Robyn is a full time unschooling mom to two fun loving kids. She is a mixed heritage kid, who lived and travelled in 7 different countries by the time she was 6 years old.
When she settled back into life in Canada she knew that her early travel experience had given her a viewpoint on life unlike many others around her. As a mom, she wanted to share that with her growing family.
After years of “dreaming” with her husband to leave the rat race and return to a life of travel and more family time, they decided that waiting “until…” would never happen. They took the plunge. They chose a destination and time limit – 6 months in Jamaica – and said if it didn’t work, they could always return to the life they had been living. But they didn’t!
When you’re a home educator, it encompasses your life 24-7, you dream about the projects you’re creating. Home educating becomes all encompassing. Because of that it is so important to take that time for self-care.Robyn Robertson, Podcaster at Honey I’m Homeschooled the Kids
You can find Robyn online at…
People also ask…
- What is an education anyway?
- Is there an art and a science to an education?
- What you want to know about unschooling: 5 ways to move toward it in your homeschool
- Do you do Coaching? Why yes I do!
- Tell me about this homeschool mama retreat.
- What’s the connection between self-directed learning & free-play?
- How to Challenge Your Limiting Beliefs in Your Homeschool with Gabe Cox
Resources we discussed…
- Check out the podcast we spoke about: Mothering the Mothers here
Welcome to the Homeschool Mama Self-Care Podcast. I am Teresa Wiedrick at capturingthecharmedlife.com.
I’m here to help you turn your homeschool challenges into your homeschool charms. If you are a homeschool mama looking for a strategy or a few for your self-care, then this is the podcast for you.
Teresa: Today, I get to introduce you to Robyn Robertson of ‘Honey I am Homeschooling the Kids’ podcast. Robyn is an unschooling mom to two kids, podcast host, and public-school board trustee. Robyn, her husband, and their two kids started their world schooling journey in 2012. During this time, Robyn watched curiosity and excitement for life grow in her family. Two things stood out to her. She noticed that less time in school did not equal less learning. In fact, learning seemed to be more meaningful outside school. She also saw their family’s bond strengthen. Her experiences travelling while home educating had Robyn questioning her past beliefs around parenting, how we learn, and the education system. It also highlighted the need for community. This led Robyn to launch her podcast ‘Honey I am Homeschooling the Kids,’ a platform to share ideas, stories, and information about the joys and challenges of home education and self-directed learning. It also served as a place to bring together a collective voice for change in the broader education system.
Today, Robyn speaks politically for home education and self-directed learning; with her experience and trustee position, she bridges the gaps between homeschool communities and local educators. You can find her on her website, podcast, Facebook, and Instagram at ‘Honey I am Homeschooling the Kids.’
It’s a real pleasure to chat with you in person, overdue, today. You are by far the top podcaster that I listen to. And I am a podcast listener. I love podcasts. It is a form of self-care, really, for me using all those moments of boredom like sweeping the floor and washing the dishes. Okay, my kids would say they wash the dishes. And I listen to podcasts. Unfortunately, I haven’t caught up entirely with your podcast. Still, as of yesterday, there is a very interesting podcast episode about mothering mothers that I am looking forward to chatting with you about.
Robyn: Thank you. I am pleased to be here, and it is great because I know you and I get to see each other right now, which is nice. I am very grateful that you asked me to come on. Thank you.
Teresa: Tell me about your family. I have already mentioned in the bio that you’re an unschooled family, and you have done a lot of travelling, which ironically is my scenario. Tell me more about your children and your homeschool journey.
Robyn: Well, I have two children. Right now, my son is actually turning fourteen, and my daughter is eleven years old. We began our homeschool journey because my husband and I came to a point where we wanted to make a change in our life. And we had been going through, I think the process has been over quite a few years. Once we made a choice, it happened quite quickly. But we came to a point where we had all of these things that we wanted to do and that we wanted to continue when we first started our family. We found that we were really putting them off and started pursuing other things that really did not align with our family values when it came down to it. We were getting off our children’s track that we wanted to be on. So, to get back on that track, one of the things that we wanted to do was take a leap of faith in some ways and go travelling because my husband and I had been avid travellers. Before, as a child, I lived in many different countries because of my dad’s work, and my parents liked to travel. My husband and I travelled together and separately when we were younger as teenagers and up until we got married and while we were married. We wanted our kids to know our family that lived abroad. We wanted them to have a chance to get to know them better too. So, we decided to rent out our place and go travelling. We chose to make Jamaica our first stop because that is where my dad was from. That is where he lived; I have a lot of family there. We thought homeschooling just happened to be the easiest choice, and that is really why we chose it. We had looked at some schools in Jamaica, but we realized that we enjoyed making our own schedule in the end. If we wanted to go to the other side of the island to see family or friends, we could. We did not have to wait for school to be done or have that space. And if we wanted to spend the entire day or afternoon at the beach, we could. We took advantage of that, and it just gave us that flexibility. So, we chose to homeschool, and we continued travelling after that. We moved to South Korea after that as well, and you know it really was an evolving journey because I always thought that we would come back to Canada and just go back to our life as is, that the kids would go back to school. I took a leave of absence from my job for six months, thinking I would be back in time. It did not happen that way. One of the biggest gifts of it all was the homeschool experience because we got to experience a life of pleasure, curiosity, fun and learning. My kids definitely loved the school before, but it was different. We really fell into the actual life experience and application and the bond and relationship that grew with our family that we really became more connected. And that is what really kept us in homeschooling which evolved into unschooling. I started out very structured, and then as time went on, I let the kids take the lead, and I saw still that their learning was so engaged and so full without me having to plan lessons, without me saying you have this time to complete this thing that they can go and create what they wanted to. It was pretty amazing to see. Then I found out that I happened to be unschooling.
