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Welcome to the Homeschool Better Together Podcast, where we explore building a joyful homeschool experience for your family. In this episode, host Pam Barnhill shares insights and practical tips for determining what’s “enough” for your family.

Pam breaks down four homeschool mom personality types – Carefree Cathy, Best Intention Becky, Strategic Susan, and Overwhelmed Olivia. You’ll find out which type resonates with you and gain valuable advice for overcoming the unique struggles each type faces.

Tune in to discover that while each personality type has its struggles, there are practical solutions and encouragement to help you homeschool better. So grab your favorite drink, take a break, and get ready to be empowered to step out of the overwhelm and into the wonder of homeschooling better together. 

Pam Barnhill [00:00:01]:
Are you ready for homeschooling to feel joyful again? Do you long for support as you learn alongside your kids? Welcome to Homeschool Better Together, a podcast about building a homeschool experience that works for your family. I’m Pam Barnhill, and it’s time to step out of the overwhelm and into the wonder. Let’s do this. Hey. Hey. Homeschool Better Together listener. Welcome to the podcast. It is so great to have you joining me here today.

Pam Barnhill [00:00:37]:
So I came to the realization this week that as homeschoolers, we really need to start thinking about what is enough. Because I hear this so many times from homeschoolers. I hear, am I doing enough? I’m worried that I’m not doing enough. And you know what? We can’t answer that question until we know what enough is. So how do we find out what is enough? Who determines that for us? And I happen to be of the mind that we’re the ones who get to determine what is enough, what defines enough for our particular family, because we’re the only ones who know what the needs of our family are and what the needs of our children are. You know, we know each of them so closely, but we never sit down and think about and define what is enough. And so we’re constantly worried, are we doing enough? And it just so happens. The more I thought about this, the more I realized that the exercise that we have our students do and Put Your Homeschool Year on Autopilot, the exercise of creating a vision for our homeschool.

Pam Barnhill [00:01:50]:
That is one of the ways that we determine what is enough. And by creating our vision, we use it for so many different things, but we can hold it up and we can ask ourselves, are we doing this enough that we have defined for ourselves? Right? So I knew vision was really important. It was such a vital part of our homeschool, but it never occurred to me until just this week. That that is how we define what enough is. So then when we ask ourselves the question, are we doing enough? We can actually answer that particular question. I’m gonna drop a link for you in the show notes in the description of this podcast. We actually have a free workshop that you can do that will help you write your vision for your homeschool. It’s part of the autopilot process, but we’ve broken it out and we’ve turned it into this free workshop so that you could do it and get a little taste of what it’s like to be an autopilot student, but also walk away with this very important document that you need to help with all the different aspects of your homeschooling.

Pam Barnhill [00:02:58]:
So it’s, and I’ll also include a link for you in the show notes. Okay. For this week’s topic, I’m going to be dating myself just a little bit, and we’re gonna hearken back to some of those magazine quizzes from, like, the eighties and the nineties. Or maybe if you’re a little bit younger than I am, you could think about the BuzzFeed style quizzes from the early the early 2000. And we’re gonna be trying to determine what is our homeschool mom personality. Now, there’s a reason that we’re doing this. I mean, I certainly think it’s a lot of fun to say, Oh, that’s me. But also, you’re gonna find, as I talk about these different personality types, that you can see where each of these homeschool personalities might struggle.

Pam Barnhill [00:03:52]:
And so in next week’s episode, we’re gonna come back and talk about the struggles that each one of these personalities have, and we’re going to try to help each one of them. So this week, you’re just listening and seeing where you might identify yourself in the different kinds of personalities. And then next week, we’re gonna come back and break each one of the personalities down, talk about where they’re struggling a little bit, and some things that they can do to kinda help themselves out, make their lives just a little bit easier and just a little bit better. So that’s the first thing. Second thing I wanna say is you are going to probably recognize yourself in more than one personality type. I know I certainly, certainly did, and I’ll tell you about that as we go along. Okay. So our very first personality type that I wanna talk about today, we are going to call her carefree Cathy.

