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This is our final Real Moms Plan episode! On this episode of the podcast, host Pam Barnhill welcomes special guest Betsy Cypress, a highly active member of our homeschool community who found herself in the unique position of homeschooling for a friend. Betsy shares her personal experience of facing unexpected disruptions in her homeschool year and offers valuable insights on how to plan for such situations.

The episode highlights the importance of having a vision statement and a structured plan to make homeschooling smoother and save money. Pam and Betsy also discuss the benefits of being part of a positive online community that provides support and resources.

Key Takeaways

  • Having a clear vision statement for your homeschool can help save money by evaluating if new ideas align with your goals.
  • Being part of a supportive homeschool community can provide valuable support and resources.
  • Planning and preparedness are key in navigating unexpected disruptions in homeschooling.
  • Establishing a rhythm and routine can help bring stability and structure to your homeschool.
  • Finding planning systems that work for you can greatly enhance your homeschooling experience.
  • Support from family, friends, and faith can make a significant difference during challenging times.
  • Sometimes, reaching out for help and support is necessary, especially when facing unique situations or challenges.
  • Flexibility and adaptability are crucial in homeschooling, as plans may not always work out perfectly.
  • Creating happy memories and addressing difficult experiences can promote a positive homeschool environment.
  • Being open to new ideas and perspectives can lead to valuable insights and growth in your homeschool journey.


Listen to the Podcast:

Unexpected Disruptions Podcast Transcript:

Pam Barnhill [00:00:03]:

It just happens sometimes your homeschool year is thrown into upheaval. and you need to be prepared to deal with it. Hi, everyone. I’m Pam Barnhill. Welcome to episode 73 of the 10 minutes to a Better Home School podcast. I am so glad that you’re here today. Today, we are talking to one of our community members, Betsy Cypress, as part of our real moms playing their homeschool year series. This is actually the last one in our series. And Betsy’s coming on to talk about today a time in her life in the recent past when her homeschool year was thrown into upheaval by a situation in her life and She was seeking support, couldn’t find that support, and one of the reasons she’s here today is to talk about how she plans for this kind of thing. but also to offer support to anyone who might be going through the same situation. So we’re gonna let Betsy tell her story. in just a minute. But before we do that, we want to let you know that put your homeschool year on autopilot is still available. This summer, we still have the course open, and we have our all day planning day coming up, and we would just love to have you join us. Put your homeschool year on autopilot is the perfect way to be prepared for any of the uncertainties that might come up in your homeschool year. You can find out more information about that at, and now on with the interview. Hi, everyone. I am joined by one of my community members and just a great friend in a wonderful support of homeschool mom in our community that Betsey Cypress today, Betsy. Welcome to the podcast. Thank you. I’m excited to be here. Well, it is so good to have you, and I want you to start off by just talking about your family and your homeschool and how you’ve homeschooled for years, and then we’re gonna kinda dip into a different situation after that. But start off by telling this about you and your family.

Betsy Cypress [00:02:05]:

Sure. So my husband and I live in the state of Missouri. We have 5 children ranging from age seventeen down to age seven.

Pam Barnhill [00:02:14]:


Betsy Cypress [00:02:15]:

And we have homeschooled since the beginning. We actually started when our oldest was 4, which I don’t recommend necessarily doing that. But so this is our 13th year homeschooling going into our 14th, and we have about 11 years left to go. Wow. Okay. So it’s so funny that you say that about starting at 4. So your youngest child, when did you start homeschooling

Pam Barnhill [00:02:37]:

that one?

Betsy Cypress [00:02:39]:

She was I mean, she kinda got swept along into it. I find the younger kids just want to start school earlier. But if I had to do it over again, I would probably start, like, real homeschooling at age six or seven. And before that, just do lots of books and lots of activities and outings and hands on things and, you know — 100%.

Pam Barnhill [00:03:04]:

You know, I never I never fight the mom who’s like, but we’re sitting here all day, and we need to do something together. I’m like, okay. Well, then let’s help find you a ton of fun activities, and we’ve got our little explorers’ early education program where there are so many great things in there that they can do. But, yeah, just don’t do the reading and the math. Right. Okay. So you found yourself in an interesting situation in the past couple years. So tell us a little bit about how your homeschool took a turn.

