Do You Have a Rule of Life?

When I first spoke with Claire Couche, I knew she would be an exceptional individual to interview and learn more about.  Her passion for ethical fashion and following a Rule of Life, her desire to inspire others, and most importantly, her devotion to our Father point to the heart of a woman who is on a mission to make a difference.  If you haven’t already read her writing at Finding Philothea, or fallen in love with her Instagram account, I recommend you do so ASAP.  She’s as instrumental as she is humble, and I am thrilled she had some time to answer some questions.

Claire with her husband, Mike, and their son, Peter

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Claire Couche, a Catholic wife and mother. I live in Buffalo, New York with my husband, Mike, and our two-year-old son, Peter. I graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville, where I studied history and theology. I later received my B.S.N. and worked as an oncology nurse before becoming a stay-at-home mother. Over the past year, I have developed a strong passion for promoting ethically made clothing. I am combining my love for the medical field, ethical fashion, and Catholicism by creating an ethically made medical scrubs line under the patronage of Saint Giuseppe Moscati, an Italian doctor and miracle worker. I enjoy cooking, traveling, creating, living life in abundance, and petite French pastries.

Claire and Mike on their wedding day

When did you first learn about a Rule of Life and what it means/its importance?

Since my childhood, I have always flourished when I am faithful to a routine. Throughout school, college, and as a medical professional I could always be found with my planner and agenda in hand – I loved to follow a schedule! When I became a wife and mother, I quickly discovered that I had new duties and responsibilities and found that it was especially important to have a solid routine and a daily rhythm. I remember googling “daily routine with a newborn” when Peter was first born and feeling frustrated when I couldn’t find something that fit my life. I knew in my heart that I had duties – to God, to myself, to Mike, and to Peter – that could not be ignored nor neglected. I just didn’t know where to begin or start. My days felt unpredictable, unorganized and overwhelming. I felt lost within the vocation I had yearned to live for so long. Shortly after this time the book, A Mother’s Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot was introduced to me. This book completely transformed my life.

In A Mother’s Rule of Life, the author, Holly Pierlot, was overwhelmed with the state her family was in and the volume of her daily tasks. After reflecting on Saint Mother Teresa’s Rule for her order, the Missionaries of Charity, the author decided to create her own rule of life for her family. She reflected upon the duties of her vocation and decided to create a routine for her family based on the “Five P’s”: prayer (God), person (herself), partner (spouse), parent, and provider. Very quickly she and her family flourished – there were times designated for every aspect of her life. Instead of being overwhelmed, peace abounded.

How has it impacted your family?

I am really passionate about establishing and living out a Rule of Life, mostly because I have seen the incredible fruits that have come from having a routine founded in Christ. I encounter Christ deeply within my vocation, my state in life, when I follow our family Rule. By following Pierlot’s “Five P’s”, starting with giving God our first and best time, my life has become more ordered and peaceful. A Rule brings with it freedom, balance, growth, and peace – the exact things my heart and home need.

The spiritual benefits of living out our Rule have been very beautiful, too. I discover deep joy within my vocation by completing my tasks and duties out of love for Christ. The mundane transforms into something beautiful. Saint Thérèse of Lisieux said that, “To pick up a pin for Love can convert a soul.” When I fold laundry, make dinner, brush Peter’s teeth, garden, or take the garbage out – when I offer those things to Love Himself – to Christ – I can help save my soul and the soul’s of others.

How do you and Mike incorporate a Rule of Life into your family life?

Mike read A Mother’s Rule of Life with me, and I am so grateful he did. It was beautiful to reflect with him and discuss how we could improve our marriage and grow as a family through a routine founded in Christ. A rule of life is not just a schedule, it is a response to God, and it is a means of sanctification. Together, we defined our vocation, wrote down our duties, and set time aside for each of our daily tasks. We then put our Rule up in the house where we could both see it. We also created a binder for our year. We placed a copy of our Rule in it, with goals we want to accomplish, our yearly activities, household and seasonal chores, pantry checklist, clothing needs, prayer and study projects, faith-life goals for Peter, virtues we are working on, the contact information of our spiritual director, Mass times, confession times, and the liturgical traditions and practices we want to start incorporating into our life as a new family.

