Embracing Distractions: Finding Purpose in Homeschooling

“God oftentimes uses distractions to challenge us in what we’re prioritizing.”

Katie Waalkes

In the latest episode of the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, Yvette Hampton sits down with Katie Waalkes, a second-generation homeschooler and mother of multiple children with special needs. Together, they tackle the topic of distracted homeschooling and how to navigate the challenges it presents. As highly distracted homeschool moms themselves, Yvette and Katie share personal experiences and insights that will resonate with many parents who face similar circumstances.

Embracing Distractions:

In the interview, Katie underscores the importance of character over curriculum. She urges parents not to be overly focused on adhering strictly to a schedule, but rather to seize teachable moments and opportunities to build character in their children. Katie asserts, “Homeschooling is not just about academics; it’s about preparing our children for life.”

Katie also highlights a significant concern for parents who miss out on imparting valuable life lessons due to the physical separation that can occur when children spend prolonged periods away from them. She encourages moms and dads to remain open to identifying and seizing opportunities to teach and build character in their children. “We were put on this earth to serve others and serve God for His glory,” she emphasizes.

Anchoring the Day:

Both Yvette and Katie discuss the importance of anchoring the homeschool day with specific activities or times to refocus and overcome distractions. They suggest using meal times as anchors if no other routines are established. “Teaching children to refocus, pray, and confess mistakes can help them develop valuable skills in restarting and moving forward.”

Katie shares her practical approach to managing distractions, including the use of a whiteboard and the notes app on her iPhone. She prefers these methods to traditional pen and paper, as they help her stay organized and prevent her from misplacing important information.

The Blessings of Distractions:

While distractions in homeschooling can sometimes be challenging, Katie counters that they can also turn into blessings for children. She urges parents to focus on leading their children to Jesus, regardless of the day’s structure or organization. Distractions offer opportunities to guide children closer to Him.

Overcoming Challenges:

When discussing how to overcome distractions, both Yvette and Katie stress the importance of recognizing the problem, seeking God’s guidance, and subsequently experiencing a heart change. They highlight the need to protect specific hours for homeschooling and the benefits of blocking off “safety hours” to minimize interruptions and maintain focus.

Katie encourages highly distracted homeschooling moms to blend similar tasks together and avoid multitasking, as it often leads to unfinished projects. Additionally, she recommends creating a minimalist environment free from clutter and using noise-canceling headphones to reduce environmental distractions.


By focusing on character development, anchoring the day, and embracing distractions, homeschooling can become a purpose-driven journey that leads children closer to Jesus.

As Katie wisely states, “The most important thing in parenting is leading children to Jesus.” With this perspective, distractions transform from obstacles to opportunities, reminding us that our ultimate goal is not merely academic success, but shaping the hearts and minds of our children for the glory of God.

So, if you find yourself easily distracted in your homeschooling journey, take heart and tune in to this inspiring podcast episode with Yvette Hampton and Katie Waalkes. By embracing distractions and seeking God’s guidance, you can discover a new sense of purpose and fulfillment in your homeschool experience.

Katie Waalkes is a wife of 14 years, mother to 6 kids, most of whom have special needs with a mixture of medical diagnosis & special learning needs.

She is passionate about encouraging parents in their biblical parenting and helping homeschool moms in their journey. Katie has a unique perspective on homeschooling as both she and her husband grew up homeschooled. As a second-generation homeschooler, she has been both the student and teacher and has much to offer on the topic. She hopes to be able to help you start making the most of the little moments in life as the mundane moments are often the most impactful.

Recommended Resources:



M.O.M. Master Organizer of Mayhem: Simple Solutions to Organize Chaos and Bring More Joy into Your Home, by Kristi Clover

Organizing the Mayhem, with Kristi Clover on the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast

Homeschool Planning: Step by Step with Pam Barnhill on the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast

Discussion Questions:

Want to use this interview for a co-op meeting or small group? Here are a few discussion questions to keep the conversation moving in the right direction:

1. How does Katie define distracted homeschooling? Can you relate to her experiences as a highly distracted homeschool mom?

2. How does Katie emphasize the importance of character over curriculum? In what ways can we prioritize character-building in our homeschooling journey?

3. What are some teaching moments and opportunities that parents often miss out on when their children are separated from them for long periods? How can we be more intentional in seizing those opportunities?

4. What are some strategies that Katie shares for overcoming distractions and staying focused in homeschooling? How do you anchor your day and help your children develop refocusing skills?

5. How does Katie view distractions in the journey of parenting? How can distractions actually benefit our children’s growth and our own journey towards Jesus?

6. What are some challenges that Katie identifies in her homeschooling journey, such as changing curriculums and inconsistent expectations? How can we address these challenges and ensure a more consistent homeschooling experience?

7. Katie’s children have special needs. How does she adapt her homeschooling approach to cater to each child’s individual needs and abilities? How can we accommodate our children’s unique learning styles and challenges?

8. How does Katie view multitasking? Why is it important to block off specific hours for homeschooling and protect those hours from external distractions and appointments?

9. Katie suggests creating a minimalist environment and using noise-canceling headphones to reduce distractions. How can we create a homeschooling environment that promotes focus and minimizes distractions? 

