It’s such a gift to not only meet other moms who are doing amazing things in business, but moms who are also homeschooling. So on today’s episode, I am chatting with the Homeschool CEO, Jen Myers.
Jen isn’t your typical homeschooling mom with a side hustle. She believes in running a business and the family with the mindset of a CEO and now she’s on a mission to help other mom entrepreneurs do the same. So we cover a lot in this episode, but I think my favorite thing we talked about was Jen’s strategies for deciding if you should make the decision to homeschool, plus how she structures her day as a homeschool CEO. This was a really great interview. Let’s get straight into it.
Tavia: I’m really excited. I’m really excited. Okay. Welcome to the podcast, Jen.
Jen: Thank you. I am so excited to be here.
Tavia: I already told everybody a little bit about you, but can you introduce yourself and tell us sort of like who you are as a business owner and as a mom?
Jen: Yeah, absolutely. So I’ve been running businesses for the last 17 years, but I’ve also included homeschooling with that. I’m a wife, I’m a mom to four–two by birth, two by marriage. So I got to raise my stepdaughters, love them. I’ve had them since they’ve been five and seven. We homeschooled all four kids while building businesses.
We’ve built three six-figure-plus businesses now at this point, and my latest is Homeschool CEO, where we just connect and edify and empower women who are building businesses while homeschooling. And we call Iowa home. So we’re snowbirds up here in the freezing cold, the Arctic, with our two dogs.
Homeschool + Business?
Tavia: That is so cool. So Jen and I were actually talking a little bit before we pressed record about how every mom that homeschools, and I definitely felt this way. Every mom that homeschools and wants to run a business or is running a business feels like this unicorn. Like there can’t possibly be anyone else who’s this crazy to do this? Surely I’m the only one! And Jen, what do you have to say about that?
Jen: Oh my goodness. I was that person. For 17 years, I walked that road alone. And when I opened up Homeschool CEO and I started attracting women from all over the world, they all said that same thing. They all said, “I thought I was alone”, because they would go to like homeschool co-ops and people would look at them like they were crazy because they would say, “Oh, you know, I have a business too.” And it turned out, it was like this small side hustle, you know, to just help put food on the table, which there’s nothing wrong with that. But my people are building six and seven-figure businesses. They’re retiring their husbands. They are a significant income contributor in their families. And they would go to these places and they would think, “Oh, I don’t belong here. Like maybe I’m not cut out to be a homeschooling mom because there’s nobody else in this group like me.”
But then they would go to their entrepreneur conferences or networking events. And they would say, “I love these people. These are my people.” But then when they would say homeschooled, people would look at them like, “Why? Why would you want to do that? You know, you could just build your business Monday through Friday from eight to three, don’t you know how much easier that would be?” Yeah. You’re laughing because you know, it’s true. Like they look at you, “Why? Why Would you want to do that?” But now, and you know, after 2020 and 2020 going into 2021, people’s attitudes have shifted so much. And it’s not this either/or question it’s a “how can we do both?”
Tavia: Yes, I love that. And I’m nodding. We’re not on video, we’re just audio. But I’m over here nodding, because I remember joining our first homeschool co-op and asking like, “Does anyone else work? Does anyone else have a business?” Because even working, even the idea of finding another mom who maybe had a corporate job or something like that was impossible, forget owning your own business. I was just trying to find somebody who also was working because you know, here in Oklahoma, and I don’t know if it’s similar, Jen, in Iowa, but most homeschoolers are like conservative Christian type people where there’s a lot of that, those values of like, “Oh, the man goes to work and the woman stays home.” And so like, if anybody’s going to stay home, it’s going to be the wife. That’s what I kept bumping into. And so when I would surround myself with these people and I’d be like, “Well, actually I have two businesses and homeschooling my kids”, you’re a hundred percent right. You meet the entrepreneurs and they’re like, “Why would you homeschool?” And you meet the homeschoolers and they can’t relate to you on the business side at all. So I love that you’ve just unlocked this amazing community of people just like me and like a lot of my listeners.
Jen: Yes. Yeah, you are spot on. That is where the need and where we fill that niche that’s very, very specific for entrepreneurs who are homeschooling.
The Beginning of Jen’s Homeschool CEO Journey
Tavia: So cool. So let’s back up a little bit and I would love to know what even made you want to start homeschooling in the first place, because I know a lot of my listeners have younger kids. So they might thinking about homeschooling, especially with 2020, the way it was. They might have sort of been forced into virtual schooling or homeschooling. So obviously, all pre 2020, what made you even consider homeschooling your kids?
