But I think it is not useful at times, especially for newer people.
Kara Anderson: Right, yeah. It puts a lot of pressure on you to think that you have to recreate this thing that was never meant to be recreated with, like two kids fighting over cooking, you know. And yeah, I mean, it is a whole different thing. Really and like you said, maybe homeschooling isn’t the word for it anymore.
Teresa Wiedrick: But it is for Etsy’s. So, apparently, it is still. You know you write about essentialism, and I have read that book. I have that book on my homeschool mama’s reading list. And it was so interesting to see you discuss him and Brené Brown in your book because those are two that I constantly share with people. And it is funny because they don’t actually speak to homeschooling specifically at all.
Kara Anderson: Right, right. Yeah. And it is weird, this morning I was reading Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. And I thought of her, and I put a little flag in there, like education! And I thought there is like an alarm post there somewhere hearing his perspective on education, you know, in the late 1800s in Germany. So, when it becomes kind of like your vocation, hopefully to your kids, it’s interesting the things that speak to you in kind of different ways, you know.
And essentialism, it was like, I loved that book for so many reasons, but then there was a part of it that just hit me. I think he actually said something about what if incidence is like the way we look at ways to enhance our community and stuff like that. And it led me to think about how we spent a whole year volunteering at a cat shelter. And I went back and forth about it in my mind for a very long time, wondering if it is okay that we were missing school to volunteer one day a week. And then later realizing that things that came out of that volunteer experience and how it was such an education, but you know again, not necessarily the kind, but I mean if I really wanted, I could have been like okay we had to count out the cats and make sure that we had the food inventory and da, da, da, okay I guess that is math. I guess you could do that, but why?
Instead, we just had this wonderful experience together that helped my kids learn other things that aren’t even in a regular curriculum, like compassion, empathy, and working together, and how to fill out a job application. So, there were a lot of things they learned from that experience, and yeah, I went back and forth about it so much. Is it bad? Am I doing it wrong? Like if the homeschool police show up right now, are they going to be like, why are you in the cat shelter?
Teresa Wiedrick: Well, I support a cat shelter myself. My oldest daughter did live in a cat hotel and worked in a cat hotel. Yes, she did.
Kara Anderson: Yeah, okay, where is this, and when can I go there?
Teresa Wiedrick: Yeah, and so they are all over the place. I think of them as real impressive places for people that are wealthy with cats.
But you could do the math; you could say, now, if all the cats in the cat shelter got pregnant at the same time. So, I think there is a real value as homeschool parents if we could look at what our kids do are their learning opportunities or their educational experiences and actually try to understand what you are doing.
Like you said, it is not always a clear-cut thing; maybe you could do the history of a breed of a cat. You know, maybe you could do things like that, but you don’t have to because the mere act of volunteering and setting aside your time and going and doing something like that in itself appreciates that you do things outside of yourself. And I think that has value in it.
Kara Anderson: Well, that reminds me of when moms sometimes come back and say, I am nine months pregnant, and I have a baby coming. What am I supposed to do for the next six to eight weeks, two months, three months, four months? And I think that is exactly it; there will be so many blessings in just adding a baby to the family.
Yes, you could read about different families growing, and you could read books about how babies grow. I mean, you could do a lot of things; you could say how many diapers did the baby have today?
But why, why take yourself out of that amazing experience of just being a family, not to mention that all your kids are going to be going through this transition.
Like you were talking about brain science earlier, how much really sticks when everybody is overtired and confused, you know? So maybe this is the time just to snuggle together a lot and listen to audiobooks and let that be funky.
Teresa Wiedrick: Yeah, like smell your baby’s head. That is genuinely the only thing I miss from babies is the smell.
Kara Anderson: Oh yeah.
Teresa Wiedrick: Yeah, sweet babies. It’s a very special time, but I don’t know if you were like me at that time. I very much wanted to do all the things to make sure everything was covered like the house was clean, the food was prepped, and you know I still have a book called Before You Were Born about child development, and I read that as I was pregnant, day ten the baby’s heart is beating. So, you know, and I would do all those things, and I felt the pressure that I had to do it all. And funny enough now, my kids are mostly independent and capable of doing all the things, and I mean, the house is a mess, and I am totally good with it. It’s fine now.
