School Choice Week – Choose Homeschooling! With Tara Bentley

Join Yvette Hampton and Tara Bentley, Executive Director for the Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE), as they discuss National School Choice Week, making choices on how to build margin in your homeschool day, and why State Homeschool Organizations matter to YOU.

In the second half of this interview Yvette and Tara discuss building margin into your homeschool (and life). This margin brings the balance you need to manage homeschooling and life without the stress that can often overtake our homes.

Quick Tips for Building Margin: (Listen for the full story)

  • 1) Write a list of all the things you are responsible for. (It will be a HUGE list!)
  • 2) Assess and evaluate the list. Minimize. Highlight the top 5 things you are responsible for.
  • 3) Prioritize (even within the top 5). Which one of these things comes first? Make sure none of your priorities conflict.
  • 4) Draw boundaries. Create rules to protect your time and schedule.
  • 5)  Preparation. Use technology at its best – Automate!

Tara Bentley is a veteran homeschool mom of two daughters. During thirteen years of homeschooling, she and her husband Mark served in leadership for 12. They currently serve together on the Board of Directors for the Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE), where Tara also serves as the Executive Director. Always juggling work, family, and multiple responsibilities, Tara loves encouraging moms who often feel like they just aren’t enough.

Learn more about homeschooling in your state:

HomeschoolFreedom.com – Christian State Homeschool Organizations

SchoolhouseRocked.com – Homeschooling in Your State

IAHE.net Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE),

Whether you’re just starting to think about homeschooling or you have been homeschooling for years, the 2020 Homegrown Generation Family Expo is for you. Join an amazing lineup of speakers for this live, interactive, online homeschool convention and be encouraged, energized, and equipped to homeschool with excellence. Lifetime Registration is just $20. Register at HomegrownGeneration.com.

Read the automated transcript of this episode. (Spelling and grammar errors are guaranteed!) Need transcripts?  try.rev.com/Cw3BC

Yvette Hampton:           Hey everyone, this is Yvette Hampton. Welcome back to The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. I have another great guest on with me today. My friend Tara Bentley. She is the executive director of Indiana association of home educators. I a. H. E. It’s one of those really fun acronyms that you might hear floating around. And Tara and I met back, ah, I don’t know, a couple of years ago, I guess it was. And we’ve just become friends and she is such an encouragement to not just myself but to so many homeschool families. She is a homeschool mom, but you’ve graduated, right? You’re both of your, your girls from your homeschool. And so I want to talk about that. We’re going to talk about a couple of things. We’re going to talk today about state organizations and why they exist and who they are and what they do. And then Tara, because she homeschooled for many, many years, she has really learned some things along her journey. And one of those is how to build margin into your day and into your homeschool world. And so we’re going to talk about that cause she has some really good practical tips on that because homeschooling can become very stressful. As we know you know, there are just, there’s so much to do and we’re being pulled in so many different directions all the time as homeschool moms and dads. And so we’re going to talk about that today. But first, Tara, welcome to the podcast.

Tara Bentley:    Well thanks for having me. I, you know, I would say that I’ve learned a lot about margin, less living, but I am not an expert cause I’m still going to be one of the busiest people, you know, that’s why we had so much trouble. Right. Getting this on our calendar. Yes. Yes. You, you are

Yvette Hampton:           One busy lady. That is for sure. Yeah. I think this is probably the third or fourth time we have scheduled this podcast interview and we finally have it rolling. So yes, we’re gonna make it to the end of this time. This is a great thing. So Tara, tell us a little bit about your, your family and your homeschool journey. Cause I want our listeners to know, you have a just a pretty neat story about how you came into homeschooling and and why you are part of your state organization. What, what brought you to that?

Tara Bentley:    Sure. So my husband and I, we lived in Ohio when we first got married and had our children. My girls are seven years apart. So when my oldest actually reached school age, it never even occurred to us to do anything other than what we consider to be the norm. Right. We went down, did the kindergarten sign up and started putting her, you know, off to school every day just like we were supposed to. We thought. So we were on that track for many, many years. We eventually moved here to Indiana where we are now. And somewhere in her, my daughter’s sixth grade year, we started encountering different issues with the public school. And I don’t need to dive too deep into any of that. But all that to say we were one of those people who, what many people today refer to as a reluctant homeschooler.

Tara Bentley:    Yup. And I think that’s probably the majority of homeschoolers today. There’s many, many people find themselves doing this and they never thought that they would. So, and, and we were one of those people that it was going to be a temporary thing as well. I was only going to do this for two years. But that was 20 years ago almost. So now you are all in. I’m all in, but it didn’t come fast. So I recognize, you know, I can empathize with people when they start off the same way that I did. They, you know, they weren’t, they’re not all in for this until, until they start to reap some of the benefits so I can understand that. Yeah. Yeah. And I love that actually. Cause I love, you know, when we came into it like you did where, you know, we were, I, as Heidi St. John says, “accidental homeschoolers.” We never ever intended to homeschool.