Jen: Oh, that is such a good question. All right. Y’all I was not the typical homeschooler. Like you said, Tavia, most people who homeschool, at least in the Midwest, are really super, ultra-conservative Christians and we’re Christian, but not quite at that level. I don’t know a nicer way to say that, but because we have friends that are, and I love them too, so I’m always super careful. But you know, we weren’t, as we, I believe that a woman could make the money, but we did not plan on homeschooling. I was actually going to go to graduate school because I wanted to teach at the college level. That was my goal. I had finished my bachelor’s. We had three kids. Our youngest at the time was in pre-school. So we had three kids who were eight, six, and five. And we thought, life is going according to plan, I was going to get my graduate degree, my husband had our business, I was going to help him and work, and everything was going according to plan. We scheduled a vasectomy for my husband because we were done having kids. I had my graduate school letter in hand.
And then two weeks later, I sat on the bed with tears in my eyes. And I was like, “Something is really wrong.” Like, I feel like I’m losing my mind. And my husband’s like, “What could possibly be wrong?” And I’m like, “I just don’t know.” That same week, we had gone to parent-teacher conferences and the teacher for the second grader at the time sat us down and said, “Hey, school is not working for your child.” Because this was back in 2003. So the services that are available now, weren’t available then. And she had some learning challenges. And the teacher basically said, “You know, maybe if you had, if you homeschooled her for a year”, and this was a public school teacher that recommended it, because she just needs more one-on-one time. And I was like, “What are you, homeschooling? What the heck are you talking about?” Literally, I’m like, “No, I’m going to graduate school. I have a plan.”
And then later that week, we went to parent-teacher conferences for number three, who is in pre-school at a private school. So number one was in public school, number three was in private school in pre-school. And the teacher sat us down and she said, “You cannot send this child to kindergarten.” And I said, well, “Why not?” And she said, “Because he’s at about a third grade level in everything.” And I was like, “Well, why is this a problem?” And she said, “They won’t know what to do with him in kindergarten.” And so I said, “Well, what the heck am I supposed to do with him?” And she said to me, “Have you ever heard of homeschooling? I think this child would be a really great into it. Seriously, this is how it went down. And I’m like, “No, no, no, no, I am not homeschooling. I’m going to graduate school.” And then, you know, I had planned to work part-time at the college and help my husband in the business.
And long story short, that next week I took a pregnancy test and learned that number four was conceived three days before my husband’s vasectomy. And so with a bonus pregnancy on the way we decided that I would not go to graduate school. Instead, I would step into the business, which we ended up selling that one, and that I just started my own. And we homeschooled. We, I was just like, “I’ll try it for one year.” Right? And that’s how so many moms started this year too. We’ll try it for one year because we have no other alternatives at this moment. And we loved it.
You know, there are days when I don’t like it. Like I’d rather be working my business than homeschooling my kids on certain days. But as soon as we tasted what that freedom and flexibility for the entire family felt like, we’re like, “Oh, this is our thing.” Because we weren’t, we’re no longer chained to this nine, you know, eight to three, Monday through Friday schedule with the school system. We could learn in time.
Tavia: Right, that is awesome. That’s so cool. What a cool story. I mean, my husband and I were both homeschooled. And back then, nobody, you were a weirdo if you’re a homeschooled. It’s become a little bit more normal than it was back then. Back then it was like, why would you homeschool? Like, “What? Are you Amish? Do you live out on a farm?” Like, why? That was what people thought. It was just like, “Okay, well, that’s why you must be homeschooling.” You know what I mean?
Jen: Right, right. Yeah. So you completely understand back in 2003, I was like, “I don’t want my kids to be weird.” You know, I went through traditional schooling. My husband did. We didn’t have any frame of reference for like normal people that homeschooled.
Tavia: Right. That’s so funny. You use the word normal because in college, and yes, I went to college being homeschooled, people would find out I was homeschool and they’re like, “Oh, wow, you’re so normal!” I got that. And still get that all the time.
Jen: That’s the number one thing that has said to my kids, “You’re so normal.” I’m like, why do you say that? Like, why, why do people think this?