Teresa: Hahaha. Our stories sound very similar. Even just like jumping off the homeschool and travel world for the same reasons you were talking about. And I think being around as a homeschool mom enough, you do discover that I don’t need to put quite so much effort into this. Because I am almost counterproductive when I enforce all the rules or ways of learning.
Teresa: They are amazing when you watch them, especially if they are bored. But now it is really informative, but even just the travelling itself I think has been such a profound impact on how we saw the world. And it shifted how we engaged our lives more certainly. I will just represent myself. But my sense of purpose became stronger. And for me, you put that together with the discussion on self-care, and I think that is, like pivotal that how you feel about yourself. How you see your world. How you engage your world. What you think is your purpose incredibly influences how you homeschool. And how you are in your homeschool world. And whether you enjoy your homeschool.
Robyn: Yeah. I agree 100%. What happened, and I know you know this, as you get into more things like self-directed learning, especially in unschooling; it is the same when you do other forms of homeschooling. You realize that a lot of the way, if you want to call it teaching, but I think we should say we are supports, we are facilitators, we are guides, we are helpers in that way. But in the way that we teach so much of it is modelling for our children. So, when they see us in a life of purpose, a life of joy or contentment doing things that also interest us as well when we are taking care of ourselves when we are taking space when we are engaged in learning, that is just as much an expression of showing or teaching for them in their learning life. So, it is absolutely important for sure.
Teresa: So, tell me about your self-care journey or your awareness about yourself as you have been homeschooling.
Robyn: You can let me know if this happened to you too, but in the beginning, because you are gung-ho and you want things to be so perfect, I think in a way so, for me, I replicated school. In the beginning, which is what I knew, so that is what I did. And everything that you put into the planning and the ideas and the worries that you are not doing something or not creating something that you can almost go overboard and do a little bit too much or become a little bit too concerned, too tired. You know you dream about the project you are making, so those things become all-encompassing. And it is actually interesting. And thank you very much for the compliment on the podcast. I appreciate that. From the last episode of mothering the mother, my friend Amanda Kirby had also talked about this. How you are a home educator encompasses your life 24/7 pretty well when you are with your kids that much. And because of that, it is so important to take that time for self-care. After a while, what happened was that because I came to a point where I had to or else, I wasn’t as nice of a person. I was short with the kids. I was not as enthusiastic as engaged, and it was a disservice to us all. So, what happened was I started to deliberately take the time. And that changed from year to year. It is different now than three years ago or four years ago. For me, it looks like I love my meditation practice, and it is kind of fallen off of it a little bit during COVID time. I really went back into meditation. That was a huge self-care part for me. It was really large; actually, it was some journaling and taking the mornings as I am a morning person. So, my time when I just had me by myself was the early mornings. I would wake up early, journal and meditate, and even extend. Before I was podcasting or doing any other work, there was a time when I would take a personal vacation every year. My husband and I arranged that I had a week to ten days by myself or with friends. It was actually very enriching, and I would do things like hiking the west coast trail with friends. I made meditation retreats. Passive is the style of meditation that I usually like to practice. They have a ten-day silent retreat, so I went back to that practice.
Things like that where I took time out to rejuvenate for the coming year was important. And now it has evolved; I am not taking that time away like I used to. It is probably because I am doing other work, other projects for myself, whether it’s my podcast or working with the homeschooling community. I am also a school board trustee, taking me out of the home, but it fills my morning rituals, which grounds me for the day. Journaling. My quiet coffee in the morning. Meditation. Those are still important practices that I keep. So, it is an evolving journey, but it has been a very important one for our family life and homeschooling life.
Teresa: There have been so many moms that would say to me, when you meet them in public, and they say, “I don’t think I could homeschool. I don’t think I could do that.” Now ironically, the entire world has done some form of home learning.
Teresa: They look at me, and their jaws drop, and they say, “I couldn’t do that.” Which, of course, is what I also said once upon a time. I am not patient enough. I am like, that is definitely me, and I am still doing it. But I have to say that the most significant thing people are most concerned about is not getting their own time.
On the one hand, I would say, “Yup, you should be concerned.” It can be encompassing if you structure it a certain way under a certain age. But, on the other hand, yup, it’s really challenging to go to the bathroom by yourself, little own all the other things you can add as self-care, like toileting alone, with toddlers.
Robyn: That doesn’t happen for a few years, it seems like.
Teresa: Not if you have more than one child under five. No. And actually, my eighteen-year-old left last year. But anyway, toileting is good but involves things that you want to do that are pleasurable and expand your learning. Or, like you said, spending alone time is amazing for me. But when I even had three hours of alone time, I came back like a new mother.
Robyn: Yeah, yeah.
Teresa: But people think they can’t do this stuff, and I understand why they think that. We become stronger in our boundaries if we are determined to set aside fifteen minutes in my book, just fifteen minutes for anything. That grows; if you love the thing enough, it grows; if you see the benefit of it, it grows. It’s a practice; it is definitely a boundary between our kids and ourselves.
Robyn: It is. Yes.
Teresa: I am one of those. I was born a mother who always said I wanted to be a mom. People who knew me way back would be surprised to say that I intentionally do things outside my children. Because though I love my children, I think a certain line is crossed, especially when our homeschooling parents are with them all the time. Where we are trying to help them and rescue them and create schedules for them and enable their social opportunities, or whatever. We need to let go, let them do their thing, and then do something else at a certain point.
Robyn: Yeah, absolutely. Yes. It is funny you should say that because I was actually the opposite. I did not plan to even get married. And I understand now why probably because of the examples I had growing up. I thought I would be fine if I had my career, and I am single, and I do not have a family. So having a family and having kids was absolute. I am happy that I made that choice. But it was not something as a young person that you know. My friends would say like, we know that you are going to get married and have a family and do this. The joke was always that I would be the one that I would never get married, that I would be single all my life.
