Mother Culture is part of Charlotte Mason philosophy despite her never referring to the term itself. Anyone following a Charlotte Mason education should know Karen Andreola, her books and her beautiful blog “Moments with Mother Culture“. Karen believes so strongly in Mother Culture that she trademarked it as a concept.
She defines Mother Culture ~
“Mother Culture is, simply put, an act of the mother in which she continues her own education throughout her mothering years. Its purpose seems to be to prevent burnout. When the mother keeps growing, then she continually has something to offer to her children and household. “
Mother Culture encourages a mother to allow herself a bit of recreation, refresh herself by exploring her own interests, and to find a little time for herself, especially when so many others depend on her.
From my experience, I know that mothers with young children may feel that this is just too difficult! So much time and energy are spent on coping with the myriad of demands her young family constantly call on her for, that there is barely time enough to have a leisurely shower, let alone learn and grow as an individual. But there will come a time when this season deep in the toddler trenches ends and you’ll find space around you expanding with new opportunity to grow and develop yourself and expand your own learning.
May I encourage you to try adding small but meaningful ways towards growth and discovery, towards adding the little touches that make your heart and home happy — think of 5 minutes for your 5 senses — sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing.
Pick one skill you desire to learn and set aside a few minutes a day to learn this. This can easily be done after the children go to bed, but always include them in your growth of the skill, so they are seeing your example of education is for life.
- Spend some time alone early in the morning before the kids wake up for quiet prayer, Bible reading and journaling. Why not brew yourself a lovely cup of hot coffee or tea and sip it slowly savouring the aroma and taste as you meditate and read.
- Then simply add the next little touch such as lighting some lovely oils in a diffuser which fills your room with healing aromas, calms the nerves, inspires the heart and clears the head.
- Play some classical music on your playlist as gentle music in the background.
- Perhaps a beautiful hymn might inspire you, so why not learn a new hymn each month? Play worship songs as you tidy, pack away or get the room ready. Perhaps you could learn to play a musical instrument?
- Display a beautiful artwork on an easel or propped up on a shelf for everyone to see and admire. Once a week find another work of the same artist and hang it up to enjoy.
- Pick flowers or pot some new pot plants and fill your rooms with touches and scents of nature.
- Learn a new handicraft such as knitting, crocheting, embroidery, spinning or weaving. These activities are a wonderful way of being quietly creative, keeping busy hands while still being able to listen to your children or watch them as they play.
- This is also a wonderful opportunity to listen to an audiobook or interesting podcast.
- Why not take up a foreign language. There are wonderful smartphone apps to make this quick and easy with just 10 minutes a day you could learn enough to inspire basic conversations which may well add to realising dreams of an overseas trip one day!
- And while talking about learning a new skill, take time to plan your meals for the week. This will help you remember to take out the meat to defrost and plan one new delicious, nutritious recipe for each week. Try something new for the kids to bake or to prepare and cook with you, or find slow cooker recipes that take almost no time at all to place in the crockpot to simmer till dinner time. Meal planning is essential to prevent that 5 o’clock panic which paralysed me when I didn’t know what to make for dinner!
- And get physical — A brisk walk each day will help, or a short yoga session early in the morning, perhaps some gentle rebounding while the kettle is boiling or the washing machine runs the final spin? A fit mom feels capable and strong enough to meet the physical demands on her during the day. Exercise helps build up your immunity and helps ease anxiety, stress and sluggishness.
Brandy of After Thoughts wrote a lovely post On Mother Culture where she encourages mothers to devote time daily to Mother Culture. She recommends that mothers read their own books daily and she says ~
What I’ve learned is that there is a time for reading a lot, and a time for reading a little, and though we should never stop learning and growing, it takes wisdom to know how much is appropriate.
Dollie of Joy In The Home shares on Mother Culture The What Why and How says that nature studies are a perfect example as a place for cultivating Mother Culture. With a true Charlotte Mason education, when a child found something in nature, they would ask the mother what it was and the mother would have an answer for its name and something interesting to share about it. When mothers enjoy their own time in nature, observing, journaling, building up their own knowledge, they not only to provide any answer their child may have but to develop their own lifestyle of interest and wonder. Read my post where I shared the joys of keeping my own nature journal.
We mothers need to continue filling our minds with ideas that challenge and inspire us and this should be done primarily through the habit of reading. Otherwise, when our children grow older and take in more complex ideas and grapple with life’s challenging issues, we will not be able to offer them our valuable wisdom and insight.
“Each mother must settle this for herself. She must weigh things in the balance. She must see which is the most important–the time spent in luxuriously gloating over the charms of her fascinating baby, or what she may do with that time to keep herself ‘growing’ for the sake of that baby ‘some day,’ when it will want her even more than it does now.”
She describes her warm, close relationship with her adult daughters as a result of her investing in herself by “stimulating my mind so that I would have something of value to say to them when they came to me with difficult questions.” Her discipleship in her parent-child relationship was built on her Bible readings and wisdom gained from reading great literature. “This makes for a beautiful, life-long relationship and it prevents me from homeschool burnout. “
I can thoroughly endorse her statements because I have also found the wonderful joy of close and meaningful relationships with my adult daughters. This has come as a result of the deep investment of years of sharing, growing and learning alongside my adult daughters as well as lives lived together filling our home with singing, laughter, movies, chats and times of tears. Our shared passion for music, arts, homemaking and deeply spiritual lives has bonded us in wonderful ways that Mother Culture inspired in our Charlotte Mason homeschool journey.
As I enter my final homeschool year with my youngest daughter I can see the value of Mother Culture in keeping me vibrant, alive and excited for the new that is ahead. No empty nest syndrome here – just precious time to grow and deepen my walk with the Lord, my husband and with others as I live out my calling and purpose.
Let me finish here with this quote from Linda ~
But, if we would do our best for our children, grow we must; and on our power of growth surely depends, not only our future happiness, but our future usefulness.