Tara Bentley:    And so I appreciate that we were on that side of the fence because now obviously we are completely sold out for homeschooling. We, we think that it is the best decision for our family and we think it’s the best decision we ever have made for our girls. You know, you only have your kids for such a short time. And so we would not have it any other way. But prior to coming to that decision and that conviction, we were on the other side of it and we had a lot of good reasons. So we thought for not wanting to homeschool. And so I’m, I’m glad that we came into it that way because like you said, I really can empathize as well with those who are like, no, that homeschooling thing is not for me. And I can say, yes, you’re right. It’s not for you yet.

Tara Bentley:    You just don’t know yet that it’s for you. Well, I mean, it is, it’s life changing. And so anything that’s life changing is not easy. And we certainly had our struggles in the beginning and when we were starting back in 2001 Hey, I was one of the first people, right, who had DSL in the world. Right now we’re fighting for fiber optics. Right. But, but you know, I Google, you know, how to homeschool in my state. I didn’t have any idea where to begin. All I knew was it was something that needed to change in our family. And so I found our state organization and attended my very first homeschool convention while my daughter was still finishing up for sixth grade year at the public school. And it was the convention that made me realize, Oh my goodness, this is, this isn’t anything I thought it was. Yeah. This is a community that is full and vibrant and the resources were exciting. The speakers were amazing and encouraging, and to have people who were willing to share their experience and their wisdom, I just, that convention was life changing for me to be able to hear from people who had been there and done that. And it was just very exciting. And that is the reason that we were able to continue homeschooling for, to come. Yeah.

Yvette Hampton:           Yeah. You and I have a very similar story to that because we were the same way. I remember vividly, standing in Trader Joe’s, talking to my friend Jody, and we had started really considering homeschooling. I was pregnant with my youngest and Brooklyn was getting ready to go into kindergarten. And so she said, why don’t you come to homeschool convention with us? And I literally remember saying, “you guys have a homeschool convention? I mean, really that is weird.” And I just had no idea. No clue. And so a couple months later we were there with her and her husband and some other friends from church and just like you, it was literally like the scales fell from our eyes and we just said, wow, this is truly, it’s not anything that we expected it to be. And, and I will in, in some ways, yes, homeschooling work is partly what I expected, but in most ways it’s not at all.

Yvette Hampton:           It’s not that negative stereotypes and all the you know, the, the things that people think that it is. And and so we loved it and that, that first convention we went to was chia. It was in California and it was such a fantastic experience for us. But at that time when we went in our minds, we were, we were just going to a convention that was put on by, I don’t even know who we thought it was put on by. I don’t think we thought about that. I thought we just thought, well, okay, all these vendors got together, the speakers got together and they put on this convention and we went to the exhibit hall and saw, you know, I know a wide array of curriculum and all sorts of resources for homeschooling. And then we went to all of these workshops and it was completely overwhelming and completely exciting all at the same time.

Yvette Hampton:           It was great, but I never really did understand until several years later what state organizations were, who they are, why they mattered. I didn’t know that every state has their own homeschool organization that represents their States and fights for the freedoms that we share in each state. And then the exciting part about it is that all of these organizations work together. You all have an amazing way of linking arms with one another, working together to, to strengthen the homeschool community, not just in our country, but really around the world. So I want to talk, I want to talk about margin and building those things into our homeschool cause that’s really important that, and I really want to focus on that. But first I wanna talk about state organizations. I want to talk about why they matter, why you got involved in your state organization, why it matters to every single homeschool family who’s homeschooling today. But before we do that, let’s take a quick break and we’ll come right back and talk about that. Okay.

Yvette Hampton:           We are back with Tara Bentley. We’re talking about state organizations and we were talking about kind of our stories of how we got into homeschooling and why we got into homeschooling in a few minutes. So Tara, I would love for you to talk about state organizations, what you do, why you matter and how you serve the homeschool community. Sure. So when we went back in 2001 I, I thought it was,

Tara Bentley:    It was, you know, a website, a convention, and a magazine, which was very exciting. And so there is that first place to get started. How helping families get started with homeschooling. I think that’s the most visible piece of what we do as state organizations. And you mentioned that not all that you mentioned that all States have say organizations. There are a few that don’t. And that’s very sad because they provide valuable resources to their community. So it’s not just the getting started with homeschooling because people do think that they can just go to the internet and find anything that they want. Everything’s at their fingertips, right? But there’s also a lot of bad information out there. And homeschool law is so state specific and families need to understand that they need to know what’s happening in their state because homeschool freedom is very much state driven.

