Betsy Jenkins is the mother of five awesome boys, aged 6-20. She is an artist and co-owner of a decorative design company, though you may know her best for her classical art memes on Instagram, Homeschooling with the Classics.
Betsy is married to a renaissance man who can build and fix just about anything. Together, they are just crazy enough to think that raising and educating a million boys at home is a really sweet deal.
Betsy Jenkins, Creator of Homeschooling with the Classics, and I discuss the necessity to develop our authenticity and vulnerability for our homeschool relationships.
When I focus on my core why in my homeschool, for me: heart connection, it automatically brings my stress down, because I know what my job is.Betsy Jenkins, Homeschooling with the Classics
Betsy’s Advice for Homeschool Mamas
- You have to step aside with your ideas, what you believe to be the trajectory of your family and your goals, and just focus on the children in front of you and what they need.
- Remember what Charlotte Mason says, “Your children are born persons”.
- It is not your job to make the garden grow. We’re garden keepers, we’re here to tend and feed that garden, but not make it grow.
- Continue in your own education, in your own thirst for your own knowledge and skills, and do the things you love.
- Get help, from a counselor, pastor, or friend if you feel at the end of yourself.
- Your only job is to hold up a mirror to them to who they are meant to be. I don’t have to bend them out of shape. I just have to help them grow into their shape.
You can find Betsy Jenkins online at:
- Instagram: @homeschooling_withtheclassics
- Instagram: @talltimbers_willowlake
- Facebook page: @Homeschooling With The Classics
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Welcome to the Homeschool Mama Self-Care Podcast. I am Teresa Wiedrick from capturingthecharmedlIfe.com.
If you are a homeschool mama challenged by doubt, not sure you can do this homeschool thing if you are a homeschool mama challenged by overwhelm, there are just too many things to do, or if you are a homeschool mama, I’m sure that the way you are showing up in your homeschool, isn’t the way you want to be showing up in your homeschool, then this is the podcast for you.
I am here to encourage you in your homeschool journey, to help you strategize ways to turn your homeschool challenges into your homeschool charms. So welcome, homeschool mama.
Teresa: Today, I get to introduce you to Betsy Jenkins from Homeschooling With the Classics. Betsy Jenkins is the mother of five awesome boys aged six to twenty. She is an artist and co-owner of a decorative design company. Though you may know her best for her classical art memes on Instagram. Betsy is married to a renaissance man who can build and fix just about anything.
Together they are just crazy enough to think that raising and educating a million boys at home is a really sweet deal. Her focus tends to be on helping moms not take themselves so seriously, develop a sense of humor, and allow themselves to reach out for help when they need it.
Welcome, Betsy. It is such a pleasure to have you here. I have been following you for at least a year and a half since I started my own homeschool account. And I found I have reshared so many of your memes because they are hilarious, and they reflect my homeschool reality. You are saying things on your account that I frankly know in my soul are true, but I’d sometimes be nervous to share publicly. But I truly enjoy your homeschool account, and it makes me feel connected and makes me feel understood.
Betsy: Oh, thank you. I am so happy to be here.
Teresa: So, tell me a little bit about your homeschool family and how you came to Homeschooling.
Betsy: Well, I never intended to homeschool. I actually did myself, grade six through ten. I was part of a coop where we met three half days a week and then did the rest of our work at home, so it was kind of a homeschool situation. But, you know, I went through homeschool with the same six kids for those years. And then, I graduated my Junior and Senior year in Wyoming doing independent study.
I knew that Homeschooling could be great. I loved it, but I didn’t necessarily want to put that much effort into it. So, I was always planning to just send my kids off to school. But then, when my second son was in second grade, I really felt like God was calling me to bring him home. And so, I just said, “How am I supposed to do that?”
I don’t have a teaching degree. So, you know I don’t know what to do or where to start. I don’t know what curriculum to use. And God was just like, just go after his heart, just go after his heart, and I’ll handle the rest. So, with that in mind, I just kind of built a curriculum around my son’s interest, my son’s learning style, his focal points that he loved, and really went after a heart connection.
And then God said, okay, let’s bring the next one home. So, I have five sons, and I am homeschooling four of them. My oldest is twenty. I homeschooled him for one year. We had creative differences. So, he went off to his Stem charter school and graduated Valedictorian, and now he is doing his degree in biology and thriving. And so, it’s just been an amazing journey for us.
Teresa: A heart connection. That’s been the goal. And I think that is such a beautiful focus or value. It is the reason why you are really Homeschooling. So, I think that heart connection if we keep that as the main point or the center of why we do everything, why we wake up in the morning and make breakfast. We get to our homeschool routine in whatever form that takes, and we can always go back to that and say, is this really fulfilling, that heart connection.
