Everyone feels like a failure as a homeschool mom at one time or another. In this episode, I take a new look at failure, so that you can emerge victorious from the ashes of seeming defeat.
Be encouraged — you are not alone!
This episode is sponsored by Save Your Sanity While Homeschooling High School.
Save Your Sanity is one of my books, and it’s all about preventing these feelings of failure by finding out what really is required and also what’s not necessary, and then setting yourself up with reasonable expectations about how this homeschooling high school thing can and should go down for your family. In fact, the very first chapter is called What You Don’t Need To Do! There are also chapters about searching for colleges and what to look for, how to get your teen going on independent learning or maintaining that, also a great chapter towards the end on maintaining that relationship with your teen.
You can read Save Your Sanity at any time during your homeschool high school journey and be encouraged by it. And it’s definitely very applicable this time of the year to help your mindset be one where you are not feeling bogged down. Click here for more information: Save Your Sanity While Homeschooling High School: Practical Principles for a Firm Foundation.
Episode 94: Help! I’m a Failure as a Homeschool Mom!
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Ann Karako: Hi, this is Ann Karako, and you are listening to Episode 94 of the It’s Not That Hard to Homeschool High School podcast.
Welcome to another episode of It’s Not That Hard to Homeschool High School, the podcast for real people so that you can confidently, competently, and, yes, even contentedly provide the high school education that is best for your teen and your family. I’m your host Ann Karako from notthathardtohomeschool.com.
Hello, everyone, and welcome. It’s been a little while since I’ve sat here at the mic. I think most of December and definitely all of January, I took a break, which always helps me each year to just clear my brain and get ready to get going again, so I’m back. Yay. I hope that’s good news. [laughs] It’s a cold and snowy day here. It’s not actually snowing at this point, but we did have several days of snow earlier in the week and it’s remained cold, so the snow is still on the ground.
We’re utilizing the wood stove today instead of the central heat, which means that my office gets cold. Normally, that’s fine. I’ve got a space heater for in there, but I can’t use the space heater right now because it makes noise [laughs] and that would show up on the recording. That’s my dedication, y’all. I’m here in the cold. I do have a blanket on. [laughs] Not going to lie, but I’m here to record this podcast so we can get the schedule going again, and I’m excited about that.
Today, what I want to talk about is something that it’s very easy to start to experience or feel this time of year, especially when the days are short, it’s cold. We can get down in the dumps, in the slumps, if you will, and feel like we are a failure. I’m a failure as a homeschool mom or I’m a failure at homeschooling high school. These are the types of things that we can start to feel.
Now, I did a podcast episode already, either that, or it was a blog article. I can’t remember which, but I’ll find it and link to it about what defines success. I’m not going to talk too much about that. Instead, I want to talk about failure and how we look at failure and what does it really mean. Why do you feel like a failure? Why do you feel like you’re failing at homeschooling or homeschooling high school in particular?
For many, it’s because their kid is failing, right? They’re not learning. They’re stuck in math. Maybe they’re not finishing their credits very quickly, so they’re getting way “behind,” or maybe there’s just this general idea that you’re not being as effective as you think you should be or you want to be. You’re feeling like a failure because of that. It’s not like anything, in particular, is horribly wrong, but all of it together is not the package, not what you thought it was going to be, and you feel like you’re failing because of that.
I want to talk about failure of all kinds or that feeling of failure and see if we can address that. First of all, let’s make this point, [chuckles] and that is, guess what, everybody fails sometimes, right? Everybody fails at something sometimes, or maybe a better way to put it is you can’t win all the time. You can’t be great at everything. Maybe your kid’s struggling with a particular subject and not getting very good grades at all, or maybe you’re just feeling like you’re less than as a homeschool mom.
Is it absolutely necessary to be the greatest homeschool mom on the planet? Maybe it’s not your gift per se, but you’re doing it anyway. That is something to be proud of. I’ve always hated cooking, right? [chuckles] I’ve always hated it. I did say to somebody once, but I still cooked every night for years to feed my family. I wasn’t very good at it. The meals maybe weren’t that great, but I did it because I knew it needed to be done.
That’s a win in my book, right? The same thing is true here. Maybe you aren’t that creative. Maybe your kids aren’t going on field trips or, I don’t know, any number of things that you think you should be doing better or differently that you’re not. You can’t be great at everything. There are other aspects to life that we’re trying to also do and you can’t be great at everything.
