“One thing about being a homeschooler (after having been homeschooled) that surprised me was how my own issues and weaknesses would be revealed. It wasn’t actually the teaching or organizing curriculum that was a challenge. It was how much my shortcomings were revealed.”Rowan Atkinson
Rowan Atkinson is a second-generation homeschooler and is a recently graduated homeschool mama after homeschooling for two decades of four children. She is a historical fiction reader, British period drama watcher, soccer player, Sunday school teacher, author, and business woman.
Rowan is the author of Enough Already: Real Help for Homeschool Freakout Burnout and Zone Out and the host of the CanadaHomeschools podcast. She is madly working on the second book of Headphone History (you can hear a snippet on her podcast).
Rowan’s Advice for Homeschool Parents:
- Don’t use recess as chore time; instead, take a break.
- If you don’t put your own oxygen mask on, you can’t put on your kids’ oxygen mask.
- Housecleaners can take care of your house, but you are the only one who can take care of your kids.
- Even just walking to the end of the block after a homeschool day might give you a little space just for you.
You can find Rowan online at:
I’m Teresa Wiedrick from Capturing the Charmed Life.com
Homeschool mama self-care podcast is for homeschool mamas looking for a self-care strategy, or a few, so we can tackle our homeschool challenges and turn them into our charms.
In this episode, I get to introduce you to a homeschool mama that you need to know. Her name is Rowan Atkinson. She’s a second-generation homeschooler who has recently graduated from two decades of educating her four children at home. She is a historical fiction reader, a British period drama watcher, a soccer player, a Sunday school teacher, author, and businesswoman. She is also tired often and falls asleep while watching those periods of drama.
She is the author of a book called Enough Already!: Real help for Homeschool Burnout, Freak Out and Zone Out, and the host of the CanaaHomeschools podcast
Teresa Wiedrick: “So welcome, Rowan. I’m so glad to have you and introduce you to our listeners. I am so glad that you are here in real-time, or at least across the sound waves. It’s really lovely to have a cup of tea with you all the way from Ontario to British Columbia. Cheers! Tell us a little about you, about your family, and your homeschool story.”
Rowan Atkinson: “I am Rowan, as you said. I have four children. One is just about to turn 24, one is turning 23, one is 20, and one is 17, at this time.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “All grown up!”
Rowan Atkinson: “Pretty much, and that is fun too. My homeschooling journey, I was homeschooled for some of my education, not all of it. “And then my mom homeschooled my younger siblings for most of their education. So, as I like to say, I grew up with the planets hanging from the kitchen ceiling, salt growing by the kitchen sink, and books everywhere. And so, I never planned to homeschool, which is amusing given that fact. But once I had our first child, I really felt the responsibility of training her up. And I felt that homeschooling was the way to do that. I was helping other people homeschool when my children were little. And helping these people get started at homeschooling, even though I didn’t necessarily think I was going to do that. But I ended up doing it.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “So is that why you started going down that path, or did something else draw you in?”
Rowan Atkinson: “I’d say Deuteronomy where it recommended to love God, and put his commandments on our heart and then teach them to our children, when we rise up, when we walk by the way, when we lie down, basically all the time. And I felt that was homeschooling in my case. It doesn’t necessarily, but it does for me. I felt like I didn’t want to delegate. And I’d always planned to be a teacher, so it didn’t seem like an impossible thing, because I’d seen it done. Obviously, my mom did it, and I was wired in that educational direction already, so yeah. My husband wasn’t sure at first, as husbands often aren’t. Because, of course, everyone knows that one socially backward family. And you know everyone worries that their children are going to turn out like that. I brought him to a Homeschool conference to check it out, and they had a special seminar just for Dads. He came out of there, and something must have happened in there, because when He came out of there, he said, ‘everyone should homeschool, and this is the best thing.’ So, it worked well for what I felt we should do. And yeah, we’ve done it for the past 20 years, and I’ve recently graduated. So that is kind of my homeschool story.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “Congratulations!”
Rowan Atkinson: “Thank you.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “So what aspects of homeschooling on your journey surprised you? That might have been different, or just some variation that you hadn’t considered?”