But I see the importance of having those boundaries and taking that time even if I just get ten minutes going outside for a walk. Or just sitting on a chair outside, that you can almost give yourself over at a point, in mothering. And whether you are homeschooling or not, what happens is our identity gets wrapped up with our children. So, what happens is it is separating ourselves from our children, even if it is for self-care time. So, I do not know if the guilt becomes the whole worthiness thing, or we see the need to be there because we see ourselves in them or trying to have a reflection of ourselves in them. And it overpowers the sensibility of being a separate being and allows them to be a separate being. Because if we do not separate ourselves from the kids, how can we give them their own individuality? How can we let them be self-directed? How can we let them grow into their own?
Teresa: Totally. It has absolutely been a challenge for me. And I recognize what you just said. It has been a challenge for my children and me the entire time. I don’t share this a lot, but I actually had a really challenging childhood. The people who know me know the stories, and because of that, I have definitely tried to overcompensate. No question. And so, then your project on your child, and you say, I want this perfect thing, that would be why I made my blog ‘Capturing the Charmed Life.’ Eventually, I decided to keep that because instinctively, we all want to create that charmed life. But learning that you are projecting on your child, oh, that is challenging because you are not really seeing them. I was talking with another podcast interviewee a couple weeks ago, and she had said just what you said that we project on our children and then can’t develop and become who they were meant to be. I found myself that the more confident or comfortable I am in myself, the more I actually allow my children to have their self-directed learning, the more unschooling they become.
Robyn: Yeah, absolutely. And it is interesting. I hear you that so much of it to we want to. That is inside of capturing the charmed life, and that is what you chose. And how we do those, you know we create many times, sometimes I guess the holes we wanted to fill, they are what we didn’t have, and therefore we want our children to have. So, we compensate or try to fill that in to make sure they are not experiencing the same thing. Or that they are not missing out on the same thing. Even knowing that it is still a practice for me, constantly.
Teresa: Yeah. I think it is. Actually, that was the premise of my book, The Homeschool Mama Self-care” was more about thought-related practices than it is about physical practices. I am all about Netflix and dark chocolate, but actually, I watch fifteen minutes of Netflix and fall asleep. So, in theory, it is all about Netflix and dark chocolate, which I rarely do. But I love the idea of making those lists of things that would be fun for self-care. I think the most important is how we frame things. How we see things. Challenging our uncomfortable thoughts. And as human beings, we all have them. As homeschool moms, everyone has different ones, of course. Still, I find clusters of discussions with other homeschool moms like we were talking about perfectionism, that idea of creating a perfect education. Or not being overwhelmed because we are trying to create the perfect education.
Teresa: Include everything in our world or feel like what we are doing isn’t as good as somebody else. Or dealing with anger issues, like we were talking about projecting certain things onto our kids so that could come in many forms of uncomfortable feelings. Or doubt that we are doing the same thing. All those feelings are constant discussions I have with other homeschool moms. So, learning to frame, reframe, and challenge our instinctive feelings. When you talk about meditation, I think that is one of the biggest ones I have learned. Meditation really does help me to distance my sense of what I am thinking to what is true. Or is it reframe-able? Is that a source of meditation? Or a benefit for you? Or how has meditation been useful for you?
Robyn: Yeah, very much so. Meditation brings me into the present. It brings me to my current body because I am a person who can always be thinking. I like to make a list and take notes. And I could do that forever. And ideas forum. And you know, I want to create in a month, in six months, in a year, and you know, my head could always be turning. Oh, guys, guess what, I would get excited about something, and for me to still my mind, which is definitely the practice. That brings the biggest thing for me, is stilling my mind and remembering that as much as I think I can worry about the future and try and plan to worry less about the future, in the end, it is about right now. Because it is the whole future might not be there. I do not know. I do not have power over that. So, I think a lot of the planning is the whole aspect of controlling things. And letting go of control and then again just being present, being here, and I just have to let go. Just letting go and trusting is the big thing of meditation for me.
Teresa: Yeah. That is really good. I think my children would wish that I was more controlling when it came to time management or being present. Hahaha. I don’t meditate for that reason, as they know. Hahaha.
Teresa: If I am there in the moment, it’s like, oh wait, I’ve got two minutes. I should go and do the thing I was supposed to that will take me twenty minutes to get to. Hahaha.
Teresa: And yet I am like you. I write all the lists, and I have all of the plans, and I love that popcorn of ideas that come bubbling, or popping out, a lot of fun. Something I have done as a mom is actually to recognize that those, like you, we’re saying that those little opportunities for following our own rabbit trails are really a great example to our kids of what we are always touting. Life-long learning. We want to teach our children life-long learning, and when we are doing it right in front of them, they do it. It’s naturally caught, not just taught. We don’t have to tell them to do something cool and unschooly. They just do it.
Robyn: Yeah. Yes, that’s right. They do, or they eventually find their way into it. Yes, for sure. Again, I think it is setting that framework and modelling and allowing that space to do that.
Teresa: Have there have been a few unexpected challenges along the way in how you understand yourself as a mom during their homeschool story?