Pam Barnhill [00:04:47]:
Now carefree Cathy is awesome. She loves to follow rabbit trails, and she really, really hates missing out on those real life learning opportunities. All the things like the field trips and community events and creative classes that her kids can take. Now sometimes, she might worry that she isn’t doing enough of the core subjects, but she really loves her homeschool spontaneity. And she refuses to be tied down by these preset plans that are going to keep her from doing all the fun stuff. So she doesn’t want to plan ahead because she’s afraid if she does, she’s going to feel confined by the plan she’s making, and she’s not gonna be able to go off and do all the fun things as those opportunities come up, as she and her kids decide that, like, ancient Egypt is the best thing, and they wanna study it all year long. At times though, her life and her days can feel just a little bit chaotic. She feels like she’s on this planning hamster wheel, and that she’s staying just enough in front of her kids to keep them busy until the next great learning opportunity comes along.

Pam Barnhill [00:06:00]:
But it’s a hamster wheel, to be sure. I knew back when my kids were little, when Olivia was about 5, 6 years old, we were going through this phase in our homeschooling where we were really trying out project based learning and delight directed learning. And I was letting Olivia choose which topics we were going to learn about. And so what would happen is we would get, like, super excited about a topic like butterflies or something, and we would lean all into it. And she would make butterfly wings. And I had videos of her doing butterfly puppet shows. And we got our own little butterfly caterpillars and hatched them. And, you know, let them go into the cocoons and release the butterflies.

Pam Barnhill [00:06:41]:
I have such wonderful pictures from those days, and it was just so fabulous. And then the butterfly unit would end. I would feel absolutely spent by all the energy that it took to do everything that we did, And we would sit there for 3 or 4 weeks at a time because I didn’t have the next thing planned and ready to go. And, you know, in order to, like, grow and hatch butterflies, you have to have the butterfly tint. You have to have the caterpillars mailed to your home and all of that stuff. And that stuff takes a little bit of predone planning, and I wouldn’t have that done because I wasn’t sure what we were gonna do. And so we would just sit there and not do anything. And so I felt like I was constantly on this hamster wheel waiting to do the next thing.

Pam Barnhill [00:07:34]:
And so it didn’t feel great, even though I really wanted to be carefree and spontaneous with my homeschooling. And there are probably some of you out there who can do this way better than me. I struggled with it because we just sat there waiting for me to get up the motivation and the gumption and the time and the energy when I had all these little kids to plan the next thing that we were going to do. And so sometimes carefree Cathy feels that way. She’s really doing her best to follow all these rabbit trails and do all these great and wonderful things, but it gets a little bit chaotic when the good stuff runs out and she has to plan the next bit of good stuff. And so another thing that often happens is she’s planning on the weekends a lot. And so her family is off having fun. But in order for her weeks to feel less chaotic, she’s got to spend all of her time planning on Sunday afternoon.

Pam Barnhill [00:08:28]:
And that just doesn’t feel fair either. Okay. So our next kind of homeschooler, we’re gonna call this homeschooler best intention, Becky. Now Becky loves this time of year because she loves to do her homeschool planning. She is the mom that is so looking forward to creating her homeschool plan and all the fresh, new, exciting stuff. And honestly, she really kind of hates finishing the homeschool year because that’s not all that exciting at all. She really would rather just start planning next homeschool year. She loves the fun of coming up with really great activities and resources for her kids.

Pam Barnhill [00:09:14]:
Actually, she often loves the great activities and resources more than her kids do, and that sometimes can make her feel just a little bit underappreciated by her children. It’s like, look. Here I am throwing all my time and energy into doing all of these great activities for you. Don’t you know we could just be using a workbook or something, and that would be so boring? And it makes her feel a little unappreciated sometimes. Occasionally, she also feels like a failure because she can’t do everything that she’s planned. So she makes all of these plans, and she can’t get to all of them. And that makes her feel like she’s failed in some way. Or as things get tough, when her homeschool days start to feel a little bit stale or a little bit difficult, she might easily get distracted by new and bright shiny resources.

Pam Barnhill [00:10:10]:
She really likes that dopamine hit of buying something new, and it’s just easier. And I’m saying this 100% from my own experience. It’s easier to throw money at something trying to solve the problem than it is to do the sometimes harder work, the less glamorous work of trying to solve a problem. Just kind of like knuckling down and and doing the things that you need to do to get the problem solved is so much easier to just go out and buy a new curriculum or to buy something new. And I have definitely been guilty of this in the past where something wasn’t working in my home school. And I was like, oh, well, let’s just go buy something. And what I usually found actually, I did this a few years ago with language arts. And, actually, it was quite a long time ago now.