Rowan Atkinson: “That’s a super good question, especially for a second-generation homeschooler because we know what it looks like. And we have seen it done. So, it is not all a surprise to us. So, I had to think about that. I would have to say that one thing that surprised me was how much my weaknesses and issues would be revealed. It wasn’t the teaching or organizing curriculum. I happen to love those things. When I was ten, my poor brother would have to sit around and wait for two hours when we played school, so that I could make all of my lesson plans with my two identical copies of the Cat in the Hat Came Back. So that wasn’t the issue for me. It was more just how much your shortcomings are revealed.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “Absolutely.”
Rowan Atkinson: “But I sometimes say God wanted me to work on my character. That is why I homeschooled. It had nothing to do with the children.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “And I think it’s a common refrain for parenting in general, but because we are homeschool moms and we get to be with them all the time, we get saturated in seeing ourselves in the mirror.”
Rowan Atkinson: “Yes, we can’t be all over the place all day, and then suddenly at 3:30 pm put on a nice ‘here are some milk and cookies, and how was your day’ because we know how their day was already.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “Exactly.”
Rowan Atkinson: “The other thing that surprised me, which shouldn’t have was that my children are not the same as I am. When my mom homeschooled me, she would work with me, especially math, and what my lessons were in the morning, and then in the afternoon I would do all the things that she assigned, and I would even do a little extra. Surprisingly, history, because I loved it. And my children are not me.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “What would you say that your approach has been to some of those challenges? Or just being, I guess the way I describe it, seeing yourself in the mirror in a way, or seeing your challenges, inner personal challenges, or struggles mirrored back through your child? How would you approach that? Or how would you gauge that?”
Rowan Atkinson: “I think, first of all, it is humbling. And I have had to be sorry about it, and confess and apologize. The kids are so great, you know because they know you are messing up. So, if you try to act as you know, they are not buying what you are selling. But if you humbly say I messed up there and I’m sorry, they are quick to forgive. It’s like they want to hear what they already know. We make our kids say sorry to each other, so why wouldn’t we say sorry when we are out of line, too?”
Teresa Wiedrick: “I think that discussion, of mirroring, is going to be in our children or recognizing who we are or what our struggles are, is a growth scenario. But at times, it unravels character struggles with different thoughts, like anger or overwhelm or perfectionism or of not feeling good enough. And it reveals all those patterns, I guess, in our minds, and then we have to figure out how to engage that on a practical level when it’s overwhelming us.”
Rowan Atkinson: “It’s true, like distinguishing between real guilt and false guilt, things like that. So, it’s mindset work. It really is.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “What has kept you homeschooling then?”
Rowan Atkinson: “That sense of duty, for me. I am a very super responsible person (SRP, a new acronym ). So, I am like that. I do make mistakes. But if I feel it’s right and good for me to be doing, I do it whether it’s convenient or not. In many ways, homeschooling is convenient because you aren’t limited to schedules by other people’s schedules. But I know it is a big commitment, and I have never made any bones about that.
I think it’s a strong sense of duty, and I was called to do it so I would see it through. Sometimes that’s all, cause you to have your vision, and I believe you should have that, and I teach that. That’s important, but the vision was something that you don’t get to see the results until later. But you are going to be the mother you were made to be; you’re not going to give up on parenting. Unfortunately, some people do. I wasn’t going to give up on homeschooling until I felt I had accomplished what I set out to do.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “So what does it feel like to be on the other side to have graduated from homeschooling?”
Rowan Atkinson: “I would say the best part of the feeling has the weights off my shoulders of that responsibility. I do still have one school-aged child, and he is at a Christian High School and is striving very, very well, it was good for him to go there. So, I still feel that my mandate for his education is being fulfilled in the way that his education is happening right now. But to have that responsibility off my shoulders is very good, yeah. Of course, you are going to look back and wish I had done this differently, or I wish I had known now what I know. It’s like being a grandparent now you know all the things, you can help others, but when you are in the middle of it, right, you are just learning as you go. And I said to my kids, this is the first time I have been a mother, so I have never done this before.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “So grandparents have no excuses then, so we have to be spot on.”
Rowan Atkinson: “Well, once again, we don’t have quite the responsibilities on our shoulders, so we aren’t going to have the hangups we probably had when we were that super responsible person.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “So tell me about being a super responsible person, have you also super responsibly taken care of yourself all these years?”
