A lot of loss parents are wondering what they should do about sending thier kids to school in fall 2021. Covid seems to still be here and there are a myriad of concerns to wade through.
Join Amy and her special guest, Meg, a homeschool coach, as they talk about how to make the decision on how to educate your living children, how to be confident and how to be flexible with what works for your family. You don’t have to operate out of fear. You’ve go this!
Meg Thomas can be found
@thehippiemama on Instagram
or her website
She also has a podcast: Called to Homeschool
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Music provided by ZingDog / Pond5
Photo provided by Meg Thomas
All right, welcome everybody. I wanna welcome our special guest, Meg Thomas. Meg, thank you for being here. Yes, I’m excited to be here.
Um, tell us a little bit about yourself, who you help and. What you have going on right now? Yeah. Well, I run a zoo with children. I am a mother of seven and I live here in Utah and I am a homeschool coach, so I have, I’m on my 14th year of homeschooling, so we’re about to start our 14th year and it’s a total adventure.
I have kids from 19 down to four. And three of ’em have like, I guess I use quotation marks for graduated, right? ’cause they all do something different. Um, but they’re done with their homeschool journey and are starting into adulthood. And then I still have four kids that are homeschooling and those are fun adventures.
Um, my husband and I, we are big fans of adventure and spontaneity and he’s more spontaneous and I love adventure, so it actually works out pretty well. But, uh, we love to be outdoors and hiking and camping. Um, Doing all the active things. We love that. So that’s a big part of our family and just like to have a lot of fun.
Awesome. Okay, so why I wanted to bring Meg on today is because I’ve been seeing a lot of people talking about their fears about sending their kids back to school. We know that last year was a little bit crazy, um, with school and Covid and. I think a lot of people have fears about homeschool in general.
Just whether or not they can do it, like if it would work for their family, if they can handle it, and then it just can be really, um, I. Scary when you’ve lost a child to send your kid back to school or just kind of figure out what’s the right thing to do. So this seems like a really big, important decision and I wanna help everyone listening with this decision.
And even if you’re not struggling with this decision, I think that the things we’re gonna talk about today will really help. Um, just making any decisions that seem kind of. Really tough. So, Meg, tell me what are some common fears and, and things that you see with people as they’re trying to make this decision, whether like just where to educate their children.
You know, I think the biggest fear I hear on repeat is, what if I mess up my kids? And it’s so interesting because as you start diving into it and dissecting that thought, right, like, I’m going to mess up my kids, and there’s no truth to that. Like, because you could send your kids to school and they could have a positive or a negative experience, and you would be okay with it because it’s what the norm is like, well, this is what everybody else does, and I, I send them through and if my kid comes out the end and it’s not so great, then I can maybe blame it on the teachers or I can blame it on the school system.
And so I’ve had so many moms who have pulled their kids out who had maybe kids with. Learning disabilities or some special needs and or maybe even depression or mental illness stuff. Right. And it was a really negative experience. And then they get their kids home and they’re like, well, what if I mess ’em up?
And I’m like, why were you okay with somebody else messing them up? Right. And, and to like all honesty in that question, we’re not powerful enough to take away somebody’s agency to mess up their life. Like, we can do things that, uh, become their obstacle or become a roadblock for them, but we are not powerful enough to ruin our children’s lives.
Um, you have parents who are neglectful to their children, who maybe they’re drug addicts or whatever, and their kids turn out absolutely amazing. And so we, like, we are not able to actually mess up our child because that would be taking away our child’s agency. So I think that fear of I’m going to mess my kids up is probably the most common one that I hear from, um, some of my listeners.
What other fears and things you see right now in this unique situation we’re in with Covid and. I think a lot of people went through a year where maybe their kids were home. Um, but it was not what you would probably define as home. You know, it was like this remote learning or this, and they’re trying to decide what to do, and there’s a lot of fear.
Whether it’s fear that their kids will be back to masking and social distancing because of the new variants in the vaccines or whether they’re afraid. There won’t be any of those safeguards in place. I think there’s just a lot of extra fear around this decision right now. Yeah, so it’s interesting because fear is a helpful emotion because like if I were being chased, like fear would pump me full of adrenaline and help me, like you can go into the body, like your eyes dilate, your breathing speeds up, right, so that you can be safe and get out of there.
So making decisions out of fear. Is probably never a great place to make decisions because you’re not going to make it with this higher brain. You’re going to make it with your primitive brain from this place of fight or flight. So if you are homeschooling from fear, like then fear is going to be making all your decisions.
