THE PRACTICAL GUIDE TO THE BULLET JOURNAL FOR THE CHARLOTTE MASON MOM

bujo

We here at Learning How to Live love the method of the Bullet Journal for planning, collecting, and organizing.

The longer we use it, the more we use it.

The more we use it, the better at “life” we get.

Over the next few weeks, we’d like to provide you with

A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO THE BULLET JOURNAL!

We’ll show you how the Bullet Journal works for managing our homes, our personal goals, our money, our menus, our life.

We’ll blog on how the  Bullet Journal fits so naturally for homeschool planning–book lists, future goals, evaluating our children. It especially works well for a Charlotte Mason approach!

We’ll write about how the Bullet Journal has simplified our routines, organized our lives, and helped us find peace.

But first, we want to talk about why the philosophy behind the Bullet Journal fits with the way we see the world. Like so many of our readers, as we’ve read Charlotte Mason’s life-giving philosophy of education, we’ve learned principles that haven’t just made us better teachers and parents, we’ve become better humans!

So principles first, then practices for a cohesive, integrated whole!

Why is the Bullet Journal such a useful and revolutionary, yet simple way to get a hold of your life?

We believe that its success is because it’s a method, not a system.

The Bullet Journal is a method, not a system!

Charlotte Mason writes on the importance of method vs. system in education and her ideas are all of the same reasons the Bullet Journal works.

So what’s the difference between a method and a system?

A SYSTEM is a machine, like a bodies, like a factory conveyor belt, that breaks down when it comes into contact with our very real, very human life. We are not cogs in a system; we are persons!

A METHOD, like a system, is way to achieve a desired end, yet it provides for “the vital growth and movement of a living being” (Volume 1 page 11).

Method implies two things––a way to an end, and a step by step progress in that way. Further, the following of a method implies an idea, a mental image, of the end of object to be arrived at. What do you propose that education shall effect in and for your child? Again, method is natural; easy, yielding, unobtrusive, simple as the ways of Nature herself; yet, watchful, careful, all pervading, all compelling. Method, with the end of education in view, presses the most unlikely matters into service to bring about that end…Charlotte Mason.Volume 1 page 8.

  1. We all need a way, a path, a step-by-step guide to achieve the end, the idea, the object we have in mind.

This is true in education, but it also true for menu planning, party planning, homeschool planning, list-making, tracking appointments, wish lists, recording memories, collecting ideas, brainstorming for the future.

If we don’t stay on the path, we will get lost in the details or lose a detail. We miss  appointments, stack up library fines or forget to pick-up more vanilla and toilet paper at the grocery store. Without a method, we feel stressed and anxious.

The Bullet Journal allows you to create a way, a path that is flexible, meeting your individual families needs and the way you think.

2. We all need a way, as Mason says, that is “natural, easy, yielding, unobtrusive, simple.”

The Bullet Journal is just that. A simple Pinterest search will show you the thousands of different ways people set-up all the things you might ever need to track, all in one place.You can doodle, add art and stickers, or you can be plain Janes, like Camille and me! If you need to change your weekly spread, you can!

The blank page of the Bullet Journal is key.

The problem with other planners, apps, or systems is that they operate on creator’s ideas but may not work with your world.

Take the example of Meal Planning. You want to meal plan and make your grocery list on the same page. You only want to plan dinners but your planner has a 3 row by 7 column grid. Or you like to have your menu list in your calendar on that day of the week, you don’t want a whole separate table, but the cells aren’t big enough to hold your to-do list, your appointments, and your menu. So you have different notebooks, papers all over the house, sticky notes, apps. You end up needing a system to keep track of all your systems! Or you just give up!

img_7602

3. The Bullet Journal, as a Method, is “watchful, careful, all pervading, all compelling.”

We use it for everything–work, family, creativity, home-making, holidays, journalling. And it helps us to be more “watchful [and] careful”!

A great example is planning for one of my children’s birthdays. When I create the monthly calendar and fill in my child’s birthday on the 9th, I immediately turn to the next open page and create a new page titled, “Birthday.” Perhaps, I also had that nagging thought that she wanted new shoes and I had an idea for a great theme so I jot them down and then head back to the calendar. The “Birthday” page is there for me to come back to and create menu plans, wish list, shopping list, RSVPs, etc, etc!