10. In what ways can we seek a heart change and rely on God’s guidance to overcome the challenges of distracted homeschooling? How can prayer and seeking the Lord’s wisdom help us in our homeschooling journey?

Keep it FREE:

We have always wanted to make the barrier to entry for homeschooling as low as possible, so we have made all but one of our resources completely free (and we’re considering how we can make that one free too). READ MORE HERE.

We pray that the Schoolhouse Rocked Ministry is a blessing to you and your family. Here are a few ways to be involved in this important mission…

Read the full interview transcript below:

Yvette Hampton [00:00:00]:

Hey, everyone. This is Yvette Hampton. Welcome back to the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. Thank you for being with me today, this week, whatever it is that you’re doing. I am always so honored to know that you are on the other side of this camera, on the other side of this microphone, and taking the time to listen to the Schoolhouse Rocked podcast. You know, before I ever pushed the record button with any guest, we always pray. And it was no different with my guest this week. Her name is Katie Walcus. And we were just talking about the podcast and what we were going to discuss and just talking about life and stuff. And then I asked her, I said, do you have any questions? And she said, can we pray? And I said, absolutely. We always do that. And our prayer always is that you, our audience, would be encouraged by what we discuss and that the Lord would speak through us and that he would be honored in our conversation and that everything we do would point you and point your kids to Jesus. And so we really do pray that that is how you view this podcast and what you get out of it. That you walk away encouraged and equipped to be able to do this parenting thing, this homeschooling thing, this life thing, and that you would be able to do it the best that you can according to God’s word and according to biblical truth. So thank you again for being with us. I am excited about my guest this week. Like I said, her name is Katie Walcus. I totally botched her name when I asked her, because if you look at it the way it’s spelled, you might try to figure out how to say it, too. And so I’m glad that I asked before I completely butchered it on the podcast. But we are going to talk this week about the highly distracted homeschool mom, and I am so excited about this topic because this is me. I am a totally distracted homeschool mom. That might be surprising to some of you and those of you who know me, you’re going to be like, oh, yeah, that’s you, yvette. Well, Katie, welcome to the podcast. Like I said, we’re talking about the highly distracted homeschool mom. And it’s so funny. As soon as I saw that you talked on this topic, I was like, oh, you got to come on the podcast because I need your help. And I know so many others need help in this area as well. I think one of those things that as homeschool moms, those of us who are easily distracted, those type B’s like myself, it’s hard for us sometimes to think that we’re doing okay. As homeschool moms, we feel like we’re just screwing this all up, because I can’t even stay focused on a single thing, much less trying to teach all of my kids and keep everything rolling smoothly throughout the day. And so I think it can cause us to become very insecure about our ability to teach. And so I would love for you to first introduce your family and then I’m assuming I don’t know, maybe I shouldn’t assume this, that you, maybe yourself, are a highly distracted homeschool mom as well. Let’s just talk about this this week, but first tell us who you are.

Katie Waalkes [00:02:52]:

Yeah, so my name is Katie, and I am a second generation homeschooler married to another second generation homeschooler. We’ve been married almost 15 years. It’ll be 15 years in August. And I have kids ranging from well, they’re getting ready to have birthdays. They’re going to be 1413, 1211, six and five. I have to get a running start, if you ask me, in the middle. I can’t tell you how old the middle child is without going up or down. But our family is very unique. We have a lot of kiddos with different special needs. And it was funny. It was actually through one of my kids going to therapy, like, to a counseling therapy session, that I actually discovered that I myself have ADHD. And it was so funny because the therapist, just very lovingly, like, with no malicious intent whatsoever, was telling my daughter who has ADHD, she’s like, you know, it’s okay. She was like, I have it too, and I’m pretty sure your mom does as well. And I was like, no, I don’t have ADHD. And she was like, oh, I’m so sorry. And as we started talking, I was like, so why? Why did you say that? Like, I’m just I’m curious, what made you think that? And so she started asking me, and I ended up getting screened for it. And I am 1000% ADHD, actually more so than my husband. I knew that he had it, but I am way more. So that was a really fun thing to find out as an adult and as a mom. So I am definitely the highly distracted home school mom. I have found that most moms feel like they actually fit in this category either because of natural tendencies or because of external circumstances. Because we live in that world that’s constantly yanking us in every direction. And our kids are in all the sports and they’re social media, and we’re balancing so many things at one time that I find that so many moms find themselves there, but there’s definitely ones who are more naturally that way and more that are, like, just end up in circumstances where they feel like that. So the things that we’re going to talk about today will help and apply to all of that, hopefully.

Yvette Hampton [00:05:03]:

Yeah, that’s a great story. And I may fall into that category and I just have never had myself tested, but I could easily see that probably since I was a kid, I can look back and I can see. Even through my academic years in school, I went to a private school my whole life, and I was always just I could not focus on anything, which is why it was hard for me to learn. And I still do that even when I read my Bible in the morning, I literally have to listen to it and read it with my eyes at the same time because otherwise, even then, I sometimes have to read the same thing over and over again because my mind just is everywhere. It’s all over the place. And are you a visual learner? I’m curious to know.