Tara Bentley:    And it’s very important to make sure that as a family, that you’re meeting the criteria and the regulations in your state. So getting connected with them and knowing where your local resources are is one thing. So that’s huge. And then attending the convention. I will say as an attendee, you and I would both attest to all the positive things about attending, but I’ll share that it is also bigger than that within your state. So we in our state, we invite legislators to come to our convention and I’ll tell you that that’s one of the most powerful things that we can do as an organization to protect homeschool freedom. We have we’ve had state senators the superintendent of public instruction. We’ve had other elected officials who think they know homeschooling, but then they walk into a convention and they see families who are invested in the education of their children.

Tara Bentley:    They see the resources that we have. They see the, the encouragement and the training and the things that we do. And you can take an elected official who thinks they understand homeschooling and they’re okay with it and make them your biggest cheerleader. It’s huge. It is huge when they actually get to peek behind the veil of what homeschooling actually is. So that’s another benefit of conventions. I would say we also do some difficult things tackling media conversations that we don’t want to have. Not all media coverage of homeschooling is positive especially the past couple of years. So we as a state organization, we’re often asked to tackle some difficult conversations in the media. And and then we, we lobby most of us as the organizations lobby to protect homeschool freedom. Not all, but we’re very active in building relationships with our legislators and making sure that they know who we are. What issues are important to us and when they might inadvertently be trampling on our homeschool freedom without even realizing it. Right.

Yvette Hampton:           Yeah. And like you said, without even realizing it, cause sometimes they will start, you know, they, they will propose a law or a change in something and they really don’t because they’re not invested in the homeschool community. They really don’t know. And so that’s why it’s important. I know oftentimes they’ll have state Capitol, homeschool day and homeschool families will come in droves and they’ll just represent homeschools homeschoolers and just say this is who we are and let’s talk. And that is very, very impactful and very important for homeschool families to be involved in those things. This week this week that this episode is broadcasting for the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, it’s called school choice week. And that was one of the reasons I invited you to come on this week cause I wanted to talk about school choice week. Can you tell us a little bit about what explained to us what school choice week is? And then I want to talk a little bit about some of the positives, maybe some of the negatives of school choice week and and especially from the perspective of a Christian homeschool state leader.

Tara Bentley:    Sure. So national school choice week was founded in 2011 and its primary focus is to promote all different types of education from district schools, magnet schools, voucher programs, charter schools, private schools and homeschooling. So they really just want to bring attention to the fact that there are many different educational options out there, which is a positive thing. They get a lot of media coverage across the country from, you know, the nightly news to newspaper reporters. And it really is a, just as time set aside to talk about the different types of education. So that’s a positive thing. Anytime we can encourage conversation that we don’t all have to be doing the same thing, that is a positive.

Yvette Hampton:           Yes. Yeah. We and we don’t however, you know, we, like I said earlier, you know, we feel like for our family, homeschooling is definitely the best choice. And so we are so grateful that they’ve even included homeschooling in there because like said, oftentimes the media represents homeschooling in such a negative light. And, and many will have you believe that homeschooling is, is not worthy of doing. You know, our children are not being well educated. They’re, they, they are socially inept, you know, all of these, again, negative stereotypes that, that we use to think about homeschooling. And so I think it’s important to have a voice in that. How have the state organizations worked to be part of national school choice week? It’s,

Tara Bentley:    It’s a very fine line because while they want to speak for us and they do bring out a great conversation that we want to be a part of, we have some differences I think and where we stand on one key issue that kind of separates our agenda from theirs. Do you want me to say it? Tell you what it is. Of course it really comes down to funding. Most school choice advocates are primarily interested in freeing your tax dollars that are at, you know, allocated for your per student back to the family so that you could use it in a voucher school or a charter school. And they would say for homeschooling and that is where many say orgs and not all, but we’re generally speaking, many of us are just very cautious about what strings that might bring to the homeschool community. Because Indiana is well known for having one of the largest voucher and charter programs in the country. It’s often, you know, shared out there as, you know, the leading example. But what we’ve experienced here in our state in the past couple of years is also a lot of fraud and a lot of failure of some of these programs and legislators want accountability for where those dollars went and they should, they should have accountability for where those dollars went. And so when we see that as a homeschool community, we’re, we’re concerned, well, if you start taking government dollars, you should expect government regulation and to answer to somebody for it.

Yvette Hampton:           Yes. Nothing comes for free. Right? Yeah, it’s one of those hard lessons we learned as adults, even when it seems like it’s free. It’s not. And so yes, I think we need to be very careful about taking government money because even, even if they’re not controlling yet, it’s going to come. And so again, as state organizations, I know you’re working hard to protect those freedoms that we have. I would like in the last few minutes of this part, one of this episode, I would love for you to talk to the parent who’s listening and saying, Oh, okay, so there’s a state organizations, there’s likely one in my state. Cause there I knew that there were a couple who didn’t have them, but of the 50 States we have, is it 47 of or how many? Pretty close to that. Yes.

