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Keeping Mother’s Notebooks — Mother Culture

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This post is all about the mother’s notebooks that I keep as part of our homeschool & my mother culture.

colorful notebooks resting on a bookshelf with a plant to the side.

Why mother’s should keep notebooks

If you’re new to this blog, you know that we follow a Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling and keeping notebooks is something I recommend for any mother-teacher.

Charlotte Mason suggested that homemakers keep an enquire within notebook for an aid in running their homes.

May I suggest the great use and value of a household book, in which the young housekeeper notes down exactly how to do everything, from the scouring of a floor to the making of an omelet, either as she has done it herself, or has watched it being done, with the little special wrinkles that every household gathers. 

Such an “Enquire Within” should be invaluable hereafter, as containing personal experiences, and should enable her to speak with authority to cook or housemaid who “Never saw it done like that, ma’am.” The ordering of dinners, setting of tables, entire management for a short time of the affairs of a house, will all have place in this training in domestic economy.


Recently, I shared about what our Form 1 students are using for notebook work. And in that post, I mentioned how my daughter wanted to keep a commonplace notebook after she saw me using mine so often.

Children learn best through example and if I expect my students to keep notebooks, I want them to know that I’m capable of the work too.

What notebooks I keep as part of my mother culture

I know that this list may seem like a lot.

But – I did not start off my homeschooling / motherhood journey with all of these notebooks.

This has been a work in progress over many years. And most of these notebooks stretch out for use over multiple years.

My garden journal, for example has been going strong for several years!

And I really only have to replace my teacher’s & personal planners each year.

As of right now, I’m not keeping an enquire within notebook as suggested by Charlotte Mason. However, it’s something that I’m considering as a help for my children as they get older or a sort of documented keepsake for them.

floral journal notebook with a light pink pen to the side on a table.

Mother’s Diary

this is something that I really wish that I kept since my children were born. I am really terrible about baby books and tracking milestones. But keeping a mother’s diary has been pretty beneficial for me.

In short, a mother’s diary is where I keep simple notes on each child’s progress. It’s a place where I can keep track of each child and how they development physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I use a simple lined notebook as my mother’s diary like this one. And I keep a colored notebook for each child.

These mother’s diaries from Riverbend press are also very lovely! I don’t have one of these (yet), but everything I’ve ever ordered from this site has been great quality!

I would earnestly exhort all young mothers to keep a journal in which the gradual progress and unfolding of their children’s minds may be noted down. Even if they have no general views in so doing, they will derive much benefit from it; their ideas will become more collected, their plans more determined, and they will acquire a habit of thoroughly examining and endeavouring to understand whatever occurs to excite their attention.

“A Mother’s Diary,” Parents’ Review, Volume 6, p. 842
light pink notebook with blue mechanical pencil on top.

Commonplace Notebook

Mason called this notebook a book of mottos. This is also a notebook that the children will keep once they reach form 2.

A commonplace book is where I keep inspirational ideas, quotes, notes, etc from my observations or readings. In short, it’s a place where we jot down information that speaks to us…or find inspiring in some way.

When I’m reading a classic book like Jane Austen’s Persuasion (my favorite Jane Austen, btw!) or a book from Narnia (another favorite series in our home!), I will jot down a few of my favorite or inspiring quotes.

Basically anything that truly inspired me or something that I want to remember and refer back to later on.

More often, I write down Saint’s quotes that I’m finding inspirational at the moment.

You can go as simple or as fancy as you like for a commonplace notebook. I really like these decorative Erin Condren Journals for my commonplace notebooks.

The Way of Divine Love book with a floral notebook on top with a light pink pen.

Mother’s Education Course Notebook

We switched to using The CMEC last year and absolutely love it! Not only are they an excellent source for homeschool materials, they also provide a mother’s educational course. (btw, I highly recommend!)

This course is excellent for anyone who wants to improve as a mother-teacher and learn Mason’s methods more in depth. This is my first year with this course and I have nothing but positive things to say.