Betsy: Absolutely. It’s my main thing that I go to when I feel that anxiety level rising like we are not doing enough. We are getting behind. You know I am looking to my left and to my right at Linda and Susan, who are laughing. And this one’s kids are doing algebra and kindergarten. Am I up to grade standards?
When I refocus on my core why, heart connection, it just automatically brings all of that stress right down because I know what my job is. And I don’t have to concern myself with things too lofty for my understanding. So, you know we can build up to things gently because we are honoring our heart connection.
Teresa: Yeah, and that really disables or disarms all the big challenges we have in our homeschool. Because we know that ultimately the goal is to connect, and it is not about creating a perfect curriculum or finding the perfect routine or, like you said, a charter school or coop or anything, you fill in the blank. But what you’re always going after is the connection; the heart connection is the relationship secure which will always be the thing you look back on in Homeschooling and say, is the relationship secure?
So learning is not the thing that; it is definitely the thing that we think before we get into Homeschooling that we are going to focus on and are we capable of enabling that or sharing that with our kids.
But then real Homeschooling, we discover, yeah, no they are fine. They are learning about animals. They like to learn. It is easy to find stuff to learn and resources to learn. But figuring out how to show up as a homeschool mom in your homeschool on purpose and not be reactive, and not be overwhelmed or lonely, or you fill in the blank, that one is tricky. Learning how to do that and maintain a connection is tricky.
Betsy: I absolutely agree with that. And for us to the heart connection is the reason that my oldest didn’t end up staying homeschooled. Because it hurt our heart connection. It was best for him to go to that Stem Charter school. So, you have to kind of set aside your ideas of what’s going to be their trajectory for your family and what the end goal is. And instead, focus on the children in front of you and what they need.
Teresa: Yeah, that is interesting. So, tell me about how you came to understand that because that was definitely not my focus when I started parenting or homeschooling. I just had these really beautiful pictures, like you’ve got on your Instagram account, of families together enjoying their presence or their time together. And building all these memories, recreating all the good things about childhood, and there were not going to be any challenges in any of it.
Betsy: Hahaha. Yeah, absolutely I think most of us come to parenthood with ourselves as the primary focus that we are the center of this universe, and our children orbit around us. So, we are the ones who are instilling them with different character qualities and different traits, when actually, like Charlotte Mason says, “Every child is a born person.”
Our children come to us with full personalities and likes and dislikes and tensions and quirks. All those things are beautiful and unique, and it’s our job to actually become students of our children’s natures to figure out who they are and the way that they themselves are meant to go. Not the way that society says they should go, or whoever our inner idea of the perfect family said they should go, but the way that this child was actually created to go. And then to help them grow into that because we’re just actually garden keepers here. It is not our job to make the garden grow. We are just here to prune and tend and water and feed.
Teresa: As best we can. That is so true. I love that Charlotte Mason quote because it really speaks to what I have come to understand. When I first had kids, I had their names. I had their names in high school, all ten of them. And it turns out my husband didn’t want all those names or all those kids. So, we were going to have a boy, a girl, a boy, a girl. And we had three girls and a boy, and their personalities were different than I probably imagined them to be. And as they continued to grow and develop, I learned that I could look back and identify certain traits in them when they were much, much younger and say, oh wow, yeah, that one is definitely an enneagram type 8. So, she is three years old, and she is walking up to the cashier and gives them money, barely can count the money. And I don’t think she could even count the money. So, I would give her the cash, and she said, “I would like a muffin, please”. And the cashier would giggle and say, “Oh my gosh, you’re so cute. You are so beautiful”. And, my daughter would say with her expression, “Pardon me, but I would like my muffin, please.”
Betsy: Excuse me, I am a born person. Hahaha.
Teresa: Hahaha. And I have some missions to accomplish. Who knew I could look all the way back there and identify that she was definitely a type 8. So, understanding that she was a very different person outside of who I am and that they all are very different people, my only goal is to encourage them to become more who they were meant to be.
Betsy: Yeah, I mean, doesn’t that just kind of take a load off your shoulders?
Betsy: This idea that your only job is to actually show them and hold a mirror up to them of who they are meant to be, according to how they were created.
Betsy: And you don’t have to twist and bend them out of shape. You just have to help them grow into their shape.
Teresa: But it’s an instinct for me to be reactive to certain things. And we all have our stories; why we are reactive in certain ways. I have learned a lot from learning about my personality profile with Meyers Briggs or enneagram or things like that. So, I can really see that my reason for focusing on relationships the way I do is born out of specific reasons. As an enneagram type 2, my goal is to make sure you like me and make sure that I can do something to serve you. And that brings me a sense of meaning or value. Though I think there’s a good reason for that, it’s not always a useful element of who I am because it means I can have my boundaries overstepped. It means that I can spend too much time or energy on what other people think.
