Following Charlotte Mason’s Personal Schedule for 30 Days

I love to hear how others spend the moments of their days. How do they organize their days so they get things done? And I especially love to hear about how someone organizes her day if it’s someone I really admire. Well, a few years ago, I studied how Charlotte Mason spent her day—how she organized the moments of her day to get things done—and it was very interesting. I wrote a blog post about that, but my friend Richele Baburina took it a step further. She actually tried Charlotte’s schedule for 30 days, and what she’s going to do today is tell you what she found out from that experience.

Sonya: Richele, I am so excited to hear about your experience trying Charlotte’s schedule for 30 days. What prompted you to do this, by the way? 

Richele: Well, it was in 2020 during the lockdowns, and we had a cross-country move. So, first we had to get a house ready to sell, pack it up, and then move cross-country, and so I was a mess. There was no rhythm to my days and we were, I think, all suffering. I knew that I had to establish a rhythm. It was my youngest son’s senior year of high school, and I really wanted to go out on a high note. 

Sonya: Yeah, to finish strong. As Charlotte said, the effort of decision is so hard, and when everything around you is in chaos and change, you’re making so many decisions, and your energy is going so many directions, it would be hard to sit down and come up with your own “this is what my day should look like.” So you turned to Charlotte. (laughs) 

Richele: I did. So, I had watched on YouTube, there’s a YouTuber, Nathaniel Drew, who sometimes will try a schedule for a week of somebody he admires. Maybe Maya Angelou or Leonardo Da Vinci; what he knows of that schedule. That prompted the idea that, “Oh, I think I’ll try Charlotte Mason’s schedule for 30 days.” So I took the book The Story of Charlotte Mason by Essex Cholmondeley, and I remembered that she had written about Charlotte Mason’s schedule in there. So that was my first step: taking that reading and filtering it down into a daily schedule. And I was quite surprised by what I found, but what I really liked is Essex Cholmondeley quotes Elsie Kitching, who was Charlotte’s dear friend, and kind of right-hand woman. And what she said about Miss Mason was, “Her days passed with a regularity of employment, a fullness of joy in life and work that left no room for thoughts of self.” 

“Her days passed with a regularity of employment, a fullness of joy in life and work that left no room for thoughts of self.”

Sonya: That’s strong. Wow. 

Richele: I wanted that, I wanted to be able to fulfill my duties. Because, with the lockdowns and everything else that had been going on, I had a lot of bad habits that I had to undo, like late bedtime for one. I had no rhythm. It was a cacophony. 

Sonya: So, did you try to follow the actual timetable that Charlotte did, like rise when she got up from bed, and go to bed when she went to bed, and all of that? Or was it just, “I’m going to do the same routine”? 

Richele: I actually followed the schedule by the clock, and so I had to do a deep dive to even make it. It says on her schedule that she had breakfast at 8:00, and so I knew she had to be doing something before that, right? She had her time in the Word, her daily devotion. 

Sonya: And getting dressed and the usual stuff. 

Richele: Right. So, although I didn’t know what time she arose in the morning, I knew that her teaching students at the House of Education got up at 7:00 a.m. So that’s what I used. Many times I was able to fill things in based on how closely she seemed to have her routine, her daily schedule, synced with the House of Education and even the Parents’ Union School programs. Also, that time between 9:00 and 1:00 were synced, so I could see that she was eating lunch with her students. She ate dinner, or supper, with her students as well. She breakfasted with her students. 

Sonya: And she would read to them. I can envision them still sitting around the table as she’s reading. That may not be where they were sitting, but that’s how I view it. 

Richele: Yes, so this actually worked really well with a homeschool schedule, and so that’s why I think I was so successful following the timeline. Now that I’m not homeschooling, I follow the principles of her schedule, but I don’t follow the same timeline. 

Sonya: And just to clarify, you’re not homeschooling because your boys have graduated. 

