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So often we set ourselves up to fail when we have unrealistic expectations and expect a perfect Morning Time. Sometimes we don’t even realize that perfectionism is the problem we are fighting. In this episode, Pam breaks down what perfectionism can look like in your Morning Time and gives some tips on how to beat it so you can your kids can enjoy Morning Time together for years to come.

Links and resources from today’s show:

Gather: Exploring the Wonder, Wisdom & Worship of Learning at HomePin

Gather: Exploring the Wonder, Wisdom & Worship of Learning at Home

Pam: I hate to be the one to break it to you. It’s going to happen. You’re never going to have a perfect Morning Time. As you fail to meet that time, after time, after time, what you’re going to end up doing is getting disillusioned and discouraged and just giving up the idea of doing Morning Time altogether.
This is Your Morning Basket, where we help you bring truth, goodness, and beauty to your homeschool day.
Hi everyone. And welcome to episode 114 of the Your Morning Basket podcast. I’m Pam Barnhill, your host, and I’m so happy that you’re joining me here today. Well, today’s episode of the podcast is one of those, a little bit different ones, because I am going to be all by my lonesome and we’re going to be talking about something that I really felt on my heart that I needed to address when it comes to Morning Time.
And so today’s episode is all about perfectionism and what perfectionism on the part of mom mostly can do, or dad. If we have dads out there doing Morning Time at what effect that can have on a Morning Time. So we’re going to talk about that a little bit. How perfectionism might manifest itself in Morning Time? What does it look like? And then what are some ways that we can go about beating the tendency to try to have the absolutely most perfect Morning Time? So we’ll get on with that in just a second.