Robyn: Yeah. Of course. Yes, there are. The challenges are, I mean, there are always challenges. One of the challenges is that things change, so sometimes you think you have figured it out and overcome it, then there is a shift, then it is like a different aspect I didn’t see before, or it is something new. One of the things for me on that line is our kids grow and develop and change. It brings new challenges. It brings new changes’ learning and adapting to their needs and wants because of their age and development process. What happens for me is in this journey, in this self-directed life learning journey as well, and especially because it is not following the same path that I did when I was younger; you see certain times and stages in them that I see myself. And then I think, oh, okay, I might have an upset or something, and I think when I stop to reflect on it, and I realize that it is just something that has come up, a time that has reminded me of myself at that age. Or a situation I was involved in at that age that wasn’t ever resolved. Or did not happen as I felt it should, so my reaction is again the same, or it’s a reaction based on that, not necessarily on my child or what they are doing. So, I think that has been one of the biggest challenges and keeping that as a reminder that sometimes it is just me reacting because of my own things or history. And it is not necessarily even relevant sometimes to what is in the moment or what my child is experiencing for themselves.
Teresa: So true, so true. Yeah, parenting and that close partnering relationship help us to reflect. Or we see in the mirror, us. We are talking about projecting, but as a mom or going into motherhood, I really thought I was just going to do a bunch of cute things with a three-year-old, and he was going to stay fixed there.
Robyn: Hahaha. Yeah, three to seven is good. Hahaha.
Teresa: After that, I mean I have a nineteen-year-old daughter, and I have a seventeen-year-old who will be graduating next year. My fifteen-year-old wants to go from high school to public high school next year if they do that. My youngest is eleven, so in theory, he is still young, an eleven-year-old boy after three teenage girls. So, in some ways, I don’t know what he picked up and what part he was coming into the world with.
Teresa: He is a full-on teenager, about a year ago. And you know, all of that has been very informative that parenting is not just a cute little three-year-old on a playground for an hour or two hours in an afternoon. The biggest thing for me that I have learned is I am going to see myself in a way that I did not want to see myself, and it’s just the things you were saying. The things that I didn’t put to rest before I became a parent and all the things you were saying.
Robyn: Yeah, it’s like no one told me that. You know, no, I had never heard that until I was experiencing it. And yes, it is not always easy in that way, but the nice thing about it, though, that I have, and it has taken time for this to happen to, is I have a better appreciation of my own parents.
Teresa: Oh yeah.
Robyn: I think it has taken up until like I am 43 years old
Teresa: You’re young; I am three years older.
Robyn: Yeah, you are a little bit older than me, just a little bit.
Teresa: Yeah, so old. We know the same songs in the 1980s.
Robyn: We do, we do.
Teresa: We lived in the same area.
Robyn: The same fashion, yes.
Teresa: Watching the same TV channels, at 4:00 o’clock on KXLY.
Robyn: Yes, we did. I remember KXLY, that’s right. Did you have Degrassi too? We are Canadians.
Teresa: Oh yeah, totally.
Robyn: Degrassi was a huge point.
Teresa: Video hit?
Robyn: Yes, that’s right, all those.
Teresa: We want your young wisdom.
Robyn: Yeah. I think that in time to see my parents in a different way too, and to better understand like, I was, I think anger is always something that you deal with, and you grow up with sometimes to practice letting go. [PY1] Okay, I see why my parents responded in this way, or now I have a better understanding that this is where they were. They were doing the best they could with where they were, the tools they had, and what they knew, understood, and experienced. It gives me a really different viewpoint of my parents, and I am thankful that they are still here for me to build a better relationship with them. I hope they say that they find me a bit more understanding because of it. That is the benefit that I am happy with now. I could not even say that I experienced that even five years ago, compared to now. It is something that I have come to appreciate more in the last few years.
Teresa: Maya Angelou has a quote that I will misquote. But in essence, it is, If you do the best that you can with like you made a choice, and you made that choice or did that thing because that is what you knew to do. We are all on a growth curve. We are all learning different things. Actually, I was just chatting with one of my girls about this, and it is very interesting to hear somebody that young grappling with these ideas. At a certain point, you recognize that your parents were just doing what they could at that moment and doing the best that they could. And then, at a certain point, you just have to take on the mothering or the parenting of yourself for yourself. Let go of that idea the parents are supposed to do that thing for you when you are 46 or 31. Then finally, decide that they are just people, and then you have to accept them in whatever capacity that you are able to engage them. So yeah, that was interesting to have that discussion with a nineteen-year-old.
Robyn: Yeah, that is pretty amazing that your daughter at nineteen, that you are having that discussion with her. I do not think I was even close to that discussion when I was nineteen.
Teresa: I certainly was not. No. I also think it is partly her personality, but because she is also grappling with how I didn’t show up in the way, I should have shown up. So, I shouldn’t speak for her, maybe, but she is a very, very deep kid. No question. Got a lot of conversations with her.
Robyn: Which is nice. I see how it could be confronting but oh so powerful and valuable.
Teresa: Yeah, she is very confronting. Hahaha.
Teresa: But she has always been very independent. I think I mentioned to you on your podcast that they, too, I could see a very strong person. And that, of course, is looking back. The first day I spent the entire night staying up and staring at her. I was so ‘Ialala’ and excited. I am a mom. And then I didn’t sleep for the next seven years. Bad choice. But when it comes to her sense of independence, I think that was always in her. I’ve got four kids, and she is by far the most independent, I think. Maybe I shouldn’t say that. The others are very independent and funny as a self-directed learning family or an unschooling family; we foster that. But we are not expecting them to be independent of us. And then, at a certain point, they start thinking in ways outside of how we think, which is a little uncomfortable. So that’s a place of, but not necessarily confronting, as much as separate. Yet it is beautiful at the same time because they are truly taking on the thing that you are teaching them.
Robyn: Yeah, that’s right. In some way, we want still them to develop their independence and support their independence and have that. But when they actually do, and it is their own idea, it is not even close to our own idea. At first, it is like, oh, you almost want to go against it until you remember, okay, this was the point. I wanted them to experience this to have the idea for themselves and express it for themselves. We will not always agree with what I am thinking or even want. But that is what they want and are clear about, so that is part of the journey to support them.