Richele: Right. Both my boys have graduated. They’re now in college. They commute, though, so I feel like I’m still doing quite a bit of, “Hey, Mom, would you look at this?” or, “Hey, Mom, look at my homework” type of thing, so that’s interesting. But with following Charlotte Mason’s schedule for 30 days, I stuck diligently to the timeline, and even to the mealtimes. For the portions where I don’t have the same duties as Charlotte Mason, in some ways, I still do because I’m a writer. So her time spent writing, I would spend writing. I had that time of deep work, but I also got together with my son for meals and read aloud. 

Sonya: And did you have teatime? 

Richele: Our teatime is, according to the schedule, 4:00 p.m., so it’s not during the actual school hours. But we did tea time and this was something, in one way, not so new to me because my in-laws are Russian. When they lived with us, we would have a tea time. But with Charlotte Mason, this also is important because of the way that the meals were structured, that 4:00 tea time was important to carry one over from what we call “lunch”—what in the Victorian times was called “dinner”—to supper, which wasn’t until 7:00 p.m. 

Sonya: Yes. Alright, so, we won’t go through the whole schedule. We have a link to that so people can look at it, but tell us what you learned from it. That’s the main emphasis of this conversation. What are some of the things you learned? 

Richele: The things that I learned were so helpful… and I really hope that people take a look at Charlotte’s schedule and not try to kind of slavishly follow it, but to take the principles from it and maybe incorporate them into their own lives. Because it’s very helpful for your days, for your mental health, and just for your closeness as a family. So, one of the things that I learned, and we always did try to have this in the house, but is to dine together, to converse together, and to continue to read aloud, no matter what age your children are. 

Sonya: Yes, because she was reading aloud to the students, and they were teachers in training, so they had already graduated high school, and they were still doing read-alouds.

Richele: And then the other thing is to have plenty of time outdoors—get outside daily. Now, Charlotte Mason had an hour and 45 minutes daily out in nature, and, because we live in Northeast Tennessee, and at that time it was unbearably hot in the afternoon, my son and I tried it for three days in a row but it was just too hot. That was one part of the schedule we couldn’t maintain. We had to have our time out-of-doors either in the morning or when it got closer to evening. 

Sonya: Yes, but you still spent the chunk of time, it just varied according to what the weather was like, what the season was. 

Richele: A few times we did drive up to Bays Mountain, our city park, where, in the forest, it’s much cooler. So we did do that at least weekly. 

Sonya: And I think that’s, if you want to use the term, “permissible.” Like you said, we’re not following it slavishly, but even Charlotte adjusted as she got older and could not do nature walks anymore. She would go out for nature drives. So that whole idea of adjusting and making it work for you is very important. 

Richele: Definitely. So, another thing is to eat healthy. And this was actually probably the biggest adjustment for me with Charlotte’s schedule: meal time. Not exactly the time of the meals, but what she would have. Now, I didn’t follow a Victorian diet. 

Sonya: I was thinking that’s not really that healthful. (laughs) 

Richele: No, but if you’ve ever heard the adage to “breakfast like a king, have lunch like a prince, and supper like a pauper,” that is how they ate. So it was a very big, protein-rich breakfast, and then we had a smaller lunch. Then tea time included either a savory or a sweet, and that’s what curbed that hunger. There was no snacking throughout the day, no bottomless cup of coffee. That was a big adjustment to me. And then supper at 7:00 p.m. was very light; it could have been some leftover meat or leftover fish from your lunch type of a thing. It was a very small, light supper. Yeah, that was a big adjustment. 

Sonya: Yes, but you were feeling better physically. 

Richele: I was, and that I did continue to do. Now, there are certain times, of course, if I’m going to go out for supper for a special occasion or something like that, it won’t be small type of a thing. 

Sonya: Yes, great. What else did you discover from this? 