Katie Waalkes [00:05:51]:


Yvette Hampton [00:05:51]:

So not only are you distracted, but you see everything as you’re distracted with it. It’s a double curse and a blessing, I think, at the same time. Let’s talk kind of through this. And as you’ve met homeschool moms and you yourself, what are some of the distractions that you think most homeschool moms face?

Katie Waalkes [00:06:12]:

Yeah, so like I said, they’re sort of the external distractions and the internal distractions. And I actually kind of asked several people on my I have a YouTube channel and asked them, what are the things that you guys feel like are the most distracting to you? And some of the answers I got were, of course, the kids, right. And all the needs they have, the laundry or chores, the things they’re trying to keep up with in their home, the calendar, like just managing everybody’s schedules, especially if you have any kids that do have therapies or playdates or sports or whatnot. Sickness can even be an external distraction. We’ve all run into that where you just have seasons, where you just feel like you can’t get to your schoolwork because you’re constantly dealing with sickness. Of course, our phones, I think that’s probably a really common one, and just having to do list, like feeling like we’re constantly needing to do the next thing is always a distraction. But as I was thinking about it more, I was like, there’s also internal distractions, at least for people like us.

Yvette Hampton [00:07:23]:


Katie Waalkes [00:07:24]:

Because my mind in and of itself is a huge distraction. It’s constantly going, it’s constantly thinking. And I think most moms do we’re like, okay, what are we going to have for breakfast the next morning? What are we going to have for dinner? Who do I need to get where? And it can be very overwhelming, and we can be present and not actually be present at all because our minds are everywhere else. But there and there’s the sin aspect of distractions, of feeling like we just selfishly, we don’t want to do what we’re supposed to do. So we allow ourselves to get distracted and sucked into things that are more interesting to us or that we want to hyper fixate on.

Yvette Hampton [00:08:09]:

Yeah. You say being present and not present. Do you have the wonderful ability that I have to read a book and have no idea what you’re reading because you’re thinking of something else? Yes. I don’t think everyone can do that. I don’t know if I call that a gift or a curse again, but I can read a book to my kids literally perfectly, every single word, and have no idea what I’m reading to them because I’m thinking of something completely different than what I’m reading. So hopefully they don’t ask me questions about those books. I mean, I can read a book and focus on the book, and mostly I do. But sometimes if I really have something heavy on my mind, my brain, I’ll just go off into la la land and thinking about all the things and then imagining all the things because I see everything in picture. I have, like, this constant movie going on in my head all the time, which I always thought that everyone did. I always just assumed that everybody saw everything. And then I learned years ago that that’s not the case. And I was like, what do you mean you don’t see everything? You don’t have a constant movie going on in your head all the time?

Katie Waalkes [00:09:15]:


Yvette Hampton [00:09:16]:

Yeah, it can be a tough thing, but it can be kind of fun sometimes. The distractions can be overwhelming in every way.

Katie Waalkes [00:09:24]:

Yes. And a lot of times when you find yourself distracted somebody asked me when I started to talk on this topic, and it kind of threw me off guard because I just kind of assumed you knew if you were a distracted mom. But somebody asked me, how would I know if I’m a distracted mom? And I was like, oh, okay, I guess I can break this down a little bit. If you feel like you’re constantly wasting time, if you feel like.

Yvette Hampton [00:09:53]:

You can’t.

Katie Waalkes [00:09:54]:

Get to that, if you feel like a lot of the work you’re doing is not at its best and you kind of feel like you’re a little bit of everything to everybody and not really able to accomplish anything or to do anything. Well, if you’re feeling mentally exhausted and fatigued constantly. And I know as moms there’s an aspect of that, but I think that sometimes we blow past that really easily and we just assume that, well, moms are tired, so this is okay, and I just need to push through it. And there are physical tiredness that we feel, but when there’s this mental overload, there are things we can do to kind of shift that and to take off some of that extra mental weight. And I think that’s something that we oftentimes just don’t think about.

Yvette Hampton [00:10:40]:

Yeah, and I definitely want to talk about that and just give some practical advice on what can we do, how do we navigate through this. But let’s talk first about the problem as a home school mom, because we’re talking to homeschool moms specifically, and I feel like you’ve talked about some of it, but we could just go on forever about why this is a problem. But I want to bring hope to the situation because I think so oftentimes moms don’t homeschool or they want to give up on homeschooling because they think someone else they think that the teacher in the classroom has it all together and that she is going to be able to teach their kids in a more focused way than the mom can. And I feel this too sometimes. I never have the urge to put my kids in a classroom but oftentimes I’m like, man I’m such a mess. And it’s hard for me to sometimes teach my kids to be focused because we do get things done. I don’t want to sound like we just molly gag around the house all day every day. That wouldn’t work for anybody but monkey see, monkey do. I mean, my girls very much take after me in this aspect. I know it drives my husband crazy. I don’t do it on purpose, it’s just how my personality is and he loves me through it. But let’s talk about the problem of this for homeschool moms and then let’s try to give some practical ways to overcome it.