Teresa: Again, it is speaking to our sense of wanting to control things or to keep things the way that we imagine that this story would go, and then recognizing, like we talked about in the beginning, that the goal is to be present to be right here right now. Instead of right here right now, I have my list of things I have to do. Are you fitting in, child? Are you fitting into the things that I want to do today? We are going to have fun, but we are going to have fun between 4:00 and 4:45 because I’ve got another activity planned.
Robyn: Hahaha. I am laughing because that could be me too. Hahaha.
Teresa: Hahaha. I speak from experience. And I really love it. I do have to say going back to the discussion on learning, our procudive learning. As a homeschool mom, I think our procudive learning is a form of self-care. Not only are we showing them how to life learn, but we are also bringing them along into activities that we love. So. we are sharing a moment of memories that we love. Of course. We have to stop and actually do that in reverse. We have to do those things that they love. For the longest time, I actually wondered why doesn’t my son, who’s eleven and has loved chess for a long time, like, why doesn’t ask me to play chess? I said that to my husband. My husband is looking at me like, I’ve got an answer. You hate it. Right, okay. Things that each of my children loves to do, and I am really very bad at it too, Robyn. My husband and son did not really appreciate me calling that one, what do they call it, a horsey? I forget the name of the piece.
Robyn: My son is like, is it the rook? No, that is not it. My son loves chess too. So, he would be like, oh, mom, you should remember this.
Teresa: Yeah, I’m out. I will play basic rummy. So 4:00 to 4:45 is game time. No, not really. We have to find fun things with our kids and things that we love. But showing them the things that we love has a powerful effect. Just like you said, we are showing them lifelong learning. When I talk about homeschool self-care, what is the first thing you think of?
Robyn: Oh, that is a good question. Homeschool self-care? It is interesting.
Teresa: Homeschool mom self-care.
Robyn: Homeschool mom self-care? I think about taking time for the mom, for the individual mom, which then extends to the rest of the family. Which then extends into the homeschool. It can be all-encompassing, but I definitely for me, and this is just my opinion. It is that the mom has that individual self-care. And then it is like dominoes. Everyone else becomes provided for, and everyone else becomes cared for as well. Because if you are running on your last 2% and you wake up and then you wake up, and you are down to 1%, who is going to get that? And then you are done kind of thing. Right? Your cup is completely empty. That is what I think. For everybody, it is individual. It will vary. You and I may have parts similar to each other, but I think there would be some things that are important to you that may not be on my list. Or may not be a big of a priority. Something else might be even more important for others that I may not even have thought of, but it is for them. It is also finding, taking that important space to fill you up, or to help your foundation grow or giving you that strong foundation and keeping it stable.
Teresa: I think I’ve been surprised about what you just said that homeschool moms often say I don’t have an identity outside of homeschool mom. And I would have said the same thing a number of years ago and then came to realize that I was so enmeshed in that identity. They grow up. Life changes. And also, when they disappear, or when they leave, I should say. Hopefully, they don’t disappear. But when they leave, then there we are, homeschooling the neighbors? I’m not sure.
Robyn: Right. Yes. That is true because it is all-encompassing. It is what fills our days, our weeks, our years and when it’s no longer there, then what do we do? So true. And that is important. Like when we are talking about setting an example and modelling and having those things for ourselves. That is also why it is important because there will be a time when you are no longer homeschooling. You are still learning, and sure your mothering becomes different because you are not living at home. And different things are happening in their life and your life. All things come to an end eventually. So how do we carry forth from that end? And have a new chapter? Or extend the chapter? It is different for everyone, but it is important to have that separateness.
Teresa: I remember you saying in your bio that your value, the value of your community, became stronger for you when you began homeschooling and travelling. Can you share about that?
Robyn: I think one because we started homeschooling, my community changed, or what I needed from my community changed. It is very different when you work, and your kids go to school. A lot of time, the extension of your school becomes your community as well. And when your kids are all on the same schedule, you can organize playdates, when moms can get together, when you are doing things with work or other friends like that, when you have those ideas around homeschooling with self-directed learning, especially coming from a traditional, conventional school setting, it is a little bit different. And sometimes, it does not always mesh. Sometimes your ideas evolve and change, and it might be strange even to others. Like, what are you doing? Why aren’t you putting them back into school? It can sometimes be conflicting. So, my community started changing and then on top of that, we were travelling. There was a whole new community I had to meet. In Jamaica, it was different because I had a really hard time finding other homeschoolers. I searched really hard. You know it was over eight years ago, and even now blogging, and websites for homeschool were not as many even at that time. THERE WAS NOT MUCH when I was looking online for ideas and information and things like that. Then in Jamaica, the homeschool community was pretty non-existent. The ones I did meet, their kids were already grown. We did not have anyone in that community, so I wanted other homeschoolers and moms to ask questions. Like, did this happen to you? Or I am feeling this way, and I need help with this. I was looking for that, and I could not find it. Otherwise, we had a community with my family and friends from when I was a child; I lived in Jamaica. We were coming back and forth, so I had that community, but it still was not a homeschool community. I was really, really looking for a homeschool community because of that. I felt like I did not have that, the time when I really, really needed it as a new homeschool mom. It is important for other homeschool moms to find that community.
We went to Korea after Jamaica, and I did have a community. There were more homeschoolers there. I mean, the population is just that much bigger. Jamaica has about three million, and the city of Seoul has around the same number of people as Canada. It was still a small percentage, but I got onto a Facebook group of Korean homeschoolers. My husband actually got onto it first. He knew what I was searching for too, and he said, “Hey, we just moved to Seoul. We homeschool, our kids are this age, this is the neighbourhood we live in. Does anyone need some friends this age or want to get together?” And there was somebody that reached out right away that lived not far. Her son and my son were similar ages. And then it grew from there with more moms through that page. I ended up becoming a very tight knit homeschool community. There was a bunch of families that were my closest friends. And there are some that I am still in touch with them. We were all in different stages of our journey and style, but it was a great community for me at that time. And it really helped me go forward with homeschooling. Because of that, it also encouraged me to continue homeschooling. It rejuvenated me having those friends, and my kids had those friends too, and we did things every week. We chatted and talked about our frustrations and all those sorts of things and our joys. It was really strengthening. Once I had that, I wanted to continue that no matter where I was.
