Then it is that she gets overdone. Then it is that she wears herself out. Then it is that, in her efforts to be ideal wife, mother, and mistress, she forgets that she is herself. Then it is, in fact, that she stops growing. – “Mother Culture”, Volume 3, The Parents’ Review, 1892/1893
I’ve never met a mother – homeschooling or otherwise – who isn’t tired and running ragged caring for husband and children, while pursuing a career, or at least trying to help in the way of family finances.
The added challenge of homeschooling with a baby, while pursuing passions and other interests, drained me last year. I mostly felt like I didn’t have any time for anything else anymore, much less myself.
Our homeschooling sputtered on as I tried to settle into a routine while being available on demand (read: milking time) for my little baby. I felt that my eldest seemed to crave more challenging work, which I couldn’t give because I was too busy and tired to sit, think, and do something about it. And my little boy? Well, he could still just tag along whatever his big sister was doing!
It was very timely, therefore, that Sanne, my partner-in-everything-homeschooling (everyone should have one!), very enthusiastically shared with me her latest obsession – the Charlotte Mason philosophy.
I hung on to the assurances of CM-purist Gina of My Ruby Slippers, that our homeschool would be more organized… and that we would have more time for ourselves!
Indeed, after studying and implementing Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophies, our homeschool, or should I say “I”, became more organized. Our daily learning time has become short, sweet, fruitful, and relaxed. And more importantly, little by little, I learned how to take time for myself.
So many mothers say, “I simply have no time for myself!” “I never read a book!” Or else, “I don’t think it is right to think of myself!” They not only starve their minds, but they do it deliberately, and with a sense of self-sacrifice which seems to supply ample justification. – “Mother Culture”, Volume 3, The Parents’ Review, 1892/1893
Haven’t we all said those very words at one time or another? I know I have.
But as the article from Charlotte Mason’s magazine The Parents’ Review says, we need to cultivate a “mother culture.” We need to give ourselves time to nourish mind and soul to spur on our growth. We should be growing too, as individuals, as we parent and raise our kids!
So, what do we do to cultivate a “mother culture?”
The Habit of Reading
The 19th century author seems to mainly describe “mother culture” as taking the time to regain the habit of reading –
The habit of reading is so easily lost; not so much, perhaps, the power of enjoying books as the actual power of reading at all. It is incredible how, after not being able to use the eyes for a time, the habit of reading fast has to be painfully regained.
I miss reading for me. I used to read non-stop and would delay meals and other activities just so I could read one-more-page. And though I looove reading children’s books, I’m craving books that appeal to my real age! So thanks to Ms. Mason’s ideas, I have mustered enough resolve to have my own book list apart from my children’s.
I’m reading, little by little and all at the same time, Tahanan Books’ “The Best Philippine Short Stories Of The Twentieth Century,” from a genre I’ve missed, and “Living the Rosary” and “The Faith Explained” for my spiritual nourishment.
My husband and I are also reading “Beyond The Birds and the Bees: Raising Sexually Whole and Holy Kids” so we can learn together as parents. We try to keep a weekly date, and that’s when we read and talk about the book.
And as I am yearning to know more about Charlotte Mason’s philosophy, I downloaded a sample of one of her original books on my Kindle.
I pick up one of these books every time I feel the urge to mindlessly read my favorite news apps. Indeed, I’m on the path to regaining my habit of reading that slipped through the cracks of motherhood.
Rest and Learn
Another way we can grow is by taking time to rest and learn new things. Our children need to see us do those things, Gina said.
In fact, the “Mother Culture” article recommends declaring “Now mother is going to be busy,” and using the time to think of things beyond household cares.
Inspired, and perhaps really longing to take care and expand myself too, I carved out time to crochet after getting a quick tutorial from Marge, The Happy WAHM. My kids are fascinated with my new skill and are always hovering about as I work on my first project, a colorful scarf for our baby. They suddenly found me interesting again!
I’ve also taken a keen interest in loose tealeaves after attending a private tea workshop with my childhood friends. I enjoy a quiet cup to myself once in a while, apart from our weekly teatime.
For my creative outlet apart from writing, I found a way to finally work on our 2016 family photo books. I do just a page or two every night, which is doable and stress-free. Another thing that gives me joy is my planner. I enjoy putting stickers and drawing on it! Admittedly, it took me a long time to figure out how I could use it along with my straight-forward bullet journal!
Doing all these, for me, is my “mother culture.” It calms me and enriches my soul. And it’s a gift. As I carve more time for myself to grow, the more I am able to give to my family. I’m enabled to provide a calm and stable home atmosphere.