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But first I wanted to tell you about the brand new book that I have out with the photographer and my good friend, Heather Tully. She's been on the podcast a couple of times, the name of the book is called Gather: Exploring the Wonder, Wisdom, and Worship of Learning at Home. Now gathering with your children is exactly what we do when we do a Morning Basket, or we do Morning Time. And this book is so much fun because Heather went into the homes of eight different families and took pictures of their gathering. She took pictures of their Morning Time, their Morning Basket. My family was one of those families and then Heather's family. She has some photos of her family's gathering time and then some other families as well.
And what we ended up with was just so many beautiful photographs. This book is absolutely chocked full of beautiful photography. And then Heather and I also break down some of the why’s of doing a Morning Time or a family gathering time. And then also some of the nuts and bolts, like if you want to do this particular subject or that particular subject, how would you go about doing it with all of your kids together?
And it really did end up being a beautiful and inspirational and helpful book. So that is available at Pam And I would love for you to check it out. And now, on with the podcast.
Okay. So on today's episode, I really wanted to talk to you about perfectionism and how this can absolutely get in the way of you even being successful at doing a Morning Basket with your family.
And I mean, it really can be something that once it starts becoming a problem for you can be a barrier to Morning Time even getting done at all. Perfectionism is not the goal for Morning Time in mostly because it is totally unrealistic and it's totally unsustainable. When we start putting our Morning Time habit into place, our Morning Basket habit into place, we really want something that we are going to be able to do for years and years to come.
Now that Morning Basket is going to morph and change, and it's going to look a lot different when your kids are six or seven than when they're 16 or 17. But the goal is to keep doing that Morning Time to keep having your family come together and striving for perfection is going to be a huge barrier to you, keeping on doing it because what's going to happen is as you fail to meet that perfect goal that you set for yourself, and I hate to be the one to break it to you. It's going to happen. You're never going to have a perfect Morning Time. As you fail to meet that time, after time, after time, what you're going to end up doing is getting disillusioned and discouraged and just giving up the idea of doing Morning Time altogether. And so striving for the perfect Morning Time really does mean we're going to stop doing it.
We're not going to keep doing it. If we are completely and totally stressed out about it, we're going to stop. We're going to get overwhelmed. We're just not going to continue doing it. The other problem is Morning Time is all about building relationships within our family. So helping our kids to mold relationships with each other, and then also that relationship that we get to enjoy our kids.
We want this to be a low-stress time of day so that our kids really do enjoy coming together and putting pressure on ourselves to make Morning Time perfect will also spill over an equal a pressure on our children to make Morning Time perfect. Nobody is going to be having any fun at all. No one is going to be enjoying it. And so our kids, aren't going to want to come back to Morning Time again and again, and again, if we're trying to make it absolutely the most perfect thing it could be. So perfection is not the goal for Morning Time. Morning Time is going to look very real. Some days it's going to look ugly some days it's going to be like the angels are singing and it's just going to be wonderful, but that's not every day. And so I think that's the thought that we kind of have to get into our heads, that realistic expectation that it's not going to be perfect every day.
Another thing that's wrong with this whole idea of seeking perfection in our Morning Time and trying to be a perfectionist is it's going to hurt our kids. So if we're trying to do this, if we get stressed out and overwhelmed and we just drop Morning Time, our kids are going to miss out on the wonderful gift that is the practice of Morning Time. I mean, this is something that my children have got to enjoy for years and years and years, but only because I've been realistic about what it's going to look like. I would hate to think that I had set such a standard that we couldn't live up to, that I just gave up on doing it. And my kids would have missed out on it for all of these years. So you don't want that to happen most certainly.
And then also being a perfectionist, it really teaches our kids the wrong lessons. And I know so many of you struggle with children who have that perfectionist streak, especially when it comes to something like art or writing or getting things just right on the page or handwriting or making things perfect.
And, you know, we want to set a good example for our kids. So if our kids are struggling, they've got to see us learn to deal with things that aren't perfect in the best possible way. So we definitely want to set an example. So we don't want our kids to miss out on Morning Time. We don't want to be setting the wrong example for our kids when it comes to perfectionism.
So how can you, like, how does this perfectionism manifest itself in Morning Time? What does it look like? Cause you may be sitting there going, I don't have a problem with this. We've all struggled with it a little bit in the past. So what does it look like? Well, it could look like comparing, comparing your Morning Time to someone else's. So what you don't want to do is look at someone else's Morning Time and think that this is absolutely the way you have to do it.
We have a lot of families who are new to Morning Time who really get hung up in this trap and they don't even know that they're in it. They'll get interested in the idea. They'll hear about Morning Time or read about Morning Time, somewhere, and they'll think, oh, this sounds like such an awesome idea. And they'll go search it up on Pinterest and find all of these blog posts about people who have been doing Morning Time for 5, 6, 7, 8 years, 17 years, I mean, at this point now there have been moms who have been doing Morning Time for over 20 years in their homeschool.
And if you find a blog post about that and you read about it, it sounds wonderful, but it's completely unrealistic for somebody who's new to Morning Time to jump into the same Morning Time that somebody is doing. Who's been doing it for 10 years. It's just not going to work. Kids need to ease into it. Moms need to ease into it.