Teresa: Yeah. Homeschooling has taught me that people are not homogenous. You know, having left school and going into the homeschool world, my oldest was only finishing grade two and my second finished kindergarten, and we went into the homeschool world. And, I remember thinking, okay, where is the group that we are going to sign up to see on, I don’t know, on Tuesday afternoon? And it wasn’t like that. I actually knew quite a few people at that time, quite a few families, more so than the community in which I live now that we’re homeschooling. But it taught me, forced me to learn that no one is homogenized. We just sign up for the same activities when we have kids in school. We have to sign the same consent forms. We have to show up at 3:30 to pick up the kids, or whatever. But we are not the same there either, but we definitely assert our separateness as homeschoolers because we are all focusing on our families in different ways. And we all engage education differently. And we have very different children, so we focus on them separately. So, you know we have differences, and we get comfortable with being different. And I know for myself now, my friendship circle is, if you were to take a look, I mean it is wide, it’s very broad. I love listening to people’s stories. Now that we are not travelling, I love listening to people’s stories, as though I am travelling.
Robyn: Yeah, it is our way to travel.
Teresa: Exactly, and it’s cheap. Especially podcasting.
Robyn: It’s a lot cheaper.
Teresa: I marvel at all the comments about kids, worried about kids’ socialization, though. Because like you, I have heard you say that you had a lot of extra-curricular activities for your kids before COVID. So did we. We did a lot of driving. But I recognize that I spent a lot of time driving to dance class and to and from curling and choir, or dot to dot to dot. Sometimes, you should be more concerned about the mothers’ homeschool socialization than the kids.
Robyn: Yeah, you got it.
Teresa: I mean, we have to be quite intentional about our community. But I find it’s far more organic, or far more authentic, at least the way I have walked that path. So, then I have real connections with people that I can depend on and have some pretty conversations with. But that is built, and that is definitely built on authenticity. So, it’s a beautiful thing. It has been a challenge because I don’t think our culture is naturally like that. But I think we definitely have the opportunity to create a real community.
Robyn: Yeah. You know the other thing that you just said, and it made me think, and it is a really good point. You said a few things that I was like, yes, that is right. But the idea of school, and what is hard is school wants the homogeny. It encourages homogeny, and we are not homogenous. We go to this institution for a large part of life, and the parents are very involved in pushing homogeny. And so, we all try, even the parents I start trying to conform to fit into that circle, box, whatever you want to call it. When you leave that world where everybody signs consent forms, goes on the same activities, have the same schedule at times, sometimes makes the same lunches, the kids and parents wear the same kinds of clothes, you know you name it and goes on the same vacations and vacation spots, and sometimes works in the same places, as well.[PY2] If you step out of that, you think it will be the same again. You think it is going to continue to be homogenous, that you have to continue that you are conforming, and then you slowly realize, oh wait a minute, like you said so different. So many different people, different children, but the difference is there is more space to be your own self. And there is that adjustment, and that is well, for sure. The other thing that you said that is so true is the parents’ socialization, the mother that is homeschooling. And the people worry so much about the child, but sometimes when we are driving them to activities, because it is a certain time, we sit in our car and read a book or something.
Robyn: Or you went to the grocery store or did little errands. You are not socializing necessarily, so you miss out on that. So many things.
Teresa: And learning to be independent, not everybody has a partner homeschooling, but when we are dependent on just that one person, that is also powerful, useful, and good, and at that time, there has to be a broader community than just that one person. Besides the fact that is a lot of expectation for that person to help you get adult conversation at the end of the day. Hahaha. When they might have had an adult conversation all day.
Teresa: So, what kind of self-care challenges or scenarios are you in right now that you are working on?
Robyn: I have challenges. I think COVID really became such an upturn of turning things around that I am trying to get back into my meditation practice. I used to be very regular with it, and it dropped off. And it is a great grounding for me every day, a great way to really start my day, so getting back into that. Ironically, with COVID, even though we are home, I like to be active and exercise. And I have not been doing that as much. Hahaha. That has fallen on the wayside, and I sleep better. There are so many things when I move my body; I am in movement. Those practices are very important, and I know working very well for me has slipped away a bit. So that is a challenge that I am trying to re-establish those habits.
Teresa: Well, if you are in my part of the woods, you should definitely join me on a hike. We do it at least once a week. I love it.
Robyn: Where you live is so nice to hike too. Yes, I would love to.
Teresa: It is a lovely place to be, especially during the COVID thing. Accept that my husband is a physician and is in Emerge, and he has been the chief of staff of the hospital. So, I might not have noticed COVID was happening, but it is a beautiful place. But, of course, I did notice because of that. It is really a beautiful place to go hiking up a mountain for hours and not actually see anyone. There is something about being outside and exercising. That is very life-giving for me.
Robyn: Yes, I agree. We did not have the weather coincide with a little bit of the darkness at the time, it seems like, and it was cold and rainy. I think that was part of it. Now summer is here; it is still a bit rainy but nicer. And gardening. I always have my garden, and I like getting my hands in the soil and watching it grow. But being outside in the absolute sunshine gets my vitamin D, and I am a big sun person. So that is an important thing in the fresh air.