Yet knowing who I am, knowing why I function the way I function, helps me relate to other people. Or, as we were speaking earlier about type 8s, their instinct is to not be so gracious. And say what they think. And I can learn how I relate to that.
Teresa: No, they’re not really thinking about other people’s hearts first. And yet they are great leaders, and they get stuff done. When we understand that, we are able to have a perspective on why we’re all here and how we can all function together.
Betsy: Absolutely, yeah. I have several different personality types in my home, and it has been both a wonder and a challenge growing to know them. I am an enneagram 4. So, the whole idea of plumbing the depths and discovering the motive and intentions and hearts of everything is obviously a big thing with me.
But my kids also know they can sidetrack me by changing every conversation into a heart conversation. And then I just melt into a pile of goo that’s not really helpful in giving them the spelling test anymore because I am caring for their heart.
Teresa: That makes so much sense, actually. Your account is very creative, very artistic, and you’re able to observe what people think. You are able to take what we see in our homeschool worlds or in our families and put it into memes.
And really, you can speak on anything because you are doing it in a humorous way. So, we really can identify with what you are saying, even if maybe we are not always conscious that you said that thing. Because you are saying something that, oh wait, is that true? Should I be thinking like that? Or should I see that in my family in a way that, oh, does that mean that I don’t care or appreciate my family, or you know, all these possibilities? But the reality is, yeah. So, we are thinking the things that you are saying in these memes. And are appreciative that we have a community where you can identify some things that we’re not seeing.
Betsy: Yes. And you know what? That is one of the reasons that I love my account. It’s because it kind of sneaks in under the guise of humour. But what it does is it really hits people with feeling seen, feeling part of a community, highlighting things they hadn’t thought about or given new strategies and new ideas. And it kind of disarms them with humour so that they are able to hear the message in there.
One of the greatest things is throwing out a meme that I am not sure anybody else will relate to. And then having all these moms come on and saying, oh my gosh, it is not just me. Or are you at my house, how do you know this?
Teresa: Hahaha. Yeah.
Betsy: It’s just saying you know you are not the only one. We all have this experience. Or it’s such a common one in our community.
Teresa: Do you have a favorite meme?
Betsy: You know what, I don’t know that I do. I really do enjoy the ones where I kind of help people feel seen in things, like the enneagram memes and enneagram homeschoolers.
Those ones people love because they are just like, oh my gosh, this is so true. And I just love it because that’s kind of where I feel my talent lies, is in kind of saying I know, I see you, I understand you. That is what aphor loves, is to be seen and understood. So, I love loving people that way, making them feel seen and understood. And especially if we throw in a little humour there too. It’s just a sweet spot.
Teresa: Yeah, it’s very entertaining, and it really speaks to my heart. I was tickled that you agreed to an interview because I’m like, okay, who is the person behind this account. And it just makes so much sense that you are a type 4, complete sense.
You talked about being introverted, yet you are so out there and so vulnerable in sharing how you see the world and what you see inside your home. So that is interesting that you are so out there on the Instagram account Homeschooling, Homeschool With Classics, or?
Betsy: Homeschooling With the Classics.
Teresa: Homeschooling With the Classics, right. And that is interesting that you are able to be introverted and also able to fully put yourself out there. It is a vulnerable place to be.
Betsy: It is. One of the things that I have learned is that being introverted doesn’t mean you can’t be vulnerable. Being introverted really just means that you need to be alone sometimes to recharge your battery.
Betsy: Being vulnerable is actually a universal thing we can all experience. And it’s actually a gift that we give to others is being vulnerable. Once again, as a type 4, vulnerability is kind of big to me because being authentic is so important to 4’s. You know, just putting it all out there, so everybody sees all the parts.
Teresa: I find that unnerving, so I feel there is a shield, and it is that if you saw where we live, I’m very rural, in fact even the people that are in the town next to us, when they come out to us, they say, “You are very rural”.
Teresa: Hahaha. We really are. This is not where I always grew up. I was in the biggest city in the entire country last weekend, completely loud with lots of people. It was way too many people. I am pretty sure I’ve got COVID. Hahaha. I must have COVID.
Teresa: Just kidding. You know, here I am, half an hour out of a very small town on a mountainside with fish running through the river. There are bears, there are cougars, I’ve got my goats and chickens, and my Great Pyrenees puppy and I love my life.
That’s my shield that people aren’t actually a fly on the wall because they couldn’t be in my house. And yet, I am very open, I feel with everyone out there. And at times, it’s a very uncomfortable place to be that vulnerable or that open.
Teresa: At the same time, people connect with you when you are honest because they deal with similar stuff.