Or sometimes we pick a Morning Time that's just completely inappropriate for our age children. You know, you're reading about Morning Time and it's like, oh, the kids are memorizing and reading Shakespeare. That's what we need to do. But if your oldest is only five, that's not what you need to do. So, sometimes we get caught in that trap of comparing our Morning Time to someone else's or looking at someone else's and thinking, this is the way we've got to do it. This is absolutely how it has to be done. So don't fall into that trap. Realize that everyone's Morning Time is going to look different depending on how long you've been doing it. The ages of your kids, how many children you have, whether or not you have a new baby and a new toddler in the house, all of those things are going to impact what your Morning Time looks like. And so this is actually one of the things I love about the Gather book is we show nine different families and how they're doing Morning Time.
And yeah, there are some similarities in what Morning Time looks like for all of these different families, but there are some vast differences too. And every single one of them is an absolutely totally 100% correct, putting that in air quotes, Morning Time, because it's working for the family, that's doing it. So that's a really big thing. Make sure that your Morning Time is working for you, whether that be the length of it, what you're including in there, any of those factors, make sure it's working for you.
The next thing is it's okay. If you skip things in your Morning Time, day after day, like, because you don't feel like doing them, so don't become a slave to your schedule. So if you write up this beautiful, gorgeous, pretty, let's say loop schedule, or even block schedule, like on Monday, we're going to do poetry and we're going to do art and we're going to do nature study in our Morning Time and you get to Monday and you don't feel like doing one of those things. It's totally okay. It's completely okay. It is much better to let something go then to try to force the issue either because you just can't even at the moment or you have a kid who can't even at the moment.
Okay. So this example really doesn't have anything to do with Morning Time, but it's, I think it's a good example of this principle. So today we sat down to do school and I was sitting there with one of my children who shall remain nameless. And this child had been sick throughout the week, but was recovering. So really, you know, should have been able to handle writing. And when we got to writing this child just could not even do it. So it manifested itself in a lot of philosophical arguments about how I teach writing, which I find so funny. And instead of fighting with this child, I'm like, okay, you know what? We're just not going to do writing today.
We're going to try again on Monday when you might be feeling better and can handle it. But I am not going to die on this hill today. And this is the same thing should really happen in your Morning Time. If, if you just can't even, or you have a child who can't even, and things are just kind of going off the rails just because your schedule says you should do poetry and art and nature study on any given day.
Does it mean you actually have to feel free to leave off one of those things, or two of those things feel free to choose a different day altogether, feel free to do the same thing you did yesterday. It's much better to do something that everyone's going to be able to handle. And everyone, including mom is going to enjoy and do the same thing two or three days in a row than it is to force something that is just going to make everyone miserable.
So there are no quality points for Morning Time. You know, I'm a big figure skating fan. And now a days like when a figure skater does an element, they give them these quality points and the more quality points you get, the higher your score can be. Let me tell you, nobody's keeping score in Morning Time, and there are no quality points for doing something quote, unquote, better in Morning Time. So don't worry about the quality points. You're not in it for the quality points.
Another thing is like be okay with not following the perfect rules of Morning Time. So if you have listened to us on the podcast before, and maybe you've heard us talk about how to do picture study or how to do music appreciation, or how to do nature study with your kids.
And you're like, you know, every time I try to do that, our house erupts into tears, and you've found a better way. You found a different way to do pictures study or a different way to do music appreciation that works for your family. Do it. It is so much better to do music appreciation with your spin on it, or to do memory work with your spin on it than to try to follow perfectly something that somebody else says that they do.
So back to the whole quality points thing. There's also not a Morning Time police, you know, like it's not like the men and the red coats are going to burst the way through the doors. Say nobody expects the Spanish inquisition. If you get that one, you're as old as I am, but like nobody's looking for a perfect Morning Time, the Spanish inquisition, the Morning Time police, nobody's going to show up and tell you that you're doing it wrong.
Also make Morning Time fit the time you have. So if you wake up one day and you've got to get everybody to the pediatrician for their well-child appointments, and you're looking at your schedule and you're going, you know, we really could fit in about 15 minutes of Morning Time, but there's no way we could do the 45 minutes that we normally do, do the 15 minutes. If you really, really do have it in you to get all of those children out to the door, to the pediatrician and you can fit in that 15 minutes, do it. If you can't no pressure, but don't say, “oh, we're just not going to bother doing it because we can't do the whole thing.”
Do a little bit of it. And I've got a great episode. I can't remember the number right now. I didn't write it down before I started, but I've got a great episode about doing Morning Time in the car. So I'll throw in a link to that one in the show notes for you, but that's another wonderful way you could fit some things in, just do what you can. That's the most important thing. And don't feel like, well, if I can't get to all of it, I'm not going to do any of it. Make it fit the time you have.
Another thing is if you're using some pre-made Morning Time plans. And I love me some pre-made Morning Time plans, we actually have over 20 some odd sets available right now of Morning Time plans
They're so helpful, but when I am following a set of plans, there are things in there that I leave out simply because I don't want to do them or my kids have no interest in them, or I don't have the time to do them. I'm going to do what fits us. And I'm not going to worry about the rest. I'm going to leave it.