Teresa: Me too. Wonderful. I love it. What advice would you give someone who is just starting out homeschooling? There are a few more homeschoolers now, and they will certainly be for the fall.
Robyn: Yeah. I used to have all ‘you should do this, and you should read this and now actually, the biggest thing I am going back to, and I find it still really helps, is just taking the time to even have a journal to sketch it out. Go on a walk and really think about your purpose of homeschooling, what learning means to you, your education experiences, and school for yourself growing up. Really think about those things to get clearer, and you might not ever get decisively on what it is, you will, but really getting a better understanding of those things. So that would be my advice to go there first and really understand more of your why. All those other things, your what is, your how’s, and if you are worried about the curriculum or other things, it doesn’t mean you want to do all of those things. That will be an easier decision. There will be a lot more contentment in the home when you come from that place of understanding. Understanding your why and purpose. And then also engaging in that with your family. Not just as a mom or parent understanding that, but also extending to asking your kids. “What does learning mean for you? What does it look like? Why do you think we would be doing this in our life?” Because you move forward together, they understand where you are coming from and your ideas. So that would be my advice now.
Teresa: I gotta tell you there is a paragraph in my book. I have 60,000 words of a book that is loosely called self-directed learning. That is how I got to know you last year because I was googling that word. I thought I came up with something inspired and discovered, no, no, no, no, no. It just happened people have taken that name and run with it. I came across your podcast because of that, so you just said amen. Exactly, I am with you one hundred percent. What is an education anyway? Before we start homeschooling, let’s just talk about that for ten years. Get out of that schooly mindset.
Robyn: Yes, that is right. You could talk about it for ten years, it is true.
Teresa: And I am still learning to de-school. People say, well, you should de-school first. And I’m like, oh man, I did six years post-secondary school, I married someone that did post-graduate school. We are solidly locked into mental academics. In a zoom library, I was sharing a local library thing about ‘what is an education anyways,’ and I think I scared them when I said, “You know, you decide what the education is for the child.” You only need a library card, and you need to know how to read. I am sure a few people dropped off at that point. I have six years of post-secondary school, so I know how to read. Apparently not read the room.
Teresa: Hahaha. What is an education anyways? But you sit and have a chat with people long enough, and then you go, “So, what was your experience in education? Were there any holes or gaps in your education?” And I have yet to meet anybody who said yeah no, I am like up there with God or google.
Robyn: It’s true, though, right? I have never met anyone yet. I also worked for a private school. I did their admissions and public relations, but one of my jobs was to take prospective parents on a school tour to get used to their environment. It was a great school. It was actually the school that my kids attended for a little bit. It looked small pretty; the kids actually had quite a bit of say and projects and things they could do. It was still fairly academic. So many times, I felt that I did not know maybe just the place I was in and my position there, but so many times, the tour came to the parents really just opening up about their personal schooling experiences. Sometimes it was not nice, and sometimes they were quite traumatic actually. Being in the setting, the school was very warm and comfortable too. The kids were quite engaged, happy, and content when you walked around. So, it triggered a lot of things for the parents that were visiting. Many times, they would recount the things that happened to them where they had that experience. It was very interesting for me to hear. And to see that there is not one person, and some people would say I still turned out fine despite all of that. Or you know, I did okay. Yes, it was very interesting. Then as a homeschooling parent with my podcasting, I help consult and coach parents now too more and more. Even with my trustee work, I continuously hear a lot of those stories. Lots of parents share intimate details about what happened in their educational experience that some are still working through. We are all still working through it in a way. That could be a whole other book on some of the anonymous experiences that people share on how it has shaped and affected them because it does. It shapes and affects our whole society as well.
Teresa: And though I obviously think homeschooling is an incredible path, I don’t think kids always see because that is all they see. But we aren’t providing them with utopia, just like we didn’t get utopia when we signed up for homeschooling. There isn’t perfect. There will never be perfect. It would be nice to think there was, but we know there is not. So, we get signs along the way. It’s not perfect, but we are their greatest advocate. And we know those kids in a way that no one knows them, even though we may be projecting on to them. But we are still their greatest advocate, and we listen to them more than anybody else could. So, then I think we are providing them with a pretty close to spot on opportunity for learning or growing into who they are meant to be. But I am really excited to hear that you are doing in coaching. So, what is your coaching business about? Or how are you approaching your coaching? How can people access that?
Robyn: They can contact me through my website or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or if through Facebook or Instagram through social media, they can message me.
I have done a small amount of coaching before, but it has been very selective and slow. One on one, and it has not been a huge thing. It will continue to be person by person, but they can contact me through there. The other thing is really understanding a parent’s purpose, where they are going, and supporting them through that. I like to help parents understand that it is not, you come, and it’s a program that you follow step-by-step, and you get this result as long as you check off all these checks and checklists. It is going to vary still for each parent, but sometimes we just need that support and a sounding board through the process to help figure out our purpose. And remember that as we go, that purpose is going to evolve and change too, and that is okay. Sometimes, some tools will help us through journaling, action, reflection, and communication with our family that will help us move through it a little more smoothly.
Teresa: So where can we find you online?
Robyn: You can go to Honey. I am Homeschooling the Kids on Facebook, my Facebook page there. I have an Instagram at Honey. I am Homeschooling the Kids. You can find me there on my website and my podcast if you want to listen to me. I think it is my 77th episode that came out today. It is actually I am Homeschooling.com, but you can still reach me at Honey I am Homeschooling the Kids. My podcast you can find on any podcast player, iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, really anyone that you usually use; you can find my podcast there. So, if you want to contact me personally through the website, it is a great way. I have a contact page or by email. My email is on there too, and it is email@example.com.
Teresa: I know we are in the same generation because Honey I am Homeschooling the Kids is a take-off from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
Robyn: Shrunk the Kids, yeah, that’s right. Isn’t that Rick Moranis?