Katie Waalkes [00:12:13]:

Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the big problems with it is that we can. For me, one of the ways this kind of showed up as a problem in my home school is I was a habitual curriculum hopper for the beginning of my home school years, whether it was mid year or whether it was at the end of the year, but constantly changing up different curriculums because it was like, OOH, something new and shiny and FOMO, it’s a real thing. And all the different things. And I was constantly switching things up. And so there were some gaps and inconsistencies there that fell into that. For my kids that I know that they suffered because of that. It was also hard for them because of my distractedness. I would oftentimes have different expectations for the day and so if I was feeling unmotivated then I would be like everything can slide. Either we’re not going to do home school or we’re going to do it but the standards are not going to be as high. And then the next day I would be very motivated and I would expect my kids to match my motivation which is really not fair to them whatsoever because they had no idea. And my kids learned really fast the system to things. They learned that if mom was tired and overwhelmed they could get away with not doing school or not doing as much. And if mom was really motivated they were probably going to have to do like two or three days worth of school in one day because then I’d be feeling this panic of being behind. But there is 1000% hope in this because God completely shifted things in my life. And some of these strategies that we’re going to share are ways that this happened. But there’s also part of it that was a heart change and I want to encourage that is the most practical thing you can do about this is to recognize the problem and take it to the Lord, because if he’s called you to this, he’s going to equip you for it. And we can so often be like, well, this is just the way I am. I’m kind of doomed to this. And that’s not at all the case. Yes, God has made you uniquely how you are, and there’s strength to being a highly distracted homeschool mom, and we can talk about that, but there is also sin that’s interwoven into these things and asking God to really confront that in your heart and to change those things, and he will be faithful to do it. And so I think that’s the biggest hope that I can give is that you can do the strategies, but until you have the heart change, you’re not going to see that impact.

Yvette Hampton [00:14:41]:

Talk about that transition for you then of going from realizing and did you realize it before your daughter’s therapist revealed to you? Yes. Did you realize like, oh man, I’m just distracted and kind of scattered all over the place, but you didn’t really know why?

Katie Waalkes [00:15:00]:

Yeah, I did not know why. I did discover that beforehand. I started to see as my kids got older, the consequences of my choices on them, and I started to notice them that they would get really frazzled or that they were feeling like they didn’t know what the expectations were going to be for the day. And at first I would get frustrated and then thanks, like, God gave me that insight to be able to see maybe this is a me problem, not a them problem. And so thankfully, I started working on that several years before. Like, I actually only found out I had ADHD, I think it was back in 2020. So it’s only been in the last three years.

Yvette Hampton [00:15:41]:

Oh, wow.

Katie Waalkes [00:15:42]:

Yeah, so it’s been a much more recent thing. And since then I’m like, okay, I can learn to find the strengths and the weaknesses and what I need to work on. But yeah, for many years I had no idea why. I just was like, something’s a little off here and I’m just constantly going all the different directions. But there are many benefits to it too.

Yvette Hampton [00:16:00]:

One of the things you said on Monday, which by the way, if you guys missed Monday’s episode, go back and listen to that. But one of the things you said was that there are actually some strengths to being highly distracted. And I was like, oh, this is good to know. I always want to know the good things. So let’s talk about that for a few minutes. What are some of the things that are strengths that we can derive from being highly distracted moms?

Katie Waalkes [00:16:25]:

I think one of the big ones is that as homeschool moms, we want our kids to have a love of learning. And some of the best ways to do that, in my experience, is to follow those rabbit trails and to be willing to take a second and take a break from the curriculum and just follow that thing that’s really interesting to them. And as highly distracted homeschool moms, oftentimes we are more willing to do that and to kind of go off the beaten path and I really do think that’s a strength. I have friends who are very type A and who very much wish they could. They were like but to us, that to do list is such the driving force that we have trouble taking the opportunity to dig into something. And so I found that to be a huge strength across the board. And not that we don’t ever struggle with doing that, and obviously we can’t do that 24/7, but, you know, being able to say, you know what, guys? That’s a great question. Let’s look more into that. Maybe we’re going to watch a documentary or listen to a podcast on that or read a book on that.

Yvette Hampton [00:17:23]:

Yeah, that’s true. But sometimes what I find myself doing and I totally agree with you because we will often do that too, but then we’ll go on YouTube to look at a video on something and then, oh, look at this video.

Katie Waalkes [00:17:37]:

2 hours later.

Yvette Hampton [00:17:38]:

Like, oh, wait a minute. We were supposed to be learning about pompeii or whatever it was that we were studying. And so it can lead to more distraction. However, that also can be a learning opportunity for our kids because you never know what the Lord is going to show you. Maybe something that you didn’t even know you needed to know about or talk to your kids about.

Katie Waalkes [00:18:02]:

Another one that I found has definitely been the ability to pivot life has a lot of things that just happen and pop up and the ability to take that opportunity to make shifts and adjustments fairly quickly is something oftentimes we can do. Now with every strength there is a weakness, every weakness there is a strength. So it’s always finding that balance there but there’s more of a willingness to stop and to do ministry, moments of ministry and to take the opportunity with our kids to be willing to take a break from things, to be able to pivot over to maybe a discipline issue, heart issue that needs to be addressed. And so it’s one of those things that I really do think is a strength because God gives us very specific things for a very specific reason. And another big one has definitely been with my kids having more understanding. Because whether kids have ADHD or don’t have ADHD, kids are highly distracted as a whole, as a general rule, and as parents, sometimes we can be so far removed from that and have so many strategies that we lose empathy or we forget that there’s actual strategy that has to be learned. And so we just assume our kids should be little adults. And so I feel like by having those struggles and even though some of them are not current struggles, some are still even though some of them are not current struggles, they’re recent enough that I remember what I had to do to learn how to pivot and how to grow in those areas. And I’m able to teach my kids better and equip them better because of that.

