Mom Guilt: How to Escape its Talons

Mom Guilt. Or, more accurately, Parent Guilt. It’s real. And it eats away at our confidence to parent with peace and connectedness. But does it have to?

I’ve been pondering this a lot lately as I navigate a new phase of parenting. With all six kids now school-age, our days are bursting at the seams with activities, leaving me breathless most days.

Questions swirl through my head. Did I spend enough time with the littlest today? Do I need to ramp up my efforts with science experiments for the nine-year-old? How can I help my teen through his math anxiety? The questions are endless. Essentially they are all asking…


Am I doing enough?

These questions can lead to a barrage of negative thoughts about all the ways we’re not living up to our expectations and ideals. I didn’t read picture books to the little one. I didn’t take the time to sit with the teen and work through those math problems. I didn’t play that game that I promised.

In reality, the day could have flowed smoothly, but somehow I ended up focusing on all of the things I didn’t do, instead of those I did. I read aloud for an hour while the youngest four played with legos. I settled in next to the teen to listen to him share about the thoughts that have been rolling around in his mind. I prepared a healthy dinner that nourished us all. I drove an hour and a half to swim practice and played with my kids in the pool while we were there.

I feel the constant tug between guilt and good enough daily.  Recently, though, I started dabbling in mindfulness meditation with the 10% Happier app. It has helped me start to be more aware, more mindful, of when the questions and negative thoughts pop up. And boy, do they pop up more often than I realized!  

I am learning to let the thoughts flow without judging myself (at least some of the time). I know this is just the beginning of the journey and that I will always be evolving with it,  but I am trusting the process.

I am constantly surprised that just by naming the feeling, its power over me dissipates. “Hey, there’s that mom guilt!” Poof! Just by calling it out, by being mindful that these thoughts are popping up, I’m able to intentionally shift my focus from the negative, can’t-do-enough attitude, to the wow-I-did-a-lot today viewpoint.

Why am I fighting myself?

One of the most recent videos I watched on the app explained how we, as humans, seem wired to look for challenges even when everything is flowing smoothly. Wow! Truth bomb!

While I’m glad to know that I’m not alone in this, I’m sad that we seem to be fighting ourselves so often. This makes me even more eager to explore mindfulness as a way to step outside the cycle.

After some pondering, I am trying to reframe my constant questioning and worrying from the negative to a new, more gentle view. I am leaning into a new view of my questions. My questions are a self-reflection on the heart of my family.  My questions bring me closer to the truth for my family right now.

This may seem overly simplistic and obvious, but when we are stuck in this cycle of questioning → negative thoughts → questioning → self-doubt, it can be challenging to step aside and see it in a new light. By pausing to reframe my questions, I slow the way they swirl in my head and begin to sift through them to find their core.

Questions lead us to new insight

Our questions are a good thing! The essence of each one is asking, “Am I giving what I can right now?” Sometimes that answer may be, “No, I can carve out ten minutes in the morning to read to my little girl.” But sometimes, the answer is, “Yes, I am giving all I can right now and that is enough.”

I am learning to embrace this question, not to produce guilt, but as a beacon to guide my daily decisions, encouraging me to stay in tune with my family's needs. Embracing mindfulness is gifting me with the grace to watch the ebb and flow of these thoughts without judging them or myself. Questions that arise from mom guilt are simply tools on the journey of connected, peaceful parenting.

It is my hope that you find peace in your questions and that they bring you closer to your family’s truth.

A Brave Writer Inspired Homeschool Planning Guide

If you don't already know, I'm a huge fan of the Brave Writer Lifestyle.  That's because it's much, much more than writing guides or a homeschool curriculum.  It is a lifestyle.  Of connection.  Of flexibility.  Of engaged learning.  All of which I want in my home and I'm guessing you do too.

To allow for the flexibility the Brave Writer Lifestyle offers, I created a Brave Writer Inspired homeschool planning guide.  It's nothing more than a graphic that I've printed off and tucked into the front of my planner.  But despite it's simplicity, it has become an integral part of my monthly, weekly, and sometimes daily planning.

I learned long ago that for things to flow smoothly in our homeschool and for us to make the most of our precious days together, I need to be intentional with our time.  I need to think ahead to include things like Poetry Tea Time or a trip to the theater. 