Pam Barnhill [00:11:01]:
John was probably 8 or 9 years old. And so, he’s now 17. So, yeah, a good 9 years ago. And I just kind of gotten a little jaded with what we were using. I I’m not sure why the feeling came up, but it was probably October, November. And I said, you know what? We’re just gonna do something new for language arts. Surely, this bright shiny thing over here that everyone is talking about on the Internet right now is the thing that we need, and I’m going to buy this thing instead. And I did.

Pam Barnhill [00:11:33]:
I spent about 50 or $60 about a new language arts program for both of my boys, and they hated it. It took about a month, and they really, really hated it. And within 2 months, we had switched back to what we were doing before that everybody had loved. And it was just a lesson I kind of learned the hard way that just because I want to change things up a little bit, doesn’t mean that I should change things up a little bit. So knowing, like, buying new curriculum is not going to solve all of the homeschooling problems. And your kids are not always gonna love everything that you plan as much as you would like for them to do. And here’s another thing I want Becky’s to know out there. It’s okay to just enjoy the fun that you have planning even if you don’t get to all the things that you planned.

Pam Barnhill [00:12:31]:
It’s really okay to do that. Part of what the planning process brings you joy, part of the researching of all the curriculum that you do just brings you joy and happiness. And you know what? If you don’t use it for your family, there’s probably some other homeschooler out there who’s going to ask you about that research that you did, not directly. They’re not gonna say, hey. I know that you did a lot of research into spiral versus mastery math. They’re gonna say instead, I’m really struggling with my math program, and I’m not sure what to do. And you’re gonna be able to say, well, I’ve done a lot of research in here. Maybe some of this will help.

Pam Barnhill [00:13:09]:
And so sometimes the research you do can be used to help others. So just enjoy the research, enjoy the research, enjoy the planning, even if you don’t use all of it exactly for yourself. Okay. Our 3rd kind of homeschool mom is somebody that I would like to call Strategic Susan. Now Strategic Susan is born organized, and she is a master planner. And I’m gonna tell you, she deserves a gold star because she has all of these tabs in her laminated lesson plans, and everything is laid out and ready to go at the start of the school year. But, you know, there’s always a but in all of these. Right? Sometimes she gets a little bit frustrated because life keeps throwing her curve balls.

Pam Barnhill [00:14:01]:
And when things happen in her life, she can’t follow all of her meticulously laid out plans. So you may not know this. We had a leak in our house this spring, totally something that I had not planned on happening. And who would ever think that this singular wet spot that I found in the middle of my carpeted closet floor would actually be a leak in my master bathroom shower that would cause us to have to tear out half of the cabinets in our kitchen. I mean, this is just the way things go. This was totally not on my 2024 bingo card. I was not planning on this. And so I have all of these homeschool plans, and I’m gonna tell you, over the past 3 or 4 weeks, we haven’t gotten to nearly all the things that I wanted to get to.

Pam Barnhill [00:14:59]:
Now I’ve learned some of the lessons that Susan does not yet know. So I’m gonna be okay. But a few years ago, 7, 8, 9, 10 years ago, this would have been a recipe for disaster for me because I can definitely see myself in strategic Susan. What Susan does when life throws her a curveball and she can’t follow her plans is she starts crossing things out in her lesson plans and having to flip between the pages in her planner to find her spot in each of the different subjects because she has laid everything out in all of these grids. And what she feels like she feels like man, if life would just slow down and get back to normal, then I wouldn’t be on lesson 18 in history, but only on lesson 8 in science. I mean, that kind of thing just absolutely drives her crazy. And so she gets frustrated, and she’ll sit down and replan everything. Usually, sometimes even as much as once a month or once every couple of weeks, and she’ll reprint her grids.