Tavia: Yeah. And I think that nowadays, the myth of not being socialized is being busted. I think that was the perception of homeschoolers. You know, when I was in middle school and high school was, “Oh, well you just stay home all the time that’s gotta be so boring.” And it’s like, I am never home. I was never home. I was doing activities, I started taking college classes in high school–I was never home. I was always with people. And so I think that’s the big misconception is that homeschoolers aren’t socialized.
To Homeschool or Not?
Tavia: Okay. So if someone’s listening to this and maybe 2020 has kind of forced them to homeschool or they’re doing virtual school, but maybe that’s not working out and they’re considering homeschooling, what would you recommend to someone who’s trying to make this decision if they should homeschool or not?
Jen: Oh, such a good question. So one of the things that I tell our parents that come to me and are considering homeschooling is: 1) Really start off with creating a vision and a definition of successful education, of what that means to you. Like, what does success look, it’s just like with our businesses, right? Success is going to look different for everybody. But when you’re thinking about homeschooling, think about, “When my child graduates, what would make me look back and say this educational experience was successful?” Then I would step back and say, “Is the current school system providing that? Is that where this is leading to or is that holding them back?” And for some kids, it’s going to be a, you know, traditional schooling is a great fit. For some kids, it’s not. But I would really start there. And then I would really start to evaluate what is best for that child and you as a business owner and as a family, and look at all of those dynamics, because that is when you’re really going to determine your why and who you need to be in order to get the results that you want to have.
Tavia: That is gold. I was writing things down. Start with the end in mind. I love that. Just like with anything that you’re going to tackle, when you look at your kids’ education, where do I want them to end? Like, what would be the end goal for me as their parent and that child’s education, and then working back.
Jen: Because that becomes the filter for every decision you’re going to make. Every extracurricular activity, every curriculum choice, everything that you’re going to say no to will be based off of that end in mind.
A Day in a Life of a Homeschool CEO
Tavia: Yeah. So good. Okay. So I can hear the next question that’s popping up for people already, because that’s one that people say to me is like, “How do I find the time to educate my kids and run the business and, you know, eat and grocery shop and stuff?” You know, those little things, eat. So what does an average day look like for you now? And maybe also when your kids were younger?
- Get up at least 2 hours before everyone else and get morning routine done (meditate, write in journal, exercise) in solitude.
Jen: Well, I’m going to go back a little bit to when my kids were younger, because that was the business that we had when they were, I had four kids under eight. So I think that’s where a lot of our parents are right now, because right now my youngest is 16. So my day looks a lot different, which we can totally touch on, but it looks different than it did when I had four under eight, still running a multi six-figure business. Some of the similarities is I’ve always gotten up earlier than my kids, than my entire family, even my husband. I’m up at least two hours before them. And as an introvert, that gives me time to kind of have me time, which makes me feel, you know, fills my cup up for the rest of the day. But that gives me time to just spend some time, you know, I’m a big meditator just to clear my mind, get focused. I’m a journaler, so I’ll do that in the mornings. Exercise and start my day off just in solitude because I need that, right? Especially having all of the busy-ness of running a business and homeschooling kids, I need that time at the morning.
- Focus on Top 3 Business Tasks and Top 3 School Tasks.
Jen: And then I focus on the top three business tasks that I need to do. Because for me, if I don’t have the business going, I can’t be present with my kids. You have to choose what is going to help you be more present in the other thing. And for me, I needed to do the business stuff first, if that makes sense. So I would focus on my top three in total solitude. My phone is not by me and nobody can get ahold of me, I don’t check my e-mail. But I’m focusing on those 20% activities that move the needle 80% forward, rather than trying to do all of that busy work, because that busy work can be done later.
Then once my kids get up, I’m turning off the laptop, I’m walking out of the office, I’m spending time with them. And I’m just being intentional, as far as being present with who they need me to be. And then there, again, we start our day off with the top three school task, whatever those are. Whatever’s the most important thing to me as a family. Like what are, which goes back to, what is your version of success? What is the most important stuff? We do those three things. And that changes per season of life, you know, depending on the age of the kids. And then I kind of go back and forth. So what I found is for me, time blocking didn’t really work. Like I could not be on a super strict minute to minute schedule, but what I found is a routine that gave us a lot of freedom and flexibility so that our kids knew, okay, we’re going to work on this school stuff. Then, we have quiet time. We have two hours of quiet time, which is when I would go back to the business.
- Set up a repeatable process and delegate tasks.
Jen: But a lot of it also came down to learning to delegate and systematize everything in my life from business to homeschooling to household care, like everything had a system and a process that was repeatable. And then we delegated it to kids. We’ve hired help over the years. Different things, because that’s really how we were able to scale, right? How we’re able to scale our business, our families, while still eating and sleeping and having time for ourselves.