Kara Anderson: I know; when are they going to create a time machine so we can like go back and listen to ourselves?
Teresa Wiedrick: Yeah.
Kara Anderson: It’s okay, the fights, stop the struggles, let it just go, and it will still be okay.
Teresa Wiedrick: Yeah, just be present.
Kara Anderson: Yeah, I think you know that’s the one thing that if I could go back, even when my kids were babies, I could say to myself that you don’t have to try so hard. It is going to be okay. But that is the gift of hindsight. Unfortunately, time machines don’t exist yet, and there is nothing we can do about that.
Teresa Wiedrick: And so, I hear grandchildren are actually the next best option. Cause the idea of having another child right now, aww, no. Although, one of my girls said it would be so fun if we did. I said this is not like breeding our great Pyrenees; this is not like we are doing next week. So, I am not doing that, so you will have to do that, which was an absolute shock to my children when I say you get pregnant teenage daughter because I am not. And I really don’t mean that.
Kara Anderson: Yeah, you are getting goats, though?
Teresa Wiedrick: Yeah, I am in the next week. Actually, that is something unconventional that I think again is a learning opportunity. My husband, a physician, does not do building of any sort, yet my husband and twelve-year-old put together a goat barn. And it is just the loveliest barn. And that was like shop class for a couple of months.
Kara Anderson: Yeah.
Teresa Wiedrick: And that is learning even though you would never find ‘build goat barn’ on anybody’s curriculum in any province or state.
Kara Anderson: That is so funny cause you are right; there are so many homeschoolers trying to do home studies and stuff. Somebody is going to make that curriculum; it is only a matter of time.
Teresa Wiedrick: It is such a cliche; I mean, I don’t fit that cliche, I come from the suburbs, I didn’t like weeding, I watched too much tv, I never read a book, and I am not a classic homeschool mom that was waiting to grow up. I just kind of fell in love with essentialism, actually, the simplicity of it all, and I really enjoy it. But you actually had a background that you were doing things like that before your kids were born?
Kara Anderson: Yeah, yeah. We lived on a farm when I was pregnant with my son. It was a three-quarters of an acre plot of land where we had this huge garden, and we had asparagus. It was so funny people would drive by and steal all of our asparagus, and at the time, it was really annoying because they were literally stealing my food. Like would you come to my house and go through my refrigerator? No, like get out of my yard.
And yet when my son was born, and I didn’t have much time for any that anymore, and once they got a little bit older, we moved to a place where we had a giant garden, and we had chickens, and that was wonderful.
And then things shifted again. When they were really little, I definitely went through a stage where everything was homemade, and everything baked, and everything great. So again, looking back, it’s really wonderful, and some of that was really stressful, you know. And I do not need to put quite that pressure on myself, like it was okay to buy bread, you know.
Teresa Wiedrick: Yes, 100%. You do not need to bake bread and homeschool.
Kara Anderson: Yeah, that’s for sure.
Teresa Wiedrick: You said you don’t let your definition of success be defined by somebody else because, in the end, this is your story to write with your kids. I thought that was such a beautiful piece of advice to homeschool parents.
And really right across the spectrum if they are new or have been doing this for twenty years. Yay.
Kara Anderson: Yes, thank you. My son actually said something one day about being careful about who defines success for you. And I just thought, wow, that is so true. You were talking earlier even about different siblings in the same family having different experiences and so for them when they grow up; success is going to look different to a lot of people, I am sure. So my little book, with my little writing, and my little family, it was just starting to feel whatever.
But I feel so lucky, so I think that part of the gift of being able to slow down too and try to revere a life talked in essentialism somewhere. You’re not constantly distracted and everything.
Out of all the people on the planet, I live my life with these three, one dog, three cats, and I am just really lucky.
Teresa Wiedrick: Mmm. That is a really wonderful way to experience this last year, to frame it because this last year you spent a whole lot of time with those people.
Kara Anderson: Wow. Yeah, yeah, for sure. It got a little scary there, I don’t know if you noticed, but that was before my ???? life.
I know many parents were getting really desperate, and yeah, it is wonderful to sort of be able to get outside again a little bit more and start planning things. But, still, I thought about taking a trip, and I would really like to take a trip with my family, so I think I’m good, but I get it. It has been stressful; I get it.