Here’s another story for my life. I’ve recently started playing competitive Wordle, [laughs] which is nothing more than playing the game every day. Me and two other friends, we compare our scores daily, and then we add those up over the long haul so that the first person that reaches 75 points is the loser because the high score is worse. At that point, where the first person reaches 75 points, then we look to see who was the winner, which is the person who has the least points.
Here’s the deal. I’ve been reaching 75 points first most of the time. It’s been really humiliating, humbling. Oh, my goodness. I used to think I had a good vocabulary, that I was good at word things and in other applications. Maybe I am, but at Wordle, I’m not that great. I’m just not that great. It’s been challenging to maintain a positive attitude and the attitude of affirming the other two when they do well and I do horrible. [laughs]
I want to go in a corner and sulk, but guess what? We can’t all be good at everything. I can accept the fact that I’m not as great at Wordle as my other two friends are. I can accept that now. Now, it took me a little while to work through it. I’m not great at Wordle. That’s okay. I don’t have to win all the time. The same thing is true about homeschooling. Your kid doesn’t have to get all A’s. You don’t have to be the best homeschool mom on the planet. It’s okay.
I think one of my blog articles says, “It’s okay to be ordinary.” It is okay to be ordinary. Totally fine. I’m sure you rock at other things. I’m sure you’re stellar at other things. You don’t have to be stellar at everything. Here’s another thought about failure. Imperfection is not failure. This sounds similar to what I was just saying, but it’s also different. Imperfection can take many forms. Maybe your kid isn’t as diligent as they ought to be or their study skills are not that great or, again, they’re not getting the higher grades.
They’re getting B’s and C’s rather than A’s and B’s that you were hoping to see, or you lost your temper today, [laughs] or you didn’t get as much done today. I hear all of this. I really, really do, but guess what? Imperfection is a thing that we all have. [laughs] If perfection is the standard, we’re all in trouble. Don’t try to be perfect. Don’t expect others to be perfect. Give yourself and others grace.
I was in a class recently where they talked about the 80-20 rule. 80% of the time, be as great as you can be. The 20% of the time that you’re not, that’s very normal, okay? In fact, it’s healthier to be aiming for 80-20 and to be accepting of 80-20 than to be aiming for 100% and beating yourself up all the time because you’re not there. Same with your kids. These are life lessons that if we take them to our own hearts, we can impart them to our children and equip them to be stronger through the rest of their lives than we’ve been, right?
Here’s another thing about imperfection. Sometimes you can work and make it better. It’s still not going to be perfect, but you can make imperfection less imperfect by studying up on something and doing the work to improve it. If there’s a concrete thing you can do with that imperfection, you have a route to take. That’s helpful too. Another thought about imperfection is this often rears its head when we’re trying to do too much.
We can do a few things well. We can’t do a lot of things well generally. Are you giving your kid too many credits to get through? Are you signing everybody up for too many activities? Are you spreading yourself too thin throughout the day by how you’ve scheduled, how you work with each kid throughout the day? Are you trying to do all the housecleaning instead of delegating chores to your kids?
There’s any number of ways where we can get bogged down because we’re just literally trying to do too much. Margin is an important part of life. Every once in a while, you got to sit down and have a cup of coffee or take a nap. It needs to be okay. Here’s a big one. Still, for me, this is a big one is good, old comparison, right? Don’t you feel like a failure most of the time when you are comparing yourself and what you do to what other people are doing?
The reason I say this is still a thing for me is I’ll be scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. Social media is the pits when it comes to comparison. I’ll be scrolling through them and these homeschool moms will be on there. The big homeschool bloggers, you know who they are, and they’re telling about how they did this wonderful thing and that wonderful thing. I’m not even homeschooling anymore. I think, “Wow, I never did that.” [laughs]
I’m regretfully comparing myself to the past retroactively. That’s the word I want. I’m retroactively comparing myself. How silly is that? That’s what we do. We find ways to compare ourselves negatively. When we are comparing ourselves to somebody else, we are doing it negatively. Now, is it healthy to do it positively all the time either? No, of course not, so let’s stop comparing altogether. We are doing our thing. They are doing their thing. I get that we follow these people so that we can get ideas and stuff.
If you’re like me, generally, it just means that I am beating myself up for not being as effective as these ladies who then are also blogging and putting out Instagram reels and all of this stuff. They look so happy and healthy and cheerful all the time and you’re just like, “Don’t you ever have a bad day?” [laughs] Because I sure did and do. Anyway, beware the comparison trap, I guess, is what I’m trying to say because then you’re going to feel more like a failure more of the time.