- Know what scheduling system works and value quiet times.
Tavia: Yes. I love that so much. I’m, again, nodding over here and I think it’s so interesting that you said time blocking didn’t work because, you know, I find with my students often I sort of share what’s working well for me. And some of these time management areas or what was, and I, you know, different personalities work differently. I’m like you, Jen, I want to get up early and I had to back when my husband was working full time, I had to get up earlier than the kids. So I would have to wake up at 5:00 AM so that I could do my morning ritual and start work by 6:30-ish. And then they couldn’t get out of their rooms until eight. Like they had the little green light in their room, even when they were little, and they couldn’t leave the room till eight. So I knew, I at least have until eight o’clock to get stuff done. And sometimes people hear me say that and talk about time blocking and their mind just goes into overdrive. They’re like, I can’t do that. Like that feels too hard or my brain doesn’t work that way or whatever. And I always tell people, then just take those concepts, like exactly what you just described, Jen, of taking time blocking, if that didn’t work, and turn it into a routine then. So it doesn’t feel quite so rigid and minute by minute, but it still has the same idea of dedicating your time to specific things in a specific rhythm or routine. So I love that you said that.
Jen: I want to point out, you said about not letting your kids out of the room. I did that too, because I had my number three, he was an early riser like me. So we had to put an alarm clock in his room and he could not leave. Like we, even before he could tell time we had the number seven above it. So he knew, unless that first number was seven, he could go to the bathroom, he could get a drink, but then he had to go back to his room and have quiet time because that was my time.
Tavia: Yes. And they actually make little toddler lights now and it’s still in my daughter’s room who’s seven. To this day, like she can tell time, but it’s still in there. And it turns green when they’re allowed to get up. And so when they were too little, I love your hack, Jen, too, but they sell those on Amazon. So whenever she was too young to tell time, it would turn green. It was yellow when she needed to stay in a room and green when she could get up. And so if she would ever get up before she’s supposed to I’d say, “Was your light green? No. Okay. Go back to bed.”
Jen: I love it. One of the other things that I learned to really love because we had a bonus baby, he had to take naps in the afternoon. And so I would send everybody to their room for quiet time as well. And do you know, until my children moved out, we never stopped that afternoon quiet time. And I thought it was for them, but it was actually for me, like I needed that time to unplug. And that’s when I would also work on the business. And so don’t be afraid to give your, you know, nine, ten, eleven-year old, quiet time because now, you know, my kids are in their twenties and they look back and they’re like, “Mom, we were so glad that we always had that downtime in the afternoon.”
Homeschool CEO Tips
Tavia: Wow. That’s awesome. That’s a really cool thing to be able to hear, because I know that sometimes you kind of wonder, because my kids are 12 and under, and so sometimes I wonder like, “Am I messing them up?” You know what I mean? Like all moms do, no matter what choice you make, you know what I mean? So that’s really cool that they thrived on that structure. Okay. So the people listening to this are either wanting to become the primary income earner or sole income earner, but they’re not quite there yet. So when it comes to building your business and homeschooling, or even if they’re virtual schooling, what are, and we’ve already given lots of tips, but can you think of anything else that you would like to share as far as ways to grow your business and homeschool at the same time? Like, are those 20% tasks that you were focused on that you talked about before?
- Focus on tasks that brings revenue to your business and automate, delegate, or eliminate other tasks.
Jen: Oh, that is easy money-making tasks. If what you’re doing is not producing income in your business, like if there is not a direct correlation, it’s probably something that can either, you know, what’s the saying, you can automate, delegate, or eliminate it. Let it go. Because also not just in your business, but in your life too, don’t get so wrapped up in those details of every little thing has to be done or perfect and has to be done by you. You know, if you need to hire the teenager down the street to come in as a mother’s helper a couple hours a day, so that you can get work done, do it. If you need to hire a mail service so that it can help prep your food, do it. Because if you’re able to take, you know, it’s like James Wedmore says, don’t waste your time on $10 an hour tasks. If you really want to scale your business and homeschool, you have to find a way to delegate those little things or eliminate them altogether.
- Ask for support.