Here's another little tidbit for you. Sometimes I'll start the spring plans in the spring. And those plans are seven weeks long. I travel a lot in the spring. We don't get to all seven weeks. We might only get to four of those weeks and you know what I do, I just closed the plans and don't worry about the rest. I have a couple of choices I can either do spring on into summer, or I can say, ah, we're just done. We'll get to the rest of it next year. And it's completely and totally okay.
And then the other thing I want to kind of drive home. The other point I want to drive home it's Morning Time does not have to happen every day, actually in my house this week, it happened three days.
There were two days where I had a child who really wanted to go to a church and go to our parish mission. And so we did that instead. And then there was another day where I had kids who wanted to volunteer at a local event with their civil air patrol group. Morning Time didn't happen those days. We only did it two days this week and that's completely okay, next week I'm hitting the road to go speak at the Great Homeschool Convention. Two days, it's only going to happen two days next week, but there were lots of other weeks this where it did happen every single day of the week, but it's okay that it doesn't. And you know, if you have co-op one day a week, you don't have to squeeze in Morning Time around co-op. It's great if you can, but if you can't, don't let that make you feel like a Morning Time failure.
Speaking of the way you feel in Morning Time, let me just let you know that it's okay if sometimes people are grumpy during Morning Time, it is okay. If sometimes people don't always have the best mood and Morning Time.
Now, if this is happening very consistently with some of your children, you might want to have a conversation with them just about their heart and about character and things like that. But remember we all have bad days. Sometimes mom or dad has a bad day and sometimes kids have bad days and sometimes it doesn't happen when you want it to.
I mentioned the gather book earlier, and when Heather came to my house to take pictures for the book, we really struggled with getting good pictures for that book because I was having a grumpy issue that day. Now I'm not going to throw that person under the bus, but you know, here she was taking photos for this book on how wonderful Morning Time is and I was so frustrated because I had a child who just did not want to participate despite the fact that we had cleared everything in advance and was just being so grumpy about it. And you know, it's tough because it was the day that the photographer was here. But one of the things that I had to remind myself is this was just one day out of so many other really good days.
Today, that same kid was laughing their head off with everyone else. We were going over the economic systems. We read about that in Morning Time this morning, I'll share a link to that for you in the show notes. So you could share it with your teens. It got a lot of laughs and that child just had a really great attitude and was really having a good time.
So just because someone is grumpy, doesn't mean that your Morning Time is absolutely ruined. Even if you do have a photographer there taking pictures, it just means, you know, you've captured it for posterity is also okay if people fight sometimes in your Morning Time, actually, this happens so often with so many different families. We made an entire podcast episode about what to do when your kids are fighting in Morning Time.
And so I'll link you to episode 109 with Lynna Sutherland. She's got some great tips there. People are going to fight sometimes and it is completely okay. It doesn't mean that your Morning Time is ruined or Morning Time is not a good thing for your family. It's also okay if Morning Time makes a huge mess in your home. Now this used to drive me crazy.
We would get to the end of Morning Time and there would be a massive mess all over the place. And now it was time for us to kind of move into our independent work. And it looked like a craft store had absolutely exploded all over my table. I was frustrated over this, but you know what? It's actually a good thing. It was a really good thing because my kids were just doing so many different things during that Morning Basket time.
And so what I did was I solved the problem. I decided that we would play a song at the end of Morning Time. We used Sugar, Sugar by the Archie's. Don't ask me why I have no idea. It was on a playlist. We were listening to at the time the kids loved it. So we made it our cleanup song after Morning Time.
And we would just clean up every day. So I didn't let it ruin my Morning Time that there was this big, huge mess. I would play this song that was about three and a half, four minutes long. And my kids were happy to try to beat the song by getting everything cleaned up and moving into their other work. And then another thing I've kind of had to come to terms with is these days, sometimes somebody walks out of the room while I'm doing Morning Time. No, I'm not going to tell you it doesn't drive me nuts. It does. But I realized a couple of things. First of all, they typically come back fairly quickly. You know, they're either going to the bathroom or going to the kitchen to get something.
Or every once in a while, it's like, oh, I want to run upstairs and get my blanket or, or something like that. So they typically come back very quickly. And you know, I had to remember that I didn't put my kids in school because I don't want them to have to raise their hand to go to the bathroom. You know, I think that that's kind of silly.
That's like we don't do that in our homeschool. And so I had to come to realize that that sometimes means that a kid's going to wander out and then wander back in again and come to terms with it. And so does my Morning Time look perfect. No, sometimes it looks like somebody wanders out for a minute or so, and then comes back.
So those are some of the ways that a Morning Time could be less than perfect. Some of the things that could possibly drive us crazy, but it's okay. It's absolutely.
Okay. So how can we overcome some of the feelings of frustration and perfectionism that sometimes rear their heads and make us just want to throw up our hands and give up the whole thing altogether? Well, the first thing I want to do is say, let's start with gratitude.
I think this is a really good thing to do in your Morning Time. So maybe every Friday, have everyone in the room, just go around the room and have everyone name their favorite part of Morning Time. Now it's certainly one thing for you to sit down and write your favorite part of Morning Time, and you could do that. But I think it's also important to ask all of your children what their favorite part is because it's going to be different than yours.