Rowan Atkinson: “In some ways, and some ways not. It depends on how you are defining that.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “I often think when we talk about self-care people think, or at least I do, I think in dark chocolate, Netflix, and spa visits, which is funny because I think I have visited the spa not more than a half a dozen times in my life. But I think that is variable. I think there are many different facets of self-care, and frankly, if I define, then I think it is limiting. So taking care of ourselves, though, is not instinctive as homeschool moms. Or at least so I am observing with other women, and it is instinctive to be super responsible as the parent towards our children. And we should be all things to them at all times. It sounds like a good idea, except it’s not real. And we do have serious limitations at times, and it’s not just character limitations. It’s, you know, if we are introverted, you can only handle so many words in a day. Or just that you know all those things that we were talking about grappling with overwhelm. But when the kids were little, I mean even brushing your teeth and having a shower sounded like a lofty self-care idea. But what would you say you have learned about your self-care then over the years?“
Rowan Atkinson: “I wouldn’t say that I’ve got it all down, and I feel twice as guilty because I have a degree in physical and health education. And I don’t practice what I know that I could or aught. I could be your personal trainer, yet I don’t train myself. I do have a pretty full plate. Some homeschool moms, I think, do make time for themselves, say, to be super fit and cook all the healthy things. I’ve had many seasons when I have done that, and then I have seasons when I haven’t.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “I am a regular consumer of potato chips, solidly once a month. Everybody knows if I have bought a bag of Miss Vickie’s that I might be having my down PMS pass.”
Rowan Atkinson: “I have a theory about that.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “Okay, shoot.”
Rowan Atkinson: “This is my theory about that. It may be even a little woo-woo even for me. As I explained it to my daughter, your body is a little sad that it doesn’t have a baby. So it wants to fill that void with potato chips. And salty things are the last things we should be eating at that time, because of water retention. But that is what I think. It sounds super medical.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “There is a lot of woo-woo where I live, but that one I have not heard before. I don’t think my body wants a baby. I’m sorry, I have to disagree.”
Rowan Atkinson: “No, I am not saying that you want one; it’s just only your uterus that wants one. It’s sad because it’s empty. So, therefore, it’s trying to fill the void with potato chips or whatever your thing is.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “I love that so much I want to quote you in my book.“
Rowan Atkinson: “You may, you may.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “So how did you create time for yourself over the years?”
Rowan Atkinson: “Yeah, I was thinking about that, and thinking that time for myself is an introvert assumption, in a way. But for me, it’s not alone time. I get energized by conversing with other people. So, for me, it was more important to have an interest outside, of and apart from the children, as opposed to alone time. Does that make sense?”
Teresa Wiedrick: “It does. I think I am extroverted myself, but I think just barely. I feel more introverted.”
Rowan Atkinson: “It’s a spectrum.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “It’s a spectrum, yes. And I am guessing most homeschool moms have decreased in their extroversion over the years. But I would maybe say that in the context of having kids around you all that time and chatting kids stuff all the time.”
Rowan Atkinson: “Yes, because there is a difference between having children around you and having an adult conversation.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “You had something that I listened to on your podcast yesterday about employing children. And that idea as homeschool families we would want, or our children would want to be around us all the time. And I think I had that that idea that we would be together and do read-alouds until they are 25. Or I don’t know what I thought.”
Rowan Atkinson: “We will have them until they are married, but that doesn’t always turn out to be the case.”
Teresa Wiedrick: ” Probably not appropriate, unless they are getting married at 17. But okay. I think I have seen that at around 14 or so 15, it depends on the child, but they do their own thing, right?“
Rowan Atkinson: “Especially girls.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “Okay. Interesting. Good to know. My youngest is a boy.”
Rowan Atkinson: “Well, the boy still needs you to kind of almost respect them as a man, not necessarily give them so many words and micromanage them. They need their independence. I think because the girls mature physically faster, then they need to be their own person at a younger age. I just have experience with three daughters and one son. They all need their independence, but I am just saying it’s a timing thing that is a little different, in my experience.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “Right, yeah. So tell me, how have you built boundaries in your homeschool so that you can have time to learn about things that you like to learn and to pursue activities that you like to engage?”