Betsy: Yeah, that’s very true. I do say that there are always two levels of vulnerability. First, of course, we have our core vulnerability place, but that is the spot just for our spouse or our partner or family. And then out of that, our really close friends, friends, acquaintances, you know the world in general. So obviously, I am not going to give the same level of myself to everybody.
But too, like you said, you are describing where you live sounds like a dream to me. And I am blessed in that we live on a private lake and kind of a secluded little area. We are actually within the city limits, but it’s kind of secluded, and most people don’t know we are here, so it is pretty private. And I do need that. I need that buffer. I need that real-life buffer. It is much easier to be vulnerable online, isn’t it?
Betsy: Because you can shut it down. Hahaha.
Teresa: And I can do it with people locally. But just like you said, I am way more aware of my sense of boundaries or something because I know that I am not supposed to be fully open, like an open book to everyone.
So, it’s so funny, the kids were like, “Why don’t you advertise what you do for homeschool moms in the community and put big posters up.” And I am like, no. Hahaha. No.
Betsy: Hahaha. I don’t want to see people in real life.
Teresa: And I actually am. You know, it’s not like I am not known in real life in that way as well. But it’s different. It’s not trying to be different online versus in person.
You know, as a doctor’s wife in the first probably ten years, we lived inside of smaller towns, and everyone always knew everything about what we were doing. And I didn’t know who they were because they only knew my husband. So random people would be talking to me about my life, and it really felt kind of creepy. So that is where I come from. I am not wanting to be a total open book before people. Yet, I find that I don’t know that I am not sharing anything, and I am more able to connect with people if I am being straight. In fact, deeply connect with people.
I think we briefly spoke about homeschool moms feeling lonely at times. And I think that’s one of the biggest two reasons why we’re so lonely. One is because we are actually not being authentic; we are not being that vulnerable with people around us. So, when we show up and try to be like a shiny clean, perfect image of what homeschooling is and or just whoever we are supposed to be, then maybe people like us. But when they like us, they like the shiny person. And we know that they like the shiny person, subconsciously even. They do not necessarily know the real person, so we have to show up authentically to connect.
Betsy: Absolutely. I completely agree with you.
Teresa: And then, of course, the other one that we had spoken about before was that when we expect our community to be just like us whatever that is, and we expect them to think the same way and to understand our children, to know their personalities, their stage of life or childhood, or understand how we homeschool, or what our lifestyle is like, or whatever. If we expect to be the same, we are limiting ourselves in really experiencing connection with a lot of other people. And I like it.
We did a lot of travelling for seven years of our homeschooling. I learned that you could get to know, like really know people because you are super curious when going to all these different places. And we can do that super curious stuff with people in our own backyard too. So I am just not putting posters up around town to do it.
Betsy: Hahaha. Absolutely you know one of the things that I am really passionate about is giving my children a lot of exposure to a lot of different ideas, a lot of different cultures, a lot of different thought processes, family types, people, different faces, everything like that, so that they can grow that compassion muscle and grow their empathy.
Because the more we are exposed to things, the less other it becomes, and the more we begin to see how we are very similar. And also, be able to treasure the differences in one another and see the value in that beautiful kaleidoscope of the way that God made people.
Teresa: Beautiful. That is so beautiful. That’s a book I think you should write.
Teresa: But first, you need to go on a standup tour for homeschool moms, and I want to help you.
Betsy: That’s so funny. It’s so funny because I never wanted to be on stage. I never wanted to be the center of attention; that’s just not my deal. So, I like to quietly mill around in the background. Or actually, you all go ahead and do your thing on-stage; I’ll be at home reading a book.
And it ended up with Wild and Free that I have been on stage for a few of their conferences, and I will be at their upcoming conference. It is just so funny to me because, yes, it is not what I anticipated. It’s not within my comfort zone, but really, I would do it.
Teresa: As a type 4, I have you pegged as you should be on stage but then become reclusive afterwards.
Betsy: Yes, that is absolutely me. So, one of the conferences venues we go to is exactly a seven-and-a-half-hour drive from where I live. They always offer to fly me out, and I am like, no, I need to drive because I need that time headed out there and headed back with no people, by myself.
Betsy: Because when I go to the conference weekend, I go hard.
Betsy: But then I crash and burn. It’s so funny because my mom and sister live locally, and they’ll text me, “Like Betsy, it’s been two weeks since the conference. Can we see you yet?”
Teresa: Hahaha. I love that. I have a type 4 daughter who has a very significant YouTube following. I put a lot of my content on YouTube and don’t have a significant YouTube following. So, this kiddo is putting stuff out there on her analysis of makeup, or what it is like to be a twelve-year-old. She is sixteen now, and it gets a huge reaction, but she is a type 4, and she decided, “I am not going to do it anymore. I don’t care about it anymore.”