Fear will be choosing your curriculum. Fear will be about socialization, fear about everything instead of going past fear into courage. And courage is the opposite of fear, right? Courage is feeling afraid and doing it anyway. So all of these fears, right? Like if you are making decisions and like, well, like I don’t want my kid to be masked, or I think all the kids should be masked.
What’s awesome about homeschooling is that you could dictate in your own home what you feel comfortable with. And if you are like, I do not want my children masked, then you can create co-ops or find co-ops and playgroups where your kids can run wild and free and create those types of emotions. I mean, those memories because it’s based off of this courageous, confident feeling versus, um, this, I’m so afraid I’m gonna live in a box and try to protect my children because I’m so afraid.
Does that make sense? Yeah, absolutely. And I was. I gonna ask you too, following up kind of with that same idea, how would you answer someone who’s saying, right now I’ve really been thinking maybe keeping my kids home is the right thing for me, but how do I know that? Is it coming from fear or is this like something that you know I’m being called to do or something that’s the right thing for my family?
How do you help someone be able to know? If they’re on the right track, I guess with not making decisions from fear. Yeah. I think, um, a lot of times if that question, like my podcast is called to homeschool, right? Because so many people, like I feel called to homeschool, and then it’s like, now what? And what was this call?
Because a lot of times people feel a call and then things, there’s obstacles or blocks in the road and they’re like, well, here’s evidence why I shouldn’t Then. And so when we think, we feel called to something, I think if it’s true and it’s from the divine, there’s often peace with it. Does that make sense?
And so like, I don’t know what I’m doing, but I feel peaceful about this. I think I can figure this out. And so there’s something behind it versus panic versus scrambling versus those things. And it’s not that you can’t eventually turn those things into positive. But it’s like, how do you know if moving’s the right thing for you?
How do you know if having another baby’s the right thing for you? How do you know about job changes? Or things are for the right thing for you so you can use other things where you’re like, this was a confirmation, like we were supposed to have this baby, we were supposed to move, and now I can see that and start having some of that past experience of when you had maybe a big change.
And how did you know then? How do you know it would be right for you now and kind of using that like, oh, I felt scared. Like basically I felt the fear, but also the courage to push through with it, with it, if that makes sense. Because it’s not bad to feel afraid. You just don’t want fear making the decision, if that makes sense.
Yeah, definitely. And I agree, and I think, like I said, I just, I see people really stuck with that because there is a fear and it’s like, well, now what do I do? And I just have to say, we’re not, I mean, Megan’s a homeschool coach, so she’s gonna be pro homeschool, but this is really just like if it could go the other way, like if you’ve been afraid to send your kids back, but that’s where you feel like the best place for them is.
Exact same answer, right? Yeah. Like exact same process of making the decision. So what are maybe some other tools that, that you think help when making these kind of decisions about educating our children? I think the biggest thing, like a great tool is to not try to create school at home. So for those of you whose kids came home and did distance learning, that is not what homeschool looks like.
Yeah. So I cannot imagine my day in and day out with my kids on a screen all day and then not being allowed to play with friends. I. And so where like some states had more lockdowns than others. Um, some people, like if you had health issues in your family, you might be more isolated than other people, right?
So if you had a year of homeschool where your kid was on screen all day and you weren’t allowed to even see grandma and grandpa, that is not what normal homeschool looks like. And so not trying to create school at home, but realizing, and it was interesting ’cause I was thinking about creating something like this of like, what looks like home?
What does homeschool look like? And yes, it could be reading a book, but it also is my kids mowing the lawn and it also is baking. I. And it also is playing and creating, and yes, science. And yes, right, like your whole life and your whole culture just becomes about learning versus sit down, read a book, take a test, or watch a movie, take a test, and you take it out and it becomes a much more organic, natural experience.
And so I think if. If those of you who are considering homeschooling who did distance learning like that is an option. And some people, it may be like, maybe you liked it, maybe your kids like it, but if you didn’t and you’re like, I don’t know that I could do that again. School homeschool does not have to look like that.
Like there’s so many options. I love when I was coaching a mom just a couple weeks ago and she said, well, what does my structure need to look like for my day? I said, well, what do you wanna do? And she’s like, what? I get to pick what I wanna do. And I go, yes. What excites, what excites you? What do you find fun?
What do you want your kids to know? I love to ask the question, what do you want your kid to know by the time they’re 18, that’s your homeschool. That’s right. And is it life skills? So like you’re gonna have all the basics in there, right? Like your reading and your math and language arts and, and all the basics.