Rowan Atkinson: “One way I have done it is a mindset thing, but if you are with your children all day, you have permission to go out in the evening. You do not have to feel guilty or bad because you are going out to a small group or on a date with your husband. You can go because you know that you have invested in them all day long. I think moms who aren’t with their kids all day might feel a little more guilty going out in the evening because they weren’t with them all day. But because we are, we should be free to go to a small group once a week, or something like that. So for me, that was one super helpful thing. And if a small group was our only date we still at least had that and we could talk all the way there, and all the way home. And we could be with other people and have personal growth too as you do with those discussions you have there. So that was something that was always there for us no matter what. Often we were leading the group, but we enjoyed that, so it was still good. Even when the kids were little just knowing they were safe and walking to the mailbox at the end of the driveway by myself and then walking back in just gave me like a little bit of mental space, even though it was such a tiny thing.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “Yeah, that is a sign we need quiet time for sure. And I often think that when we go into the grocery store, it’s like a quiet time, so it is another sign we require more quiet time.”
Rowan Atkinson: “Another thing is not to use recess to do chores. You can use that time to read a novel if the kids are out in the backyard playing. I would say reading a book was a huge thing for me. I always had to read a book, even if I only got a paragraph read in a day, or if I got more chapters than I should have done and didn’t get the dishes done, but reading books was a survival thing to me.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “So what is a self-care challenge that you have at present, and how are you approaching it?”
Rowan Atkinson: “I think I mentioned it earlier, but physical self-care is the last thing on the list because of so many responsibilities. Even though I am not homeschooling anymore, I’m on the board at my son’s school, very involved in many ministries in my church, and I love doing this. And I have been on a political board as well as a riding association. I have taken a break from that, and not being so busy is part of my self-care. I have my bricks and mortar business, as well as my headphone history business. So I have a lot on the go, and I’d frankly maybe rather take care of how stimulating that is for my mind. Or my spiritual well-being I am taking care of, but maybe my physical I kind of put on like make sure I eat my veggies, but I could be working out more often and that sort of thing. So that is my challenge right now. I am selling my bricks and mortar business, and then my time will become very flexible, and then I plan to invest a lot into my physical health as I am going into my no-next decade.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “I found a solution trying to see if you know that you are supposed to do something. The key is to write a book and then a course. And then you are accountable for showing up to do the thing that you say that you do. So as I go through my book and I am re-editing, and I’m always looking over it to see if it makes sense, I realize, oh yeah, I say I do that so I better do that.”
Rowan Atkinson: “I don’t say I do it. I just say that I play soccer in the summer and let people draw their own conclusions on how sporty I still am.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “I know as a young woman in our culture, and certainly, in the family that I grew up in, the image was a lot. Because of that, I think I resisted it for a long time until I was introduced to Dr. Daniel Amon. He is a medical doctor who focusses on brain health. And it was then that I became convinced that my goal is not what I look like, or what size of pants I wear, not about the image, but is my brain healthy? Am I providing my brain with the things that it needs? I didn’t particularly appreciate going outside when I was a kid. My mom thinks it’s funny that I have a homestead or that I want to be out with my dog for an hour cause I didn’t do that. I was a TV watcher as a kid. And now I find just going for an hour cross-country ski or hike, or whatever, it does help burn off tension for me. So I’ve had to have a massive reshaping of my fitness and nutrition on how I approached it. By the way, I happily still eat Lays potato chips and Miss Vickie’s potato chips. And this is not an announcement.”
Rowan Atkinson: “Miss Vickie, Miss Vickie.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “And the occasional peanut M&M. So which child stage did you find to be the most challenging to take care of yourself? And what strategies would you share with our mama listeners, and how actually to amass that?”
Rowan Atkinson: “I would say, four kids, six and under stage, was the hardest for self-care because they all needed me so much. They couldn’t just get their meals like, you know, now my kids can easily get their meals if I am not home or don’t make a meal. But they just needed everything. It was all diapers, breastfeeding, homeschooling, and just everything. Daddy could get his juice, but they couldn’t, or it would be a disaster if they did. So that was the hardest time. And I would say making sure I still had something that was filling me outside of the children. Even if I had to bring the children during that time, I ran a mom and tots group. So I was still serving and doing something with my children, but it was getting me adult- conversation, and I was pouring into maybe some moms who only had a two-year-old and didn’t have several that age, and had a little less experience. At least it was still good for my brain, and then I would have to read parenting books and other books to have something to bring to them each week whenever we had it. So I never felt bad if I went out in the evening because I was with them all the time. Although it was hard to find a babysitter for four kids, of six and under, I would find homeschooling families, and the oldest child in the family could manage my kids. I think that was the hardest, however. And you know we are wired to be a martyr naturally. We were even when we’re pouring everyone’s beverage that you pour your own last. If one piece is smaller, you take the smaller piece, that is just the right thing to do. And then you become a mother, and you are kind of always last. It’s like the oxygen mask analogy. If you don’t put on your own on, you can’t help someone else.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “I guess I have two thoughts. You are juggling so many things, such as creative ventures, work ventures, and volunteering. You wrote a book on burnout. Is there a connection between the two?”
