You might’ve seen this picture on my Facebook page this week:
In case you’re not familiar with Charlotte Mason, she was a British educator in the 1800s who was a bit of a revolutionary in her ideas and methods. Here’s a great description of the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education.
What struck me this week, though, is what Charlotte had to say about mothers. She wasn’t a mother. She never married or had children, yet she recognized some important things about home life, particularly relating to mothers.
There is more to the quote in the picture above. It goes like this:
“If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play! If she would have the courage to let everything go when life becomes too tense, and just take a day, or half a day, out in the fields, or with a favourite book, or in a picture gallery looking long and well at just two or three pictures, or in bed, without the children, life would go on far more happily for both children and parents. The mother would then be able to hold herself in “wise passiveness and would not fret her children by continual interference even of hand or eye – she would let them be.”
Wow. That’s an interesting concept….when life becomes too tense, just take a day or half a day out in the fields or with a favorite book or in a picture gallery or in bed without the children. Can any of you moms even fathom such a reality? I certainly can’t.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my children more than life itself, but life does become too tense sometimes and a break like Charlotte described would be amazing beyond measure. I think the perception sometimes to those who have never walked this road of a homeschooling mom is that every day is a vacation, so there’s no need to get away. Consequently, in the early years, especially, I felt guilty for even desiring a break because “everything should be okay since I get to stay at home all the time.” Can any of you relate? Do any of you ever get that message from people in your life?
The reality is that it’s very hard to raise children, to care for them 24/7, to homeschool them. And without breaks, I become tired and frustrated and short tempered. Our home life is less than it should be when I’m worn out.
So, what can we do about it, those of us who might not have the resources available to take breaks like Charlotte described? How can we refresh and rejuvenate so that our home is happy and well balanced?
We have to get creative. Here are a few things I have done to have breaks and stay sane:
1. I took up couponing shortly after our fourth baby was born. This might sound utterly insane to you, but it actually allowed me to kill two birds with one stone: 1) I started saving our family lots of money, and 2) I had an excuse to go out to shop by myself more often since I was saving our family lots of money. So, to me, going to the grocery store alone is a nice, refreshing break.
2. Now that my older children are involved in a homeschool academy a few hours each week, I have only my 5-year-old during that time. So, that, in itself, is a bit of a break. However, I had the idea of an arrangement with a friend who also has only her 5-year-old while her older kids are at the homeschool academy. We decided that on Wednesdays she would keep my child during school hours, and on Thursdays I would keep her child. So, my friend and I each have about 4 hours alone every week, which has been a wonderful arrangement. (We also swap date nights with that same family occasionally, which is a huge blessing.)
3. Exercise. I like to take walks around our neighborhood to stay healthy, but it also gives me 30 minutes or so by myself to think or pray or talk on the phone or listen to worship music. I don’t feel guilty getting away for a few minutes if I’m doing something that benefits my health.
Okay, so those are my thoughts. I’m not strolling through an art gallery or a field or lying in bed to relax, as Charlotte Mason suggested, but then the world is a different place now, too. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by life, I hope you’ll get creative and find ways to re-charge your batteries. You’ll be glad you did, and your family will be, too!