The graphic lists core learning areas that we intend to work on each week, sometimes multiple times a week.  Our work with The Wand ,  The Arrow , and The Writer's Jungle are part this time.  The bi-weekly section are activities, we typically enjoy every other week,  while the Block schedule section lists the subjects that we aim to explore in an extended block of time throughout the month.  Sometimes we get to all three in a week, but some months we find ourselves immersed in a science or history topic that we just don't want to pull away from.

The icing on the cake are the things we sprinkle throughout the year.  Our Documentary Day   and family movie night happen quite regularly, especially during the winter months.  Party school, a time when we celebrate a topic we're learning about through a themed party, happens only 2-3 times a year. 

As you can see, there is a lot of flexibility with this approach.  If you're a family that loves science, maybe that would be listed in Core Learning.  Perhaps you have a co-op day so you need to do a long math block on Thursdays.  With the Brave Writer Lifestyle, you can do that!  The beauty is that every family can tailor it to their own needs and interests.  You can take some.  Leave some.  Change it up.  Whatever works for you.  In doing so, I think you'll find the engaged learning and connection with your kids that is at that heart of a happy homeschool.  Feel free to pin a copy from my Pinterest page.  Happy Homeschooling!

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Nurtured Roots receives compensation at no cost to you.  Thank you!}


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Homeschool Encouragement: 21 Posts from Inspiring Moms

2017 has arrived!  Over the past few weeks, I've enjoyed looking back over the blogs of fellow homeschoolers, re-reading the posts that encouraged me throughout 2016.  Here, I've gathered together some of my favorites about Connecting with Our Kids, Encouragement for the Homeschool Mom, Self Care & Awesome Adulting, Creative Homeschooling and Sharing Poetry with Our Kids.  I hope you'll find a nugget of wisdom, a seed of inspiration as you prepare for the year ahead!  Happy New Year!

Connecting with Our Kids

Why Focus on Building Relationships in our Homeschool by Jessica @ Intentional in Life

Curious Over Furious by Heather @ wellermomma blog

Educating the Tortoise and the Hare by Amanda @ Raising daVinci


Encouragement for the Homeschool Mom

Homeschooling Translated featured here at Nurtured Roots

Quitting is the Greatest Victory featured here at Nurtured Roots

Comparison - Thief of Joy and Happiness by Nadine @ Up Above the Rowan Tree

Tackling Mommy Guilt by Mary @ Not Before 7

Homeschooling Mama, Do You Need Some Encouragement? by Dachelle @ Hide the Chocolate

Creative Homeschooling

Better Learning through Board Gaming by Lynna @ Homeschooling Without Training Wheels

The Unique Power of the Homeschool Parent: Innovation by Mary @ Not Before 7

Day in the Life of a Working Homeschool Mom by Amanda @ Raising daVinci

Creating a Home-Centered Homeschool Room by Melissa @ Soaring Arrows

Why I've Flipped Our Homeschool Routine by Nadine @ Up Above the Rowan Tree

Brown Paper Packages by Jenny @ Where Life is Real

Sharing Poetry
with our Kids

100 Poetry Books for Kids by Lynna @ Homeschooling without Training Wheels

Tips for Reading Poetry by Jenny @ Where Life is Real

The Endearing Art of Poetry Tea Time by Melissa @ Soaring Arrows








Quitting is the Greatest Victory

You know the saying. “Quitters never win and winners never quit.” Well, it’s wrong. Yep! Just plain wrong. Sure, there is something to be said for persevering and sweating your way to your goal. Hard work is commendable and often necessary. But what if quitting is just as admirable and essential? I think that it is. Here’s why.

At the end of the summer, I did what I have done at the end of every summer for as long as we have been homeschooling. I made plans. Lots and lots of plans. And schedules and checklists and booklists. I crafted a beautifully, synchronized symphony of chores, music lessons, sports, and learning activities for six kids. It was a masterpiece. All laid out on the paper.

Our “school year” began and, lo and behold, it worked. For three days. That’s it! Three days!

Don’t get me wrong. I tried for weeks to maintain the smooth flow of those first glorious days when every box was checked. But the truth is. I was tired. It takes an obscene amount of energy to do it ALL. And quite frankly, I’m not cut out to do it all. So, I quit!

Yep. After four weeks of trudging through four math lessons a day, four language arts lesson, history, geography, science, art, music, nursery rhymes, and salt dough making while overseeing countless other trivial details like meals and laundry, I just quit. Not the exasperated why-is-this-so-hard-quit. (Though I have done that before.) But the there-is-no-possible-way-to-do-it-all quit.