Yvette Hampton:           Yes. Okay. Right, right, right. So almost every state has a state homeschool organization. So for those listening whose state does not, perhaps you can find one. The way that you can find out is you can go to HomeschoolFreedom.com right? Is the website or is it.org? Nope, it’s dot com. Okay. And we’ll link to that in the show. Now, as a matter of fact, if you go to the Schoolhouse Rocked website, right on the very front page, you’ll see a a dropdown that says homeschooling in your state. You can just click on that. That will take you to the homeschool freedom website. And you can look for your state. And if you don’t see an organization for your state, then I would by all means connect with homeschool freedom, connect with the state organizations and ask them, how do I get this started in my state? And they will help you. They will walk you through everything you need to know to in order to do that. But for those who have an organization in their state, which is most of us, how can we as parents and get involved, how can we help you? How can we pray for you? How can we encourage you? What are some ways that just your typical family can, as Heidi st John says, get off the bench and get onto the battlefield. How can we do this and and be a part of our state homeschool organizations?

Tara Bentley:    Well, it’s a fabulous question and I would say exactly what you said. First and foremost, pray, pray for your state organizations. I would say that 99.9% of state leaders are volunteers. They have dedicated hours upon hours, years, if not decades to serving the people in their state. And thank them, thank them for what they’re doing. And then practically speaking, many States have membership. So you can encourage your state organization by joining them. That’s, that’s one easy way to be a part of what they’re doing and attend their events, attend their conventions be a part of it. Get on their mailing list so that you know what’s going on. Follow their social media engaged there and just, just be a part of the conversation and connect with them. They are there to serve. And so, you know, if you see a need also you can share that with them. Yeah.

Yvette Hampton:           Yeah. I love it. And going to state conventions is so much fun because you really get to see the people. And I mean, oftentimes I know that groups of moms will get together and they’ll just take a mom’s weekend away. They’ll get a hotel room and they’ll just have some time to just be encouraged and breathe a little bit. Breathe in some encouragement and you know, maybe get to sleep in a little bit with, without little ones, but not their ankles, which is always fun. And so it is important, you know, we’re, we’re getting ready to do this online event. It’s the homegrown generation family expos and and that is not meant to replace homeschool conventions because, and we actually, we strategically placed it kind of right in the middle of the year when most homeschool families go through that homeschool slump and they just need some encouragement.

Yvette Hampton:           And but, but it’s not to replace conventions. It’s actually to encourage you, like this is what you guys need. You need constant because I need constant encouragement all the time. And so sign up for your state convention because it’s not just going in order to help support your organization, but it’s going so that you can be fed and encouraged and so that you can physically look at the different curriculum that you might be considering and you can talk to your, your leaders and you can talk to the speakers and things like that. And so so it’s really important and I, I love those suggestions of how people can be involved. We are at a time for this part of the podcast, but we’re going to come back on Wednesday and we’re going to talk about five steps to building margin in our day because you are good at that. You’ve learned how to do that through your 13 years of homeschooling. So we’re going to come back with some more encouragement on Wednesday. Tara, thank you so much for your time today. And again homeschool freedom.com right is where people can find out more and then where can people find out more? If people from Indiana are listening right now, how can they find out more about you and your organization? What you do right

Tara Bentley:    In our state? If you’re in Indiana, yeah, we do encourage you to check us out. I a H E. Dot. Net. Our convention is coming up in March and so we’d love to have people there. Exactly what you said. I mean, not everyone can come and we recognize that. So a physical event, I can tell you all the awesome reasons to be there, but not everyone can. So online and in person, whatever it is, we want you to be encouraged.

Yvette Hampton:           Yup, that’s right. So, well thank you Tara. You are a blessing. We’ll be back with you on Wednesday and talk about five steps to building margin in our homeschool. We’ll see you guys on Wednesday. Bye.

Yvette Hampton:           Okay. All right. You ready? Let’s just roll with part two. Okay. Hold on. Let meake a drink That’s okay. Let me read. Reapply the, a ol’ chapstick here too. Good idea. And so weird. My mouth gets so dry every single time I podcast. I don’t know why it doesn’t normally during the day, I don’t know what happens when I podcast. [inaudible] Okay, you ready? Sure. Okay.

Yvette Hampton:           Hey everyone, this is Yvette Hampton. Welcome back to part two of the podcast with Tara Bentley. Tara is the executive director of the Indiana state. No, no, no. The Indiana association of home educators. I got that right. I, H E M is your fun acronym. And we talked on Monday about state organizations. We talked about conventions, we talked about how to be involved in why it matters. And we mentioned that Tara also, she’s a veteran homeschool mom. She’s graduated both of her daughters. And so she’s got some really practical tips on how to build margin into our homeschool. You know, as homeschool moms, we can find ourselves very overwhelmed, very stressed out because we are being pulled in a million different directions it seems. And you know, I, I’ve got two kids, I’ve got two girls and Tara has two girls actually. So we have that in common.