But that doesn’t mean that there weren’t days when I was like, I will take a nap and close the door. Because again, like mama self-care and I am an introvert, so that means sometimes you need to feel it. I am invincible, everybody.
Teresa Wiedrick: You know, actually, you said you are an INFJ, and I am an INFJ. I am an enneagram Type 2. Do you know what you are?
Kara Anderson: I am enneagram 9. And it is so funny because I run into all these INFJ’s online, and it is supposed to be the rarest, you know, and yet, wow.
Teresa Wiedrick: We are all writing online about stuff.
Kara Anderson: Yeah.
Teresa Wiedrick: Totally, and I have found that an effective tool to understand my family members a little bit better. So, I am married to an INTJ, so very heavy, so we can really connect on that angle.
I am going to interview him for Father’s Day, which will be really interesting.
Kara Anderson: Oh, that is a great idea.
Teresa Wiedrick: But he thinks very differently from me, as do all my children, really. I think I have one that is an enneagram Type 9 as well, and she is by far my easiest kiddo to parent.
Kara Anderson: Yeah. We come across as pretty laid back, but inside we are like yes, no. But you know what’s really funny?
Teresa Wiedrick: Harder than the rest of us, that’s what it is. You just know how to be diplomatic at the same time.
Kara Anderson: Yes, but there is this thing that so many of all the options, many that are why I am drawn to essentialism because I think I have all the options. So, I think it’s easier on my brain to go; nope, we’re going straight ahead.
But it is funny you said your husband is INTJ, right, so you are one letter off, but it is completely different, right? I think about that with like everything, you know, mamas self-care, like what you actually need. It could be so different than like your sister, your mom, your best friend, or your husband, you know.
And homeschooling, like how it’s going to work for you. Yeah, it could be completely different based on your personality or your kid’s personality. I mean, we are all really different to see the world differently.
So again, it can be another reason not to compare, right? And maybe your mom is an INTJ, and you are an INFJ, and it’s why the house is always fixed up. So why couldn’t I have gotten this?
Teresa Wiedrick: Yeah, I think it is a useful way to understand people. Yeah, the thing we were talking about Brené Brown, you spoke about her.
But for me, I actually had a moment in my burnout days when I came to that, I think it was in the third year in January or February, and I was done. Where is the yellow bus? I saw the yellow bus and thought like ‘help me’ and how do I get my kids on that bus. And I didn’t really want that. But I did want that because I was so done.
And it was at that moment I think I spoke to my enneagram Type 9 friend who said to me, check out a Brené Brown Ted X Talk. So, I watched her, and I don’t know what she said exactly, but it really struck me that I wasn’t authentic, and I wasn’t really tapping into who I really was.
I was addressing all the needs around me as a Type 2 does, and I really wasn’t paying attention to what I needed and until I accepted that I had to be authentic no matter what, that was when I started recognizing I have to address my own needs because I can’t keep doing this.
Frankly, it wasn’t just homeschooling; I’m just like, okay, I need not have children. Yeah.
Kara Anderson: That is a really good point because she does talk about authenticity, and you have got my mind going. Because that is totally what it is with when we are trying to follow a method that is not for us, or we are trying to keep up with somebody else’s expectation whether it is the book or somebody else in our world or whatever.
Yeah, that is what it is; it’s like if you’re not authentic, you’re not going to feel it is never going to feel right. Wow, that is a really good suggestion that your friend had. I am going to have to pick up that book, and it was not a homeschooling book at all.
Sometimes I think that is what we need. We don’t need another person telling us how to homeschool. We need, maybe, some way to reach out ourselves.
Teresa Wiedrick: Yes, exactly.
Kara Anderson: You know, a book that may be addressing something that is going on outside of homeschooling events is good because we are not just homeschoolers; we are doctors, parents, daughters, and sisters. Yeah.
Teresa Wiedrick: The stronger that we become in ourselves and we are really clear on who we are and what we are about and fearless about it, then it undergirds, just like you said at the beginning that it completely impacts the atmosphere of our homeschool.
And having said that, I have said this so many times to different people that there is not going to come a time when you figure this all out. And you are not going to have it all addressed, and you are not going to make sure you never do things that are not right with your kids. You will, and no matter what, they will find a way to say you missed something. That will happen.
