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A Mother’s Rule of Life — Review by Jane S

Posted by nechc on August 29, 2007

Book Review

 A Mother’s Rule of LifeHow to bring order to your home and peace to your soul 

I will tell you right off that this is a great book for every wife and mother. This book is full of truth and talks about our vocation as a true vocation. The book will undoubtedly affirm some things for you as well as give you some new ideas and inspirations.


My homeschooling experience started out so simple with just one child to school. Everything was done and done pretty well! The first year was supposed to be terribly hard… mine was a wonderful joyful year! Each year after that came a baby, pregnancy or someone else to homeschool and each year got a little harder but I managed to get by. (It wasn’t always pretty)  By the time I got to homeschooling 5 children, I found practically no time for God, less time for me and less time for my husband. Last year was my breaking point… at years end, I was a basket case. I thought ‘I can’t do this anymore’ (imagine a screaming voice) … Jane was clearly on the edge. The thought of September coming again made me want to cry!


Enter Holly Pierlot… I read a write up in a catalog that quoted from her book, A Mother’s Rule of Life: On January 1, 2000, Holly Pierlot pounded her fist on the kitchen table and yelled at her husband, “I can’t take it anymore!” Motherhood and homeschooling had overwhelmed her”


Wow, could I relate to this woman! Well, I marched in to Emmanuel’s… no I think I dragged in actually… but I did get the book and I read the whole thing in two days. I found some hope and some wonderful affirmation. I also found some darn good thinking about vocation.


Holly Pierlot is a woman I can relate to in so many ways. Many of her life experiences mirror mine. I really like her and I understand her thinking. Her solutions to problems are concrete and simple and oh so practical!


The book tells you how to take back your life and structure and prioritize your activities into a daily schedule. Prioritize your life … that is, put it in proper order. The premise of the book is that a Rule of Life, as adopted for centuries by men and women of religious communities, is a powerful help in all vocations… motherhood included. As mothers, our life is rarely contemplative so we will never be like the Dominican sisters behind the grille (although we probably all have a little fantasy about that quiet life). We have to find our own rhythm of life in Christ in our daily activities. 


The idea of a Rule brings the idea of personal discipline forward. I never did like a schedule myself. All my life I have avoided a very strict schedule… I did not really want to be reined in. Then I read in this book: “Schedules might be limiting… but disorder is more limiting.” This I could not deny and in fact I am now convinced that it’s foolish not to have a schedule. A schedule takes the devil of constant decision making (to do the right thing or not) off your back. When faced with “should I get the kids up for school or let them have another ½ hour while I have another coffee,” a schedule keeps it simple… no decision necessary… I move onto the right thing and get the kids up and moving.


Holly’s method of prioritizing is simple too. She uses the 5 P’s to prioritize her life.

1)         Prayer – God is the most important thing in our lives so time with God is the first priority. You can schedule all of your prayer, spiritual reading, Mass, Confession, Adoration as well as learning and reading about faith, into your life. You make it top priority too!! Sorry, you can’t do it all day…but you can plan reasonable amounts of time for these things in keeping with your stage of life. After reading a chapter about Prayer, Holly will tell you to make a prayer schedule now and do it! Do it now! So practical!


2)         Person – This one is about your own sleep, exercise, vitamins, health care and mental/emotional health. It gets second priority because if you don’t keep your well being in order you won’t be able to meet the demands of your vocation!


3)         Partner – The third P is your husband and setting time aside for him in your life.

Make the date night a reality and put aside time just to be together. We all need

time to just be home and living in the same world sometimes.


4)         Parent- Finally, we get to the kids! They are fourth on the list – not first or second! Here you can schedule your children’s physical and spiritual needs and consider what each of them needs and how to really love them. It’s about that full attention – our physical and mental availability to our children that is often so hard to give.


5)            Provider.  – The last P is about being the provider for your children. Both

husband and wife are called to provide whether it be by working outside the home

or inside.


Once you understand your priorities, make decisions about your schedule that allow for them to be properly tended to.  If you put too much emphasis on a lower priority ‘P’, your marriage can get “out of order” – like when you put all your self into the children and none into your partner…or prayer… ever hear of that happening? 


Putting our lives into a schedule keeps the important things on the front burner. You can’t let anyone derail your priorities either. Kids have to learn to respect your prayer time or your scripture break. Emergencies always move to top priority of course, but then you get back to your rhythm and continue on schedule!


If you really think about it, everything you want for your children needs to be modeled. If you want your kids to have prayer time, it must be modeled… not dictated. If you pray your Rosary before they get up and they never see it, they won’t make note of its importance. The import of your spiritual life will speak louder to your children than anything you can say.


This book has helped me to restructure my life… a little.  I say a little only because I am moving in baby steps towards my rule. I plan that by the opening of 2008, I will have a structure that works for me and our home, in place.  Holly Pierlot set up her schedule 100% and dove in. I am taking the opposite approach and moving one P at a time. I think my family will respond better to the changes this way.


The Rule of Life is a path to freedom. Like so much of our Christian life this dichotomy is a little hard to figure but when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. The Rule will unburden you from unnecessary decisions and from things piling up and becoming overwhelming and from life getting ‘out of order.’


When you live your rule for Christ, there is a real reason for things. Life doesn’t flow according to our whims! Obedience to your rule and doing every little thing for Jesus leads us to holiness within in the married state of life. “A Mother’s Rule is sanctifying because by it we do what we ought to do. It is a great means of mortification.”


So if you are a homeschooler who feels like your life is careening out of control, this is the book for you! But I would highly recommend that you get it before you go bonkers. Why not make the most use of your motherly and homeschool efforts… do them for Jesus.  


Food for thought,


  NB Holly’s web site: A MROL: Help with Your Mother’s Rule is at 



2 Responses to “A Mother’s Rule of Life — Review by Jane S”

  1. Cheryl said

    This is an awesome review! I read this book this summer and like you, I’m SLOWLY working on my rule. I’ve believed that I will always need to revisit my priorities because my life is always changing and it’s so easy to get off track. I wonder if using my own rule will simplify things. I found what Holly wrote on obedience (and disobedience) very interesting. I love the image of Jesus asking me if I am going to do the laundry now. Can I say “No”? Will I say “yes” with a smile on my face? I certainly never thought of it this way before reading this book. I’m really noticing how I often resist doing what I know is right. I’d love to hear more about your rule and how it’s working out for you sometime.

  2. Jane said

    Hey, I just saw your post! Thanks Cheryl!
    I am new to this blogging – never thought about it after I posted it.
    I am thinking about my rule seriously again. It’s time for the next upgrade. My life is pretty tumultuous here… constantly changing and keeping me off guard… and consequently messing up my rule.
    My husband’s priorities and ‘projects’ often throw mine off! Does that ever happen to you? Mom’s don’t have the consitency of the cloister and maintaining the rule can be so hard. Overall, I am happy with the rule and it keeps things going better… I try not to stress out when things go haywire. Thanks for your comment! I will post when I go the next step on my rule and I hope you will too!

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