Yvette Hampton [00:19:43]:

Yeah, it’s called flexibility.

Katie Waalkes [00:19:45]:


Yvette Hampton [00:19:46]:

And you’re right. I think for the Type A mom, it is very hard for her sometimes to be flexible. And again. I mean, I’m not putting down type A, Moms. I aspire to be that Type A mom. I really want to have it all together. I want to be able to organize my day and live by my schedule. It’s just not me. And like you said yesterday or in Monday’s episode, it’s not that we stay there. It’s not that we say, well, this is just how I am, so I’m just going to stay here and, well, too bad for my family, right? We should always be growing and learning. And I know we’re going to talk about some methods. I’m assuming one of them will be because I know it has been the top method for me is making a to do list.

Katie Waalkes [00:20:27]:


Yvette Hampton [00:20:27]:

If I didn’t have a to do list in a calendar to live by, oh dear. I would not be able to function. So we’ll talk a little bit more about that. But for that Type A mom, there are so many benefits to being organized and structured and focused. But it’s really hard for that Type A mom to pivot, as you said, and to be flexible when your day doesn’t go exactly as planned. And so I think it’s hard to be really heavy on one side of the coin or really heavy on the other side of the coin because there are strengths and weaknesses to both.

Katie Waalkes [00:21:03]:

Yes, absolutely.

Yvette Hampton [00:21:05]:

So, yeah, it’s learning to balance all of the things and all of the personality traits that God’s given to us. As we’re talking about distractions, let’s kind of define what a distraction is. Obviously, we know what it looks like to be distracted, but let’s actually just really kind of hone in on that word and define it.

Katie Waalkes [00:21:25]:

Yeah, absolutely. I thought a lot about this as I’ve been studying this topic, and everybody kind of has different definitions and what they assume. But really, when you look up definitions in the dictionary and when you look at other reliable sources, you see that a distraction is really anything. And I think this part is key anything, good or bad, that takes us away from what we should be prioritizing at that moment. And this is a big difference than what we tend to think of, because we just assume that everything that we don’t want to be doing right now or everything that keeps us from doing what we want to do is a distraction versus everything that is keeping us from doing what should be the priority right in that moment.

Yvette Hampton [00:22:12]:

Yeah, that’s tough because I want to have my list and this is what thing I should be doing and never deviate from that. But that’s also not reality, right? I mean, sometimes it is. Sometimes we can stay focused, but especially, I mean, you’ve got six kids and as you mentioned before, you have special needs kids, so I have two kids, neither of them are special needs. And we still get distracted so easily when we’re trying to focus on one thing. So I imagined with six, yes, and having special needs in there, it would almost seem impossible to focus, not ever, but most of the time on the thing that you’re trying to focus on. So let’s talk about just some practical ways that we can do this. What do we do about this? If we know we’re distracted, we can recognize it, we can admit it to ourselves at least. What are some things we can do about it?

Katie Waalkes [00:23:12]:

One of the first things is reducing the amount of multitasking we do. We, as moms, love to multitask, but there’s been many studies shown that we’re not really multitasking. We’re shifting from one thing to another. And so really trying to block off time, especially when we’re talking about homeschooling, blocking off specific home school hours and really protecting those hours. So our school day, I have middle schoolers, and with having kids with special needs, our school day just takes longer. And so we actually typically go somewhere around eight to two. There’s breaks in there, there’s lunch. It’s not all working the whole time, but I’m working that whole time between eight and two. But I really protect between nine and twelve, and that is my safety hours. And for that I really try to not do scheduling any doctors appointments or therapies I try not to have any playdates or field trips we might do. That’s an exception to the rule, but in general we try to protect that nine to twelve. And it’s really helped us to be able to stay a little more focused, because as a distracted mom, I can bounce around within one task, but the second that I start to blend tasks and say, I can jump from math to language arts, no problem, but jumping from math to laundry? Then all of a sudden, I get on what my husband affectionately calls if you give a mouse the cookie days where I start everything and I finish nothing. And so I’m like, oh, we’re doing math, oh, we need to do laundry. But I forgot to switch to that laundry. I’ll go upstairs and get more and then I’m like, oh, I should make my bed. And then I need to call somebody about something. It just becomes this whole thing. So if we can kind of keep like minded tasks together and give our attention to that and then give our attention afterwards to those things. Maybe errands, or phone calls, contacting people and just grouping as many like tasks together is a huge, huge help when it comes to reducing distractions.

Yvette Hampton [00:25:14]:

Yeah. So when you’re talking about staying on those like minded tasks, how do you do that with six kids? Because you’ve got all of them different. I mean, you’ve got a pretty big range of ages with your kids and abilities. So how do you focus on that nine to twelve time frame where you try to really stay focused on them? What does that look like in your home?