Betsy Cypress [00:03:34]:

So about a year and a half ago, one of my very best friends who was also a homeschool mom, beautiful homeschool mom of 4 daughters became very ill, very suddenly, and had a rapid decline and was hospitalized. And so I my husband and I talked with her husband and said, you know, why don’t I just homeschool them until she gets better. So I used to be a nurse. I knew, like, with everything that she had going on, when she gets home, she’s going to need occupational therapy and physical therapy and all these things to get better and build her strength back up to be able to take care of her her children. And so why don’t I homeschool them until she’s better? And she was had to be intubated at this time so she wasn’t able to speak or make decisions for herself or something. So that was something we worked out with her husband. We started it. It was, you know, going well with the girls being here. And then she was about to be extubated, and she actually passed away. Very suddenly, it was horrible. Yeah. Thank you. We just love her so much, and So that turned into us continuing to homeschool the girls for the last year and a half, and it was the right thing to do. It was I mean, obviously, the situation with their mother passing away was horrible, but this is, like, in those dire circumstances the best case scenario. And so we went from homeschooling 5 kids to homeschooling 9 kids.

Pam Barnhill [00:05:12]:


Betsy Cypress [00:05:14]:

And overnight and now their dad has since gotten remarried to a lovely woman, and the girls will be going to private school. next year. So I’ll be back to homeschooling 5, and then I’ll have one graduate, and then I’ll be down to 4. So it’s gonna be bambambam.

Pam Barnhill [00:05:29]:

Right. So, yeah, you went from 9 to 5, and then you’re gonna be going to 4. So, yeah, that’s not many homeschool moms have that that big of a decrease all at one time. So let’s talk about this situation where you were integrating 4 more children into your homeschool rapidly. So Was there anything out there that prepared you for that or helped with that?

Betsy Cypress [00:05:53]:

I mean, aside from God and you know, family support the support of my husband and parents and some other friends who are mutual friends. of mine and and our friend who passed away, there was really nothing. It was really by prayer. I mean, I searched and searched for someone who had been through something like that. And I’m sure they’re out there somewhere, but I was not able to find them. So I was actually thankful that I had done so much planning early on because even though you know, and my friend who passed away was also a big planner mom. So she and I would talk on thought about planning and stuff. So I was already very familiar with her homeschool approach and what they were doing in their school, which was all I mean, obviously, ordained by god. You know? But even though, obviously, I could not stick to all the plans that I had implemented from the beginning just having that plan in that base and that springboard to jump off of helped us not to be in total chaos.

Pam Barnhill [00:06:54]:

Yeah. You know, we talk about planning and preparedness. You know? And so, yeah, you weren’t able to 100% work probably her plans or your plans at that point. But just the fact that you were prepared and had things that you could pull from, it meant that you weren’t waking up on, you know, a homeschool morning going, what am I gonna do with these 9 children these day, you know, today? I think it’s trying to figure it out on the fly or trying to plan it all on Sunday for the coming week or something like that. Yeah. I really think if you hadn’t been in a position where you had been planned out, You — Mhmm. — you maybe probably wouldn’t have felt like you could even take on that responsibility and what a blessing for those girls that you were able to do it.

Betsy Cypress [00:07:39]:

Yes. Absolutely. And it it was a blessing for all of the kids and for me. Like, we had some kind of structure. And, you know, at first, There’s a lot of healing and a lot of praying and a lot of, like, we’re walking through things together, and memories would come up. And, you know, we would talk take the time to talk about those and And have happy times too and new experiences together and stuff. But so we had that. You know, they were used to a rhythm and routine my kids were used to a rhythm and routine. And so we getting back to that rhythm and routine really helped us so much. So — Yeah.

Pam Barnhill [00:08:16]:

Yeah. I bet. Okay. Well, let’s talk a little bit about planning. How long you I mean, you’ve been homeschooling for you know, a good 13 years now — Mhmm. — how long have you considered or have you always been a planner? Have you always planned everything out?

Betsy Cypress [00:08:32]:

I have always been, like, the planner kind of personality. I love checking things off when they’re done and having the list and knowing, you know, what we have what where we’re going and what we’re going to be doing. But I have not always like, when I was just homeschooling, our youngest, I really had no idea what it’s doing. I didn’t I had one friend who homeschooled. You know, I didn’t this was before I knew about Facebook groups or anything like that. And so I didn’t have everything planned out at that point so much. I did more, you know, trying to implement what I knew from the public school system. Mhmm. But I would say I’ve been really, really planning for homeschool stuff. I’m probably at least 8 years.

Pam Barnhill [00:09:19]:

Okay. 8 years. And what did you find well, how did you get introduced to the autopilot process? Was it through an ebook or a course or a book or

Betsy Cypress [00:09:30]:

So I the first book I ever read of yours was I just forgot the title. It’s the yellow book on Kindle

Pam Barnhill [00:09:39]:

That would be plan your year. Yeah. Okay. So

Betsy Cypress [00:09:43]:

alright. So I had been introduced to it that way probably. And through the community, I was trying to remember how long I’ve even been part of your community, and I can’t remember. It’s been a long time. It’s been a long time. Yeah. It’s been a long time, which I have to put a little plug in. I think it’s the most positive place on the Internet for homeschool moms. Very encouraging. Everything. So probably — I agree. yeah, probably through the plan year yearbook was how I first came to know of it. And then I really wasn’t sure if I needed that. because I thought, oh, I’m you know, I am an organized person. I already do all these things, but you just have a lot of just steps in there, things to think through that I hadn’t thought of, and just having the community too is a wonderful piece.