Rowan Atkinson: “There is a connection.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “Did you randomly choose a book on burnout, or was it related somehow?”
Rowan Atkinson: “Well, I was speaking at a homeschool group recently, and the two topics that are kind of my area of specialty I observed were burnout and anger issues. I’m like great, what does that say about me? Maybe I am just honest about it, and everyone else isn’t. I do a lot. I am a visionary with lots of ideas, but not a steady conscientious person. Some may have a tidier house, but they are not writing books, and that’s okay. They are providing the nest that their family needs for them to provide. And I pay someone to clean my house, but not the whole house I can’t afford it.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “Are you an enneagram type three?”
Rowan Atkinson: “I will say that I am not a super fan of any enneagram, although I know it is the thing right now. My daughter did it on me, and I think that might have been what it was, but I don’t overthink it. In the Meyers Brigg, I am high in the ‘I,’ which is influencer/people person, and very high in the ‘D,’ which is that Type A driven person. And I am low on the details and steady conscientious.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “In your discussion on burnout, can you give us a few ideas from your book? Of course, we will direct traffic to your book on the show notes.”
Rowan Atkinson: “Oh, nice. So my book is Enough Already!: Real Help for Burnout, Freak Out, and Zone Out. I am not even talking about the kids, but I would say that an ounce of prevention on burnout is worth a pound of cure. So I have two basic areas that I cover in burnout. And that are all kinds of ideas to prevent you from getting burned like doubling up your kids on some subjects not trying to do eight subjects in one day, that kind of thing.
There are many mindset chapters on real guilt and false guilt. As well there are chapters on image maintenance and things that cause burnout. We get burned out because of our high expectations of ourselves. These are too unrealistic. We do this to please others or hovering over our kids because of your fear issues.
So I get into the nitty-gritty of the mindset issues, practical tips, and funny stories from my illustrious children. It’s genuine and honest. My kids would do things like, they would go down to play in the basement, and I would have a room with packed boxes of items I could get to later like calligraphy or other things hobbies that I used to have. And they would find those things and puncture all of the peacock blue ink cartridges, etcetera and splatter them up against the fresh drywall, and all I was doing was making their lunch or going to the washroom or something. And they were so proud of it because they were artistic and said, ‘Look, mom, we did an art attack.’ And then I had a heart attack.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “I can honestly say that my children wouldn’t do that, but it’s cause they would have a heart attack knowing how I would react.”
Rowan Atkinson: “Well, I had to work on that reacting. I had to realize the reason I’m so angry. It is not because I am angry but because I’m stressed out. I am already overwhelmed with my responsibilities, and to add in having to deal with that and clean up, well, it just put me over the edge. So a lot of our anger can be just because we are stressed out, not because its anger. There are anger issues that are actual anger problems, and I get into that as well. If we can prevent burnout and overwhelm, it will drastically minimize the stress and anger that we have. And we’ll have a much nicer, happier homeschool.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “Our internal expectations are often the things, at least I find for me, that breathe wanting to have everything lined up and always doing things in a predictable way. The internal expectation of, I don’t know what it is. There are a million reasons to expect too much from yourself. But I know for sure my kids are socialized. I am driving to town all the time. And academics, I can see they are actually engaging things, so I know they are very intelligent. But that is the only time that enabled me to see how rich of an education they’ve had over the years and relax a bit. So I would be great right now if I started homeschooling at this point. Or I should say, I would be a lot better. My expectations are lower because I have seen an education really is happening with or without me at times.”
