Books Homemaking

Book Review of A Mother’s Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot

7 Tips on Being a Better Mother from A Mother’s Rule of Life

I’m not a good homemaker, but as a stay-at-home mom, taking care of our home is a prime responsibility of mine.

When Paul and I were preparing to get married, we met with the Deacon at our parish to discuss various areas in our lives that might present obstacles in our marriage.

My concern was our lack of long and deep talks, which we continue to work on.

Paul’s biggest gripe was my lack of skills in homemaking.

I told him, to his utter disbelief, that I was once great at keeping a good home. In my early twenties, I had an apartment of my own near downtown and I loved cooking, cleaning, and decorating.

But when I was 25, I moved back into my parent’s house and slowly, my housekeeping skills deteriorated. This was due to how well my mom took care of me.

At my parent’s house, my mom did all the cooking and cleaning. I rarely ever washed a dish, did my own laundry, or cooked my own meal. I was spoiled.

Being taken care of freed me up to focus on college and taking care of my sick uncle and grandparents. But it also meant that I had no habit in place nor motivation, whatsoever, to do any housekeeping.

When Paul and I moved in together, it took every effort that I could muster to do chores. It was very hard.

Paul ended up doing most of the housework. He cooked, cleaned, did laundry, took care of the lawn and garden, and did all of the handyman work.

I was proud of myself if I could get the dishes done a couple of times a week.

The Moment Homemaking Became Important

One day, I discovered I had a breast tumor. I feared it was cancer and my life flashed before my eyes.

My heart was heavy as I realized that my life might be coming to an end sooner than I’d thought. In this state, two visions came to mind of what I wished I had been able to do before my time was up.

One was to have a baby.

The other was that I wish I had been able to make our house a good home for our family.

Of all the achievements and adventures available in the world, these two things seemed most valuable to me.

Later, when I learned that the tumor was benign and I could move on with my life, I decided to focus on fulfilling these two things.

Thus, the need to improve my homemaking skills.

Fortunately, when I was pregnant with my first baby, I had a fierce urge to nest. Suddenly, I was able to clean, organize, and multitask like never before.

Even still, the laundry and dishes would pile up and I never felt like I could get ahead of it.

One time, during a particularly busy college semester, our laundry piled up for a month. After washing, it took me 8 full hours to fold the laundry and put it away. I was only able to complete the task because my mom came over to watch the kids and told me that she wasn’t leaving until I put all the laundry away.

Hence, my number one goal for this year is to be a better homemaker and A Mother’s Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot was the first book on my list.

7 Key Takeaways From A Mother’s Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot

Overall, I enjoyed the book and found many great insights.

Despite my positive feelings, there are chunks of rather dry reading throughout the book consisting of detailed directions on how to create a Rule.

Consequently, my favorite parts to read were the personal stories about Holly Pierlot’s journey from being a wild partier to finding God. I also loved how honest Holly Pierlot was about her struggle to accept being a stay-at-home mom and how she overcame her own negativity to become a more supportive wife.

To clarify, the Rule is essentially a schedule that is focused on living each day in service to God.

Following are the key takeaways that I got out of the book.

1 // Do Laundry Everyday

When I read that Holly Pierlot’s Rule included doing laundry every day, I was enlightened. I only did laundry once a week. It was no wonder that we had such a massive pile of laundry and it was an overwhelming burden every week.

We don’t generate enough laundry yet to require washing every day. But I am doing laundry every 2 days or so and what a difference it has made.

We no longer have mountains of laundry to put away!

2 // Clean the Kitchen After Every Meal

One of my biggest peeves is having to start a meal in kitchen that isn’t clean. Yet, I couldn’t figure out how or when to clean the kitchen because the kids always seem to need my attention.

I decided that Holly Pierlot’s rule of cleaning up after every meal and not leaving the kitchen until it clean was worth a try.

The tricky part though was figuring out how to keep the kids occupied so that I could clean up. My kids are not quite old enough to stay focused on helping in the kitchen. My oldest is 3 y.o. and my second is 1.5 y.o.

Recently, these are the ways the kids have stayed occupied:

  • Most days, the kids will naturally migrate to the play area after a meal.
  • Sometimes, I have to lead the kids to their favorite toys and rush back to the kitchen.
  • Other times, I give the kids fruit or yogurt snacks.
  • If the kids are really fussy, I turn on the t.v. for them.
  • Sometimes it’s just my 1.5 y.o. that’s fussy so I’ll put him in a carrier on my back while my 3 y.o. plays with toys.

