Charlotte Mason's six-volume series, written in Victorian English, is more than a bit daunting to approach. If you were to wait to begin homeschooling until you had read the whole series, you would most likely quit before you started. I do think that reading Charlotte's philosophy and method in her own words is very important, but gratefully others have already read the books and written their own in a pared-down, more accessible format. I highly recommend For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay and A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola to get you on your way. A friend told me that the series is also available in modern English. Mason's original books can be read as you proceed, giving you spiritual nourishment, encouragement, support, and a thorough explanation of the ideas, as from a trusted friend.
Since I don't use a pre-packaged curriculum, I can't say whether it would lend itself as well to a relaxed homeschooling style as the CM method. I hear homeschooling mothers who use such curriculum lament about "falling behind." For me, having a curriculum dictate to me what exactly I have to cover each day in order to complete the material that school year would be pressure I don't want or need. It seems as though the danger would exist of handing my authority over to the creators of the curriculum, manifesting as a duplication in some ways of public school at home. I imagine that for the mother of multiple children, who may also have babies and preschoolers to care for, having those decisions made for her would be a godsend, so I understand the appeal. If you do use a pre-packed curriculum, utilizing it as a guide and resource for materials rather than as a dictator to your homeschooling program would still allow for a relaxed atmosphere.You could certainly use the CM method in tandem with your curriculum, too.
I have vacuumed and mopped two of my downstairs rooms and vacuumed another so far. My wonderful husband actually cleared the clutter in most of the downstairs and caught up on the dishes when the dishwasher was not working, so it was a huge relief that I could easily begin the heavy duty cleaning. That brings up another good point. Ask for help! Last year I hired a teenage mother's helper to play with Beezy, and sometimes do some of her school with her, while I worked on the time intensive housework that goes beyond the daily chores. Since she was a person who loved to organize, I even had her rearrange Beezy's room and help her go through her toys. Other family members need to get into the habit of picking up after themselves and sharing housework. Chore charts work well for some families.
As a final note, I have decided that there needs to be an end to the housework for the day. Perhaps once dinner is eaten and the clean up afterward is accomplished, you can make a vow to do no more housework that evening. This way you will have an incentive to get as much done as possible before dinner, and your evening can be free to take a walk, read, watch a movie together, or listen to Pa play the fiddle. And you can get bedtime started early enough that it becomes a relaxing experience to wind down the day, putting the children in the habit of preparing for sleep. Getting the children to bed early enough that you have some time and energy left for your spouse is important, too. I still have to put the dog's cover, which I washed today, back on her bed. But after dinner the only housework I did was to vacuum the dining room, and then I told myself that was it. Tomorrow, the deadline will be set! After the dinner mess is cleared, I am off housekeeping duty!!