Teresa: That’s right. I love that. I have watched and watched that one. Now I understand why he tried to shrink the kids on Sundays.
Robyn: Totally, yeah. Actually, my kids watched it years ago, and they still love it.
Teresa: First, I want to say that I could do this every week to have a chat with you. And it seems to me every time I listen back to a podcast interview, I say that to each of my guests. So, I think what I am really doing because it’s actually true, I really do want to do this every week with specifically you, is that each of the people I am choosing I just really like them. And then I get to hang out with them. It is a fabulous way to socialize.
Robyn: I know. It is, I agree. Once you and I connected, we were meant to connect. Our paths crossed without us even realizing it. We have so many things in common too. And people in common too in that way, in areas. So yeah, we need to hang out more for sure.
Teresa: Absolutely. I’d love to hear some of the fun kinds of questions I have for you. What is your favorite fun self-care strategy? In your ideal world, maybe. Not COVID world.
Robyn: Not COVID world. You know what I really like, my husband and I like to have fun date days. Going out and just doing whatever. Sometimes it is just a movie or going on some kind of adventure. I do not do it as much anymore but sporadic on-the-moment road trips. Things like that are things that I love to do. I have always been someone who is pretty well up for anything. So, if someone says, should we try this, I am usually, yeah, I will try it at least once for sure. I am trying to think now if there is one thing that stands out, but where I live, because it is so remote and far away from everything, the time it takes to travel and do things limits a little bit. Even things around hiking and being outside is the biggest thing. We are actually building an outdoor sauna right now. So, we are going to spend a lot of time in it in the winter. Hanging outside, a thing like running in the snow, rolling in the snow, and then jumping in the sauna. That should be fun. Those are pictures that I will not be able to show on social media, but that’s what I will be doing a lot of.
Teresa: Get the kids with the camera.
Robyn: Yeah. Hahaha. They might have to blot out some parts of the pictures, but yes. Hahaha.
Teresa: Hahaha. So, what is an identity totally outside of your homeschool mom’s identity?
Robyn: Outside my mom’s identity? I am drawing a blank on this one. Hahaha. Ironically, that is hilarious.
Teresa: You are an FBI agent, and you cannot report at this time.
Robyn: I can’t say a word, yeah. Top secret things for sure.
Teresa: Tell me what you are doing on a Friday night.
Robyn: Usually, a Friday night is hanging out with friends and my family. I actually love to do the thing that I do not do it as much now, but I do it more in my kitchen is dance. I used to love going out and dancing, going to different places, and checking out those places. That was something I did a lot of before, and now it is a bit more of a quiet life, but that is probably, depending on where I would be, that would still be an identity. I like to have fun and do things like that.
Teresa: You wouldn’t catch me dancing to Bad Guy.
Robyn: Oh yes, Billie Eilish?
Teresa: You can see me; I mean, she is a homeschool kid, right?
Robyn: Yeah, she is absolute.
Teresa: That is the reason, of course. Before we close, is there anything you want to share with our audience or listeners?
Robyn: I actually want to say thank you for having me on. I love chatting with you, and you are always a lot of fun. And I think we both laugh and smile a lot. I really appreciate it. I have a lot of fun, so thank you.
Robyn: I thought it was gin that you liked, actually. I did not know it was tequila.
Teresa: Gin is for winter; tequila is for summer.
Robyn: Oh, okay, I will have to remember that. That is one thing, actually, and this is totally on the side with the prior question that I used to love doing. My husband was a bartender when we were younger, and we used to love making drinks. And one of my drinks was the pipleoskow. It is really hard, and I have never seen it in Canada. I learned it in Australia, and since we have been back, they do not make it the same; it’s changed. But it is a drink that you and I would probably enjoy sitting outside under a hot Nelson summer. By a lake, but it is not tequila or gin. It is vodka usually.
Teresa: Okay. I am willing to try.
Robyn: Okay. It is good. Fresh strawberries and fresh mint and brown sugar, and lots of ice. But other than pipleoskow and drinks, where you can find me, I know this has been a big change this year for many homeschoolers for many families. Through the summer, it is going to be a transition going into the fall. Still, there are so many great resources, whether your podcast, I know you are engaging social media and your Facebook and your book coming out. With my podcast, there are many resources and so much information available now that I hope everyone takes the time to explore and understand that they have many choices. Sometimes we do not think we have any choices, but we do have choices, and it is always nice to have a choice to make and that you don’t have to only be stuck in one thing. So, I definitely encourage others to explore those areas for sure. If there are any questions, you can contact me.
Teresa: It has been a real pleasure to chat with you, and I hope we can do it again, really soon. Thanks for being on and joining me, Robyn.
Robyn: Thank you too.
Teresa: Thank you for joining me today. I would love to hear more about who you are. So, come on over to my Facebook or Instagram page ‘Capturing the Charmed Life.’ My goal is to equip you with strategies to help you turn your challenges into your charms.
If you want to learn more about my course, How to Homeschool 101, or my upcoming book Homeschool Mama Self-Care: Strive Not Just Survive[PY4] , head over to www.capturingthecharmedlife.com.
You will also find the show notes and links to everything you heard in this episode. I hope you and your kids have a charmed week. And until next time, I hope you can turn your challenges into your charms.
[PY1]I find it does not flow well, hard to focus with all these words. And I know you want all your readers to understand it well.
[PY2]When people read your transcript most would never listen to the podcast. This is my thought. Therefore, you could shorten the paragraph if you want. Harder to stay focused. My thought only.
[PY3]Before you said Tequila, there was nothing before about this.
[PY4]This podcast is in the past. Now that your book is out, will they find the book with their new title? Or maybe you have it linked to the old name.