If sleep is the oxygen, our own learning is the spark. Even though oxygen is a necessary condition for a fire, sparks are also instrumental. Sometimes, one spark is enough. Other times, especially if you build fires as incompetently as I do, it might take a few tries before it really gets going. Sparks are especially important if the fire has already gone out. But sparks can also help a dull and dying fire, especially if you also add more kindling and fuel (which we’ll get to next week).
We’ve talked about Mother Culture before, but let’s do a brief review. To define it in a single sentence, I’ll say:
Mother culture is thirty minutes a day spent reading, thinking, or remembering.
This is taken from the Parents’ Review article called Mother Culture, the article that is the reason we use the term in the first place. Of course, I also love to use the word scholé because it contains the idea that learning and growing are the proper use of our leisure time.
The two are, in many ways, the same thing. Perhaps we could say that mother culture — that thirty minutes per day — is the bare minimum?
If you have the time, I suggest you read the whole article. It confronts the way we mothers tend to lose ourselves in our children, to the point where all learning and growing cease. This is so tempting when there are babies, babies everywhere, and they have so many needs and there is only one of us to go around.
The article warns us that those babies grow up and become school aged and later teen aged, and if we haven’t learned and grown, we don’t have much to give them. We’ve used ourselves up.
So what does all of this have to do with preventing homeschool burnout?
Well, while it is true that learning and growing help us have something to offer to what our babies will be someday — to become what they need us to be when they are older and looking for more than a diaper change and a cuddle — I think mother culture has a lot more power than that.
It is really hard to burn out when we are learning and growing. Learning and growing are signs of life while burnout is the sign that the fire is dying or dead. Do you see the difference?
Just as a spark gives life to a fire, our study gives life to us. It’s called enlivening.
We all say we “want our children to love to learn” but do we love to learn? Find something to love learning about. It’s not only the best example you could set for your children, but it’ll make your life a lot more interesting and give you some perspective on household challenges.
Because sometimes, our worlds have simply gotten too small.
I love learning in winter because the cold makes me want to snuggle up with a book anyhow. It’s not like summer where there are swimming pools and beaches calling to us. What is not to love about a blanket, some coffee or tea, and a book in winter?
The question for some of us is finding — or rather, making —the time. The article says:
Mother must have time to herself. And we must not say “I cannot.” Can any of us say till we have tried, not for one week, but for one whole year, day after day, that we “cannot” get one half-hour out of the twenty-four for “Mother Culture?” — one half-hour in which we can read, think, or “remember.”
The key is to look at our calendars and figure out where it best fits. It’s hard at first. But I can tell you that it’s a very powerful habit to have.
I think the power comes from taking an interest in something. It’s the interest which sparks the growth, and the growth is almost assumed once the interest takes hold. You see, mothers are born persons, too, and so what we know works with our children — learning and growing via paying attention — works with us as well.
The amazing thing is that our growth doesn’t just benefit us. In fact, if you’re uncomfortable with this idea, then let’s return to the article. The article isn’t suggesting growth for growth’s sake. Rather, it’s growth for the sake of the family. Because the family needs the mother to grow up and become more than she currently is.
Want to think more about homeschool burnout? Try this episode from Scholé Sisters:
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