Yvette Hampton:           My girls are almost five years apart. And Tara, you said yours are seven, correct. Seven years apart. Yeah. So we, we, we both have gaps in between our girls and whether you have one child, two children, 10 children, it doesn’t matter. Every homeschool mom that I have ever met always has a sense of just feeling like she’s not doing it enough of what she needs to do. Because you’ve got homeschooling, you’ve got your family. Just responsibilities to take care of doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, meal preparation, menu preparation, which is my least favorite thing. And that’s just in addition to just normal every day life with our kids, which is the greatest blessing of homeschooling. But it almost seems sometimes like, okay, kids, I need you to sit down and be quiet because I have things to do. And those things that I have to do all pertain to you.

Yvette Hampton:           But you’re, you’re in my way. And though we don’t say that out loud, I know that for myself, if I’m being honest, I often feel that way. Like my girls are not, not a nuisance to me at all. They’re such a blessing. And I would, I would have it no other way, but like I have this agenda, I have this list of things that I need to get done. I know I’ve got these children who also need my attention. Right. So Tara talk, talk with us as one who’s been there. You’ve been through it, you’ve graduated both of your girls now, how do you find ways to build margin into, into your homeschool? Encourage us moms? Well, let’s start with one quick confession. Is that any thing I know about margin, I know more from failure than success. And I think most people would again, fall in those lines. My bookshelves are full of books on how to get more done, right? How to be a task manager, how to, how

Tara Bentley:    To be organized, how to create margin, how to be focused, and all of these things. This is a constant lifelong battle. We said my youngest daughter graduated her five years ago that did not solve my issues with living a margin less life. So I want to start there that I start from a place of failure. So I think one of the things we have to do before we can talk about successful margin building is to acknowledge and identify the things that sometimes lead us to fail. And so we have to start there, if that’s okay. Absolutely. So I would say first of all, that as homeschool moms, we’re, we’re kind of the worst at doing this. And that’s because we’ve made a choice in our family to do something that is very counter-cultural, right? We’ve decided to take on the education of our children.

Tara Bentley:    And that’s not something that the rest of society necessarily respects or honors or supports. We were raised in a culture that tells us do everything you can do all of these things that you want to, you can do anything that you want to and you have to fill your life to the brim in order to do it. And so we have to be realistic, first of all, that we can’t do everything right. It’s not scriptural, it’s not realistic and it’s certainly not healthy. So that is where we need to, we have to be reminded of that, first of all, otherwise we’ll never be able to make changes in what we’re doing because there are only so many hours in the day. And everything that we do comes at a cost and it can cost us physically, emotionally, or spiritually. And so for me I, when I was homeschooling still, and this was in my first couple of years, I was trying very hard to continue to do all the things that I was doing before we were homeschooling and then fit homeschooling in and to keep doing it.

Tara Bentley:    And I found myself diagnosed with chronic mono. And so I know what it’s like to just push yourself to the brink and you would think that, you know, a diagnosis like that would have given me a little bit of freedom to start saying no to people. But I didn’t. I remember being in bed hadn’t been able to do much at all that day. My house was a mess. The kitchen was full of dirty dishes and someone lead, a leader called me from a different support group and she said, I just can’t do it any more. Tara, would you mind taking over my group? I’m in bed, curtains drawn? And I said yes, which is instinct entity, right? That’s insanity. So we have to, we have to think through these things. And so let’s start, I guess with five examples of what margin list living looks like.

Tara Bentley:    Okay. Okay. So literally on the page, have you filled in every single moment of your calendar? I mean, I used to, I used to have every single minute of the day spoken for and I learned after probably about four years that that wasn’t going to work. It doesn’t really work. It means that we’re planning too much and it’s, it’s good to have a plan and it’s good to be organized. But if you’re filling every moment in your calendar, you might be living a margin list life. So that’s pretty important. What about your inability to focus? If you can’t focus on the task in front of you, if you’re, if you’ve got multiple things going on and to do lists you’re probably living kind of a margin lists life and I obviously still struggle with these things, so that’s very important. Yup. So here’s, here’s another one.

Tara Bentley:    Do you make decisions for your family based on what the neighbors are doing or someone else in your support group is doing versus on what’s best for your family? If you’re making decisions based on comparing what’s happening in your home to someone else in your group then you’re just, you’re really out of balance in what you’re doing. And there’s, there’s so many things that we can do out there as homeschool families extracurriculars classes and co ops and field trips. We could, we could never be home based on the amount of opportunity that’s out there. So again, making decisions for your family based on what someone else is doing, you’re definitely living a margin less life, I would say. The fourth thing is decision fatigue. That is, it is a real thing. If you get to a point in the day where you cannot make a decision because you’re just so tired of all the decisions you had to make earlier in your day, you’ve got too much, you’ve got too much going on.