3 // The Rule is a Tool, Not a Tyrant

So far, having a Rule or schedule has been extremely helpful in ensuring that I get all the chores done, have time for prayer, and that I am able to do the things I want to with my kids and husband.

But, every few days or so, we hit a rough patch and I’m unable to stick to the Rule. For example, this week, my son has been waking up in the middle of the night which requires me to get up and rock him back to sleep. Once I wake up though, it takes me a couple of hours to fall back asleep.

This means I wake up a couple of hours later and then our whole schedule is off.

The first time this happened, I stressed myself out by trying to rush through all our activities to catch up on our schedule.

Then I remembered what Holly Pierlot had written about the Rule:

“The Rule is a tool, not a tyrant.”

The Rule is there to help us. Therefore, we should not feel obligated, bad, or stressed if there are days where we are unable to stick to the Rule. In other words, we don’t serve the Rule, it serves us.

Remembering this helps me to relax and enjoy the day, trusting that God will lead me through.

4 // Take Time Every Week to Recharge

Holly Pierlot writes about taking a mother’s sabbath day every other Saturday. I was surprised that her sabbath could last the whole day! Paul would not be happy if I took a whole day away from the family every couple of weeks.

Even so, I understand Holly Pierlot’s point about the importance of solitude for the sake of recharging.

Fortunately, as I started to implement my Rule in this time of coronavirus pandemic shutdowns, I found that I had moments of near solitude throughout the day. The biggest amount of time is when I put the kids down for a nap.

Usually, I put my 1.5 y.o. to bed first. I put him in a carrier on my back and I walk around our garden. This gives me quiet time to hear myself think and to talk to God. Having this time for near solitude has been amazingly refreshing.

After my son sleeps, I do the same thing with my daughter and in this way, I get two sessions of solitude which rejuvenate me for the evening activities.

5 // Raise Children with a Christian Worldview

As I started blogging, I researched and read many other blogs. One thing I found interesting was that the majority of the Catholic mom blogs that I came upon talked about homeschooling.

As far as I know, there isn’t an edict that states that Catholics should homeschool. Yet, it seemed that many Catholic mom bloggers had chosen to do so.

I didn’t quite understand why until I read A Mother’s Rule of Life.

In this book, Holly Pierlot talks about how she realized that the biggest contribution she could make to the world was raising her children with a Christian worldview.

She states the contribution as:

“…giving to the world healthy, holy citizens who would spread their influence in an exponential way… My work with my children was the very core of societal change.

Holly found that the best way to do this was through homeschooling.

I’m not on the homeschooling boat yet, but I totally agree with the mission of raising children with a Christian worldview to bring about positive change in society.

6 // Don’t Forget to Nurture Your Relationship with Your Husband

Since the birth of our first child, my husband has been insisting that we go on dates. I, on the other hand, preferred to spend time together as a family and I didn’t want to leave my babies out.

The priest at our church also recommended that I make room for alone time with my husband. Then a friend of mine told me about how important she thought it was to go on dates so that husband and wife could focus on each other.

Still, I was reluctant to make dates a priority when we had little ones that needed our attention.

Finally, after reading A Mother’s Rule of Life I decided to schedule in a date night every other Saturday. In the book, Holly dedicates a full chapter on the importance of making your partner a priority, even when the children are around.

Holly dedicates time in the evenings solely for the attention of her husband. That was impressive to me.

Paul and I have started going on regular dates and it has been rewarding. The best part is that we are now able to talk about deeper thoughts and feelings we had throughout the week that we just didn’t have the chance to discuss.

7 // Do Every Little Thing for the Love of God

Towards the end of the book, Holly Pierlot writes about how having a Rule brought boredom to her life. Through the monotony, she learned to dedicate every task to God and by doing so, she was met with God’s presence even in what would have been an otherwise mundane moment.

In this way, humble moments became multiple opportunities to encounter God and stay near him.

I have yet to put this into practice, but I look forward to doing so.

Final Thoughts on A Mother’s Rule of Life

I borrow a number of books from the library but I am glad that this was a book I purchased. I expect to reference and read the book again in the future.

I would absolutely recommend this book to all mothers who are struggling with juggling housekeeping, raising children well, keeping a healthy marriage, and spending time with God.

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