Pam Barnhill [00:10:30]:

Oh, I love that. Yeah. Because when you are well and I’m kind of a a obviously, I’m a planner person myself. And so sometimes I look at other systems and I’m like, oh, do I really need that other system? Is that something that I need? But off I can find, like, 1 or 2 really good nuggets in there that I walk away with that I hadn’t thought about myself that can just shift you know — Yeah. — change the paradigm and make me feel like, oh, the like, this is so important. This is what I needed. Let me ask you this. What is your favorite planning step of the 10 different steps that we have?

Betsy Cypress [00:11:07]:

I think, for me, the I have lots of favorites. The most satisfying is probably, I guess, like, I do a modified lesson plan list when you talk about the lesson plan list. where I go through we do a lot of living books in our homeschool, and we do definitely use curriculum, but not as heavy on the curriculum side of some of my friends. And so I go through and pace out our books for the year over certain so I love doing the lesson plan list. portion, you know, in getting that all ready. It makes me feel like, okay. If we had to start tomorrow, you know, we could go ahead and do this. So

Pam Barnhill [00:11:45]:

Right. I love that. Yeah. That’s one of my favorite things too. And now the lesson plan list is kind of a replacement for the traditional grid method of laying out your homeschool week, you know, where you would sit with your week in front of you and you would say, okay. On Monday, we’re gonna do this lesson in science and this lesson in in this lesson in language arts. Instead, we teach you how to make these lists that are subject list, and they’re independent of dates and days of the weeks. Did you ever plan in a grid before? I did very much so. And how did that work out for you?

Betsy Cypress [00:12:22]:

with 5 kids or 9 kids. It’s a little rough. It can be a cruel taskmaster. I’ll tell you that.

Pam Barnhill [00:12:32]:

Yeah. It’s I could definitely see how having that many moving parts and that many kids being able to use that list a plan as opposed to that grid, conferring just a little more sanity to your homeschool for sure. So, Betsy, if somebody’s on the fence about picking up autopilot and going through the course this summer and using some of our planning resources, what would you tell them?

Betsy Cypress [00:12:54]:

I mean, for me, it has been invaluable. I love it. I I come back to it all the time, make sure that I’m sticking to like, my vision statement that I never thought I really needed until I took your course that went ahead and created. And That alone has saved me so much money because you go back and you check does this really fit our vision, or am I getting caught up and the exciting thing I saw on a YouTube video or, like, the thing that my friend is talking about in the homeschool community that I’m suddenly questioning am I doing, you know, am I doing the right thing? Am I doing enough for my kids? I can go back to the vision that my husband and I wrote and looked at and make sure that before I add something else in, you know, it it fits with that. And so that alone, I mean, if you’re worried about the cost or something that has saved me a lot of money. And the other moms in the community, I think it has saved them a lot of money too. and then just having things laid out. And, you know, if you don’t end up sticking to the plan perfectly, that’s okay. But You have it laid out there. You have that springboard, and you may need to trim it down because you get overly zealous and eager with your planning. So perhaps you need to trim it down, but you still have your base and your structure at the end. And it really does make for a much smoother homeschool year.

Pam Barnhill [00:14:18]:

I would recommend it. I love it. Music to my ears, a much smoother homeschool year, and save you money. I can’t tell you how many times that vision has saved me money as well. So for sure. Well, Betsy, thank you so much for coming on today and talking to us about planning. And I just wanna let you know, Betsy is a very active member of our of our community. So if you do find yourself in a situation where anything that’s similar to what Betsy did, where you’re homeschooling for someone else or your year has just been kind of thrown into upheaval and you’re looking for support. Do come find us at Barnhill we can definitely hook you up with Betsy in there and some other moms because you’re right. It is. And I can say that it’s one of the most supportive places online because I’m not responsible for the community part. We have wonderful people who do that part, and they do just such a fabulous job, Don Garrett, our community manager, and then the other members of the team over there really do make it a welcoming place. So Betsy’s there. If you need to talk to her, she would like to provide the support that that she couldn’t find for herself. So thanks, Betsy.

Betsy Cypress [00:15:27]:

Thank you.

Pam Barnhill [00:15:32]:

And there you have it. Now if you would like information about any of the resources that that C and I chatted about today or a link to the community at homeschool better together. You can find them on the show notes for this episode. that’s And you can also find information about our autopilot course there as well. Now I will be back again in a couple of weeks. We’re gonna be talking about foreign language in your homeschool so you don’t want to miss that episode. Until then, keep on homeschooling.


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