And this is like you growing alongside them, hopefully, a little bit ahead of them. But hopefully, because some of us don’t have that option either. So, we are all growing up, and I think we have these children placed in our lives for us to learn from. And they are learning from us as well. So, it is pretty; it’s kind of cool actually; if you don’t get into the muscle of the challenges at the moment, it’s kind of a neat experience.
Because you get a whole lot more learning opportunities as a homeschool mom when you are homeschooling kids, you just do.
Kara Anderson: Yeah. Yeah. We just started the history class with Joy Watkins. Anyway, she has a series of American history books, and we just started it. And my daughter and I were like, what?
Like it will blow your mind. And like speaking of gaps, I realize I have huge gaps in my education, absolutely Grand Canyon size gaps in my education, and I am still here, and everything is still okay. I’m fine, though.
So yeah, I think a lot of it is like growing together and, wow, the bond that it creates. And to not worry so much about itself, cause, of course, you are going to miss them. And as parents, and of course, we are going to get things wrong, which we have done differently.
At least homeschooling gives us some extra time. So, if you screwed up in the morning, and then you go in your room, have some chocolate, and you breathe, and then you come back out and say I’m sorry, and you begin again.
And you do that until they are ready for college.
Teresa Wiedrick: Exactly.
Kara Anderson: Well, that is about all you can do; I mean that is if I were to give advice to a kid, I would say somehow it went so fast. The days are long, and the years are short, right?
Teresa Wiedrick: Yeah, it is cliche but true. Yup. That was such good advice.
Kara Anderson: I am going to say my friend Jessica, the Waldorf Place near Jessica, she just asked me to write a little something for her little blurb, so if it is okay, I am going to read that real quick.
I wrote, “Start slow and gently layer more in as you grow confident, and your kids get used to the routine of homeschooling. It is important not to get too caught up in choosing a certain methodology or style of homeschooling. It’s great to research, fixing what works for your family and sort of build your own style based on experience and trial and error. ????Delivery??? talks about that a lot.
We all go through a lot of trial and error. Don’t worry; it’s normal as you find your way. Finally, on the hard days, don’t doubt yourself or your kid’s; know that combining school and home has its challenges, and some days will be just a bit bumpy.
On those days, curl up with snacks and a good book, or hop in a car and listen to an audiobook while you go for a drive and get some ice cream or a treat.
Remember, homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint, and you, too, are learning every day.
Teresa Wiedrick: Amen.
Kara Anderson: Thank you.
Teresa Wiedrick: Yeah. Now I would gladly share my M & M’s, with you too. I was so amused. I am a peanut M & M girl. Do you like peanut or chocolate?
Kara Anderson: My favourite is the peanut butter M & M’s. You know what, though, you are in Canada. Do we have the same flavours as you?
Teresa Wiedrick: No.
Kara Anderson: You guys have a way better KitKat.
Teresa Wiedrick: You guys have amazing chocolate bars. Also, I try not to eat chocolate bars. I will eat Lindt Sea Salt Dark Chocolate and too many ounces every night. Yeah, so I am all about chocolate.
Kara Anderson: Yeah, I hear you guys have a way better KitKat, so I need to try your KitKat.
Teresa Wiedrick: I didn’t know that even existed. Ya’ll have so many things. Did you catch that? I said ya’all. So, I am all the way north here, and I’m still doing that.
Kara Anderson: Yes.
Teresa Wiedrick: So, to close our interview, I usually ask three quick questions about you just to get a sense of who you are outside of a little different perspective about who you are. So, what have you learned alongside your kids this week? Or a memory you created together?
Kara Anderson: Oh, we did history on Bach. They have the best Jovan things. So, they have one box for younger kids, and then they have a ten to fifteen box. And you know you kind of worry sometimes when your kids are fourteen and fifteen are they going to be like, oh mom, I don’t want to do a project.
We have been doing American history, so I have been trying to pair their history boxes with this Joy Watkin series. We were doing one about the native American planting of corn, squash, and beans together with sister planting because they grow better when planted in container gardening, right? They grow better, right. And we have these little cups on our shelves right now, on our mantel. And the corn is growing bananas, cause it’s corn, you know.