And it keeps growing. You know she is exactly like you are saying. She is very capable of standing up in front of an audience and being hilarious or entertaining, but just give me my room afterwards because I just want to be reclusive.
Betsy: Yes, exactly.
Teresa: Very creative.
Betsy: That is so funny. That is so neat that she was able to develop that interest of hers. What a cool thing.
Teresa: She presently doesn’t care about it, yet it is still growing.
Teresa: Hahaha. Give her a little bit, though. She wants to be an actress, though, so she is definitely aware of where she is going. I’ve said, “You know, but what about college? And I don’t think kids have to go to college.” And she’s like, “Nope, not going to college.”
And yet she’s on the plane the other day with me, and she’s like, “So, how far or fast do you think the plane is going?” And I am like, “I don’t know, maybe we should ask somebody.” She said, “We can figure it out based on what is going on, on the map right now. It took this many seconds for the plane to go from here to here.” Then she and her sister are going through the process of it. She finally gets a calculation, and then I ask the flight attendant, and he confirms that they are accurate in all of this. I am like, “Wow.” You are a little too smart to just, you know, we’ll see what happens. But you know, who am I to say, right? They are all very unique and do their unique thing.
Betsy: I love it. And you know what I have to tell you, especially if a child wants to go into a career in the arts, sometimes life provides the education we need. Obviously, I did not finish my arts degree, but now that is what I do. I own a business with my friend, and we do design and art, and I actually design textile art for fabrics.
Teresa: Oh, really?
Betsy: It’s just so funny because it was one of the fields I have looked into with textile artistry and ended up. Now here I am thirty years later doing it.
Teresa: No kidding, yup. Yup, that is my experience too, it’s that kind of, okay maybe I will do this, maybe I’ll do this, but everything feeds together to become who you were meant to be. Yeah, it is so interesting that you have a design or are creating the actual art, and she is putting it into textiles?
Betsy: Well, she is the designer, and I am the artist. I create the art. She helps me direct it based on what colors are hot, the trends, the look people are looking for a certain style, esthetic, and then I take that art digitally, and I turn it into repeating patterns that are then printed on fabric. So, we license our patterns through different fabric companies.
Teresa: Oh, that is amazing. It is so type 4 right there.
Betsy: Can we get any more niche?
Teresa: Yes. You are very unique. Like, but you actually are.
Betsy: Hahaha. Thank you. Thank you. It is all I wanted to hear.
Teresa: Yes, and I hope I have helped you feel encouraged by this because I am a type two. Hahaha.
Teresa: Hahaha. What we’re doing right now is so helpful for us to understand our partners or kids or whoever is significant in our lives and really understand they are just coming at life from a different angle.
Teresa: But I would love to hear what you do in your whitespace outside your artistry on your Instagram account or in your design world. So, what do you do outside of those things, and of course, homeschooling?
Betsy: I definitely encourage moms to create their own space, create their own margin and time to refuel and rest. It is very important. And within my space, a lot of times, I have put in my earbuds, listen to podcasts, listen to mystery novels, or go to my room, and I read for a while. But lately, I’ve found when I start reading an actual print book, I start to fall asleep. So, I’ll have to work on that. But I also love to fish, and that is just one of these new passions I have developed in the last few years living on our lake.
Teresa: I have loved that. I would love for you to come over and teach me how to use my fishing rod, which I got for Mother’s Day. I asked for it for Mother’s Day. My husband did not believe I wanted it. I do want it. I want to catch fish. I even got one of those fishing knives. I want to learn how to do that, so what kind of fish do you catch?
Betsy: We catch bass, we catch crappies and bluegills, and just kind of your standard North Carolina Lake and creek fish.
Teresa: I love that and it’s kind of a move towards self-sufficiency too. Are you on a homestead as well?
Betsy: No, no, we’re not. I am not that homeschool, but we live in a 100-year-old log cabin on a few acres. We have a private lake that we share with a couple neighbors. And we just spend a lot of time outside.
Teresa: Yeah, me too. And I am that homeschool.
Teresa: I have a Great Pyrenees that is her own homestead. She is a lot of work, those dogs.
Betsy: Oh, my goodness, they are beautiful dogs.
Teresa: They are beautiful, but if you are a stranger, you don’t show up unannounced here. She will tell us. But also, we’ve got 20 chickens. We got three goats about a week and a half ago, and I did not grow up this way. So, I don’t really identify with a homestead lifestyle. Also, my fingernails are never clean because I am always in the garden. I love that whole lifestyle thing. I think we are not really a stereotype, probably as we appear to be, because I did not grow up like this. We actually travelled for seven years of our homeschool. We’ve had the kids in fine dining restaurants at times. We went to Paris for my daughter’s seventh birthday.