Claire with son, Peter

How can a Rule of Life be applied in different stages of life? (single life, married life, religious life)

When I first began reading Pierlot’s book, I told Mike that I wished I had read it YEARS ago, as a single woman. No matter what vocation you are living, a daily routine, a rhythm for your day, is essential. Instead of thinking about your to-do lists or being thrown into your day without a roadmap, you know each task has a designated time and you are able to live fully and freely in the present moment. A Mother’s Rule of Life was originally based upon Mother Teresa’s Rule for her order – a single, religious woman. In her book, Pierlot explains, “A Rule of Life is a traditional Christian tool for ordering one’s vocation. Found most often in religious community life, a Rule can also be used by laypeople – whose state in life is no less a calling from God. It consists primarily in the examination of one’s vocation and the duties it entails, and the development of a schedule for fulfilling these responsibilities in a consistent and orderly way. A Rule is an organization of everything that has to do with your vocation, based on a hierarchy of the priorities that define the vocation and done with the intent to please God.” Every vocation has its own unique duties and responsibilities – a Rule of Life helps you accomplish them while working towards heaven.

How often do you change your Rule of Life? How does it (or has it) grown and developed?

I have changed and tweaked (and will continue to!) our routine several times, especially during the start of a new season. Peter just turned two years old this May, and each month brings with it new nap times, developmental changes, and different needs. This is where your Rule can be sanctifying for your soul – offer up those moments when you desire to stick to a routine but are unable. We aren’t meant to be slaves to our Rule, a Rule is meant to bring freedom and peace. If your Rule is causing you stress or anxiety, say a prayer, review it, and see if changes need to be made.

Claire with son, Peter

Example of our family’s Rule of Life:

Weekday Rhythm

Monday – Friday

6 AM: rise | morning offering | workout | load of laundry | shower | get ready

8 AM: breakfast | clean kitchen | get Peter ready for day | make beds | prepare lunch

9 AM: morning prayers with Peter | free play | dinner meal prep

  • Monday: Our Father | crafts: coloring, drawing, cutting
  • Tuesday: Hail Mary | building: trains, legos, workbench, magnatiles
  • Wednesday: Glory Be | outing
  • Thursday: Bible Verse | alphabet: flashcards, letters, words, writing letters
  • Friday: Memorare | numbers, animals, and Montessori activity

11 AM: lunch | cleanup | forward laundry

12 PM: mass | if staying in, rosary

1 PM: Peter’s nap | quiet time | rest

  • Monday: read
  • Tuesday: write
  • Wednesday: nap
  • Thursday: craft
  • Friday: clean refrigerator, meal plan, letters/thank you cards

3 PM: snack | Divine Mercy | play outside (weather permitting) | read aloud | one chore

  • Monday: vacuum downstairs
  • Tuesday: launder bathroom rugs
  • Wednesday: dust downstairs, clean windows, clean cupboards
  • Thursday: launder bedding
  • Friday: take stock of pantry food, cleaning products, diapers, wipes, and toiletries

5 PM: meal prep | dinner | make Mike’s lunch | clean kitchen | fold laundry

7 PM: family play | give Mike personal time

8 PM: Peter snack, bath, night routine, prayers, bed | clean Peter’s playroom| put items in living and sitting room in rightful place | put away laundry

9 PM: spend time together

10 PM: night prayer | bed

Weekend Rhythm

Saturday

7 AM: rise | morning offering | breakfast | clean kitchen | put in load of laundry

8 AM: shower | all get ready for day

10 AM: grocery shop | put away food | cut up/chop carrots, onions, garlic, celery for week’s meals

12 PM: lunch | clean kitchen | forward load of laundry

1 PM: Peter’s nap | quiet time | rest

3 PM: snack | Divine Mercy | fold and put away laundry | vacuum upstairs | clean upstairs bathroom

5 PM: meal prep | dinner | clean kitchen

7 PM: family time

8 PM: Peter snack, bath, night routine, prayers, bed | clean Peter’s playroom| put items in living and sitting room in rightful place

9 PM: spend time together

10 PM: night prayer | bed

Sunday

7 AM: rise | morning offering | breakfast | clean kitchen

8 AM: shower | all get ready for day | prepare Peter’s diaper bag | prepare tithing

10 AM: mass

12 PM: lunch | clean kitchen

1 PM: Peter naps | quiet time | rest

3 PM: snack | Divine Mercy | paragraph from Catechism | review upcoming week | write in planner

5 PM: meal prep | dinner | make Mike’s lunch | clean kitchen

8 PM: Peter snack, bath, night routine, prayers, bed | clean Peter’s playroom| put items in living and sitting room in rightful place

9 PM: spend time together

10 PM: night prayer | bed

 

Betsey Sawyer is an attorney and adjunct professor in Mississippi, and works for Women of Grace as the Mission Advancement Coordinator.  She can be reached at bsawyer@womenofgrace.com. (Photo courtesy of Eliza Kennard Photography)

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