Tara Bentley:    Now, if you reach decision fatigue at 9:00 PM, I’d say that’s pretty realistic. When you hit noon, two o’clock, three o’clock, and you’ve had to make so many decisions in your day and you’re overwhelmed, then that is probably, again, you’ve got too much going on in your life. Right. And I’m gonna say the fifth thing that we’re gonna say is an indicator of living a margin list. Life is always being available to anybody who asks, always answering every text message right away, answering every Facebook notification right away, every phone call right away. Every play date that comes up, if you’re always available. There, there is something about that. There’s something about us, I think as women as Christian moms who want to serve and who wants to love on people, that’s what we’re called to do. Right? but we don’t have to always be available. I have a really hard time with this one. My phone is always at my side. I, I love to answer people when they need me and I feel like that’s honoring them. So I struggle with that a little bit. But we can’t always be available to everybody and still do what we’re called to do.

Yvette Hampton:           Yeah. It’s so interesting how that has shifted and in our lifetime, because I remember Garritt and I got married in 1995 as a matter of fact, we’re just celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. And I remember when we first got married and no one had cell phones, like it just wasn’t even a thing that the people who did have a more people who had a lot of money and they would kind of show off and they would talk on their phones in public and everyone else would look at them like they were crazy. And, and and so we didn’t, we didn’t deal with that even as teenagers, you know, we didn’t deal with that. We had one phone in our house that was shared between my sister and myself and our parents. And we were lucky if we got to talk to our friends for 30 minutes because we had to share it and we weren’t going to sit and talk on the phone all night long when it was attached to a wall. The internet wasn’t a thing. You know, we didn’t have all of these distractions. And and so there’s been such a shift of where our attention has gone as moms today, then where are our moms? Attention was 30, 40 years ago.

Tara Bentley:    Well, you know, and for you, you as a mom, you have it. I didn’t have it. I didn’t have it when I was homeschooling five years ago. Right. I mean it certainly was there. I’ve had my iPhone for a long time. Oh no, I had a Blackberry. Right. That was, that was the beginning. Wow. But social media for all of us, all of our kids, everything that’s dinging. I mean, how many things I had to turn off just to record this podcast. Because we have so many things dinging. So it is certainly a sign of the times.

Yvette Hampton:           Right, right. Yeah. And I think, you know, you were talking about being involved in, in so many things and I feel like, and, and that aspect as well, things have really shifted because when you look at homeschool families from, you know, 20 years ago, they really didn’t, they weren’t as involved in anything. Well one, because they’re, they didn’t have the opportunity because not very many people homeschooled too, because it wasn’t even legal in every state at that time. And three, because if you went out in public with your kids during the week when all the other kids were in school, people would question you and look at you funny and, and, and think that there was something wrong with you if you said you were homeschooling. And so those kids really didn’t get out a lot night. I think people kind of shifted to the other once we, we as homeschoolers got labeled as socially awkward that now, okay, we’re going to show you we’re not socially awkward, so we’re going to go out and we’re going to do everything right.

Yvette Hampton:           And there are a million opportunities for us in our kids to be involved in. So we’re out and about all the time. Well, then, yeah, we have to swing back the other way. And I think that one of the most distinct pieces of advice that I received, one of those first couple of years that I went to the IHE convention was a homeschool mom who said, if you’re going to call yourself a homeschooler, stay home. Right. And I was so confused. I was brand new and I did not realize how quickly the opportunities would come to us. And it just was a great reminder to be intentional, more time at home. Yes, yes. And, and, and I love the word intentional. That’s what we have to be because we need, we need those outlets, you know, especially for moms and children like mine. I am an extrovert.

Yvette Hampton:           Both of my girls are pretty extroverted. My youngest one, especially my oldest daughter, not as much, but she still is and she still desperately has a need to be around friends. And so it’s not healthy for us to be locked up in the house all day doing schoolwork. As much fun as I am, as a mom, you know, we need to go out and we need to be around other people. And so that’s really healthy for us. But I think what you’re saying is know where our boundaries are. No, when you’re out doing enough things that it’s a blessing to your family, not a burden to your family and a blessing to your homeschool and isn’t taking you away from the things that God has called you to. Right. At the same time, you know, we, we talk about being life schoolers. You know, we, we don’t believe that homeschooling is just sitting down at a table and doing worksheets all day long.

Yvette Hampton:           Homeschooling is life. It’s part of our everyday family life. Whether that’s doing our family devotions together, going for a walk, going for a field trip, going and spending time with other friends, whatever it is that we’re doing, we are learning and we find opportunities to learn wherever we are. And so it’s also not, you know, not just feeling like, well, the only time we can do school is when we’re at home, sitting at a table quietly doing worksheets. So yeah, it is, it’s balanced, it’s pure balance. And you also mentioned that your family is made up of extroverts. So what would work well in your family with finding those boundaries may not be the same for me. And again, that goes back to the comparison issue. You have to make the decision what’s right for your family. Right? Total introvert over here, I don’t need to be out and about as much as some, my youngest daughter definitely was an introvert.

