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    Home Education

    A Mother’s Rule of Life {Post 1}

    November 8, 2011 by Brandy Vencel

    Someone told me I should blog my way through A Mother’s Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot. I was noncommittal, mainly because I hadn’t cracked it open yet. But now that I’ve read a couple chapters, I see that it’d be worth my time to think through these ideas and see how they might help my own little home project. Since everyone else is blogging through Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life, it makes sense to tackle what is basically the same subject, but using a book I already own.

    I always read books a year or two later than everyone else anyhow…because that is how long it takes for me to come by them on PBS!


    Like all organization books, this one begins with the Pierlot’s story of first drowning in her own disorganization. Her house was dirty, her homeschooling was chaotic, she couldn’t find individual time with each child, and she Just. Wanted. Out.

    I am just going to assume we have all been there, okay? Okay.

    So what changed? In the author’s words, she was “confronted with order.” At a conference, she listened to a woman rave about how smoothly her days ran once she discovered MOTH {Managers of their Homes}. We’ll talk about MOTH in a moment, but what I found interesting was Pierlot’s internal battle with accepting a schedule for her family’s day. She believed she was too spontaneous for a schedule, that a schedule might limit her in some way. She gave in, though:

    Schedules might be limiting…but disorder is more limiting. My cherished spontaneity was pointless when I didn’t have the time or energy to enjoy it. I was resolved to bring order where there had been chaos, and if it took a schedule, then so be it.

    MOTH Details
    I have never read any of the MOTH information, but Pierlot explains it briefly:

    The MOTH program did, however, have an interesting twist that I had never thought of before. I had always scheduled myself and the children into the same activities, so all of us would do housecleaning together, or recess, or story time, or whatever. But the MOTH program scheduled each person of the family separately so that each person might be doing something very different in the same time frame, and worked out these individual schedules in harmony with each of the others.

    When Pierlot implements her own version of a MOTH schedule, she is astounded at the almost instantaneous success. This reminds me of when I finally gave in to my demanding preschoolers. I planned more, but somehow it all took less time.

    MOTH seems to deal with the reality that it is very often more efficient for people to work alone or in small groups. I used to feel guilty about not cooking with my children, so then I’d take the plunge and invite them all to help. By the end of finishing a single meal, I’d remember why I hated cooking with my children. When we moved to this house and there was even less room in the kitchen–and I had a baby and added another person–I started at Christmas with a rotation. Each person had an assigned time with me in the kitchen. When it was just myself and one other person, suddenly people actually started learning something about baking and cooking rather than just demanding their “turn” or complaining that they couldn’t see what was going on.

    It is easy to romanticize the whole family doing everything together, but how many of us will admit that Circle Time is in fact the best…and worst…time of the day? The more people involved, the harder it is to keep order. But if each person has an assigned task, each person can also have an assigned time with Mom. It works nicely. I have been taught this by ladies who are wiser that I, and it has proven so valuable over time. It is efficient to combine some subjects, but over-combining can actually stretch out the time requirement. This is why classrooms are so inefficient with time, and I’m sure we homeschoolers would do well to keep that in mind.


    A Jump into the Spiritual
    Pierlot doesn’t spend a ton of time on MOTH, though. She drives quickly past the merits of scheduling and deep into the spiritual significance of what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. I was unfamiliar with the concept of a Rule, so the reading has been interesting, and I even acquired a Catholic tutor, that I might understand some of the language Pierlot was using.

    We’ll talk about Rules next time.

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  • Reply Kelly November 10, 2011 at 1:50 am

    I got MOTH when I was expecting my seventh and had been sick in bed for several months. It was a life-saver. I LOVE the little puzzle pieces that you use to develop the schedule — it made it so easy to figure out what to do when and how much time it would all take.

    I used it faithfully for a year or two to get me past that really hard time, and then I didn’t need it for a couple of years.

    Now, whenever our circumstances have changed drastically so that what we’ve been doing isn’t working and I can’t figure out how to adjust, I’ll pull it back out and come up with something new that does work.

  • Reply Mystie November 10, 2011 at 12:35 am

    clickable (?) MOTH Review

  • Reply Mystie November 10, 2011 at 12:34 am

    Whew, it’s nice to have confirmation about Circle Time being a difficult time. I often wonder if it’s really worth it, then I’ll hear the boys singing (shouting?) Crown Him with Many Crowns while playing Legos and know that it is definitely worth it.

    I reviewed and summarized MOTH ( awhile back, if anyone wants the big picture. I was surprised to see the reference my first time through. 🙂 Mother’s Rule has a distinctly different personality to it (and is much more extensive), but the two could be put together in a complementary fashion.

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts November 9, 2011 at 5:19 am

    Yes! If you want to understand fancy words like “cenacle” go ask KM! 🙂

  • Reply Kansas Mom November 9, 2011 at 3:01 am

    And I’d be happy to serve as a Catholic tutor for anyone else with questions! Though Brandy would caution you that I give answers to about ten times more questions than I’m asked.

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts November 9, 2011 at 2:59 am

    Well, Meg, you are getting me excited about reading the rest of it! 🙂

  • Reply Meg November 9, 2011 at 1:30 am

    I love, love this book! I think I have read it four times cover to cover. It has helped me so much as a mother and with my relationship with God.

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