Richele: Well, to read widely. Charlotte Mason had this block of time, basically from 9:00 to 1:00, that was where she was working, but she did take a break in that time. She had lots of different readings going on. One was the news. I don’t love to read the newspaper; I don’t care for bad news. I also don’t want to stick my head in the sand like an ostrich. What I found, though, was by keeping current, though, that actually fueled my prayer time. I could pray more specifically for my city, for my state, for my country. 

Charlotte had lots of different readings going on. One was the news. I don’t love to read the newspaper; I don’t care for bad news. I also don’t want to stick my head in the sand like an ostrich. Keeping current actually fueled my prayer time.

Sonya: That’s a great insight.

Richele: Yeah. Charlotte Mason also read satire, which is not a part of my daily reading, but it was a part of hers. So that was kind of fun to incorporate into my day, a little bit of satire. I mean, I think that I definitely have learned that we picture Charlotte Mason as this very prim and proper Victorian, but she really had a great sense of humor. 

Sonya: She did. Yes. And I love how she always had a little Scott before she went to bed (Sir Walter Scott’s novels) and from the way that is worded, that she always “had a little Scott,” it makes me think that she would cycle through them. And so she would go back and reread her favorites. It wasn’t always new stuff, and that makes me feel better, because there are certain books that are like comfort food. If I’m feeling stressed, I’m just going to go reread that book and it’ll calm me down a little bit. 

Richele: Yeah, and Jane Austen was another, could be a nightly read, that she would cycle through, especially Emma. And this is one of the—I mean, I love Jane Austen, I’m a pure Jane-ite—and one of the things I discovered was that the act of narration, Charlotte Mason discovered that during her reading of Jane Austen’s Emma. Now, we’re getting down a rabbit hole, I’m sorry. (laughs) 

Sonya: No, this is so interesting. 

Richele: But one night she was reading Emma. She had insomnia, so she decided to play back in her head to try to retell the chapter of Emma that she had read, and not only did it cure her insomnia, but that chapter really stayed with her. And that is how the first ideas of narration came to her, was by reading Jane Austen’s Emma at night. 

Sonya: So she was reading these before she ever founded the House of Education, then?

Richele: Correct. 

Sonya: Because she incorporated narration from the very beginning, so she made that discovery when she was very young in her teaching career. Interesting. 

Richele: Yes, and we find that a lot of the germs of her ideas happened when she was quite young. 

Sonya: Yes. This is so fascinating. All right, what else did you discover? 

Richele: A big thing is that small minutes do add up. So, say she had 10 minutes of time scheduled for reading here, and then she had 20 minutes scheduled there. Well, in that 30 days, I was able to finish five books by just taking those small moments of time to read. 

Sonya: Yes, we talk about that a lot when it comes to doing short lessons with our children, that those short lessons do add up. But then applying it for ourselves—a lot of parents I know feel overwhelmed with their schedule. We don’t have time to read in addition to the school work, but just 10 minutes a day, or I think it was 15 minutes once a week, even, can add up to, is it 9 hours or 13 hours? I forget, I calculated it at one point, but it’s a lot of reading at the end of the year. So, if you do, as you said, 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there… I’m going to assume that you did more reading than… oh, should I go there or not? 

Richele: (laughs) I don’t know. 

Sonya: It’s very easy in the evenings to think our brain is so tired we can’t read. We need to just veg out in front of a screen. Did you find your screen time diminishing? 

Richele: I’m glad you did go there. So there were two things. My phone was put away. I had the phone put away. I had like 15 minutes, because I do schedule a weekly Instagram post for Charlotte Mason Poetry. So there was social media. I had a scheduled time and I put that in my time where she discusses mail. She answered her mail, so I used that time. I would have 15 minutes for social media in the morning, 15 minutes later on in the afternoon, but then the phone was put away. I had no inane scrolling at night, and I was reading. Those minutes added up. 

Sonya: That’s very true.

Richele: I used to just hate my email, because I always felt like I was drowning under email that I had to answer. But by just taking that short amount of time I had scheduled for email, I was completely caught up by the end of one week. So, that was amazing. 