Yvette Hampton:           My oldest was definitely an extrovert. So you have to look at that as well and make the decisions that are again, best for your family. Yes, I think so too. And I think also for those families who have, husbands are really involved. Talk with your husband too and ask him, you know what? What do you see if he, if you see that you’re being pulled in so many directions and you’re ending every day completely stressed out, especially if you end up end your day stressed out to the point where you don’t have time for your husband. Talk with your husband and say, well, you know, here’s what we’re doing. Here’s what our, our day looks like and what our week looks like. Where do you see some areas where we can maybe pull back? What do you want us to focus on? And I think too, oftentimes we don’t ask our husbands.

Yvette Hampton:           We think that they don’t care, that they don’t know and maybe they don’t know because maybe we don’t tell them and sometimes they don’t. I don’t want to say that they don’t care. Sometimes they just say, you know what? This is your domain. I’m going to just trust you to do it the way that you feel works best for our family. And that’s okay. But if you have a husband who wants to be involved in the decision making, then you’re partners in this, you know, talk with him and, and heed his advice when he gives his input. Right. But don’t ask for it unless you actually want it.

Tara Bentley:    Excellent point. So how I, I’d love to know now that your girls are grown are they both out of your home now? The youngest is still here probably only for a little bit longer. Okay. What is your, what has homeschooling done for your relationship with your girls? I think that it, it clearly bonded our family a lot more. And that’s what’s exciting, that you don’t have this artificial separation between you and your children, which I think is a large part of what the public school can do in many families. And so for us to be able to spend that much time with them because it goes so quickly as someone who sees the days left, right, who can count the days left of having a child in my home. Right. You want them all back, you want them all back. So I’m just beyond grateful that we had as much time with them that we did here together. And that’s the best decision we ever made. So absolutely it changed our family. Yeah. I love, love spending time with my girls

Yvette Hampton:           And I’ve been reflecting a lot this year. This is my oldest daughter’s in eighth grade this year. And I just, you know, the thought of her being in high school next year and thinking, you know, she only has another few years with us and I don’t know what God’s plans are for her after high school, but either way when she’s 18, you know, she’s going into those adult years and I just felt it’s going so fast, it’s going so fast and I cannot imagine losing this time that I have with her. You know, that the education that the academics, I should say are just kind of the icing on the cake, but the relationships that we are getting to build with one another in the midst of it is the most important thing. And I think even when talking about building margin and learning how to manage our time, that’s another thing that we’re teaching to our children because w you know, we’re, excuse me, we are raising adults.

Yvette Hampton:           We’re not raising children. We are raising our kids to become adults. And so we want to teach them just like we want to teach them responsibility with taking care of a family, you know, dishes, laundry you know, meal preparation, all of those things that are the practical part of taking care of a family. We also want to teach them how to manage their time well. As a matter of fact, I have a brilliant husband. Can I just tell you that I really like him a lot? Sure. I’ve seen married to for 25 years. We, we were trying to figure out what is the best way to really help our girls to understand the importance of diligence and doing the work that they are responsible to do, whether it’s housework or schoolwork or whatever it is. And so the other day we sat down and it was Garritt and I had talked about this, you know, the night prior, but, but I didn’t know he was gonna go at it.

Yvette Hampton:           Just go down this trail with them. It was so fun. We sat down for our family Bible time the other morning, I guess it was Monday morning. And Garritt said, okay, this is what we’re going to do. He said, you girls are going into business for yourselves. And he said, I am your customer and you want to make your customer happy. And so what you’re going to do is I’m going to hire you and I want to pay you, but you have to basically earn your pay. And so that comes through doing your schoolwork, helping to take care of the family and the house being respectful and responsible. And we talked a lot about how, you know, oftentimes you’ll go to, maybe there’s, I won’t say the name of it, but there was one particular fast food restaurant in our town that has horrific customer service.

Yvette Hampton:           I mean, it’s just, we won’t go there anymore because the customer service is so bad and you’re just, you’re never met with a smile. You’re always met with an attitude. And, and just were like, why would we give them our money? And so he said, it’s not just a matter of just doing the job, but it’s doing it with a joyful heart. And so he kind of went through this whole list and he said, so you’re in business for yourselves, not the end of the day. We’re going to go through what you’ve done. And if you have accomplished the things that you have set out to accomplish that we’ve put before you and you’ve done it joyfully with an obedient heart, then I’m happy to pay you for your, your time and for your services. And so anyway, it was just so fun cause the girls really got that and they were like, Oh yeah. And and so it was just a fun way to help them to understand the importance of being part of the family. But again, we’re teaching them to be responsible adults and in learning to, to build margin and, and figure out how best to spend our time. That’s part of it. Absolutely. So I have five quick tips. You know, we’re almost all the time, correct? Yep, yep. We’re almost at a time. So give us your five quick tips and okay, well let’s

Tara Bentley:    Break it down, right? We’ve, we’ve, we’ve talked about some of the things that steal our margin. So if we want to do five quick things right, and they’re not, they’re not necessarily quick cause we have to do them over and over again and we have to assess what is going on in our lives. And so I would say everybody needs to grab a blank sheet of paper and write down on that sheet of paper all the things that are on your mind that you’re responsible for all of the things. And I have a feeling that you could probably fill those pages and you won’t have any margins left. And that’s exactly what we’re worried about. So we’re going to assess and evaluate you talked about doing this with your husband, which I think is a great idea. And all of our list won’t look the same.

