How to Address Homeschool Mama’s Big Emotions: Sharpen the Tools in your Big Emotion Toolbox

What tools are in our toolbox so we can deal with our homeschool mama’s big emotions?

Have you owned a toolbox?

In my life, I’ve owned two toolboxes.

One was for my three-year-old son, a birthday gift of a wooden toolbox.

The other was a toolbox my dad sent me on New Year’s Eve, the eve of 2000, known as Y2K. …Also known as “when the world was expected to end, to collapse because computer clocks everywhere weren’t calibrated for the next century”…

Spoiler alert: the world did not end.

So we’ve had a toolbox since then, with miniature propane tanks, a cookstove, candles and matches, and every tool known to Canadian Tire in case we’d be isolated and alone for unknown numbers of days, months, years??

But my toolbox remains downstairs in the electrical room, in case we need to fix something (cause stuff does break down and there have been many things to fix in my twenty-five years of owning a home and in the last seven years of owning a homestead).

(And side note, that three-year-old who got the toy toolbox is also the most capable in the house using the adult toolbox. But I digress…)

We’ve built a toolbox to homeschool our kids.

Our homeschool toolboxes include…
  • fresh markers,
  • math workbooks,
  • manipulatives,
  • a daytimer,
  • a whole bunch of books,
  • an expensive math calculator when they’re in upper level math,
  • a lot of baking soda, mentos and coke bottles,
  • a handful of owl pellets, butterfly larvae, and a variety of candy for human cell biology,
  • an iPad for online games, Quordle, Wordus, Wordl, and Worldl,
  • a subscription to kiwico,
  • and a library card, of course.
  • Oh, and whatever else you think is in your homeschool.
We might include the invisible tools too, all our homeschool mama research:

We get our own daytimer, coloured pens, and organize a homeschool routine.

The one thing we don’t plan for is the toolbox for our big emotions, for our kids’ big emotions, and our big emotions.



You know, the homeschool mama’s big emotions…

Our triggers, our reactions, our emotional experiences are an inevitability because we’re human beings having human experiences. And specifically in a homeschool construct.

I began writing at Capturing the Charmed Life because I wanted to capture all the charms of this homeschool life, but I quickly discovered there were as many challenges as charms to homeschooling.

Here’s my story...

More than fifteen years ago, I searched for arguments against homeschooling.

And to my surprise, that search shifted my family’s next decade toward a clearer vision, individualized educations, and a stronger sense of our own persons. (All six of us, even mom and dad).

When I first heard about homeschooling, I thought it was for off-grid families. And I was a mainstream kinda gal.

Within a week of reading a book titled, the Homeschooling Option, by Lisa Rivere, I was certain the book fell into my hands for a reason.

No doubt, I had many doubts yet to quell in my homeschool journey.

So much questioning from concerned family members (and the general public too), and I became defensive and prepared my arguments for homeschooling.

All the while, I didn’t know if it was really going to work, because it wasn’t easy.

Did I think it was going to be easy? Well, yeah, kinda.

Some days I didn’t want to do it at all.

Some days I was hoping the yellow school bus would stop for my kiddos.

But mostly, I saw all the benefits of this lifestyle and really just wanted to be certain that it was the right thing for our family.

With so much learning about learning, learning about my kids, determining what I thought an education really was, I learned that this homeschool thing WAS working.

Not the WAY I had imagined it, but it definitely created independent kiddos that could hold their own in any adult conversation, confident with their peers, eager to pursue their interests, comfortable with solitude, and eagerly charting their own paths.

And all done in super unconventional ways.

Having graduated kids now, I can see the freedoms of this homeschool lifestyle with all its benefits, and it was entirely worth it.

And yes, there have been days, plenty of days that were hard, some of them very unpleasant, very stretching, some I wish I didn’t live, some I wish I did better, some I wish I could strike from the book.

(Really, I wish I could, and yes, I get that it was a growth opportunity, and I know that I could only do what I knew at the time and the only thing I could do was learn to do better, and all that, and I know too that I need to give myself grace, got it, I would tell you that too, but I still wish I could strike a bunch of my parenting fails from the book. The end.)



But this homeschool thing has been exactly what I hoped it would be, an opportunity to grow up kiddos that could become fully them, independent, interesting, self-directed, freedom-loving, and just really great people.

So for the skeptical, the intrigued, and the new(er) homeschoolers, I say:

You don’t have to homeschool in uncertainty and doubt.

You can create a meaningful, individualized education for your homeschool kids.

You can develop a vision for your homeschool family and not just put it on a piece of paper, but actually practice it day by day.

(Of course, the more time you practice homeschooling, the more you’ll see what I’ve seen, and you’ll know it too and you won’t need me to remind you).

This homeschool thing really does work!

Because if you WANT to do it, you CAN do it.

Me & my beautiful family in Italy

Turns out, the initial things I thought that were going to be the most challenging aspects to homeschooling, academics & socialization, weren’t. The most challenging things had to do with me: dealing with all my big emotions.

I’ve spent a whole bunch of years, learning how to address my big emotions.

And I’ve learned there are a few tools in our Big Emotions Toolbox that we can use.