Here’s another thing we need to do when it comes to “failure.” We need to redefine it. Let’s stop using the F-word [laughs] as far as the “failure” word. Let’s start using the word “feedback” instead. Failure does not have to be called failure. It can be called feedback. Guess what? You tried something and it didn’t go so well. That’s not a failure. You learned from that. You learned what not to do and you also gained insight on what to do differently or better next time. Instead of calling it trial and error, let’s call it trial and learning.
You try something and no matter which way it goes, you have learned something from it. This is called having a growth mindset, where we are seeing every little thing as opportunities for growth. Even as I say that, I’m kicking myself for something that happened this morning where I didn’t do that. All of these things are lifelong mindsets to cultivate and they don’t happen overnight obviously. The thing is failure can lead to growth if you let it. If you sit there and you wallow in it, there ain’t going to be no growth happening then.
This next little tip is something I’ve said so many times. I bet you can predict it, and that is it’s time to revisit your why for homeschooling and your why for homeschooling high school. Why are you doing this? Is it so your kids will get good grades? Is it so you can feel like more of an accomplished person and hold your head up high amongst other homeschool moms? Is that why we’re doing this? Is it because we want to make our identity out of how good we are as a homeschool mom?
None of those should be your why. [laughs] I’m just going to say that. Use the “should” word right there. What are your whys? For many of us, certainly, in my family, our most important why was the character development of our kids. Guess what? Any kind of failure is a great character development tool to use for your kids. They get used to the idea of failure and they learn how to overcome it, how to work through it, how to process it, and how to come out better. Another big why in our family was the relationships.
Here’s another great relationship-building tool as failure if you approach it right. If you approach failure as, “Hey, kid, you messed up, and you got to fix this and this and this,” probably not going to be so helpful for the relationship. Instead, if you say, “Hey, we need to talk about this. This could have been better. What are some things we can do?” or even, “You know what? I get this. I did the exact same thing when I was your age, but it’s not a good idea. Let’s see what a better option would be.”
All sorts of ways to approach your teen in the moment of failure to build that relationship rather than just force some kind of compliance, so let’s look at failure differently and let’s take a look at our whys. If you are being successful in the area of your whys, are you developing their character? Are you developing the relationship? If those are happening, then you are being successful homeschooling, and none of the rest matters.
Whatever your whys may be, are those things happening? If you haven’t determined what your why is and you’re just taken each day trying to get through the day and you don’t have a bigger picture for why you’re even doing this, then it’s time to stop and sit down and write that out so that on the bad days, you can go back and look at it and remind yourself, “Okay, this is just one bad day, but all of these things are actually moving forward.”
I’ve got an entire article on that and also a chapter in the book, Save Your Sanity. This is as good a time as any to say that this episode is sponsored by the book, Save Your Sanity While Homeschooling High School. It’s going to help you avoid these feelings of failure because it’s going to set you up for success with reasonable expectations and with an understanding of what is reality versus what are our pie-in-the-sky vision of homeschooling.
It’s not a downer of a book by any means and it gives a lot of practical advice, but it will definitely save your sanity because it will help you decide what is necessary to do and what’s not necessary to do and how to make it all happen without coming apart. [chuckles] I’ll leave the link below and it’s on the website. If you go to notthathardtohomeschool.com and click on Shop and scroll down, you’ll see it there. You can also purchase it on Amazon and that’s called again Save Your Sanity While Homeschooling High School.
Last but not least, I want to remind you that everything, anything can be overcome. Any “failure,” even the catastrophic ones over time can be overcome. None of these things mean that life is over as we know it. It may be difficult for a little while. There may be some consequences involved, but it’s all possible to be overcome if we are willing to put aside our own idealistic agenda and really work with our kid and who they are and accept them as they are while all the time encouraging them towards growth.
Be encouraged yourself. There is so much good happening each and every day in your homeschool. Recognize it. Keep your eyes out for it. Celebrate the little wins because then they add up to big wins. Celebrate each day. Even if it was a bad one, say, “Well, okay, today was a learning day, but hey, it was a learning day and that’s a good day.” Hopefully, this is helpful to you.
As always, I thank you for being here. If you have any questions, feel free to put them on the comments on the podcast’s page, which is also at notthathardtohomeschool.com. Then you go to Podcast at the top menu and you scroll down and find this episode, and then you can look at the comments or you can leave a comment, I should say. All righty, y’all, it’s been a good time today. Have a great one and thanks for being here.