I get it. You’re a mama desiring to give your children a beautiful, magical childhood and education through Charlotte Mason homeschooling but you think, “how can I possibly be around them all the time.” They’re little now and you’re sleep deprived and you are giving and giving and giving, only to wake up to do it all over again. Some days you’re sure bedtime is just around the corner, but it’s only noon, and a Monday. You’ve made the herculean effort of getting your incredibly willful toddler to nap, only to have her throw a full force tantrum upon waking from her peaceful slumber because she cannot have a cookie right this instant. You’re human and you have limits. You’ve lost it too many times. Will their Kindergarten teacher freak out if they spill their orange juice, of course not. Will I? Yes. I hate sticky messes! You think, “maybe putting them in school would be better for everyone’s relationship. Maybe I can’t do this. Maybe it would be emotionally safer for them (and me) if they were in school.” I totally get it.
And maybe this is true. We cannot be good teachers if we are not first good parents. However, I am here to tell you that you can do this, and that if you plan to homeschool your children you ought to at least consider implementing these three habits. Do I do them all perfectly? Of course not, but I am here to cheer you on and I also need you to be cheering me on as well.
Habit #1: The Habit of Time Spent in the Word of God and in Community.
You know this one, but don’t skip over it. It’s a no-brainer, but I find it incredibly hard to resist lesser loves, put down the distractions, and spend time with the Lord. But you know what, we cannot afford not to. The Word of God is living, it’s life-giving, it’s bread for our souls. We cannot take on this burden of raising children and education all of them without a Place to unload that burden. If we are called to protect our children through home-education, we too need the protection from the enemy who seeks our destruction. Bottom-line is, if we are not connected to the Good Vine, our children will receive spoiled-fruit. Hour after hour, we are emptied of good things.
Unless we form the habit of going to the Bible in bright moments as well as in trouble, we cannot fully respond to its consolations because we lack equilibrium between light and darkness. ~ Helen Keller
To replenish our mama hearts, we need the refilling of something, someone bigger than ourselves. We need His Echoes given through nature, yes, but we also need his Living and Active Word and presence. Period. We are recipients of a grace we could never afford. Live in that truth and seek forgiveness from your children. Forgive yourself because you stand in a righteousness that was purchased for you. It cost a great deal so let’s not waste it. And of course, we were not made to be alone. We need the fellowship of like-minded souls and kindred spirits on this journey.
Habit #2: The Habit of Tidiness, Neatness, and Order
Don’t cringe, I am not talking about a perfectly spotless home*. I am talking about a simple, tidy home. A home where there’s a place for everything and everything is in it’s place. I wholeheartedly believe a tidy and orderly home results in a tidy and orderly mind. As Mason Educators, it also feels wrong to instill a habit in our children that we cannot learn for ourselves. It doesn’t seem right to lay down rails for our children, when our own train is crashing all over the place. Take your break week to get entirely caught up on housework, then stick to a cleaning schedule. Heck, treat yourself by hiring a cleaner once a month! I find it incredibly hard to lead well and stay on top of my motherly duties when I feel desperately behind in the atmosphere I am to lead well in.
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. ~ William Morris
(*Note on how more money, bigger homes, and fancier things might make things worse. Bigger homes are great, yes we all need space, nothing wrong with that. Bigger homes also require more cleaning. More money can seem like a magical fix to all of life’s problems but not necessarily. Thank you Puff Daddy. More money can also lead to more and often fancier things. I don’t know about you, but I’d freak out less by the little hands and faces covered in peanut butter touching my beloved yet thrifted sofa than my brand new precious one. We live in a 1,400 sq ft 3 bed, 1 bath fixer-upper home, educating our four small children. We have a very large yard and thrifted everything. I’m here to tell you it works and we just wouldn’t have it any other way. 😉
Habit #3: The Habit of Delighting in the Arts and Mother Culture
Ah, my personal favorite. We ought to consider delighting in the arts, particularly the “Hidden Art” of Homemaking as Edith Schaeffer so wonderfully spoke of, because we are indeed image-bearers of the Original Artist and Perfect Scientist. Our homes should reflect bits of our unique personalities and creativity. Delighting in the Arts helps us to reflect our Maker which in turn produces a natural cheerfulness because it satisfies an inner longing of communion with our Good Father. This habit blends well into the practice of Mother Culture . If we are to stay home with our children, we absolutely need to tap into that area of our life that fills our cup so we can continue to fill theirs. What it is for you that fills your mental and emotional cup? Maybe it’s time alone in nature. Maybe its writing, photography, pottery, knitting, painting? Maybe it’s reading a poem out loud to yourself over a hot cup of coffee. Depending on your season, Mother Culture will look different and it will evolve, but it is essentially your skillful way of caring for yourself.
Mothers should cultivate their souls so that in turn they may cultivate the souls of their children. ~ Mother Culture…Billy Graham
Mother Culture also requires time and we can appreciate our children more when we have time and space away from them. We must prioritize that time.
Fellow sleep-deprived Mama, I feel you. You are a good mother who loves your child(ren) fiercely, but if we truly know ourselves, we know scary zombie-mommy is lurking close-by. Let’s practice these habits together to keep her at bay. Cheers.
If you can’t rest your head, you can rest your eyes in beauty. ~ Elizabeth Hedrick-Moser