But just because we have those tools (because we all have the tools), doesn’t mean we know how to wield them.

When we built our homestead on three acres of raw land on the edge of the Kootenay River, we blasted through granite to plum a well, created a flat space for a driveway, a garden, and a house foundation.

We designed & built a house, an outdoor firepit, a kids’ zip line, a chicken coop (20 hens in Cluckingham Palace), a goat barn for Clover, Thistle & Poppy, and a space for their guard dog, Violet.

A whole lotta tools have been used on our homestead.

The one tool we use the most: an ax and a chainsaw. (Neither my husband nor I grew up using these tools but we have learned: you can’t leave tools out in the rain or they’ll rust and ruin. Also, you have to regularly sharpen your tools.)


This is actually me with a circular saw, cutting for a goat barn.

So what are your tools for dealing with your big emotions?

The homeschool mama’s tools:

  • Your body
  • Your emotions
  • Your thoughts

(See, I told you you had them!)

Your homeschool mama body needs to be used regularly….

Your body is the tool that enables a baseline capacity & energy for everything else.

Exercise helps with building longevity.

The stronger you are, the more likely you are to play on the playground with the kids.

Also, the more comfortable you are in your body, the more likely you’re going to play basketball, jump on the trampoline, throw a ball in the backyard, or just go for a daily walk with the kids.

And you don’t really need ideas how to get exercise, because you have kids and kids could easily keep you busy if you did what they did every day.

But we homeschool mamas need to plan time to DO it. (This is more challenging).

But if you’re desperate to get out of the house, make this your time to kill two birds with one stone (are we allowed to say that anymore)?

Go somewhere else or go outside and walk or run, hike or ski, canoe or kayak.

Just go. And do.

But plan that time. (Plan it now and throw that reminder into your device right now).

Pause.

(Okay, was that enough time?)

Nine other thoughts on incorporating exercise:
  1. Do it every day.
  2. Think fun, not pain.
  3. Go outside: get your vitamin D and nature therapy.
  4. Do it with kids, instead of PE, think daily activity.
  5. Feed your brain: endorphins increased and stress decreased.
  6. Yoga is a natural anti-inflammatory substitute.
  7. Do a couple sessions a week with weights, aka strength training.
  8. Create a dance playlist with the kids.
  9. Think seasonally.
Now, which ones can you do?


You can’t get enough sleep.

And I know you know that. You might be pining after a solid night’s sleep because you’ve been parenting little ones for quite some time.

I feel you. I have been there done that too.

And yet, for some reason, I didn’t want to go to bed when I had the chance, even though the kids were finally fast asleep (all four at the same time) and instead of going to sleep, I went to my room to watch Netflix. (And eat foods that made me feel bad, but I digress…).

But I definitely did not go to sleep when I should have. It was well beyond my healthy bedtime.

Quick thoughts on how to get deeper, more nourishing sleep:
  • Wake up at the same time every day. (This is the key above all keys. No matter how tired you were from the night before, wake up at the same time every single day).
  • Go to sleep when you’re tired. Obviously. But not so obvious if the kids just went to bed.
  • Don’t bring a screen to bed. (That’s what the science says, but I don’t follow this one. I should, but I don’t).
  • Don’t drink coffee or caffeinated beverages after lunch.
  • Don’t watch a screen an hour before bed. (Something about blue rays).
  • Don’t eat within a few hours before bed (this one took me years to practice, but WOW has it had a giant impact on improving my sleep).
  • Build in a quiet time during your week other than after 10 pm at night.
  • Use sleep supplements if you need them. Both my medical husband & I have used natural supplements. But consult someone about this, because just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s not gonna mess with another medication, it might mess with your other health issues, or not be useful to you for some specific reason I can’t address here).


Eat better.

That’s all I’m gonna say about that because you already know this element of your toolbox.

I think every one of us could teach a class on nutrition because this is knowledge that is repeatedly taught.

But just cause we’re taught about it, doesn’t mean we practice it.

I am a product of the 1980s. Which means I was exposed to every diet under the sun. And there were many.

So, I personally, learned to resist these approaches.

  • I don’t want to be controlled by a body image focus.
  • I don’t want to yo-yo diet.
  • I don’t want to get caught up thinking that there are certain foods I should never eat or that I have to eat like a cow and infuse my smoothies with alfalfa (ps I did this, and it was expensive, and also gross, but you knew that).

So if you’re challenged like I was in this area, instead consider brain health.

Your goal: to change your brain, or facilitate your brain’s best use of energy and nutrition. As Dr. Amen says, Change your Brain, Change your Life.

I’ll throw in four reminders about healthy eating:
  1. Eat the rainbow: more colour, fewer browns.
  2. Mindfully eat: how does it make you feel, slow down, enjoy it.
  3. Start with a green smoothie.
  4. Stop eating so your body can process.
Eat better because it makes your brain clearer, more functional, and tolerant in dealing with the possible (& likely) jarring moments you can have in a day, all the multitasking moments that require your supermom abilities, and just so you feel good about yourself.

But if you really want to read more about creating a homeschool diet, you can find it here.



This is the first tool in your Homeschool Mama Big Emotion Toolbox so you can address your Big Emotions.


“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson


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