Betsy: Oh, wow.
Teresa: We were also in Africa a couple times doing some volunteer hospital work.
Betsy: I think what’s great about homeschool is that it actually provides the margin for us to discover our and our kids’ passions and pursue them.
Teresa: Yeah, then so many people would actually say to me, “How do you get any time for yourself?” But you have to make it, really, if you want to do this long-term. So, you better find a way to make it. So how do you make it for yourself?
Betsy: So, when my kids were little, it was a lot harder to find that margin. And I want to recognize that with mothers with small children. It’s a short season, but it is a rough season, and you do need to call on your village for help. Go ahead and call your best friend, call your mom, call your sister, “Hey, I need to go wander Target for two hours, or I am going to lose my mind. Can you come and watch the kids?”
Betsy: You know, call on your village. And I also just kind of instilled things into our schedule that helped benefit my introverted heart, wherein the afternoon, after we were done with school, babies and toddlers went down for naps. The kids went for quiet time in their rooms, where they read or drew or played with Legos.
I would go lay down with a book, or you know, listen to music, or clean the house by myself. Which, isn’t that funny when you’re a mother and all of a sudden cleaning the house by yourself becomes like a spa day?
Teresa: Hahaha. Yeah.
Betsy: It’s amazing the different precepts you have with life after kids.
Betsy: Now that my kids are older, we still kind of follow a similar schedule wherein the afternoon after school they go do their thing, and then I am going to go fishing for a little bit if I can. Or I will go sit down and read, or I will go in my studio and paint for a while. So, you know, listen to a podcast while I am cleaning, just have some time to myself again.
I think it’s really important for moms to figure out a way. It may not look like it does in my home or somebody else’s, but you figure out a way that it works for you.
Teresa: Yeah, I was just listening to a podcast myself in the morning while I went for a run. I was listening to this more seasoned homeschool mom talk with a younger homeschool mom about how you really can easily absorb into your kid’s world and lose your own sense of self. And I know that from personal experience that especially as a type 2, it is my default and with my oldest as a type 8 (because type 8’s are very demanding).
And so, then my natural sense is to just allow myself to become what the other people are around me, and to create a sense of self outside of our homeschool world is really tricky. Cause that is what you are doing all the time: homeschooling. You are with them all the time that it is so easy to lose our sense of self because we are with our kids a lot. Not all the time, but a lot of the time.
Betsy: Yeah, definitely. And I think that is something that we see quite often. There is a kind of a culture of sacrificing yourself to motherhood, which motherhood is a sacrifice, absolutely, a beautiful sacrifice. But, still, I don’t think that we were ever meant to lose ourselves for twenty or so years.
In fact, it is not a good example for our kids. They need to see us developing ourselves and continue to grow and learn. In fact, that’s another thing Charlotte Mason said. She called it Mother Culture, and she said you need to model to your children continuing your education, continuing your thirst for more knowledge and skills, and doing the things you love. Don’t abandon them. What an amazing insight from a woman in Victorian-era England to have.
Teresa: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. In fact, this morning, I was referencing the Victorian England era because I said to my husband after my daughter had only been gone for two or three days now, in a different city across the country. She graduated, she’s in college, and I’m grieving, and I’m feeling really kind of lost in a way. Even though I have two kids at home, it really hurts, and I don’t want her to leave; I really like her, and she should stay here forever.
And my emotions are not with logic. Like this is what I have prepared her for, to go off and do her thing. And then I am like, but maybe we should go back to the Victorian era where she’s either married with five kids right now, at eighteen, or she is going to be an old maid at home. But wait, no, that is probably not what I am going for. Yeah, so Victorian era and Charlotte Mason, and she got that at that phase, which is pretty amazing.
Betsy: Yes, yes. It’s really funny that you mentioned that because my oldest sister and I both had a year at home when I was eighteen, and she would have been twenty-three, both living at my parent’s house. And we both happened to be at low effort jobs at the time where we did not have to leave home much. So, we would just lay around and do embroidery and read aloud to each other. And we called it our Jane Austin year.
Teresa: I love that.
Betsy: We were sitting there waiting for our husbands to arrive. Hahaha.
Teresa: Hahaha. Okay, so that cheered me up, thank you. But you know what, that sounds really beautiful. You could actually write a book on that.
Betsy: It was a lovely year. There were difficult parts to it. The reason that I was so low ambition sitting around home was that I had terrible agoraphobia, and I was so afraid of going out anywhere or seeing people at all. My anxiety was at such a fever pitch at that age.
Betsy: There obviously were, there’s always another side to every story, isn’t there?
Teresa: That’s true. Well, you shared, I think you shared the mom.
Betsy: I can see the beauty.