4. As an analog method, the Bullet Journal also helps us be more “careful.”

With technology we can move at such a fast-pace that we often let details slip. As we are forced to slow-down and write out our plans and ideas, we ruminate on them. This plants our plans in our minds, new ideas grow, and we feel at peace.

5. The beauty of the Bullet Journal is that once you figure out your method, you can turn it into a system.

But if that system stops working, you can try a different method, but you don’t need a new notebook or a different approach. The Bullet Journal allows for you to change as you need.

Mason tells us that “There is always the danger that a method, a bona fide method, should degenerate into a mere system.” Volume 1 p 8.

Since the Bullet Journal is just a blank book, we can always turn to the page and start again as we need. After trying different weekly spreads, for example, I have one I mainly stick to week after week, but if it’s a very different week, Christmas or illness, I can change it up easily.

Method…aid[s] the many sided evolution of the living, growing, most complex human being; but what a miserable wooden system does it become in the hands of ignorant practitioners!

We are living, growing, complex human beings. In the Snell home, there are 7 of us, living growing, complex human beings! No wonder wooden systems have failed before.

If a human being were a machine, education could do more for him than to set him in action in prescribed ways, and the work of the educator would be simply to adopt a good working system or set of systems.

But the educator has to deal with a self-acting, self-developing being… (Volume 1 page 10).

Thus, a bullet journal is needed.

So how do we Bullet Journal? What do we recommend? Would you like to see how we keep track of our curriculum as Charlotte Mason mamas? Subscribe today so you don’t miss out future posts!

Would you like to learn more? To see some of these collections and pages “live”?

Sign up for our Bullet Journal for Homeschooling Moms Webinar, now just $10!

Camille and Amy will walk you through setting up your bullet journal and maximizing its potential for homeschooling!

February 21st at 8pm.

We look forward to “seeing you” there!

Buy Now Button

Getting Outside: The Outdoor Life Series

Problem: “But they get Dirty!”

creek-2

 

Okay, you take your kids outside and they have a blast rolling down a hill, exploring a creek, and making mud pies. You love that the hours flew so quickly and everyone had so much fun until…you get home.

You have a pile of muddy shoes, muddy jeans, and muddy kids!

It’s enough to make you stay home next time. Or should it?

2015-04-02-14-20-21

  1. Did you know that dirt is good for your children’s health? Studies show that dirt builds your child’s immune system. *

 

  1. Did you know that dirt is good for your child’s emotional well-being? Studies now show that direct contact with soil improves mood and reduce anxiety. Another study showed that there is good bacteria in dirt which activate neurons in the brain to release serotonin, much in the same manner as anti-depressants and exercise. *

img_0915

  1. Did you know that this kind of play builds children who are “vital and vigorous, full of living interests, available and serviceable? ” How does Mason suggest we do this? Facilitating our children’s relationship with nature.

She continues,

“There are, what I may call, dynamic relations to be established. He must stand and walk and run and jump with ease and grace. He must skate and swim and ride and drive, dance and row and sail a boat. He should be able to make free with his mother earth and to do whatever the principle of gravitation will allow. This is an elemental relationship for the lack of which nothing compensates.” Volume 3 p. 80

park

  1. Did you know that this kind of play builds confidence and mastery?

Another elemental relationship, which every child should be taught and encouraged to set up, is that of power over material. Every child makes sand castles, mud-pies, paper boats, and he or she should go on to work in clay, wood, brass, iron, leather, dress-stuffs, food-stuffs, furnishing-stuffs. He should be able to make with his hands and should take delight in making.” Volume 3 p. 80.

2015-04-10 15.11.03.jpg

What we need are clothes and shoes we don’t mind getting dirty and a plan for when we get home.

  • Where do muddy shoes go?
  • Where do muddy clothes go?
  • Where do muddy kids go?
  • Where do water bottles go?
  • Where do nature journals go?

 

2014-12-16-21-47-03

This post is part of our “Getting outside: An Outdoor Life Series”.