But maybe you want your kid to know how to change a flat tire. Maybe you want like finances a is a huge part of my homeschool so that my kids can be financially independent as adults and different skills like that. And like that becomes my homeschool curriculum is the skills and the things I want them to know by 18.
And so I’m not trying to recreate. The public school system in my home, because the public school system is for a group, and it needs to be a little bit of a conveyor belt because I don’t know how else you would teach so many kids in a classroom, right? But when they come home, you get to do it completely different and completely individualized.
So when you say that, like, oh, you can just create it and, and you can build whatever you want and you can make it look however you want. I think for a lot of people there can be doubts that come up. I know when I have ever thought, there’s been a couple times where we considered it for different reasons to homeschool and there’s a lot of doubts like, could I handle it?
Would I like go crazy? Like what’s it like, you know, having your kids there all the time. Um, What do you think helps us feel empowered as mothers? And I think you touched on this a little bit before, but just kind of being empowered. Whatever we decide to do that we’re gonna be able to handle. Um, whatever comes with our choice.
Yeah, that’s an awesome question. And that’s actually, um, I had an opportunity to speak at a homeschool summit, and this was my, my whole topic was, it’s you a pyramid, right? And at the very top of the pyramid is homeschool, which is the tiniest pyramid. And yet we give so much. Time and worry and attention to something else that ne actually needs a much bigger foundation built upon it.
So the bottom part of my pyramid is that basically this is coaching, right? Like my thoughts create my results, and um, being 100% in charge of my emotions and basically being able to be a flight attendant during the turbulence that like kids crying or chaos in the house is just turbulence. And can I, do I want to be a panicked passenger and be reacting to every turbulent thing, or do I wanna become the flight attendant?
Who knows, this isn’t a problem. And so to me, like I love having my kids home because I get to really just hands-on teach them things. So my bottom part of my pyramid is my relationship with myself taking 100% ownership of the way I show up. Then the next part is creating a relationship with my children.
And I think this is why your question is so fantastic is because we often just like wanna skip to the educated part. Like what about books? What about all these subjects? What about all this? And it’s like, well, if you can’t stand your kid, it won’t really matter what you’re teaching them. Yeah. Right? And so like a huge part of what I teach is how to connect with your children.
You are with them literally 24 7. Right. And so if, can you imagine if you’re with your husband nonstop and he drives you bonkers and you’re like, seriously, can you travel for work yet? Like, I need you outta here. So like, it’s a really cool skill to learn to connect with your kids at that level that like, It’s awesome that we get to be together so much, then you can take time for yourself and you find out how to fill your own bucket and those things.
But yes, with a homeschool mom, you are with them a lot more. And so having that relationship with them so that there isn’t contention, there isn’t fighting, there isn’t the whining or the complaining that there’s this piece and this, um, this working together. And then I build upon that to create a family culture.
So as like I am taking responsibility for my emotions, I’m connecting with my children. All of a sudden we’re a team and our family is working together. And I always call my family my business, right? So like homeschool is my business. So if somebody asks me to do something during homeschool hours, I’m out.
Just like if somebody was working a nine to five job, you wouldn’t go drop your kids off to them and be like, Hey, I know you’re at the office, but can you watch my kids for me? So my homeschool is my business, my f. Family is my business and I protect my business. And we have a goal and a aim and we, we meet together and we know how to problem solve and we just have this culture and this way of living.
Like we know how, we just are learning constantly. We know how to work together, we know how to be friends. And I always say if you can teach your children how to get along with their siblings, trust me, you have touch your social skills, right? Like it’s easy to get along with peers that you like that have the same interest.
To get along with maybe your teenage brother who stinks and won’t shower. Like that’s an, that’s an accomplishment, right? Yes. Yeah. I love that. I love that idea of the pyramid and yeah, I think, I love what you said about the flight attendant too, because I think that that can, can really go along with like, if people do decide to go to school, right, to go to public school or whatever.
You still get to be in charge, you still get to be levelheaded, you still get to manage your own emotions. It’s so, so important. I mean, both of us talk about it all the time, but mm-hmm. I think you just have to keep reminding ourselves as, as moms, like, it’s so much less about the how and the things and the, the stuff, and it’s so much more about us just taking care of our own needs.