Katie Waalkes [00:25:39]:

Well, part of it is I’ve had to learn what works for me and my personality. So something that’s very distracting to me is environmental clutter. I am a very messy person, but mess distracts me and that’s not always the best blend. So with that, a lot of people do their chores with their kids after school and I totally understand why it makes sense. But for us, I have to start the day out with a picked up house. It does not need to be super clean, but it needs to just be picked up. So I will opt for a later start time if it means that I can have a cleared space. And so I feel like that’s one of the big things is knowing and starting to track the distractions that you’re coming across. Because if you find yourself constantly cleaning during school hours, is it maybe that these things are really bothering you and having designated times? So sometimes work will become a task for me that distracts me. I’m like, oh, I need to send this email, I need to do this or that. And I find what helps me is to know that there is going to be a designated time for that later. And if I know that between two and four I’m going to have some work hours, then I can simply jot it on a list and I know I won’t forget it. And then during those work hours I can pick that up and take that task. So it’s all about prepping the time beforehand and knowing when you’re going to be able to do other things. Having that peace of mind really helps.

Yvette Hampton [00:27:11]:

Yeah. Let’s talk about lists. I love lists. I love checklists. Like I said, I would be a complete disaster. I would not be able to function, I could not do this podcast, I couldn’t do anything without my checklist because I think of the things that I need to. And of course I’m the one who I’ll wake up at like four in the morning and I’m like, oh, I got to put this on my checklist. Maybe I’m dreaming about it, I don’t even know. But if I don’t put it on my list, I completely forget about it. I do that with grocery. Shopping. It drives my husband crazy because he’ll say, we need this at the grocery store, and if it’s not on my shopping, it could be like the most important thing. We need milk and eggs. I go to the grocery store for milk and eggs, but if it’s not on my list, I will not get it. I have to have my list. I’ll get everything else but the milk and eggs. And I function that same way in my life. I could have the most important things to do, and if it’s not on my to do list, I just get so easily distracted and I find all the other things to do that take up my time. As you make your lists, do you use something specific? Like, do you use a pad and paper? Do you use your phone? Do you use a specific app? What does that look like for you?

Katie Waalkes [00:28:33]:

So it’s looked totally different in all different phases of life. I currently use the blend, so anything work related? I use a website called Notion. They have a totally free option. It’s kind of the next step up from Trello, if people are familiar with Trello. And so it allows me to do a little bit more than I can do with Trello. But then for the home, I find pen and paper to be my best bet. And so I actually do a couple of interesting things with my list. I brain dump everything that’s in my head the night before because I can’t sleep. All those thoughts, all those movies playing in your head, like, what you’re talking about keeps me from being able to sleep. And most highly distracted moms actually struggle with some form of insomnia because our brains just won’t turn off. And so with that, I find just dumping everything on a piece of paper and writing it all down, and then in the morning, I can look back at it. So that’s not my official to do list, but that is the beginning of.

Yvette Hampton [00:29:36]:

My to do list.

Katie Waalkes [00:29:37]:

So I’ll write anything down that I think is important, and then in the morning, I’ll look over it, and 95% of it is not important. It was just what was floating around my head. And I’ll pick those important tasks, but I make sure to pick three tasks for my day, and that’s been huge because I’m like, no, I have more than I have to do. And it’s like, but if you can only get three done, what are those three tasks you’re going to do? And it has made a whole world of a difference because now I’m getting the things done that are the most important and not necessarily the most interesting or the most urgent, but those things that actually needed to get done. And it’s made a huge difference for me, for sure.

Yvette Hampton [00:30:18]:

Yeah, I love using a whiteboard at home. Yes. I don’t know. There’s something about physically writing it down on the board. And I’ll tell you why I don’t use pen and paper. Because I lose it. Yes. And actually, it’s kind of weird. We have a pretty tidy house. I like my house to be in order, and for the most part it’s pretty clean. But for some reason, I will lose a pad of paper with my notes on it. So I like to use the whiteboard that we have in our spare room. And my phone, I use just the notes app on my iPhone. And I love that it has the little I don’t think it had this when it first started, but it has the little checkboxes now. And so as you list stuff on there, you can just check it off and it moves that item down to the bottom of the list. And it’s wonderful for me because there’s so much satisfaction in checking that box and watching it just move itself down to the bottom. But yeah, I couldn’t live without that. It can be a little bit overwhelming sometimes. But you know what? I love that. Katie pointed out that there actually are some benefits to being distracted as we walk through this journey with our kids. I think what it all comes back to is that we’re just people, right? I mean, we’re just humans. We’re not perfect in any way. We’re sinful human beings, and we’re doing the very best that we can. And really what it comes down to is what’s the most important thing we’re doing with our kids are we leading them to Jesus? And we could have the most perfectly structured day, and we can have all of our curriculum perfectly laid out, and we can get through all of our tasks in the day and check every box perfectly. But if you’re not pointing your kids to Christ in the process of doing that, then none of it matters. None of it at all. Because that’s the most important thing, is pointing them to Jesus. And so it’s okay if you’re distracted. Sometimes distractions come as a benefit to our life because it allows us opportunities to point our kids to Jesus. Katie, let’s talk about kids for a few minutes. Again, I think most of us, even those type A moms who have it all together, if she’s got more than one kid, it’s likely that she probably has a child who is highly distracted and who just has a hard time focusing. So what encouragement can you give for those moms?