Tavia: Yes. I love that. So focus on the things that are bringing revenue into your business. Yeah, that’s so good. And I think that for us mealtimes were always a lot, like my kids always wanted to eat, they always and still do. They always wanted snacks. And so, you know, I recognized I was spending a lot of my day making meals or cleaning up after meals or preparing snacks or whatever. And so I think for your family, anyone listening can just maybe even do like a time audit. Like where am I spending my time during the day and what of this can be systematized and delegated to older kids? Or like Jen said, a mother’s helper come over or swap babysitting. I think getting the kids out of the house if possible is always really helpful, because I know I do my best thinking when I’m not halfway thinking about what they’re doing. And so even finding a mom that you could swap with, like another homeschooling mom or even in the afternoons. Like just finding those pockets of time where you can have your quiet thinking time.
Jen: Absolutely. And even, you know, I think as women and as moms, we’re programmed to think that we have to do it all. And we don’t like, for example, my oldest child taught, I would have her teach the younger children, different things. Like I didn’t teach everything. You know, I had neighbors that helped, grandparents that helped. There are so many people in your world that are willing to pitch in and do different things. And honestly it provides a richer, fuller experience for your children anyway.
Ideas Worth Implementing
Tavia: Yeah. That’s so great. Okay. So last question. If you were to look back at your business, let’s say back when your kids were younger, what’s one thing that you’re really glad you did or implemented?
- Define your own version of success and what that looks like.
Jen: Oh, for me, I think it’s something that, you know, for the first couple of years we struggled with, I wanted, I was trying to do school at home, right? Because I was traditionally schooled and so was my husband. My mother-in-law is a public school teacher. So that adds a whole new element of complication sometimes, because they thought that they were supposed to sit at a desk. But about two years in, I remember really stepping back and saying what, you know, defining, like what I’m telling you to do, you know, define your own version of success and what that looked like. My husband and I sat down and really talked about, you know, what do the kids need to know? Like, what is the most important things? Who do we want them to be? And when we started to operate from this Be-Do-Have model, our whole world changed.
- Focus on the strengths, but do not forget about the weaknesses.
Jen: And we started to, I started to teach to their strengths and not to their weaknesses, which is opposite of what traditional schooling teaches. You know, traditional schooling will say, “Well, you’re struggling with math. So let’s get you a math teacher and do two hours more of math every single day or reading.” Whereas, we have a daughter who is an incredible, incredible artist, but there are other things that aren’t her strengths. And so one of the things that we started to implement that I’m so thankful for is we leaned into those strengths. We didn’t ignore the weaknesses, but we didn’t focus on them. And today she runs an incredibly successful tattoo shop in Nashville, Tennessee with a waiting list. She just talked to us, “Mom, I’m booked out until the end of March.” You know, for people coming in and getting specialty tattoos from her. But that’s because we let her spend hours and hours and hours drawing and painting and really creating that side of her because that’s who she was created to be.
Join the Homeschool CEO Community!
Tavia: I love that so much. That’s so good. So Jen, how can people connect with you further? Cause I know they’re going to want to.
Jen: Absolutely. All right. So I’m on Clubhouse as many of us are at this point, but Instagram is where I’m hanging out right now. We also have a free Facebook community. It’s the Homeschool CEO Community. That one is free to join and that’s where you can get connected with me and then all the other homeschool CEOs as well.
Tavia: I love it. Thank you so much for pursuing this topic. You know, as a homeschool CEO myself, it’s so reassuring and they’re just like nice to hear about other women doing the exact same thing as me and I feel a little less crazy. So thank you for pursuing this thing that was tugging at you because it’s really needed.
Jen: Awesome. Thank you so much for having me. This has been such a joy.
I don’t know about you, but it is so inspiring for me to see other moms who are dominating business and homeschooling or virtual schooling and making time for their families. So make sure to connect with Jen on Clubhouse and Instagram @homeschoolceo. Make sure to check out her FREE Facebook group and she also has tons of other amazing content on her podcast, The Homeschool CEO on iTunes.
If you’re enjoying this podcast, please hit subscribe wherever you’re listening. And thank you so much for leaving the show a review on iTunes. Guys, when you do that, not only do I read each and every one and it makes me really happy, it also helps this podcast reach more people. So if you haven’t had a chance to leave a review, it would mean so much to me. And if you’re not sure how to do it, you can go to thebeautyinbirth.net/podcast.
And remember my friend, if you have a passion, it is not an accident because not everyone loves the thing that you love. So whatever your passion is, it’s there for a reason. I hope that you will get out there, pursue that passion, make it happen.
Have a great week!