Our own, you know, fears and doubts and just becoming more confident as a mom, whatever we choose to do. Do you have any other advice? I think it’s really common to get stuck on these kind of decisions. So do you have any other things that you like to help people, like making decisions? You know, it’s interesting because I know I’m totally pro homeschool, right?
Like it’s awesome for my family, but it is, that is the right choice for me. And so I don’t ever try to, other than like a good girlfriend that I’m like, you should homeschool your kids. ’cause then we could hang out. Right? But other than like teasing somebody, I don’t try to talk somebody into homeschooling.
Right, because you can make public schoolwork, just like you can make homeschool work, you can make a charter, schoolwork, you can make a private schoolwork. They can all work. It’s depending on like what is it that you are trying to create and then what is the best avenue for your family. So let’s say for your family, if mom and dad both work full-time, then school might be the best option for your family.
I actually do have, um, several clients who both do work full-time and they figure it out a way. But if, um, Kind of looking like, what is it we wanna create? What is our family about this goal and this aim? And so what is the best path for our family to get there? So if you and I were both climbing a mountain, there’s going to be multiple ways to get up this hill, right?
And for me, I’m like, you know what? The way I wanna go up this hill is the homeschool path because I want to work with my kids one-on-one. Throughout the day, I’m totally okay with being with them more because I, I want this connection with them and I’m willing to put in this time and whatnot because that will get me to the top.
And somebody else could say, you know what? I also am gonna get to the top of the mountain, and I’m okay with some of these things, and I feel like I’m a better mom if they’re gone in the daytime and I am a mom at night. Because the truth is, we’re all homeschool moms. Like when your kids are little, you are teaching them everything.
And then even if your kids go to public school or charter or private or whatever, You’re still a homeschool mom. You still teach ’em how to drive, you still teach ’em manners, how to clean up the house, how to do all this stuff. So we’re still teaching. Basically I just do it in the daytime. And if your kids go to public school, you do it in the evening.
And I go to bed way too early for that. Right? So it’s, there’s no really wrong choice. And it’s like, what do we want? Like what is our family culture? What is it we want to create? Um, is there a safety issue? Like are you concerned about covid or anything along those lines? Are you concerned about some of the things?
Um, I’ve heard just some of the things in junior high that some little girlfriends of my daughter were like, oh, we know all the dirty words because we hear him constantly. And you could say like, but my kid, I’m okay with my kid going in there and being a light. Because maybe the school needs some lights and my kids have these really unique, awesome personalities and it is the right thing for us.
So kind of deciding like what is the right step for your family? And I don’t try to convince anybody to homeschool. I merely show them that anybody can if they so desire, just like a weight loss plan, like anybody can lose weight, but are you willing to put in the work to do it? I like that. And I, I actually had that in my notes, so Perfect.
Just, yeah, I think just remembering that message of there’s no wrong decision. I think that’s what makes this so heavy. Yeah. Like you said, you feel like you’re gonna mess up and then you add the level of, you know, a pandemic and the decision just seems so huge and. Literally just sayings. It’s just like there isn’t a wrong decision.
And it’s so interesting because we think like our decision is permanent. Yes. Right? Because like if you put your kids in school, and I know different states have different laws, but most of them, you can pull your kids right back out. And if you decide to homeschool and then you’re like, this is not working, you can put ’em right back in.
And people do it all the time going back and forth. So it’s not like you have to choose today and that is your decision forever. Yes. Yes. And I think when we get stuck on that, like all of a sudden we think we have no choices because there’s even things like, okay, I do wanna homeschool, but I don’t wanna teach these subjects, but I can hire a tutor or I want you.
Right? Like you can start getting creative that um, I know in Utah you can do dual enrollment, so you can be part-time homeschooled and part-time do some classes at the school. Yeah, and that’s what I was gonna say too, is when that decision seems so heavy, Yeah, you’re not curious. You’re not finding different ways.
Um, yeah, that’s how it is here in our town. We have a lot of friends who homeschool and also their kids go to band and do, you know, do things at the school do. Um, they have so many different programs and co-ops and so I think just opening up to, Hey, how can this work for me and our family? And then, yeah, remembering it’s not permanent, that’s, I think so important.
What I think is interesting is the public education and, and no, this is not a dig or anything. I don’t know if you could do it a better way with that mass amount of children, right? But it’s a little bit like everybody gets porridge because there’s so many of you. It’s cost efficient. Everybody gets porridge and you’re like, well, it’s not fantastic, but at least I’m getting fed.