Katie Waalkes [00:32:51]:

Well, the first thing is just to be patient with your kids and understand that it’s a process and that there are training things that need to happen. This is not something for most kids that come supernaturally. And then the big thing is really looking at those environmental distractions. I know we talked about that on Wednesday, but those environmental distractions for kids are huge. We as homeschool moms oftentimes look at all the pinterest boards of all the pretty home school rooms, and we want to have the charts on the walls and the fun colors and all the paintings and all the things. And in reality, typically, the highly distracted homeschooler children are going to get distracted by those things, and they actually do better, typically in a more minimal environment. And that doesn’t mean you have to be a minimalist or your whole home has to be minimal. But maybe that means that child needs to work in a different atmosphere than the rest of those places. Maybe if you have a home school room, they need to do better in the living room than working with everybody else. The other thing is noise, right? Our distracting kids noises can be very distracting. So noise canceling headphones have been a lifesaver in our home. You can get them from Walmart, Amazon. They’re like $10. You don’t have to buy super fancy ones. And having my kids be able to just kind of block out the external they can still hear me, right? They can still hear my voice, but it blocks out a lot of that white noise and helps a lot with being able to focus.

Yvette Hampton [00:34:20]:

Yeah, that is such a great point. And it’s so funny as you’re talking, and it’s like, Yep, that’s me. I cannot focus if it’s something that I need to focus on, yes. If I’m reading something that I really need to concentrate on, or if I’m writing something or studying something, if I’m preparing to speak anything like that, I have to have complete, absolute silence. And so I’ll put earplugs in. Sometimes I’ll go to the library and I’ll just put earplugs in. I cannot have any distractions around me because otherwise I just can’t focus on what I’m trying to do. But my husband is the complete opposite. He and my oldest daughter, actually both of my girls, to a point, they need to have something going on in their ears in order to be able to really focus and concentrate. It’s the most interesting thing. And when Garrett was going through college, he would listen to music loud as he was writing his papers. And I was like, how in the world? And he would say, I can’t write without listening to music.

Katie Waalkes [00:35:29]:

I have kids like that as well. And oftentimes it tends to hit around middle school, at least in our home, is when they start needing that music more. So we have boundaries around that. So if you have kids who love to listen to music, at least in our home, what we have found to work is we say you can have music, but it has to be without lyrics. Because the second there’s lyrics going, your mind’s kind of getting spent in two different places, right? And so in most homeschoolers minds, they probably envision classical music being played throughout the home. Mozart, Beethoven. Instead, in my home, I gave the parameters that it had to be without lyrics, and so we end up with a ton of techno music which just.

Yvette Hampton [00:36:15]:

Kind of like, oh, that’s funny, makes me crazy.

Katie Waalkes [00:36:18]:

But my boys are actually able to listen or to work so much better when they have that going. They also enjoy like the piano guys where they do all the fun music parodies and things like that. And so there are a lot of things that they just enjoy listening to and it really does help them focus. So you have to find what works for you and your child. And don’t assume just because something doesn’t work for one that it won’t work for the other. It’s worth trying and reducing the visual distractions. So I talked about the visual distractions on the walls, but for kids, sometimes making little barriers, taking those project boards that you can get from Walmart, like for science fairs or even some manila file folders and taping them together to give your child a little bit of a private workspace. We also are a family who we’re very picky about when we work altogether. So we come together for group subjects, but when they’re working individually, they kind of scatter throughout the house so they don’t get distracted by each other. So just thinking through what works for you and your children is a huge help in that area. And then of course, like what we were talking about the other day is teaching your kids how to make lists and the importance of lists.

Yvette Hampton [00:37:32]:

One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is that there is not a classroom in the world that I know of where a teacher can take each individual child and say, okay, here is your learning style and here are your learning abilities and oh, Johnny needs noise canceling headphones and Michael needs techno music playing in his ears. Okay, let me cater to each one of these child’s needs. You can’t do that with kids in a classroom. But as their mom, we get to focus on what their needs are, what their abilities are, what their capabilities are, and we can really help them to learn and to be able to focus on the task at hand. And it’s part of our job as their mom to teach them how to do those things right and in teaching them as their home school teacher. We have such an advantage over kids who are in a classroom, kids as we talk to moms. And still there are so many moms, especially those new homeschool moms, who think that when they sit down and read with their kids, their kids need to sit on their little carpet square with their legs crossed and their hands in their laps crisscross app sauce and be totally silent so that they can hear the book that you’re reading to them. And every seasoned homeschool mom that I know will tell all of the new homeschool moms no, your kids need to move. They need to do something with their hands. They need some kind of what a classroom teacher would think of as a distraction, right? Our kids need that. They need playdoh, they need to draw, they need to color. They need some kind of fidget in their hands. They need to be flipped upside down, standing on their head so that they can listen to what it is that you’re saying to them so that they can actually learn. And so what a classroom would see as a distraction, we get to see as homeschool moms as an advantage to teaching our kids in the home. And it is such a privilege. I love homeschooling. I love being able to know that my girls need to listen to music when they really need to concentrate on something and that’s what works for them. I’ve loved talking about this, that there’s some strange comfort in knowing I’m not the only one and I’m not crazy. I’m not crazy to be easily distracted. I think it was part one. You talk to a lot of moms who deal with this, and I do too. I mean, it’s a real thing. And sometimes you talked about how there can be strengths to it, but there can also be real blessings to distractions, right? Yeah, talk about that. How can distractions in our day sometimes turn into an actual blessing for our kids?

