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Mere Motherhood: A Homeschool Philosophy Wake Up Call


Since the beginning of the year something has been off with our homeschool. I couldn’t place it because my goal was to have a more relaxed year, what could be wrong with that? The problem fell with the fact that it wasn’t really showing up in the day to day. In my heart I knew something was just off but I couldn’t place it.

Caught between two worlds, toddler tantrums and a pleasant homeschool atmosphere, I had no idea what to do. No matter what I tried, our wonderful school moments were getting interrupted by the notorious Little Brave. Someday, I am told we will laugh about his little stunts. Right now my husband walks through the door and says, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad was it?” just about each and every day. Most days we do have a pretty good story for him of our days adventures or insanity depending on how you look at it.

So here I am daydreaming about how Charlotte Mason might have rewritten her wonderful books on Home Education had she had little tots running beneath her gigantic skirts or off unrolling the toilet paper in every bathroom.

How am I supposed to do Art Study amidst the war cry of an unhappy toddler in need of a cookie at 9am?

Nature walks when I can hardly get through our regular 3 R’s some days?

Remember Dictation, when the only way to get through a Read Aloud is to give up my precious few alone time hours during Little Brave’s nap, so the big littles can hear what I am reading?

This is the reality of the Charlotte Mason philosophy or any homeschool philosophy when you have a big family. When your homeschool ideas are easy to imagine but difficult to implement, it is easy for discouragement to set in.

So when one of my favorite Homeschool Mama friends handed me the book Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins a few weeks ago, I read through my exhaustion ready for the wisdom of one older and wiser than I. As I poured frantically through each chapter, tangible peace filled my Mama heart. I have learned for the most part how to do this Homeschool thing Fearlessly, knowing God called us to this lifestyle, but what about those times when things out of your control start invading your Homeschool, you know….life?

Story after story shared by the author made me laugh, cry and helped me to understand an important truth.

The philosophy must fit into your life, not your life into your philosophy.

This truth applies to all philosophies.

Charlotte Mason, Classical, Traditional….some days you are going to have to let it go! My heart longs to do all the things that apply to this philosophy but in my current phase of Motherhood, it’s just not going to be perfectly the way I imagine it. Trying to force it into the reality of my days will only squander away one of the most important parts of a Charlotte Mason philosophy, Education is an atmosphere.

What does philosophy fitting into your life really look like?

I had a moment a few weeks back when I realized I was making the shift towards letting my actual life take precedence over my Homeschool life.

I thought we had been done and over with the flu until we pulled into the parking lot of our local Homeschool Building to pick up Dreaming Daughter from drama practice. As soon as I put the van in park, Wild Little Girl lost her breakfast all over herself in our van. I cleaned her up enough to get us home only to have her lose her stuff one more time on our way home. These are moments that break my Mama heart! Apparently we had one more kid sick with the flu.

Honestly my next thought would usually be, how are we going to do school today? Frustration would set in and I might even feel a touch resentful towards that child. Awful I know. This time instead of becoming irritated, I began getting my daughter cleaned up and ready to rest on the couch and my initial thoughts were, no school today! It was a proud moment for me because it is SO hard for me to make those calls and for the first time, I did it easily and without guilt! Normally I am trying to figure out how many subjects I can fit in with my healthy kids while one of the others is sick on the couch.

The beautiful thing is this. Giving my family the space to just have a sick day allowed my older kids to serve their younger sister. They made her a bed on the couch, brought a bowl “just in case” and a huge stack of her favorite books. I stood there and wondered how many learning opportunities I had ruined trying to fit “school” into moments we needed to just be as a family. I should know better, sometimes Organic Education is learning how to care for another person or put another ahead of yourself.

I think Charlotte Mason would have been proud for me to take care of my littles, give up the Dictation that day and keeping the atmosphere pleasant.

Mere Motherhood was the perfect read for me as I find the balance in our days and begin to really focus in on what is most important in my kids educational journey. I think that as Homeschool Mamas we inherently know the simple amount of teaching we need to do, but we need to shush the voices inside that scream at us to do more, knowing that more is often at the expense of instilling a love of learning in our children.

So Mama, if you are in need of some deep homeschool encouragement, you need to read this book! It will make you laugh, cry and keep you focused on the small moments which add up to many productive days over a long period of time.

You are never going to have a lot of time, but you do have a little time here and a little time there and all those little times all add up to a life. – Cindy Rollins

Focus on those little moments,

Which add up to a homeschool life worth remembering,

For both you and your children.

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