And then all of a sudden with homeschool, you have a buffet. It can be scary because you’re like, but I know porridge and I don’t know what this weird thing is. And it might be good, but it could be terrible as well. And so whenever we have an unknown, our brain wants to freak out, right? Like, I don’t know, it could be really bad, but what if it could be really good too?
Like you can honestly, and I believe this 100%, you can figure anything out, any kid with any, uh, disability, with like a learning disabilities or things like that can be figured out. You can find the right path for you, a right program or curriculum to help your kid. And so like whatever obstacle. Gets in your way can totally be resolved if you want it to be resolved.
But if you go into homeschool of looking for ways for it to fail, you’ll find that too. All right. I just had one last question. Although what you just said was beautiful, I like to always end with kind of a message of hope. So what’s like a message of hope you could give to someone listening out there who just really is feeling.
Stuck and almost paralyzed, um, making this choice for their child right now. What’s, what’s just a little hope you could give them as they, you know, want to move forward. So I think I’m in an interesting spot where, because I have so many kids, I’ve had three graduate, right? And four home. So I am doing both.
I’m not just at the finish line looking back like you can do it. I’m also still in the race with you, but because I do have some kids who’ve graduated, I have got to reap what I have sewn. And it has been a very, very powerful harvest of these relationships. So I have five teenagers right now, and I’ve seen everything about like teenagers are the worst and surviving the teenage years.
But because our homeschool was built on creating relationships, it’s not to say that we don’t have bumps in our teenage years, but like we are in our rhythm. And we are friends and we can figure things out. And so as I have children and getting ready to move out and to do these things, like we are close and it’s not like I’m kicking people out and I can’t stand them anymore.
It’s just this beautiful next phase of their life where I’ve had this opportunity to teach my kids all these awesome skills alongside with being educated. And so this hope of you don’t see. The growth of a seed for a while, right? And so as you plant these seeds, you just have to have faith that it’s taking root, because if you dig up a seed, what happens?
It’ll wilt and die, right? So as you plant these good seeds, you water it, you take care of it, you will reap a very, very beautiful harvest. And as I’m getting to experience that with my oldest kids, um, it has been worth it all and I would do it all over again. And I’m excited that I get to keep doing it with four more of my kids.
Awesome. Thank you so much, Meg. I really appreciate all your insight and I mean, just your enthusiasm. I, I love it. So just tell people, did you tell ’em where they can? You’re on Instagram? I am. I’m the hippie mama. It’s all one word, right? Yes. Yeah. H I P P I E M A M A. Um, or Meg Thomas, I think that would come up too.
But my website is www.coachmegthomas.com. Um, I, I’ve actually been doing this summer of how to create your homeschool year with confidence, and that’s been ton of fun. So there’s a workbook that’s for free in my membership and I’ve been doing classes on it all. And what’s been fun about that is to really find out what you value.
And your strengths and just making your school go along with that so you are in line with your values. And so your school feels a lot better because you’re not going against what you don’t value. And so we’ve just been diving in week by week how to schedule, how to have your own life, how to still run a household and still teach your children.
And so that’s been a lot of fun. So I try to do a lot of resources there. I have a podcast called To Homeschool, so you can check out stuff there as well. Thank you so much for being here. You bet. It was my pleasure. Isn’t she the best? She had so many good points in there, so I’m just gonna summarize a couple of them really.
Again, we don’t wanna let fear I. Drive our decisions, right? There might be some anxiety, but don’t let that anxiety drive your decisions. We want to come from a place of confidence and love for our kids and for us as we make this decision whether or not we’re gonna send our kids back to school. And then it’s so important to really take care of us and to manage our own thoughts.
Our own emotions and really be calm as we go into this decision and know that whatever we choose is gonna be perfect. There’s no wrong decision and there’s no permanent decision. As you educate your children, you just get to decide, you move forward. If it’s not working, you can change it. So open up your mind.
Be curious. There might be options you haven’t even thought about. That will just be perfect for your family. So we gotta get outta that fear and that stuck and that heavy place when we’re trying to decide whether or not to send our kids back to school or whatever you’re trying to decide about your family and just move forward.
And then just remember that, um, you can do this, you’re amazing and you don’t need to doubt yourself. You can create happy, healthy. Connected home with your family, whatever you choose to do, it’s totally up to you. So thank you again to Meg and I will have all her links in the show notes and you can follow her on Instagram.
And if you have any questions and you’re really struggling with this decision, please reach out to me and we can talk about it and help you move forward and feel good about it. All right. That’s all I got for you. We’ll see you next time.