Teresa: Yeah, exactly, and you do really reflect a lot of different experiences. You are a lot of different sides in the memes that you’ve got online. Your interest in art, I love that. I love Monet, you know, impressionism is by far my favorite era of art, but I love seeing art. Classical art mostly, reflected in my own life experience. And it just feels so sophisticated and creative. It’s really entertaining.
Betsy: You know I really have a passion for sharing art with others, for sharing art history, for helping to humanize art, especially classical art, because a lot of it can feel stiff, formal, and other. And when we are able to actually see ourselves in it, that’s when we actually begin to have that connection and go into the art, and we explore it deeper. So that is just one of the things I love to do.
Teresa: I especially loved the one where there was a woman with a few kids, which is a very common thing, isn’t it. No, she doesn’t have a few kids. The piece of work says that when you stand up after bending over in a scoop-necked sweater and your top runneth over. Hahaha.
Teresa: So funny. That is probably not what I would have thought of if I had gone into an art gallery and seen this photo. I would have said, oh, there is some sophisticated royalty or aristocracy or something. I wonder who she was or what the historical background is. But you spin it in a way that I am like, oh, that is hilarious. That is too funny. I love art. I love the humour all gathered together.
So, what would you say would be a useful tool for new homeschool mamas or moms that have been really tired after a very long year and a half of really a massive shift for a lot of people? What would you give as an encouragement to new homeschool mamas?
Betsy: I would say go back to your core: your why. And if you don’t have your core, why yet develop it. For my family, my core why is a heart connection. So, everything flows out of that, and we develop our other priorities that we stick with. But everything has to go along and align with a heart connection.
So. figure out what your why is. Why are you homeschooling? What do you hope will be the end product at the end of this beautiful race? And then keep that in a place where you can continually go back to it. That is your Ebenezer stone. That’s you, “I go back here, and I remember why I am doing this. I remember why it is important to me. And is what I am doing aligning with that?”
Because if it’s not, we get to scrap it, start over again with something new. Course corrections are generous and abundant. We get to change our minds if things aren’t working. So, just continue to go back to your core why. And especially after this last year and a half, I would say if you were finding that you are struggling to a point where you are feeling anxious all the time, you feel hopeless, you constantly feel like you are behind and you can’t catch up matter how many times you go back to your core why. You pray, you talk to people about it. Go get help.
Betsy: Go and talk to somebody. Talk to a doctor. Talk to your pastor. Talk to your friend, your mother, or your sister. Talk to somebody about what is going on with you and get help. And you may need to actually go and get therapy for a while, which, oh my gosh, I am the biggest fan for therapy.
Betsy: Therapy is awesome. And I think everyone, no matter what their situation is like, should go to therapy because it just changes their viewpoint. It changes how you look at the world, and it’s just such a helpful tool.
Teresa: Yeah, it really is.
Betsy: Definitely get help if you need it.
Teresa: Yeah, well said. And it cannot be said enough. The beauty, I mean everyone this last year has had some very, very big experience in life. It’s always interesting to meet to hear everybody’s very unique stories. Everybody has had something.
And yet, when people are in the place of being therapists, or counsellors, or coaches, or whatever they are, they are able to not be intimately connected with your story and to feel your story in a way that can take away from their energy. So, they are able to be objective bystanders in your world and be resource persons that have real tools, real strategies in how to approach this next step.
And sometimes all it takes is just a really cleverly worded question, that coming from my point of view when working with homeschool moms, I learned it’s not about me giving advice. It is about me asking questions that probe someone to think more about their lives in a way that helps them to see something different. And it is just that perspective shift that goes, okay, I don’t have to be concerned about that or be overcome by this, or something.
You can’t do that with your own head. You can’t do that with yourself, except that I will sometimes say that if you stare at yourself in a mirror in a very intense moment and it sounds super weird, but it really works. So, you stare at yourself when you are either really angry or sad or some intense emotion and speak to yourself like you are your own friend; it is therapeutic.
You are probably going to get more benefit over the long run by speaking through your stuff with somebody else. But I really appreciate you saying that because it is really important for us to affirm that therapy is underrated. And it is worth its weight in gold.
Teresa: Yeah, beautiful. Do you have any resources or books or treatments or anything that you would specifically recommend?
Betsy: One book that I have returned to so many years before we begin our school year is Teaching from Rest by Sarah McKenzie. That book is just to me, like mwah, like the gold standard for homeschooling moms. It just is so packed with grace, and you know, just honestly, it’s very usable. It is very practicable, as well. And I love that book.
I also love The Call of the Wild and Free by Ainsley Armant. That is a fantastic book, just the kind that excites you. It gets you excited. If you are feeling a little blah-zay about schooling, that one will get you going. It will excite you.