What’s the difference? Not much unless you experience a shift in perspective when you throw in the towel. And for me, that’s what happened. When I fully grasped that my approach to homeschooling wasn’t working, and even more humbly admitted that my approach didn’t reflect my view of learning or values about family, then and only then could I fully quit. Knowing that in quitting I was allowing myself the biggest victory I had ever experienced.

You see, in that moment, flooded with realization and crystal clear vision, I knew that continuing on in our old, familiarly uncomfortable patterns, shuffling kids through lessons without ever feeling fully connected, wasn’t working. It was actually doing more harm than good. My patience was stretched thinner than the threads of a spider web, and exasperation was my new tone of voice.

So it was time. Time to quit and walk away.

white flag.jpg

Waving the flag of surrender was simultaneously liberating and terrifying. Self-doubt crept in from every side. Maybe you’re just not cut out for this. Why did you think you could homeschool all these kids? What were you thinking?

But fortunately, my more optimistic self stood up and shouted, “You can do this if you do it your way!”

What? What was that? My way? I would have to fashion my own mold? Clear my own path? Find my own homeschooling voice?


For once I didn’t go searching books and blogs for answers, looking for someone else’s ideals to guide me. Instead, I looked into the eyes of my children and the heart of family. What I found was an absolute, all-out love affair with books and conversation. A deep trust of natural learning. And an even deeper desire for connectedness.

From here, from these pillars, I have begun to re-build. Now, instead of rushing through the checklists, we linger....reading for hours, playing games, memorizing math facts, building block towers and more importantly, nurturing relationships. The days still feel full to bursting and chaos flows freely as before, but I have found something that before felt like an elusive dream. Peace.

I have to laugh. I never thought that in quitting and throwing it all away, we would gain so much. Because, like most people, I believed that quitters never win. But not now. I’m proud to call myself a quitter. I quit seeking and looked within. I quit putting the opinions of others above the truth in my heart. I quit trying to meet the expectations I thought I were needed. As a family, we quit being anything other than what we are and what we may yet become. Us.

The best part is that you can find the same peace, your own greatest victory, if only you have the courage to quit.

The Big Book Pile-Up revisited

Big Book Pile Up large

*This is a re-post from last year's reading challenge, but it still speaks to me today. * To have the free printables emailed to you, click here.

The Big Book Pile-Up came from my desire to get our read-aloud time out of the rut it is in. Our book choices sometimes feel uninspired. Our enthusiasm waning, not because we don’t love reading aloud together, but because reading aloud with a toddler (and this toddler in particular) has its challenges. I am determined not to let this become an excuse. Reading aloud is too important for the intellectual and emotional development of our children to allow ourselves to become apathetic in our attempts.

With World Read Aloud on March 4thDay coming , I decided to give our read-aloud time a kick-start, to bring it from mediocre to the joyful family time I know it can be. Together with my children, we created a list of book categories to introduce or reacquaint us (and you if you choose to join us and I really, really hope you do!) with books of all kinds. Not only will we meet great books and characters and ideas but we’ll get to know each other better through our discussions and just enjoy spending time together. The list of suggestions offers a variety of genres and topics and is meant to be a spring of inspiration. I am not sure how we will approach the list just yet. Will we start at the top? Bottom? Somewhere in the middle? Use it as more of a checklist and read a selection each day? I do know that we will try to read from a variety of sources; picture books, novels, stories from children’s literary magazines, and whatever else we can get our hands-on. We may add other genres or topics that spark our interest or skip the ones that just don’t seem to be working for us right now. The most important thing is that we’ll read together everyday!

We’ve got a trip to the library planned in the next few days and an amazon cart brimming with some books that I want to make sure we read even if we can’t find them at our local library.

Each day I’ll be sharing what we’re reading and how our adventure is going. I hope that you’ll do the same!

Here’s the reading list!

  1. Read a picture book
  2. Read non-fiction
  3. Read a Newberry award winner
  4. Read a book about a famous person
  5. Read some poetry
  6. Listen to an audio book
  7. Read a newly published book
  8. Read a book you’ve read before
  9. Read an alphabet book
  10. Read a book about food and cook together
  11. Read a classic book
  12. Read a Greek Myth
  13. Read some Shakespeare
  14. Read a fairy tale
  15. Read a version of the same fairy tale from another country
  16. Read about history
  17. Read about math
  18. Read about nature
  19. Read about friendship
  20. Read from a book by your favorite author
  21. Begin a chapter book
  22. Read a book about art
  23. Read a book about music
  24. Read a rhyming book
  25. Read a book by an author you’ve never read before
  26. Read a book about a science topic
  27. Read a fable, folktale, or tall tale
  28. Read a fantasy
  29. Read a wordless book
  30. Read a book that has won the Caldecott Medal

Happy Reading!

