I decided for this post that I would share some of the things that keep me as in individual busy, cultured, nurtured, connected and peaceful instead of focusing on what I enjoy with the children or the family as a whole.
Charlotte Mason eludes to this needs for mothers to refresh their souls, rejuvinate their minds, reflect their creativity and refocus ther vision. This term Mother Culture has been coined and I think this perfectly describes what any good mother must create for herself in order to continue on in contentment and peace as she meets the needs of those around her.
“What we need is a habit of taking our minds out of what one is tempted to call ‘the domestic rag-bag’ of perplexities, and giving it a good airing in something which keeps it ‘growing’ ” (Parents Review, Vol. 3, No. 2).
and although it pains me not to mention books in this list (they are such a shaping force in my life) I wanted to share some of the things that help to give my mind a good airing...
- my new love. yes, I have finally been bit by the knitting bug and haven't put down my needles since before Christmas. I am still learning but enjoying the early part of the journey tremendously. Since I am still in the I-only-know-how-to-knit-stitch-stage, I have been churning out scarves every few days. My goal is to have a knit scarf to warm every neck in our family. I'm working on my third out of five currently.
- a pen pal. A dear person that I met at work and I became fast-friends nearly two years ago. And then she up and moved to Big Sky, Montana to live in a wonderful, little ski village and work as a massage therapist. The life. So we decided that we would be pen pals. My first letter arrived last month and it was complete with photos of elk, her current reading list and a retelling of her experience during the Big Sky Christmas Stroll. She says it was enchanted! I'm going to love exchanging letters across the miles!
- completing a project. There is always something waiting to be planned or organized when one has a family. My current project is tackling a good meal plan for our family. I have been thinking about this for over two years and really feel that it's time to have a plan in place. Simple right? Simply pick eight to ten of our favorite meals and rotate. Voila! I'm closer than I think. It's just a matter of sitting down and giving it some good thought.
- baking. In life there is baking and cooking, and no, they are not one in the same. Although I love to cook wholesome and tasty meals for my family, baking is my truer calling. At the end of the day when the house is quiet and the children are slumbering soundly I often get the urge to bake something. Of course then there is the daytime baking that is done while the children are awake and able to help. Both are therapeutic times for me. And the end result is something that can be shared with friends and family. A few of my favorites include chocolate chip cookies, blueberry scones, pear tart, apple crisp, chocolate cake, banana bread and pumpkin muffins.
- tidying and cleaning. I happen to one of those people who can't think straight in the midst of clutter or untidiness. I also happen to be a mother of three who homeschools. This translates into 5-6 eating experiences throughout the day, corners of every room filled with remnants of play, building, make-believe and art projects and lots of little foot and hand prints at nearly every turn. I try to maintain the level of tidiness each day and also choose one form of deep cleaning to tackle each day (cleaning out refrigerator- food and wiping down shelves, polishing wood in living room, cleaning windows, vacuuming under all furniture in any given room to name a few). Our space is small and brimming with loads of living and creating each day. I want to keep it simple and beautiful. A place where we can feel peaceful and warm all at once.
- an afternoon out. Choosing to spend time alone each week is something that didn't come naturally for me at the start of motherhood. I used to wait until I felt toxic emotions bubbling up inside me and then declare that I needed to get out of the house this instant. I felt guilty at first for the need I felt to have time to myself each week and wouldn't even ask for this time. It used to be a daily need I had when my children were babies and toddlers and taking care of them was so much more physical (nighttime wakings, breastfeeding, dressing, bathing and feeding them) than it is currently. And now sometimes a stretch of four or five days goes by without any real need or desire surfacing to spend time alone. But yet I know now that this time out is really a preventative measure that allows me to keep on top of the burnout and resentment that can sometimes accompany a mother who is at home with her children day in and day out. So I plan time in even when I don't feel that I need it. A trip to the bookstore, an errand or two, some time spent at local thrift and consignment stores and sometimes a quiet lunch out alone with a good book or a journal.
- an evening out. After nearly ten years of marriage, Mike and I are still very diligent about planning date nights. We are blessed to have my family very nearby. This translates into grandparents who are happy to sit with the children and often tuck them into bed while we enjoy a quiet dinner out. It feels so good to step away and know that everyone back home is safe, sound and thrilled to have their Nannie or Grampie with them.