Rowan Atkinson: “It’s true, and so that part of the point of my book was just to say it’s going to be okay. Now that I am on the hindsight end, and yes, I made mistakes and a few things I would change. In hindsight, it was okay. When they went to grade 12 at public school to get their diploma and transition before college, which you don’t have to do by the way, but we chose to do it that way, and our kids wanted to do it that way. You know, they were in our province, Ontario scholars. They had honors, got character awards, got everything, and they told me that homeschooling was so difficult to public school. So that made me realize that I don’t need to be so stressed out about it. All the time, I was focussing on my inadequacies. But it turns out it was adequate after all. Once you realize that it takes a big load of pressure off you and you can have confidence, it is such a great education method. And you knew that but because we are carrying all the responsibility on our shoulders. You can’t blame it on anyone else.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “You have a unique responsibility that you carried for many years to earn an income for your family. So how has that responsibility affected how you engaged your homeschool, and also how you have taken care of yourself?”
Rowan Atkinson: “Yeah, so that has been something that has been a challenge for me, and I think it’s increasing in the homeschool world. I remember when I had to earn money, and I didn’t know any other homeschoolers who had to. So it was a bit lonely, and now I think many homeschoolers do earn money on the side, or however, they can do it. I think it’s possible because the cost of living is going up so much and because many homeschoolers aren’t necessarily doing it for faith-based reasons now. That is a whole other conversation, I think, to talk about how Christianity affects your view of managing your home and working outside the home. I will be having this conversation on my podcast. So there is a bit of a mindset that you can feel guilty when you think that you should be at home. But then when I read Proverbs 31, I see that she was like a real estate flipper, a speculating farmer, and you know she had to work because her husband was an elder in the gate. He was leading the people spiritually and probably politically at that time. And he couldn’t have done that if she wasn’t doing all the things that she was doing. Her husband and children rose up and called her ‘blessed.’ She also had servants, so it helped me have a different mindset. My toilets don’t care who is cleaning them, as long as they get cleaned. But my kids do care who’s being with them, and who’s raising them. I’ve always done things that were not necessarily my passion, but my kids were my priority, and I had to work around it. And that kind of caused me to be entrepreneurial. When I had a home party business, they usually got carried away, and I had to scale them back or do something else. So my home party business, I found it went crazy, and I had little ones and still having babies while homeschooling, so I couldn’t shut it off. Because it was a real people business, you had to keep it going. But when I had a cleaning business, I could shut it off, and it was a good hourly wage. When I finished cleaning a house, when my kids were older, I could go out for a few hours in the afternoon. It was better for me while I was in the homeschooling season. I didn’t have that much time, and the amount of ministry in the church I could do at the church wasn’t high. I mean, you can only juggle so many plates.”
“But you do feel, and if someone is listening, and earning a living plus homeschooling, you think that you are not doing homeschooling well, and you are not doing your job well because you are juggling both. And I remember when I first started homeschooling, I thought when you switch something on the computer or videos, it was such a cop-out. I was such an academic snob, and that was a cop-out, that you were not teaching. And like all prideful statements that we make, we end up eating them later. So I did end up using many computer programs, not for everything, but I did it for the essentials like English and Math because I knew those two things were getting done well, and I could fill in the rest. So that is one practical tip for doing those kinds of things.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “I think we can learn from the Proverbs 31 woman who
probably was also an enneagram type three, the wing of seven and possibly two. I think we can learn most from her that we should hire a housekeeper.”
Rowan Atkinson: “Yes, if you can afford it. I couldn’t afford it when I was younger. I ruined my back cleaning multiple houses for other people, so that helps me to justify it. Some homeschoolers in kind of my older generation of homeschoolers would be so judgemental of that. Because they would say you have four kids, why do you need a house cleaner? They should all be doing chores. Well, they all do chores, but they also work in our family business. They are more useful there.
Teresa Wiedrick: “Learning not to care about what other people think is a challenge. But, boy, building your boundaries into your homeschool, I never even thought about that boundary. I was thinking more of the kids’ angle. In the first five years, I had to defend my homeschool choice, but after a while, I just didn’t care anymore. When people would ask curious questions, I realized I am just outside their scope of whatever normal is, so I could just let that idea go that I somehow had to create the 10-point essay that I wasn’t doing something horrible to my kids. And now I don’t even think about it anymore.”
Rowan Atkinson: “Would also say though that many people are like, wow, that’s so cool. Like it’s not all negative.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “No, it’s not. I even had someone bow once. And I said, yeah, no, don’t bow.”