And it’s so funny because every day, even at fourteen, she checks on it to make sure they have water. It’s really sweet. I don’t know how long this stuff will last, but it is really fun when that kind of stuff still works. It doesn’t always work.
I don’t want to give parents false hope that every project your kids are going to be like, “Oh, my goodness,” so that’s not true. And to me, that is why I am extra excited at this point.
Teresa Wiedrick: That is a really interesting way to grow corn because it has really deep roots, and it seriously is a lot of fun. But that would be very easy to pull it out. When I pull it out of the ground, that is a day’s event. That is a lot of exercises. But yeah, that will be interesting if you get a cob of corn.
Kara Anderson: Well, at some point, we will have to move it because the husks are tiny, but it was fun when we started it indoors. We will have to move it, and like we are just going to have one corn, five beans, and what now, but it will be okay. We got the point of the lesson and the history of the three sisters.
Teresa Wiedrick: So tell me what’s on your bookshelf these days.
Kara Anderson: Okay, I just finished the Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. I am reading The Lovely Wagon by Julie Berry. That is coming by my mom’s book club, so I am reading that. And then I just started this book by the guy who wrote The Martian. It is called Project Hail Mary, and it is really, really good, and I already can’t wait to hand it to my sons. When I read The Martian, I gave it to my son right away, and soon as my daughter was a little older. Don’t hand it to your kids without reading it first. The Martian has a lot of language in it, but I actually put that aside.
Teresa Wiedrick: It’s not just ??????.
Kara Anderson: No, I put that aside for this one. But it’s funny because this one does not have the language in it. After all, it is written as an antagonist by a middle school science teacher.
So it is really funny because he asked for help at one point, like why don’t I swear? You know. And he is starting to figure everything out and put it together so this one does not have the language, but it is still the same kind of idea of a one-person mission, and he’s got to save the world too. Well, I guess in The Martian, ??????????, but it is un-put-downable.
Teresa Wiedrick: Beautiful. I will have to check that one out. Actually, I noticed your book is not on good reads cause as soon as I finished it, I am adding that I read it because I am one of those as a mom who’s always reading. I’d love to see that for everybody that is not familiar with your book, would you tell us where we can find it and when we can find it online?
Kara Anderson: Sure. It was originally in pdf format, and a couple of months ago, I sat back down because it will be out in paperback in Kindle version on Amazon very soon.
But I have had some health stuff going on this year, so everything got a little bit blown off.
I will say that by the end of June, I think it will be available on Amazon. Of course, it could be much sooner than that, but there are lots of little things; apparently, I need to fix that. And then I have to interpret that.
Teresa Wiedrick: It is such an encouraging book, and it’s just a straight kind of book that makes me feel like the stand-up Kate McKinnon from SNL. It makes me feel like she went homeschooling, and she is cheerleading you on. She is so funny; she says you can do it. I love it.
Kara Anderson: Thank you, that is a lovely comparison, thank you.
Teresa Wiedrick: You know, funny enough, everybody can’t see you, but you look like Kate Winslet, with a Kate McKinnon add.
Kara Anderson: Oh my goodness, thank you.
Teresa Wiedrick: So where can we find you online?
Kara Anderson: I am at ksaraanderson.com, and I am also on Instagram at ksanderson@.
Teresa Wiedrick: It has been such a pleasure chatting with you today.
Kara Anderson: Oh, you, too. I am so glad we got a chance to do this. It was so fun.
Teresa Wiedrick: Thanks for joining me.
Kara Anderson: Thank you. Bye.
Teresa Wiedrick: And thank you for joining me today. I would love to learn more about who you are, so come on over to our Facebook group at The Homeschool Mama Support Group or The Homeschool Mama Self-Care Instagram page so we can support and encourage each other in our homeschool challenges.
While you are there, you can check out the books on homeschool encouragement and Homeschool Mama Self-Care: Nurturing the Nurturer.
If you are a homeschool mama looking for extra support, ask me about the Homeschool Mama Retreat.
Until next time, I hope you and your kids have a charmed week. And if you are having one of those days, I hope you can change your challenges into your homeschool charms.
Call to Adventure by Kevin MacLeod