Tara Bentley:    And so I would say first thing we wanna do is highlight the top five. And let’s start there. Find the top five things on your list. And hopefully homeschooling is in the top five because our children deserve that attention to be in our top five. So we’re gonna, we’re going to assess and then minimize. And this is a great conversation to have together as a couple. What are the things that need to just be, you know, to have a pen, go through them on that list and make that decision together. And that’s going to depend on everybody’s life. You know, do you have, do you have real little ones then you probably need to be home more or you could be in the other spectrum. You have aging parents and you just, you have to be out. And so there are things going on in our life that we have to take into consideration.

Tara Bentley:    And then prioritize even those top five, even within the top five things that are going on in your life that you say are, are a priority, which comes first, right? First, second, third, fourth and fifth. Be sure to prioritize them and make sure that none of your priorities conflict with each other. Cause that can happen. Sure. And what are the next three below that. And then number four, we’re going to draw some boundaries around this in our life. We have to draw boundaries, both in our calendar, setting aside the time, the real time that it takes to do these things and setting boundaries with some of the people around us. Some of the critics around us, some of the people who used to always get a yes from us might start getting a no. So we want to prepare some answers for them and the ability to say no and even create some hard and fast rules within your family so you don’t have to think about it.

Tara Bentley:    We talked about decision fatigue, right? Well if you just have some, you know, rules that are hard and fast. So as a family we’ve decided we don’t do this. Maybe we don’t do sleepovers, so you don’t have to have the conversation over and over again that we will have dinner together X number of nights of the week. So we don’t take on too many evening activities. Things like that, we can just know, well, we’ve already made that decision. So I don’t have to keep going back to decide that. And number five to building margin is preparation and this is using technology at its best, using it for what is designed for. And this is automating some of that meal planning. It is okay to have the same monthly menu meal plan over and over again. Right? it’s okay to have Amazon deliver to you once a month.

Tara Bentley:    The things that you need. During some stressful periods in my life, there was always one thing that I always managed to forget off of our grocery list. And that was toilet paper. My family would constantly run out of the labor. I have talked about this for two years. It can be a problem, but you know what? Amazon will put it on my list every month if I asked them to. Amazing. ordering your groceries online for pickup can save time. Creating a list that, you know wardrobe, right? I mean, pick a wardrobe, Steve jobs, you know, always wore the same thing. And he had, he had other things to think about. He didn’t want to have to make that decision over and over again. And I would say use external brains, right? There are some things, remembering passwords. There’s no reason you should have to remember struggled to find a password these days with all the tools that are out there. Using family calendars that we share. So we prepare to create margin in our life when we do the things once right, that we can do them well once and then automate and have them go over and over again. So those are five quick tips I think that I hope will be helpful.

Yvette Hampton:           Yes, those are very helpful. And again, it goes back to what you were saying, being intentional about all of those things. You have to intentionally do those things and sometimes it takes a little bit of time to set those things up, to set up your menu, to set up a calendar to figure out exactly what works best. But once you take the time to set it up, it ends up saving a whole lot of time in the long run.

Tara Bentley:    And these are, you know, these things are, again, these are lifelong tips or skills that we can, we can work with our children on. We set great examples for them when we do this and this is how we get it done through the rest of our life as well.

Yvette Hampton:           Yeah, that’s right. Well, Tara, thank you so much for being on with us today. You are such an encouragement and I am excited to have the opportunity to talk with you. I know we talked about this being schooled national school choice week, so for those who are already homeschooling, I am so grateful that you have chosen to have your kids at home with you and to educate them and disciple their hearts. For those who are maybe thinking about homeschooling just keep praying about it and, and listen some podcast, join us for the Homegrown Generation Family Expo. We’re going to be talking a lot about homeschooling and giving you some great encouragement. Attend a homeschool convention in your state. Find out about your state organizations and why they exist and what they’re doing and how they really matter to you because they really do matter. And just trust the Lord. He is going to fill in all of the gaps. There are always going to be gaps, but trust him because he will fill those in. He’s going to give you everything that you need. You just bring to him what it is that you have and he’s going to be faithful with the rest of it. So thank you Tara. We appreciate your time today. Have a great rest of your week, the week you guys, and we will see you back next week. Thank you.

Speaker 3:        Okay.

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