 

 

Freedom in the Rules

Amy and I have been chatting a lot about schedules recently.  Largely, as she has already noted, we have both recently moved to new towns and as such we went from having scheduled obligations to having a largely blank calendar.  Now, I’ve had many a day where I lamented signing my kids up for even the best of activities because it has meant getting all four kids into a car and perhaps I didn’t have dinner quite ready and so I could already see the pending chaos that would ensue when we arrived back through that same door hungry, tired, and (likely) with all sorts of stuff that may or may not find its rightful home right away.  I would have thoughts of, “Doesn’t Charlotte say our afternoons should be available for handicrafts, poetry, tea time, good music, reading, and other fruitful leisure?” while creating pictures in my mind of children who would be painting en plein air and enjoying Mozart if only THIS ACTIVITY didn’t hinder them.  It seems silly written out, but I assure you, I have thought this.

Well, after moving 5 times in 15 months and having almost no kids’ activities scheduled during that time, allow me to tell you, it was nothing like my utopian vision of my homeschool. All too often, I would set up a temporary schedule but because the only thing keeping us from veering off schedule was our own discipline (or lack thereof), it was all too easy to change the schedule when even the smallest issue would come up.  There were no hard and fast stops in the day where we had to go, and so we could drag things out, dawdle, or substitute for other items in the schedule without regard to how much time they took.  We didn’t have a rhythm to the day, or enough good habits formed, and it left us feeling like we had both fallen behind and couldn’t figure out where our time went.  Less schoolwork got done, there was more bickering, less quiet, and general unease.  This was not the freedom I had envisioned. 

It reminded me of an extremely good example I had once heard about the need for rules and order. The premise was that if you are going to play baseball, you need the rules.  If each person was to play their own version of baseball, it wouldn’t really be baseball at all.  People would be free to run the bases backward or ignore the foul line.  That would have many consequences: 1. No one would every be very good at baseball, because there would be nothing by which to measure success, 2. No one would enjoy watching it, because they wouldn’t know what was going on or if things were going well or not for their team, 3. Squabbling, disagreement, and general anarchy would ensue with no rules and no authority there to decide if rules were being properly followed.  With the rules of baseball clearly set out and publicly known, we can know when the game is played well, enjoy the game, and know when a play has stepped outside of the boundaries of proper baseball.  It is the rules that create freedom, and not a lack of rules.

Now that we are in a place we plan to be for a while, I am attempting to rebuild enough structure to create checkpoints in the day, while leaving enough time for contemplation, boredom, leisure, and play for every member for the family.  Let me tell you, this is no small task.  I’m sure you’ve tried it, or at least thought about trying it, and it seemed intimidating.  I’ll be sharing some of my attempts, and their varying levels of success here as Amy and I start up a scheduling series of posts.  I will say, that in my first years of homeschooling, I have found some tools to be extremely helpful in my previous plans and schedules, so I thought I would share them here:

  1. Nicole shares a wealth of knowledge and study of CM’s programmes at her site.  I can’t recommend highly enough reading through her posts on planning a schedule for your homeschool.
  2. Pam is also a wonderful resource, and her eBook, The Confident Homeschooler was the key to my wasting a lot less time by creating procedure lists.  This meant that when I was starting a new book, or skill (like dictation, narration, etc), I would plan out what my plan was for that short lesson.  I could then follow the steps until it became a good habit for me and my student.  I can’t tell you how genius this is because all too often I would write down the book, and the time allotted, but when we go to it, I would forget that I had meant to bring out a certain journal or wouldn’t have the materials needed for a written narration, or forget a step altogether such as scaffolding the previous lesson.  Having a list helped me immensely.
  3. A bullet journal.  I use this one because I like that the pages come already numbered, but many people prefer a Moleskine or some other notebook.  I’m not artsy, my pages are not Pinterest-worthy, but I love having all of my lists, brain dumps, random thoughts, appointments, ideas, goals, etc all written down in one place.  I can plan future months, assess previous ones, see if I am following up appropriately, or making progress on goals all in one book.  Cute pens are key for me.
  4. Excel. I used this throughout my working days before I stayed home with the kids and old habits die hard.  I love it for creating neat checklists for the kids, schedules, and chore charts.