And then pretty much anything that Julie Bogart has written. It is always such spot-on great advice and, once again, very practical.
Teresa: Yup, I agree. So interesting you are recommending Wild and Free. You are speaking at Wild and Free this year. When is the conference?
Betsy: It is September 17th and 18th. So, it’s sold out, but for people who end up getting the Bundles memberships, eventually, they will be allowed to view videos or audio from the conference. So, that is generally how it works. Then, a few months down the line, they will be released.
Teresa: So, I got to ask. I hadn’t been part of that last year, and I was so tempted, I didn’t quite get into it for some reason. It didn’t work with whatever was going on. But are you doing standup on Wild and Free?
Betsy: Well, I am helping host, so that is genuinely what I have done in the past, helped host, or provided little comedic side bits. So, they kind of use me as their standup person.
Teresa: So, you are the Tina Fey of the homeschool world. I look forward to seeing that.
Betsy: Oh, I wish. She is hilarious.
Teresa: Oh, no. Yeah, but you are really hilarious, and you know homeschooling.
To close our interview, I would love to hear what you have learned alongside your kids this week. Or should I say these last two days because I think you just started homeschooling again in the last couple of days?
Betsy: Yeah, I started yesterday. Yesterday was our soft-open. That is when we have cinnamon rolls, and we do all the fun artsy things. You know, nature journaling and composer study, and poetry, and just like loosey-goosey stuff.
Teresa: I love that stuff.
Betsy: Today, we actually started our core subjects. Even with that, we start with smaller amounts of time that we will build up to because I am all about gentle transitions because I’ve got five neurodivergent children.
Betsy: So, we did that, and you know what I learned today was that almost every day after we have had a more strenuous academic day, I am so anxious that I feel like I am on speed in the afternoon. I’m like, my goodness, this is why I love summer because I don’t feel this. And realizing that I’m like, ooh, something here needs to be adjusted. I am either taking on more than I should with my kid’s work, you know, instead of letting them own it. Or I am not pacing us correctly. Or I’m demanding too much of both of us.
Betsy: You know which I find that I can do where I am like, nope, push through, we can do this. Push through, when really maybe I need to say okay, you know what, a five-minute break, and we’ll come back to it. And so, I recognize that about myself and say I need to adjust that.
So, that is something that I am going to be journaling about and looking into figuring out what I need to do to fix that going forward this year.
Teresa: Yeah, thanks for sharing that because once again, another course correction. There are some times where I think, how am I directing homeschool moms or helping to come alongside them and encourage them to do this thing when I am still doing it?
And then I think, wait, no, actually, the fact that I am still doing it definitely brings compassion to the mix. I am way more compassionate, but also there is constant growth. We are constantly growing, constantly learning from our kids, and just like what you are doing right now, it is one more course correction.
Because you are doing what I am always encouraging people and myself to do is to actually feel what you are feeling and say, okay, if I am not feeling right in this, how do I shift so that it can feel better? And you know, if it’s not really working for you, then what do you do differently? So yeah, that will be really interesting to hear how you unpack that.
Betsy: Yeah. Here’s hoping.
Teresa: Hahaha. It will happen. It is just a matter of years.
Betsy: It will. I will figure it out. We will work it out. We will get in our groove again.
Teresa: Exactly. Yeah. It has been such a pleasure to chat with you today. I am so glad we could connect in real-time. Tell me where we can find you online now that I have shared a whole lot about your Instagram account.
Betsy: Alright. So, on Instagram, you can find me @homeschooling_with_the_classics and then I call it my boring account, which is my personal account where you will see more of my kids doing homeschooling stuff. And that one is @talltimbers_willowlake. And on Facebook, there is a page for Homeschooling With the Classics. So, just look for Homeschooling with the Classics.
Teresa: It has been so much fun chatting with you. And I look forward to seeing you at the conference, virtually.
Betsy: Yes, thank you so much. I loved being here with you.
Teresa: I would love to learn more about who you are. So, introduce yourself at the Homeschool Mama Self-Care Instagram page or the Facebook group – The Homeschool Mama Support Group, so we can support and encourage each other in our homeschool challenges.
While you’re there, you can check out my book of homeschool encouragement, Homeschool Mama Self-Care: Nurturing the Nurturer.
If you are a homeschool mama looking for a mentoring group to gain clarity, confidence, and vision in your homeschool to create a plan to nurture the nurturer and be intentional in how you show up in your homeschool, ask me about the Homeschool Mama Retreat or the Capturing the Charmed Homeschool Mentoring Group.
All the show notes and links to this episode will be found at www.capturingthecharmedlife.com.
Until next time I hope you and your kids have a charmed week, or if you are having one of those weeks, I hope you can refrain your challenges into your homeschool charms.
Call to Adventure by Kevin MacLeod