Monday Mindset: Dear Frustrated Mama...,


Monday Mindset

Because sometimes, a shift in perspective is all you need.

Dear Frustrated Mama Trying to Teach Her Boy to Read,

        I am not going to beat around the bush or try to soften the blow. The frustration that you’re feeling because your boy wants to sled rather than sit; it’s positively typical, and typically positive. Try not to take it personally even though it feels like a stab to the heart every time he whines about learning to read even though he asked you to teach him.
        His protest is against the hard work that it takes to learn something new, not against you. But you chose to be the one to teach your child to read, and so you must also face the hard work. Don’t whine in your grown-up way of cajoling him to read a little more, sit a little longer.
       Instead, have a conversation. Talk to your boy. You can do that. Acknowledge that it’s hard work and ask him how much he thinks he can do today. If it’s only a little, then celebrate. If it’s a lot, then celebrate. Your child has asked you to help him learn to read because he trusts you. Don’t blow it. Don’t push so hard that there is no joy left in the learning. He will learn to read on his terms. It is your privilege to support his journey. 
         So get the voices of ‘You’re not doing this right’ out of your head. No one else knows the delicate dance you are waltzing with your boy. No one else knows the gains he’s made in other areas this year; in controlling his anger, taking responsibility for his actions, in putting pencil to paper without tears, in stringing letters together to make words.
        Is there still a long way to go? Yes. Will he get there? Yes. And that is enough. Your boy is amazing and so are you. Together you make a great team if only you keep in your focus the love and respect that you hold for each other. You can do this. Heck, you are doing this! Keep at it, strong mama.


Pssst…this goes for more than just learning to read:-)

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Monday Mindset: How do they feel?


Monday Mindset

Because sometimes, a shift in perspective is all you need.

People will forget what you said people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou

So true. Isn’t it? Sometimes our feelings follow us long after an argument of which we cannot remember the cause. And the same is true of times we have felt completely safe and supported. We remember. We remember the warmth of the love and compassion that surrounded us. Now, let’s change the quote just a bit.

Your children will forget what you said,

Your children will forget what you did,

But your children will never forget

how you made them feel.

Isn’t this just as true? When our children look back at the ups and downs of their day, they will not always remember our words or even our actions, but the way that we made them feel.

When they spill a full glass of water just as you finally got everyone seated for dinner.

When they try to help you make cookies by adding half of the box of baking soda.

When they crawl in bed with you in the middle of the night pushing you to the sleep-deprived edge.

How do you react? With love, empathy, compassion?

Our words and actions are important, but what is more important is that those words and actions create a feeling of love that your child will remember. And they can draw upon that love throughout their lives.

Monday Mindset: Choose Trust


Monday Mindset

Because sometimes a shift in perspective is all you need.

This is a re-post from October of last year because sometimes we need a reminder to trust, especially when it is the path less traveled.

Allowing learning to unfold naturally is a tightrope walk between anxiety and trust. At least it has been for me. I have often questioned my own notion of learning, and often done so multiple times in an hour. What I have learned is that whenever I allow trust to win out over the fear and anxiety, the result is beautiful. the rest here...

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Monday Mindset: What's Your Word?


Monday Mindset

Because sometimes, a shift in perspective is all you need.

Happy 2016!

With the opening of a new year and the closing of the old, we can’t help but hope. We long for new beginnings like a feast after a famine. We look over our shoulders at where we’ve been and gaze ahead longing for a path to be made clear that will lead us to the goals we set.

What if we can light our way, calling upon lessons learned and striving ideals? Not through resolutions as we are accustomed, but through thoughtful intentions? And what if the light we seek is within us? I believe that it is, and for this reason, I have taken to choosing a word or short phrase to be my beacon throughout the year. Something I can use to evaluate whether or not my actions and decisions are in line with my priorities.  In years past, my intentions have been things like Stubborn Joy, Love, and Trust.

This year I choose diligence.

There are so many areas of my life that need me to be just that, diligent. And diligence encourages me to be present and faithful in all that I do. It is a audacious word, full of courage. My prayer is that I meet this challenge with all the grace and strength it requires.

What will be your word, your phrase, for 2016?
  Leave me a note in the comments so I can cheer you on!

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