Here is a "Being Real" post... I admit at times that I tend to post only the good things happening in our lives and our school... the things where we are doing well. But of course, that is only part of the story - so here is a post about some of the other things.
At times I get frustrated with my attempts at Habit training. Charlotte Mason said:
"The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children. All day she is crying out, ‘Do this!’ and they do it not; ‘Do that!’ and they do the other” (Vol. 1, pp. 135, 136).I have been working on habits with my children since I first heard about Charlotte Mason about 5 years ago. Yet, I realize that I have become the 2nd mother, not the one with the smooth and easy days. Perhaps it is partly because my children are still young - but I don't think so. I know that CM said not to excuse children because of youth - and that they will not "grow out" of bad habits. No, I think the problem comes down to a combination of 3 things.
First - I'm not totally sure of what I am doing. The longer I am a mom, the less I know about raising children. Ok, that isn't true - I just REALIZE how much I don't know. The examples that CM gives in her books about instilling habits just seem so hard to implement. Like the story about the boy with temper tantrums.... diverting the child's thought to something pleasant BEFORE the tantrum starts... just that exact moment that a tantrum is about to happen but before the child has had the thought. Well, with 4 children, I can't see that I can discern that exact moment for each possible tantrum..... and the ones that I know are about to happen are generally because I am telling them "no" for something they want, or asking them to do a job they don't want to do.... very different from the example given. Not that my kids have tantrums all the time - but they do occur. In any case, I am sure that my techniques just aren't quite right. We are supposed to follow through and make sure the habit is done - but WITHOUT Nagging. I haven't gotten this worked out on how one DOES that.
Second - Consistency. Oh, that is a problem. A system isn't seeming to work, and I give up on it. How does one know when keeping at something longer will end up working, or that the reality is just that what I'm trying would never work for anyone? CM also warns about letting the child off "just this once"... and that this is prone to be allowed by a mother just before the habit is formed because the child has been "doing so well". Ah, I think I am prone to letting them off "just this once" not because of sympathy for my children - but because of tiredness in myself... it is energy for me to call them back to see the habit done. CM says that teaching habits becomes a habit in the mother.... I guess I'm letting myself off before THAT habit is formed.
Third - My habits. As is true of everyone - I am a creature of habit. And I have already seen that some of my habits are not helping me habit-train my children. I'm not going to go into all my bad habits for the world to see... but I must say that I know they are a definite issue. Yet I feel at a loss to change my habits for longer than a very short time. Yet this makes me see the real need for habit training for my children, so they won't have similar struggles. It is a conundrum that I have been, as yet, unable to solve.
I find homeschooling harder without the habits in place. Some have counselled to do less school while focusing on habits, which is something of which I see the merit. But - as I've been working on the same basic habits without success for 5 years, I also feel that I can not be putting off school for habit training that seems to be getting nowhere. Another problem to solve.
May my kids thrive in spite of my faults and weaknesses!