Pam Barnhill [00:16:06]:
She’ll fill them out again multiple times a year, trying to fit that meticulously laid out plan into all of the life that keeps happening. Because I tell you, if you’re not having a leak in your shower that’s causing you to have half the kitchen torn out, Something else is going on. I mean, it could really be something much smaller, like a toddler Who’s not going anywhere for a while and is still going to be causing all of this havoc and keeping you from getting to those plans that you laid out. So, yeah, I can totally relate to Susan and some of the struggles that she is having, and maybe you can too. Okay. Our final homeschool mom that we’re gonna be talking about today is overwhelmed Olivia. Now Olivia makes sacrifices to homeschool her kids because she loves them dearly. And she knows that keeping her kids home helps her family to thrive, and it helps her kids too.

Pam Barnhill [00:17:12]:
They do so much better when they’re at home. And it was probably something that happened in their lives that caused them to homeschool. Maybe it was 2020 that caused them to homeschool. Maybe it was the fact that her kids just weren’t getting their needs met in school. Maybe it was the fact that her kids were being bullied or something, and she felt like she just had to pull them out to keep them safe. But homeschooling was not something she ever intended to do. It was not originally on her bingo card for life, and she really worries if she’s cut out for this. And so what she finds now is that she is really struggling to stay caught up on the laundry and the dishes, much less carving out time to sit down and make a homeschool plan.

Pam Barnhill [00:18:02]:
Nobody has time for that. And besides, what’s the use of making a plan that you’re not gonna have time to follow anyway because the toddler is going to make sure of that? Olivia feels like if she just has 2 weeks alone, she could get the house clean, the meals prepped, and finally take the shrink-wrap off of that science program that she’s owned for 3 months. But really, she is just overwhelmed. And I will tell you I have been there, too. There have been different periods of time in my homeschool where I have been completely overwhelmed by what’s going on. And that little line, like, if I could just get 2 weeks alone, then my house would be clean, and I would be caught up on everything. That is totally a Pam Barnhill line. That is something that I have felt down to the very fiber of my being.

Pam Barnhill [00:18:57]:
And you have probably felt that at some point too. So maybe you have seen yourself really, really strongly in one or the other of these personality types. Maybe you have seen yourself in more than one of those, but I think there’s a little bit of me in every single one of them. So I would love to hear from you. Do you see yourself in these types? Is there another type that I’ve forgotten? Have I kind of missed the boat and you’re like, oh no, no, no. This is the type of homeschool mom that I am. And I would just like to invite you to come on over to the community. You can come to hsbt.

Pam Barnhill [00:19:40]:
Me and sign up for our free homeschool community if you’re not a member. If you are a member, come on in and tell us which homeschool mom type are you? Which personality do you most identify with? And then be sure to come back next week because next week, I’m gonna be talking about how we can solve some of the problems that each of these four homeschool mom personality types have and maybe make life just a little bit easier for all of them. That’s our show for today. Be sure to follow, subscribe, and leave a review so you never miss out on the wonder of homeschooling better together. To stay connected and learn even more about the Homeschooling Better Together resources and to join our free community, visit Until next week, keep stepping out of the overwhelm and into the wonder.

Links and Resources From Today’s Show

Key Ideas About Four Kinds of Homeschool Moms

  • Reflect on the concept of “enough” in homeschooling and the process of defining what “enough” means for your family.
  • Explore the importance of creating a vision for your homeschool and how it helps in determining what is “enough” for your family.
  • Delve into the personality types of homeschool moms, including Carefree Cathy, Best Intention Becky, Strategic Susan, and Overwhelmed Olivia.
  • Understand the struggles and challenges faced by each homeschool mom personality type in their homeschooling journey.
  • Recognize that it’s okay to enjoy the homeschool planning process, even if you don’t get to implement every single plan.
  • Acknowledge the impact of unexpected life events on homeschool plans and the need to adapt and adjust to challenges.
  • Learn about joining the free homeschool community and share insights about the identified homeschool mom personality type.

Find What You Want to Hear

  • [00:00] Introduction
  • [00:37] What is enough?
  • [01:50] Having a vision
  • [02:58] Plan Your Year
  • [03:52] Next Week’s Episode
  • [04:47] Carefree Cathy
  • [08:28] Best Intention Becky
  • [13:09] Strategic Susan
  • [16:52] Overwhelmed Olivia
  • [19:40] Closing

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