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.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Time to Stop and Breathe!

Dear Holly,
I am writing to you because I am stuck. I started my MROL recently and I feel completely overwhelmed. I am not finished with your book yet. I'm on chapter four and answering the questions. I feel completely overwhelmed by my schedule. I start at 6:30 a.m. and end at 11 p.m. And I don't even have time for laundry and simple household chores! We have four children under 9 whom I homeschool, and we have so many activities that I'm drowning. I had a big fight with my husband tonight because I want to stop some of the activities and he doesn't. He doesn’t want to disappoint the kids. We have violin, piano, tap, ballet, a Catholic club, a Lego club, swimming and soccer starting up in the Fall! My husband's work schedule is such that he will most likely be unable to attend many of the games and practices this year, so I will have to shuttle the two oldest to and from practices and games with no help. They could possibly have practices and/or games at the same time but in different locations. This is a potential nightmare. I am stressed out. I already feel isolated and overwhelmed by everything we have going on. I don't want to add this, too. Our kids are joiners. They will join anything! All my homeschooling friends live in the country and their kids participate in very little outside their homes, and all my non-homeschooling friends live in the suburbs and their schedules make us look lazy. Help!


  1. First of all, it's best to complete reading the book first! I am pretty sure later in the book I talk about taking baby steps on all this. We have to train ourselves to work efficiently - these things take time. One step at a time - and only one step - one promise to oneself to do something at a time... Or else, like running a marathon without having worked your way up to it, your heart will give out and you will never want to try it again.

    You have to focus on essentials - you don't start with a full blown prayer/spiritual reading/adoration/retreat schedule - you start with a daily prayer time where you can talk to God, read your Bible or other spiritual reading, and perhaps journal. Get that down, and then see what else you can add later.

    So first off, stop your 'schedule'. Just stop today. Get your meals ready, do your laundry, get in prayer, and take the evening off. That is a good start to practice until you get those routines down. Then choose another activity.

    Secondly, ensure a prayer time every day this week of about 30 minutes, evening or morning or afternoon during kid naps - whatever works for you. Finish reading MROL and talk to God about it. Think about the very first thing you need to do after these basic daily duties of meals & laundry - it could be a declutter of the home, or of a bedroom or the kitchen, and the implementing of meal time chore charts etc. But all of this ought to take you about a year to get down a system and to be able to work that system without overwhelmed feelings or working too hard. Again, one step at a time.

    As for what is balanced - even with 4 children, you should have your work day end by 8pm at the very latest to have personal time, and time with hubby alone- and aside from baby baths and cuddling kids, it should probably end after supper clean up. You need down time every night or you will burn out. What cannot be accomplished by 8pm ought not to be accomplished. If you aren't done by 11 pm, then you are either scheduling in too much, or you are being a perfectionist!

  2. Part II
    As for the out-of-the-home activities, you are correct to question the level of involvement, especially since all your children are so young. They are joiners because you or your husband are joiners - it really does stem from you as a couple. Part of the discernment about whether or not to have the kids join is the availability of time and energy - yours and your husband's. Both time and energy count as discernment factors, as does family life time together.

    If your husband is practically-speaking unable to participate in these activities, then that is an indication that your family isn't able to do as much as you would perhaps wish. There is only so much Mummy to go around. If he wants them in those activities that you cannot do, he will have to be the one to take them. Simple as that. You need to decide what YOU can do and IF you want to do it - especially given all your other responsibilities. I know for myself, we had one child on one soccer team one year, before we realized it was impossible to accommodate such levels of outside commitment given other duties and other children's needs and parent-energy-and-time levels. We found that later on, as the kids reached high school age, they were able to get themselves to more events through friends, etc. However, you have options still...

    I suggest that first, you try to find some articles on the benefits of spending time with siblings and just being at home, to show hubby that a more home-centered life is OK.

    But secondly, to mend the relationship with hubby and come up with a workable solution - a) tell him you understand his desire to have the children involved in various skill building activities and with a community of people, and tell him that b) you want to find an activity or two that is family-centered not individualized - like going swimming together as a family, or having kids over to do Lego tournaments, and c) tell him you can probably find a good homeschooling co-op in your general area that would mean a one stop location for the family, once or twice a week (your choice), but all the kids have something for their own interests. Usually Mummy gets a chance to sit down and breathe at these Co-ops (although not always!). That would satisfy Daddy that the kids are involved in something and spending time with peers, but make it do-able for you. The family-centered activity options are really necessary for families who have more than one or two children, even if you didn't homeschool. And d) tell hubby he is perfectly free to enrol the children in something other than the Co-op, or to keep them in these other activities, if he can take them. Then, e) tell him that you want to take the kids out of the activities they are presently in, or finish up the present schedule with his involvement, but that you will transfer them to the Co-op activities once that can be arranged.

    This is reasonable, and should meet everyone's needs and simplify your life.

    Lastly, we can't compare ourselves with other families, of course. The lifestyle and duty-roster of a homeschooling family is going to be very different from non-homeschoolers, and probably needs to be lived a lot cheaper as well. You know the expression "keeping up with the Jones'es"... You have to live the live God has called YOU to, not what others do...

    Relax. Rest. Think today. Pray today. Do your meals today. Get your laundry worked on. Spend time reading A Mother's Rule. And stop all your work by 8pm, guaranteed.