There is so much that, as moms, we are responsible for - whether we homeschool or not. It's easy to become immersed in the day-to-day ordinary stuff of parenting, and forget that our children's minds are not the only ones that need to be fed! But it is every bit as important to feed our own minds and spirits as it is to feed our bodies. This sort of self-care is not selfish; it helps prevent burn-out and the depression that so often accompanies that used-up feeling. We are children of God; we do not stop needing to grow ourselves, just because we take on the responsibility of mothering!
Happily, it's a relatively simple matter to continue our own education, and thanks to the ready availability of books and technology, there's a number of easy ways to do it, many of them very inexpensive, and a number of them able to be done while we do necessary, but uninteresting, chores that are so much a part of life.
It's the concept of "breathing" that I refer to. The biggest challenge to the mentor is to breathe, is to inhale, because the mentor, the teacher is always exhaling. And, if they never take the time to inhale, if they never take the time to feed themselves, that's the biggest challenge. Because we're always concerned about giving, about teaching, about leading, guiding, mentoring, doing things: output. And if we neglect the input, that can be harmful.
-Quiddity #69: Why Mentorship Matters
One traditional -and very cost-efficient- method of feeding ourselves is to keep a commonplace book. I've written about commonplacing a couple of times, but basically, what it is is a notebook. I use a regular spiral notebook, one of the tougher kind that has a plastic cover so it will last as I fill it over a period of months or years, including dragging it around in my backpack sometimes. In the notebook I copy out passages from my reading that strike me as being particularly good, true, or beautiful. Sometimes it's passages from scripture, sometimes it's from the fiction that I read either by myself or with the kids' school, and sometimes it's from nonfiction. Occasionally I'll add something from blogs or whatever else I read. The commonplace book has been all but forgotten, but it was once a pillar of self-education in both America (especially among women) and in Europe. Charlotte Mason kept one, which you can see at Afterthoughts. The Library of Congress has images from Thomas Jefferson's various notebooks. I can say that, having kept one for several years now, it's a powerful tool for self-education. All you really need is a notebook and something to read, and you can become more educated than you are right now.
There's lots of places that will help you find worthy things to read. The 1000 Good Books list and a host of other lists of classic works are great places to start. If you want to learn more about the Founders, then this list looks likely. I will be working on works from the Ambleside Online recommendations for a long while, I'm thinking, and I've been fortunate to be a part of a Mother's Education Group for many years now, which has helped me find other good books.
In addition to traditional paper books, there's audiobooks - Librivox has a great selection of classics that my kids and I enjoy. Audiobooks are great for making things like laundry go more quickly and pleasantly. And there's podcasts on every topic, and in a host of languages, so you can use them to support the language you learned in school, or that you're working to learn now. Even if you don't understand everything, listening to native speakers speak is hugely valuable to language study.
The reality is, we won't have energy for something big and meaty and deep every day. And that's ok. We do what we can, with what we have, and that includes our time and energy. I thought that this was some really great practical advice for moms who have to live in the real world, where good intentions meet day-to-day reality:
The wisest woman I ever knew--the best wife, the best mother, the best mistress, the best friend--told me once, when I asked her how, with her weak health and many calls upon her time, she managed to read so much, "I always keep three books going--a stiff book, a moderately easy book, and a novel, and I always take up the one I feel fit for!" That is the secret; always have something "going" to grow by.
-Mother Culture, Parents' Review Archives
All this week, I'm posting about books. Stop by again to read about:
- Good Books Matter
- Literature and Twaddle
- Supporting New Readers
- Second Language Literacy
- A Feast of Ideas
- Feeding the Teacher, Too (this post)
The 5 Days of Books series is part of the Homeschool Review Crew Annual Blog Hop: 5 Days of Homeschooling. Click this graphic or browse the linky below to see what other Crew members are writing about.