Katie Waalkes [00:40:17]:

Yeah, I think the big thing is like going back to that definition that we’re talking about, about how it could be something good or something bad that pulls us away from what we should be prioritizing. And we oftentimes think about those things that pull us away all the time from those things we want to accomplish. But I think God oftentimes uses distractions to challenge us in what we’re prioritizing. And that is such a big problem. I know for myself that whether it be the to do list or the chores or the homeschooling or even wanting to spend family time, how many times have we been like, we’re going to spend a quality family day together, we’re going to take a trip and we’re going to have fun, and all these things keep coming up and we get frustrated. And I feel like a lot of times it’s a reminder to be like, hey, this is actually the most important thing. Yes, your kids are fighting right now, but you get the opportunity to teach them conflict resolution skills and that opportunity to teach them that is going to impact them so much more than that trip to the park that you were hoping to take or that math lesson that you were going to teach. Having the opportunity to teach our kids that there are things that are worth setting aside, our to do list for, that when that mother is going to the hospital and she needs someone to come pick up her little kids because she’s got no one else, that is 100% worth putting this aside. And I think that’s what many of us who home school we want to teach our kids is we want to teach them to serve others. We want them to have right priorities, and we want them to learn. We want them to get the academics. But the academics are not the main thing, and this really allows us to teach them that in a really tangible way.

Yvette Hampton [00:42:05]:

Yeah. I love that. Rachel and Davis. Carmen Rachel is by far one of my greatest mentors. I love her. And one of the things that I’ve learned from them is character over curriculum and that it’s so much more important to build the character into our kids. And so, as you’re saying, as the day goes on and our kids are arguing with each other or there is an opportunity for them to maybe help the neighbor bring in her groceries, that math book is still going to be sitting on the table in 15 minutes. It’s okay if it doesn’t go perfectly by your schedule, let them go. Be a blessing to the neighbor or take the ten minutes or sometimes hour that it takes or however long it takes to teach our kids conflict resolution and being able to just pour into their character, because that’s part of life. It’s part of school. I mean, homeschooling, like you said, the academics are just the icing on the cake. We’re preparing our kids for life, and so we tend to just focus so much on the academics, and we’ve got to get this done. We’ve got to get these worksheets done. We’ve got to get this curriculum done. We’ve got to get to the end of the book. And we miss all of the things that are around us, all of the opportunities that we have to be able to teach our kids and point them to Jesus and build character in them and build their relationships with one another. And I think it’s unfortunate that we often miss out on those things because if we’re looking for them, we will see them and we will find them. But when our kids are separated from us for 40 some hours a week, we miss out on a lot of opportunities to build character, to build Godly character into them. So, yeah, that is a great advantage. I love that so much. What is one last bit of encouragement or advice that you can give to our audience?

Katie Waalkes [00:44:01]:

I think a big thing to focus on with your kids is to teach them how to come back from a distraction. And this goes for us and for our kids. So we know distractions are going to come. We can reduce them, but we can’t remove them because God didn’t create us to have our own perfect bubble for our glory.

Yvette Hampton [00:44:20]:


Katie Waalkes [00:44:21]:

It’s for his glory that we were put on this earth and to serve others and to serve Him. And so it’s one of those those distractions are going to come. So teaching our kids, those distractions are going to come. Recognizing ourselves, those distractions are going to come, and instead, really giving our kids and ourselves anchors in our day, where we can kind of refocus. So for every family, it’s different, your anchors. If you don’t have anchors in your day, you can just use meal times of, like, breakfast, lunch and dinner. So maybe the whole morning is a distracted mess and it’s overwhelming. And the phone kept ringing and the neighbors came to the door and the dog got out and the chickens were everywhere or whatever. We can go, okay, but now it’s lunchtime and we’re going to restart, and we’re going to like, this is the next part of the day, and kind of dividing your day up into those chunks. We’re so quick. Our kids, especially, are so quick to be like, It’s a bad day, and they just label it that way, and that’s just kind of how it stuck. And it’s like, no, this was a bad first quarter. We’re going to go into the second quarter stronger. And so really teaching them how to refocus, to take the opportunity to pray, to take the opportunity to confess sins, if we lost our temper, if we got upset because things didn’t go the way we wanted, take that opportunity to say, I’m sorry, will you forgive me? And be like, Guys, let’s start fresh. So I really encourage you to have those anchors in your day and to be able to refocus and restart and teach our kids that, because that’s probably one of the most valuable skills you’ll.

Yvette Hampton [00:45:54]:

Be able to teach your kids yeah. Going into adulthood. Yes. Awesome. Katie, thank you for your encouragement this week. It’s been so much fun chatting with you and just so refreshing. I feel like we need to have a club. We need to start some kind of focus club for the distracted homeschool mom. Yes. Though, of course, that would be just another distraction for us, so maybe we won’t do that. But thank you for your encouragement and just your wisdom. And thanks for being so transparent. Just about where you’ve been, where you are.