Help With Your Mother's Rule

Help With Your Mother's Rule is a forum for women who want trouble-shooting help with their Mother's Rules or about any aspect of the 5 Ps of the married vocation.

Ask Holly: This blog is composed of your questions. Contact me at the address listed on Holly's Helpers page and I will respond. Please share your unique ideas as well. The more ideas and experience we share, the more successful every mother will be in designing her own unique Mother's Rule.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Overcoming Mental Block

Dear Holly,
I have been trying to implement the MROL on and off for the past 4 years. I think I do pretty well with the First P, except for the morning prayers. I can't seem to drag myself out of bed early enough to get time for myself to pray. Also the children wake up at various times in the morning that it is hard for me to figure out what time to get up. I could get up at 5:30am to be safe, but then I would be useless to everyone during the day. I usually pray while I am getting myself and the children (3 kids under the age of 4) ready for the day. Mornings feel horrible for me, the children are whining that they are hungry, and fight over who gets to snuggle with mama in bed, while I'm trying to get the baby out of harms way. Then I end up getting out of bed angry.

Also, I have worked through your workbook, and reread parts of your book and it all makes so much sense to me. I want to do it, my husband really thinks this is exactly what I need, especially with beginning homeschooling in Sept. In a perfect world I could get my act together to do it. I make nice charts on the computer with things scheduled and for some reason I just can't follow it. I get so tense thinking about having my day rigidly following a scedule. I am afraid my children with "interfere" with my trying to do this. My husband thinks it's a fear of failure, that I am just sabatoging myself. I can't even make a meal plan without getting stressed out. I have made meal plans that took so much time looking through cookbooks and finding recipes, then one thing happens that week and I don't follow the meal plans at all. It ends up being a waste of time. I can make the plans, but am anxious while doing them, then I can't follow through.

I have been able to keep the house in order, but not the way I planned it, just when I feel like something needs to get done I do it. Somedays I don't get out of the kitchen because the work seems endless. I want to spend time with my children, but it just doesn't happen. There are days where I haven't even had time to sit down and read a book to them.

I don't know what it is, I know I am all over the place. I would love for you to shed some light on this for me! I would like for the MROL to work for me, especially with my son really looking forward to schooling this fall and our family needing to get on a restrictive diet for health reasons. I need to get over this, please help me!


  1. I am wondering - have you ever tried a checklist, as opposed to a schedule? That would give you the freedom to choose and reduce the sense of rigidity , meanwhile accomplishing what you think is best. This might go along way to reducing fear. You could also pray for fortitude on this.

    Secondly, you could work on your rule based on what you 'already' do daily - writing down for one week what you DO do, and seeing if there is any pattern. I am assuming you have 3 meals a day, do laundry daily (if not, choose this!), etc. If you could examine what you do for a week, and see how many things you already do, you could begin with this on your checklist, and then begin to add something new - one new or important activity a week or two, until it becomes a habit. Fancy schedules on computers won't work because you are trying to jump into everything all at once.

    As for your morning prayer, etc... if it doesn't work for you, don't do it. You have to work with what you've got and find what suits you, and go from there. Sometimes we have in our heads a certain way of doing things, but it doesn't really suit who we are as persons. If I were you, I'd schedule my longer prayer times in the evening (or whenever) when I was more content or attracted to it.

    As for rising time - you need to make your mornings more 'laid back', I assume. If it was me, I'd have nothing scheduled (or, I'd have no personal expectations that I'd have to work) until a certain time - say, 8 am. Until 8 am, I would consider this 'free time' and spend time with my kids, wake up as it happens, and not worry about things, until 8 am, when I'd start getting breakfast ready or whatever. If I managed to change a diaper or make a bed, etc before this, great! But if not, there would be no pressure to start 'to work' right away, as perhaps, given the young ages of your children, you need more morning 'space'. As for the kids - you could have a morning snack ready for them BEFORE breakfast - banana and milk, a healthy muffin - all laid out the night before - or some such thing, ready to go- the milk could even be poured in the sippy cups the night before and put in the fridge, and the kids would know they could go right out and get it, and pick up the muffin etc, and that would temporarily stave off complaints. For, the principle is, if mornings are not your strong suit, do what you can to pull them together the night before - lay out clothes, get breakfast ready and table set, etc. Perhaps this might be the nicest gift you could make to yourself - get an evening routine going that deals with the morning basics (note 'basics") and that would enable you to breathe a little easier in the a.m. Then the kids could all meet in your bed and do a morning offering with you.

  2. Part 2:
    Once you get this under control, as per your personal needs and temperament, then move on to the next thing - creating a checklist for morning chores, for example.

    Another thing might be to set a 'day' for certain types of work - Monday baking, Tuesday/Thursday laundry, Wednesday errands, Friday cleaning, etc... (altho I am a daily-laundry fan myself...) Then you would have a general idea of what you are doing when, as well as a checklist to help you remember what you need to accomplish every day, as a reminder, giving you freedom to choose instead of feeling boxed in. This is perfectly valid and allows much flexibility for the ages of your kids and your personality and unique circumstances.