And that is really it.  I don’t want to clutter up my time with too many tools, so I stick with trusted sites and items that have stood the test of time.  What are your go-to tools for creating a schedule and a rhythm to your days?
 

Mother Culture: Ten Minutes

“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.'” Parents’ Review, Vol. 2, No. 2

I’m going to make this quick today in order to give you a bit more time to think about spending ten minutes today reading, creating, or in prayer.  Right now, if you are a bullet journal or Happy Planner or whatever other type of planning system type of gal, write down a plan for when you can spend those ten minutes alone and what you will do.  That plan may not work out, but knowing it is there in the plan means that if you find ten minutes in the carpool line or the parking lot after grocery shopping or wherever else, you’ll have it front of mind to use those minutes for some Mother Culture time.

Once the time is allotted into your planning system, prepare the things you need.  Get your book uploaded into your Kindle or throw your book into your purse.  Get your knitting stuff together now, and make sure your pattern is printed.  Locate a rosary or a journal or your gardening gloves now, so when that ten minutes comes around, you’re ready to spend it well.

Lastly, do it.  When you’re tempted to check your email instead or facebook or Instagram… don’t.  Put your phone down instead.  If the planned time comes and the baby is crying, that’s ok.  Perhaps your ten minutes will come later than expected and you’ll be more tired than expected and all you’ll want to do is lay down on the couch and zone out.  Fight the urge and just take ten minutes to dedicate to prayer or your gratitude journal if reading a book is too much.  Or, just read that book anyway and maybe you’ll feel more revived afterward.

When you’ve taken your ten minutes, assess if that time worked well or if perhaps it could be at a different time of day.  Either way, plan to do it again tomorrow.  Look at your day and pencil it in.  Then, schedule it in for each day.  Make this your new habit for one month and then see how it is working for you.  Perhaps then you’ll be ready to add in another ten minutes? Or ten for prayer and ten for reading and ten for creativity?  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves… start with ten today!

SPACES TO THINK NO. 6

Habit a Delight in itself.

…the forming of habits in the children is no laborious task, for the reward goes hand in hand with the labour; so much so, that it is like the laying out of a penny with the certainty of the immediate return of a pound. For a habit is a delight in itself; poor human nature is conscious of the ease that it is to repeat the doing of anything without effort; and, therefore, the formation of a habit, the gradually lessening sense of effort in a given act, is pleasurable. This is one of the rocks that mothers sometimes split upon: they lose sight of the fact that a habit, even a good habit, becomes a real pleasure; and when the child has really formed the habit of doing a certain thing, his mother imagines that the effort is as great to him as at first, that it is virtue in him to go on making this effort, and that he deserves, by way of reward, a little relaxation––she will let him break through the new habit a few times, and then go on again. But it is not going on; it is beginning again, and beginning in the face of obstacles. The ‘little relaxation’ she allowed her child meant the forming of another contrary habit, which must be overcome before the child gets back to where he was before.” Volume 1 page 121.

Fruit from our Farm Pick-up, Amazon Fresh and Wegmans in a big mess.
Tidied into bowls
Keeping clean, empty counters has been a new habit for me for the last year or so. It brings me peace and happiness (and fortitude to prepare yet another meal!)
Putting away small appliances and dishes washed-by-hand takes only an extra moment or so.

What are some of the good habits you have in your life? How do they bring you delight and pleasure, even in the very doing of them, not just in their result?

Now that the new school year has started, with fresh eyes think through one habit you most need to develop? What bumps in your day could be helped by a good habit put in its place?

What is the contrary habit to your good habit that you need to overcome? What reward do you get from your contrary habit that you need to let go of to really establish your new habit?

What reward will you get from your new good habit? Think through the delights that your habit holds, in doing them and in the result.

What “penny” will you need to give to create your new habit and what will be the “pound” (dollar) you will receive in return?

This summer I read The Power of Habit and found much that confirmed Mason’s theories on the power of habit in our lives. It was inspiring and worth checking out of the library. I hope to blog more about it when my Charlotte Mason reading group gets to the habit section in Volume 1.

 

 

 

This post is part of our Friday series: “Spaces to Think” You can read the others here.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save