Rowan Atkinson: “That’s uncomfortable.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “So in the challenging times of family life, in separation, or death, or illness, or family crisis, what would you suggest are good go-to self-care approaches?”
Rowan Atkinson: “First of all, with all self-care, you need to know what it is that you need. And it’s different for one. So for me, definitely a prayer in a difficult time has been helpful or reading the Psalms. I have been through some difficult times where I have just lived in certain Psalms every day just because they are so authentically real, and the author is so, why is this happening, and in the end, the conclusion is God is good, and it is going to be okay. I found that very helpful. Maybe just gather your family close. Your schoolwork doesn’t matter when someone has died. It really doesn’t. Forget about your schooling. It doesn’t matter. It’s an education for children to visit their Grandmother in the hospice, and to know how to get their heads and hearts around the whole idea of dying and going to a funeral—and seeing people bring you a meal or bringing someone else a meal. Like this is an important part of their education for life. Some people keep their children away from that sort of thing, but I don’t think they are doing them any favors. So there’s that. But just gathering your family around you, like the people that matter to you. Don’t worry about it. And that is something I wanted to say in my book too. It’s in the chapter on ‘Zone Out.’ Because we do have times in our homeschool in which we are zoned out. We are just going through the motions; we don’t have it in us. And for a little while, it is okay. Your children’s education is not ruined because you did not cover the two chapters in that book. If they can read, can communicate, and do the math, they can learn anything. Just remind yourself of this. And if you have to do school or if it is a long-term thing, where you cannot give it your all, then figure out what’s most important. For us, it’s Bible, Math, and English. That’s it. If we do those things, that’s it.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “Tell me how you think this is a big aspect of your self-care.”
Rowan Atkinson: “There is a renewing of the mind that happens. I am a Christian, so my faith is Biblical. There is a constant renewing of the mind that takes place. There’s always holding things up to the light and looking at them and learning too; I don’t want to say to be a better person because you can’t earn it even if you try. Because of what He’s done, you want to grow spiritually. So much of life does take place in the mind, that is a huge reason for me.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “So what advice would you give homeschool moms this week? Just a simple self-care strategy for them to hold onto, so they can enjoy their homeschools.”
Rowan Atkinson: “So in terms of practice, it is individual to everyone. It is having a bubble bath, locking the door, locking the next door to the bathroom for a double lock situation, going into the bathroom, and having that bubble bath. If you are single, or your husband is not there to watch the kids, it won’t work. But I found just found this relaxing and what works for me and encouraged if I was stressed out. But you know what your thing is, what you need. My mom used to go for a walk at the end of the school day, maybe depending on what shift my dad was on. She would go for a walk before supper every day. And that was her time. She needs to be alone and get some exercise. Just whatever you need to find out what that is and find a way to get it. I would say communicate with your spouse because they don’t know what you need, so you need to tell them. So if you recruit their support, then they can help you make it happen. That is advice, I would also not do so much as a practice, but as a mindset, don’t be so hard on yourself. Try to do something fun with your kids, not feel guilty if you don’t. It’s okay if you decide one afternoon to put a picnic blanket on the front lawn and have some storybooks. That’s school, and they will remember that. I wish I had done a lot more of that, but I did do it. I want to give you permission to not be so hard on yourself. Don’t try to teach six to eight subjects in one day. So prevention.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “Yes, prevention. Thank you for sharing that. It has been a real pleasure to chat with you over the sound waves for about an hour.”
Rowan Atkinson: “Has it been that long? I’m one hundred percent energized.”
Teresa Wiedrick: “A classic extrovert. Thank you so much, Rowan, for being on Homeschool Mamas Self-Care. I appreciated chatting with you. Talking with you is like a self-care strategy to me. It was a pleasure to chat with you today. I hope everybody has been blessed and can take a little nugget from what we have been chatting about.”
Rowan Atkinson: “Thanks so much.”
Thank you for joining me today. If you want to learn more about what I do, head over to www.capturingthecharmedlife.com. The show notes will be there, and it links everything we mentioned in this episode
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I hope you and your kids have a charming week, but until next week I hope that you can turn your challenges into your charms.
Get more encouragement in the book: Homeschool Mama Self-Care: Nurturing the Nurturer
Call to Adventure by Kevin MacLeod