Sonya: And I remember in another place in The Story of Charlotte Mason, Elsie talked about how, when it was time to work, she would work and put everything else out of her mind, but also when it was time to take a break, she would take her break and put the work out of her mind. That’s so hard to do, but if you have it scheduled like that, it seems like when it’s always in the back of your mind, it’s because you haven’t a time to do it. It’s like, “Oh, yeah, don’t forget you have to get to that. Don’t forget. Don’t forget.” But if you’ve got it scheduled, your mind can relax and say, “It’s taken care of. It’s not a problem.” 

Richele: People are saying now that you can’t actually have a balance, but you can. I will say that putting the work away at the end of your work day and then going on to your other things does create a much more healthy balance in your life—time for your family. You’re going to feel better mentally that way. She was getting so much done during her working hours, just like her students had to pay attention to their reading, she paid attention to her work in its assigned time. And then she kept the Sabbath and she called it, I think, “that time of delicious leisure.” And when you are performing your duties in the assigned time, then that definitely made the Sabbath day much more enjoyable, more relaxing. 

Sonya: Rather than nagging in the back of your mind, “Oh, I didn’t get this done. I didn’t get that done.” I also love when you said that she paid attention as her students did. There’s another passage in there where Elsie talked about how if Charlotte had a letter to answer, and she wasn’t sure how to answer it, she would say “we’ll do this one tomorrow.” But when tomorrow came, Charlotte would have the answer ready to dictate. It was like she had thought on it and she was ready for it. So, she was dealing with that only once, rather than putting it off, putting it off, putting it off for a week. 

Richele: Yes, and while Charlotte didn’t have children of her own, she considered all of her students her bairns and her children. And you can really see that love for them in that. So, although, yes, she did have a manager for the House of Education, she didn’t always have that. In the beginning, she was the one teaching her House of Education students. She was the one taking them on nature walks. She was the one fixing meals, things like that. So even though eventually she had these things in her life, her amount of responsibility expanded as well. We can take her schedule and those principles and apply them to our own lives. 

Sonya: Yeah, she was overseeing thousands of children’s curriculum choices, creating their curriculum. She was overseeing the monthly newsletter that was pretty thick, and sometimes writing for it. She was managing the teacher training college and pouring into those students as well. It was all of that. She had far-reaching work and a lot of responsibility, as you said. So, before we write it off as, “Well, she didn’t have kids. She doesn’t know what it’s like,” she had other challenges, besides being chronically ill. 

Richele: And was doing what we do: picking books and reading them aloud. She was setting the programs, and she corrected the exams for all of the students. She had a regularity of days but every day wasn’t the same. 

Sonya: What else do you want to encourage our readers with? Do you think they should try Charlotte’s schedule, or just take these principles, or what are you trying to tell us here?

Richele: (laughs) I don’t know what to tell the readers as far as what they’re going to do with their days, except I would encourage them to at least have a look. Because the schedules are all synced together between Charlotte and her students, it does work remarkably well for most, or many, homeschool families. Now, we all have variables. You might have a home business, you might be working part time outside of the home, you might be a single parent. So I would take what works for you, but keep those principles in there as well. Eat healthy. Get plenty of sleep. Read widely. Charlotte didn’t have a phone, but she did have many newspapers she could be looking at, so have a healthy balance of that. Always have meals as a family, in which you also converse. And maybe have a read aloud after. 

Sonya: I love it. Thanks. 

Richele: You’re welcome.



  1. Thank you for this inspiring episode.

    We still have days where keeping the schedule makes me feel more like crying than sitting down with a good book. Babies and toddler schedules are not a thing in our house, and I find my strengths lie more in spontaneity than routine, but I can see so many ways I could benefit from scheduling my time better. Almost afraid to try for improvement for fear of frustration. Almost.