I’m learning more about following Charlotte Mason’s principles and growing as a stronger teacher for my children. It’s been an amazing school year with the CMEC.

To keep track of my narrations and other notes for this course, I’m using one of these Erin Condren Journals.

parent’s review article with a colorful notebook and blue pencil resting on top.

Lesson Planner & Logbook

Charlotte Mason recommended teachers use a logbook for keeping track of lessons and progress of students.

So, this is a bit where I deviate from the Charlotte Mason method a tad. A logbook is used to record the learning that was accomplished each week. It is also where a mother-teacher would record any deviation from the timetable.

I use both a logbook and a lesson planner because I just can not use a teacher’s planner. I really love the layout of the Anna Vance planners. And I wrote a little bit of a review on these Anna Vance planners here.

These planners are really great because they are designed with a Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling in mind. And they’re pretty customizable too!

Anyway, I do use a logbook for record keeping, but I also use a lesson planner for the week. I’m new to using a logbook so this process is still something that I’m working on.

I know it may seem as a bit extra…but that seems to work for me and my crazy brain. 😅

I use a LEUCHTTURM 1917 Dot Grid Notebook for a logbook.

teacher planner, pre reading notebook, highlighters, and school books on a table top.

Personal Planner

I’ve been a long time fan of Erin Condren planners for my personal use. They’re pretty and customizable too.

I use these daily planners for my everyday life, important dates & work to-dos. I don’t work outside of the home, but run multiple blogs (4 at the moment 😅) – so there’s a lot of moving pieces that need to be managed.

Check out the Erin Condren planners here.

planner with a pen resting on a table.

Garden Journal

This garden journal has been with me for a few years now. I use it for documenting various things in the home garden like companion plants, when seeds were started, successes & failures, and more.

I also use a dot grid layout of this notebook because I can sketch out new garden beds, placement of plants, new plans, etc.

This Moleskin Notebook is what I’m using for my garden notebook. I like that it’s hardback and travels well with me in and out of the garden.

my garden journal opened with garden design sketched out.

Pre-reading Notebooks

As part of my lesson planning and school prep, I pre-read our books. From here, jot down various notes, as well as notate inspiring ideas in a notebook.

I don’t take lengthy notes, but just highlights and inspiring ideas that I want to share with my students as part of Mason’s method of a lesson.

For my pre-reading notebooks, I use these LEUCHTTURM1917 Medium A5 notebooks for my pre-reading notes.

notebook used for pre-reading and a elementary history book on the table.

Nature Journal

Something new that I’m doing this year, is to challenge myself to nature study with the children. I have the same Moleskin notebook that my children use for our nature study time.

And I am using these Prestigify watercolor set. I’m definitely not an artist…to be honest, I’m very artistically challenged.

But, I am enjoying spending the time in creativity with the children, learning new skills, and really challenging myself.

I wrote more about our favorite nature study resources that you may be interested in. There I share our favorite tools and how we do nature study on the go.

nature journal, watercolor pallet, and sketch of garden on a table.

So, I know that it seems like a lot of notebooks to keep. However, I don’t use all of these each and every day.

And they have been slowly accumulating over a couple of years. They’ve helped me to grow and learn as a mother-teacher. And as a person in general.

🖤 Favorite products:

Here are a few of my favorite items as mentioned in this post.

Lined Notebook (my mother’s diaries – I have four, one for each child)

LEUCHTTURM 1917 Dot Grid Notebook (my logbook)

Teacher Planner

Erin Condren Journals (my commonplace & mother’s educational course notebooks)

Moleskin Notebook (my garden journal)

Small B6 Dot Grid LEUCHTTURM – not mentioned in this post, I use this notebook for personal symptom tracking. It’s a great size and fits well in my purse when traveling.

Moleskin Notebook (my nature study notebook)

LEUCHTTURM1917 Medium A5 Dotted Hardcover Notebook (my pre-reading notebooks)

Where would you like to start?

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