Thursday, January 19, 2012
The following is an excerpt from my booklet "Sunshine And Shower".
I don't know how to do clever PDF download thingies, but if you'd like a copy of the whole booklet just let me know and I'll email you the PDF.
“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 only have
courage to let everyone 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.” Charlotte Mason
It may surprise you, but I have found this to be a somewhat
A friend of mine once attended a conference for homeschooling
mummies. She sat next to a very young lady and asked her how
many children she had. The young lady replied that she didn't have
any children of her own, but since her mother's death she had been
homeschooling her younger siblings. My friend expressed surprise
at this task she had undertaken and asked her how she managed to
find time for herself – she tried not to make it sound like she was
asking “How do you have life?”
The young lady said that her mother had taught her that “Me Time”
was very selfish but there was a time and place to learn new things
for personal benefit and the benefit of the family - and a time to rest.
ME TIME as promoted by the world is extreme, selfish and
unsatisfying. Mummy-having-a-little-space-to-herself time is restful
and refreshing. Let's call it “Breathing Space”.
I would suggest that each Mummy finds her own safe, appropriate,
God -honouring activity for herself. Something she can pick up and
do without a lot of organising or equipment when she has her
Some suggestions for Breathing Space are: taking a walk or bike
ride, art, crafts, listening to sermons or music, putting your feet up
and having a cup of herbal tea, reading “how-to”
books/cookbooks/art books/gardening books, playing an instrument
or learning a new one … Did anything come to mind as you read
this? Did some lovely thought jump inside you and want to be
written down before you forgot it? Something that you know you've
always loved to do, but haven't had the time or space to participate in
since you had children? Then write it down.
Just a warning – these things can easily become a little too important
to a mother. She can begin to begrudge the time that her children
“use up” and “take her away from” her activity. How do I know
this? Because its happened to me!
Imagine the mummy who enjoys quilt making – she decides to make
a “play quilt” for her child. How lovely! She enjoys the planning,
the purchasing of fabrics and starting the quilt.
But then, for several weeks due to unforseen events, there is no spare
time to return to the project. During those weeks she feels a little sad
about the fact that she “never has any time to herself”, she “can't
even sew a stich because she's too busy” etc.
These thoughts can breed discontent and dissatisfaction in our calling as a Mummy.
I did actually make two fabric playmats for two of our little boys –
they were not a “project” - nothing to be treasured for years – they
are rather rough and unfinished, but as a very wise man once said:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose
under the heaven:
and this season is not conducive to neatly-finished, beautifully
produced quilts when I would rather be using my “Breathing Space”
to do some art, reading or writing. The pleasure our little boys get
from those quilts is surely a reward and confirmation to me that the
job I did on them is totally acceptable!
Something interesting and rather concerning I've experienced and
heard from others is that the more time we spend away from our
children the harder it can be to deal with, love and train them when
we return. This subsequently leads to stress - which makes one feel
like one must have more time away, which makes it harder to deal
with the children... and on it goes.
Charlotte Mason's phrase “... when life becomes too tense...” leads
me to implore that we must be in prayer about when GOD would
have us step away for a time. We must not rely solely on our
feelings and our judgements.
However, we must not DENY the fact that at various stages of our
lives, we need various amounts of breathing space – peace, quiet,
relaxing and unwinding without constant demands from the children.
This time will be different for every woman depending on the ages
and stages and numbers of children; her husband's job and the hours
he works; an elderly relative to care for; a large vegetable garden to
As a last word on this subject – do not feel that you have to
JUSTIFY yourself to others. Your own personal breathing space is
between your husband, yourself and God. Only these three know
fully what is going on in your own specific family.