    Does Rachele have a more detailed schedule than the one linked in the blog post? Eg 15 min for letters… And I wonder, did children eat supper earlier? That’s a late night for children. I’d love to see a comparison chart of what Rachele was saying how she synced her schedule with the children’s, the teachers, etc.

    • Hi Julia, Here is a response from Richele herself to your questions:

      “Here are some notes that I hope will help:

      1) While I don’t have a comparison chart, here’s an article I wrote (you may listen in podcast form) that goes into more of the nitty-gritty of how I spent my time. At the end of the article is a more in-depth look at Charlotte’s schedule.

      Here are the historical timetables for students of the PNEU, showing that formal lessons ranged from 9 am -12 pm for younger students, gradually increasing to 9 am – 1 pm for highschool age.

      And, finally, here is the schedule for the House of Education teachers in training:

      Many families that subscribed to Charlotte Mason’s programmes were homeschool families and, from my reading, I know that they didn’t all adhere strictly to the schoolroom schedule (as a formal school would have done out of necessity). For example, I recall reading of a family in northern Africa that had a grocery and the mother and children were often called on to help. Suppertime was up to the individual families outside of those who lived and worked at the House of Education.

      So, you might look at the schedule and come up with your own “ideal week” with some time blocks such as “15 minutes reading” followed by “10 minutes play” then “5 minutes handwriting” rather than having these at strictly set times that make you feel tense. Or, if you’re feeling like you might find more freedom with a bit of a schedule, dip your toes in slowly.

      A tip I learned from Charlotte was to have the schedule posted for all to see. My children liked knowing that after a certain subject came “play” or “walk the dog” or “check the mail” and they weren’t shocked when a formal lesson came after.

      Just remember, fear pushes and pulls while love leads and guides. If you try something and your frustration level rises, be curious about why that is. I try to lower any new expectations of myself and my children to my smiling threshold.

      Baby and toddler-hood are special times. And I certainly don’t want you to force yourself into being someone you don’t want to be. But, if you have an inkling you might benefit from something more of a schedule, you probably don’t want to ignore that voice either.

      From joy to joy,

  2. Richele – How did you handle meal prepping? That was one thing Charlotte didn’t have to do (that I know of) and I’ve tried to figure out where that prep time can come in. Do you just decide on a “day’s work” and stick that into your work time?

    • Hi Christie, Thank you for taking the time to ask your question. Here is a response from Richele herself:

      “For me, personally, having a meal plan in place helped a lot and I had a pretty standard menu that didn’t involve a ton of prep.

      Breakfast might be cubed steak (brown 2 minutes on each side) with eggs and toast, medium boiled eggs with ham or sausage and sauteed vegetables, or sauteed bagged coleslaw (carrot and cabbage) then I’d steam either eggs or precooked ham/sausage on top of that with the lid on it and a Tablespoon of water added, or brown some ground beef and add kim-chee from the Asian market. So, there wasn’t really prep-time here, just cooking time.

      Lunch was often meat/fish and a green salad. Remember, I did the experiment in the early autumn in Tennessee where it’s hot. Had it been winter, it might have looked differently. One trick I learned when I had a much larger household to feed was to get a family pack of meat and sausages and grill everything for the week up at once. When it cooled, I’d portion it out and put what I wasn’t using immediately into the freezer. If my husband grilled on the weekend, I’d just ask him to put additional charcoal in so I could do the grilling for the week after he pulled supper meat off.

      Historically, Monday afternoon has been for meal prep for the week (I made a list and each child had their initial next to what they were to do.)

      So, for this experiment, I found that I was getting up much earlier due to the earlier bedtime, and I awoke feeling refreshed, so I found myself prepping the teatime things in the morning after Bible/shower. This was usually a meat salad (chicken salad, tuna salad, seafood salad, salmon salad) and something baked like peanut butter chocolate chip muffins.

      Anyhow, I hope this helps in some way. If you want more of the details on the month-long experiment, they can be found here:

      From joy to joy,

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