"So many mothers say, "I simply have no time for myself!" "I never read a book!" Or else, "I don't think it is right to think of myself!" They not only starve their minds, but they do it deliberately, and with a sense of self-sacrifice which seems to supply ample justification. There are, moreover, unfortunately, only too many people who think that sort of thing so lovely that public opinion appears to justify it. But does public opinion justify anything? Does it justify tight-lacing--or high heels--or bearing-reins for horses? It can never justify anything which leads to the "Oh, it's only mother" tone in any young person. That tone is not the right one. But can it be altered? Each mother must settle this for herself. She must weigh things in the balance. She must see which is the most important--the time spent in luxuriously gloating over the charms of her fascinating baby, or what she may do with that time to keep herself "growing" for the sake of that baby "some day," when it will want her even more than it does now. The only way to do it is to be so strongly impressed with the necessity for growing herself that she herself makes it a real object in life. She can only rarely be helped from the outside.
The resolute planting of Miss Three-years-old in her chair at one end of the table with her toys, of Master Five-years-old at the other with his occupations, and fascinating Master Baby on the rug on the floor with his ring and his ball--the decided announcement, "Now mother is going to be busy"--will do those young people a world of good! Though some of their charms will be missed, they will gain respect from mother's time, and some self-reliance into the bargain, while mother's tired back gets a rest, if only for a short time, either on the sofa or flat upon the floor. Then she can listen to her children, and perhaps do a little thinking--not about frocks and foods, but about characters, and how to deal with them; or she can take a book, and "grow" that way. This would do something, but not enough.
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 habit of reading is so easily lost; not so much, perhaps, the power of enjoying books as the actual power of reading at all. It is incredible how, after not being able to use the eyes for a time, the habit of reading fast has to be painfully regained. The power to read fast is much to be desired, and the people who read every word are left sadly behind by the people who read from full stop to full stop at a glance. This power is what our children are gaining at school, and this power is what we are losing when we refuse to give a little time out of our lives to "Mother Culture."
It is worth anything to get and to keep even that; and to do it, it is not a bit necessary to read "stiff" books. 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.
If we mothers were all "growing" there would be less going astray among our boys, less separation in mind from our girls. It would seem as if we mothers often simply made for ourselves the difficulties we find in after life by shutting our minds up in the present. 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." A brisk walk will help. But, if we would do our best for our children, grow we must; and on our power of growth surely depends, not only our future happiness, but our future usefulness."
From this PR article: https://www.amblesideonline.org/PR/PR03p092MotherCulture.shtml
What, if anything, are you reading for yourself and your future usefulness? I was struck by the assumption that we are to be concerned with their future usefulness at least as much as happiness. Is your future usefulness even something you're keeping in mind as you plan your days and weeks? It certainly wasn't for me.
Are you reading each day, or each week? It seems that far too many of us are not.
As we could see in the article, this isn't a new problem, although we do have some new challenges contributing to the problem.
Are you reading from a book more than from social media?
If you are finding time to read, share some of your tips for how to make sure this happens.
*Carve out some time each day to do a bit of reading, thinking, remembering. When my kids were young I sometimes read while they ate, or I listened to an audio book while I showered, or I kept a book or a few pages printed from an online book in the bathroom for quick snatches of reading when I was in the comfort room. Read while nursing, or while sitting outside while the children play. What are your hacks for squeezing in some reading time?
*Choose 3 books - a stiff book, a moderately easy book, and a novel. One of them can be an audio book, but try really, really hard to make one of them a print book. Feel free to share your titles here, or in the forum (we have several book discussions in the forum) or on this Good Reads Group: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/13589-charlotte-mason
Here are 3 of my current titles:
1. Stiff book: Inferno by Dante (this has been on my want to read or currently reading list for at least Twelve years. I am determined to finally finish this year.
2. a moderately easy book: How to Read Water: Clues and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea
3. Barchester Towers, by Trollope
* Check your computer time. Tony Reinke in Twelve Ways Your Phone is Changing You says that the average person checks their phone 81,500 times each year, or once every 4.3 minutes of our waking lives, https://jdgreear.com/askmeanything/christians-engage-social-media/
Consider an app to limit or track social media time. If you already have a good one, let us know. Check here for other ideas: https://blogs.systweak.com/5-best-apps-that-track-social-media-usage-app-to-limit-social-media-use/ or here: https://www.inc.com/jeremy-goldman/6-apps-to-stop-your-smartphone-addiction.html
Do not be discouraged about wherever you are. Everybody has to start every journey from the place where they are currently standing. I am currently typing this in bed in my pajamas. My first step to going anywhere when I finish this is to put my feet on the floor. But I *DO* have to put my feet on the floor to move on with my day. The choices I make today influence what and who I will be tomorrow.
That's where some of you are. It's okay. Just put your feet on the floor and work on making a plan to start from where you are and move forward from there. I hope you'll join us!
Challenge 1 is here.