And you're going to be amazed at what your kids appreciate and love. And you know what, maybe what every Friday is a little too often, maybe you're going to want to do it once a month, but then you're going to realize that even with the messiness, this is so worth it. And if you would like to keep notes of this and write down your Morning Time memories each month, we actually have a Morning Time journal and planner. That's absolutely perfect for this. It's got a spread in it for each month of the year, and you can keep a record of the favorite things you read, the favorite songs that you sang, all of the favorite activities that you did. There's a place for you to ask your kids what, what they enjoyed and jot all of that down. There's even a side of the page where you could put in pictures if you wanted to or make even more lists or write out free hand, what you really enjoyed. And so that Morning Time journal is the perfect place to keep track of what you and your kids love about Morning Time, and just be grateful for it.
Speaking of the planner, another way that you can overcome perfectionism is use the planner pages in there, so the planner, the journal planner has the monthly journal pages, but it also has weekly planner pages. And what I love about them is, is if you are using an outside resource, like a set of Morning Time plans, or you're searching Pinterest and finding a bunch of different ideas and blog posts, or you're just coming up with something on your own, just write down a few things that you want to do on that weekly plan and give yourself permission to let the rest of it go. So when you open up that planner for the week, what you have in front of you are only the things that you're willing to do, and you're not still looking at all of the things that you are quote, unquote, not going to get to. And so that just gives you permission to just follow the little plan you've created and leave the rest of it. So if I were using this with a set of our Morning Time plans, I would look at the Morning Time plans and say, I'm willing to do these subjects. I'm going to put them in my planner.
I'm not even going to look at the Morning Time plans now because I have my plan in front of me right here, and I could even call it the perfect plan if I want to now better not do that, because something will happen that I don't get to some of it, and I've got to move it to the next week.
And the last thing is, don't have a set amount of things or a set time that you're, you're trying to fill for Morning Time. So, you know, if you say, we're going to do this, this and this today, a loop schedule is perfect for something like this, where you're like, you know, we're just going to do Morning Time, and we're going to get to what we feel like on this loop.
We're going to continue to go down and then loop back up to the top. And I actually have a podcast that I can link for you in the show notes, all about looping and other kinds of schedules, but you might also say, oh, you know what, every day we're going to do Morning Time for an hour. Well, you might not. I mean, you might get to 30 minutes in and the toddlers diaper explodes and the whole thing falls apart while you're cleaning up. And so it's okay. Go as long as you feel like going, but don't have this kind of standard in your head, this expectation in your head of what a quote unquote, real Morning Time looks like. So, you know, do it as many days as you can do it for as long as you can and, and just kind of roll with the flow of it. But don't set these expectations up in your head of what it's supposed to look like. Just say, we're going to enjoy being together today for as long as it lasts, we're going to enjoy being together this week for as many days as we can.
And that's what we're going to do. So I really want to encourage you to not fall into any of these perfectionism traps, because I think the more we can stay away from these and the looser we can leave our Morning Time plans. And I do think there should be Morning Time plans. I do think there should be something that we know we're going to do, because if you haven't planned to do something, you're not going to do anything, but leave those plans very loosely held. Leave what mourning time looks like in your home, what it looks like in your head, what it looks like in your heart, very loose so that you can just focus on enjoying being together, your going to appreciate it more. Your kids are going to appreciate it more, and it's going to be something you can sustain for the long haul, which is exactly what we are after.
I have a lot of links for you for this episode. I'm going to drop them in the show notes for you. You can find those, and you'll also find links over there to the Morning Time journal and planner and the new gather book.
We would also like to thank everyone who has taken the time to leave a rating or review for the Your Morning Basket podcast in your favorite podcast app, the ratings and reviews that you lead actually encourage the podcast app to share our podcast with more new listeners. And so we really appreciate it when you take the time to do that.
And if you haven't done that and you would like to, there are usually instructions right in your podcast app on how to leave a rating or review for the show. So thank you so much. Now I will be back again in two weeks, I'm going to be joined by a very special guest Amber O'Neal Johnston. And she's going to be talking to me all about celebrating cultural heritage through art music and poetry. So this is going to be a really fun podcast, and I can't wait to have Amber on as a guest. And I can't wait to have you come back and join us for that one. Until then keep seeking truth, goodness, and beauty in your homeschool day.

Key Ideas about Perfectionism in Morning Time

  • Perfectionism is a huge barrier to Morning Time. If we try too hard to make Morning Time perfect, and we realize that it isn’t always, we will be tempted to give up.
  • Being a perfectionist ourselves can teach our kids the wrong lessons. We want them to learn that it’s okay to not be perfect.
  • It can be tempting to look over at the way another family does Morning Time and try to replicate it. Don’t! Make Morning Time work for your family, with your kid’s ages and abilities.
  • When using pre-made Morning Time plans, pick what you want to do and leave the rest. And, it’s okay if Morning Time doesn’t happen every day.

Find what you want to hear:

  • 3:11 perfectionism pitfalls
  • 13:36 you make the rules in Morning Time
  • 18:06 grumpy attitudes and other Morning Time troubles
  • 23:11 ways to overcome perfectionism

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