    Also, make sure that you don't set up any plans based on 'dream-goals' or perfectionism. Attend to the absolute basics at first - family first- basic prayer, good basic food in the fridge, story time, husband time, etc, and then getting meals on the table, getting your laundry done, tidying, clean house. Remember - one thing at a time. Step by step.

    And watch yourself - make the whole year an assessment - ask yourself - why is this not working? What is working? Why is it working? And see if you can't assess what YOU as a unique individual needs to bring order - even if it is 'your' personal type of order.

  3. I really appreciate your advice. You gave me a lot to think about and to slow down doing things step-by-step instead of getting bogged down with trying to do things perfectly according to the image I have in my mind and getting frustrated when it doesn't work out.

    I never did do a checklist, but that sounds like a great idea! I think it's very doable. I have been trying to do different chores on different days of the week - Monday, laundry; Tuesday - ironing; Wednesday - dusting, cleaning glass; Thursday - Vaccuuming; Friday - washing bathrooms. It's great when it works the whole house is clean by Saturday, but there have only been a couple of weeks where I was able to stick to it completely.

    As for the morning, letting myself have a more 'laid back' morning is something I did not think about. I have an idea of successful homeschooling moms getting up early in the morning, saying prayers or doing some spiritual reading, having a cup of coffee, and being dressed before the children wake up. I keep thinking that if I just get up early my day will go better. And if I don't start getting up early to get a head start on the day before the children wake up I won't be a successful homeschooling mom. That's just my negative self-talk, I guess.

    Perhaps I should start praying to know myself more, so I can structure my day according to the temperament God gave me.

  4. Yes, I think your last comment is totally appropriate. We all have 'visions' of what the perfect mom is, but they key for you is to become, gradually, the perfect 'you'. :-) God gives us our own unique personalities, circumstances, talents, attractions and families. You need to work with what you've got, where you are at.

    Start small. Hope! Trust in God! Trust yourself!

    And when you find things don't work - like different days for different jobs - then see what "you" would prefer. While we all share the same objectives - like a clean house - HOW we do this is unique to each of us. I like to do all my cleaning at one time, once a week, while others prefer a slow gradual approach. I like to do daily laundry so it doesn't get too big. Others like a laundry day.

    Find what works for 'you'. Just figure out the reasonable goals and accomplish them in ways that suit 'you'.

  5. And remember - if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. You may find yourself facing similar consistency issues in following a checklist. But you know, if you just try every day and aim to check off one more check a week, for example, eventually you'll have trained yourself in the habits so these things become second nature.

  6. I agree with Holly on so many points.
    I too thought I needed to get up early before the kids, and I tried for 2 days, and realized that is not for me. I would much rather stay up a little bit later, and say my rosary then. I do morning prayers with the kids at breakfast time, we do afternoon prayers after lunch, and do evening prayers before bed. I eventually am going to get to spiritual reading also, but like Holly says get the basics down first. Don't give up God will lead you on the right path.

  7. Loved reading these posts...just what I needed. I could have posted the original question myself!

  8. What wonderful advice. I am inspiring reading of the issues posted, which I share, and Holly, your hope-filled and faith-filled responses. A friend gave me your book, which I devoured, and then I shared it with another friend because I got so much out of it. Now it is 7 months later, and I want to refer back to it. So I will have to order another Love the fact that you have a blog--Thank you!

  9. Me again. Above I meant to write "I am reading the issues posted." What you've written is inspiring-thanks!

  10. A book that may be helpful in knowing more about your temperament is "The Temperament God Gave You" by Art and Laraine Bennett. I know that it has been a big help with people I work with to bring some perspective to the fact that we are all created differently and that there are positives and negatives to each way, and how to work with these differences in our lives.

  11. I too could have written the original post to Holly. I read the book a couple years ago after I had my first baby and now with baby 2 going on a year, I was desperately in need of a rule in my life. I just started spiritual direction and my SD told me to read Holly's book. After rereading chapters 9 and 10, (not sure if I read them the first time) I cannot tell how much having a Rule resonates in my soul. It is critical to our vocation as wives and mothers. Holly's openness about her struggle with the sin of Sloth was such an awakening to me. I too struggle with this vice and it can be all consuming. In the past month I have created a weekly plan which includes getting up before the children (which I LOVE). I cannot tell you how much the Lord has blessed my day (multiplied my time over and over)because I am spending more time with him. I am also committing myself to an early bedtime. No later than 10:00pm. My rule isnt perfect or completely consistent yet, but I am finally determined to look at this rule as a way to be obedient to Christ. Praise God. Thank you Holly for writing this book and for this website where we can share and be encouraged. Ladies, let's pray for each other!!

  12. Holly, you have such a gift. You write such beautiful, encouraging advice. You provide the kind of gentle, loving guidance that I believe comes from the Holy Spirit. Thank you!!! (From an occasional reader who always gains something from reading the questions and your answers.)

  13. Thank you... Now pray for the success of a Facebook page - a new venture I know nothing about... :-) Stay posted!