Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Place of Quiet


Isn't it true that we all need a place of quiet, where we can relax and nurture ourselves?  I have long known this to be true for myself, and in a home with a growing family, finding this sense of calm and quiet is a moving target.  Sometimes we simply must find a place of quiet in the midst of (often literal) noise.

With the children, I see that they also need such rest.  Perhaps it's becoming totally engrossed in independent play, or listening to a story, or using the tool of imagination to transform their surroundings.  They need it too, even (or especially) when they are surrounded by siblings and friends so often.

Here are some thoughts about finding a quiet place in your own home:

  • Recognize that you can find quiet and calm in every moment.  When you find yourself needing peace, pause and find your breath, and accept the gift of a quiet mind.  It is especially important to do this when things around you feel chaotic.
  • Notice when your children are trying to create quiet moments.  Perhaps you can redirect a sibling to another activity, or postpone the errand you were going to run.  Honor their need for quiet play.  When you notice them seeking out this quiet, do what you can to support it (and recognize that it is entirely possible to be active and quiet... I think often children are most quiet when they're deeply engaged in play).
  • Ensure that both you and your children have significant amounts of unstructured time to enjoy.  Sometimes this will make you feel like a lazy parent, but it really is a good thing!  This is when both the imagination and the human spirit flourish.  Allow yourselves to get a little bored, and that is when the true play begins.
  • Set aside quiet time for yourself.  A walk, a quiet meal, perhaps some vigorous exercise.  Find a way to schedule this in to your day.
  • Teach yourself and your children how to set boundaries in order to find quiet in the midst of abundant life.  I love to be enthusiastically engaged with the children, but there are times that I will gently say, "Not now.  Mommy is reading."  Usually this is a queue for them to go find some wonderful independent play to engage in.  It makes me happy to hear them setting boundaries with one another, too.  I am usually on hand to help them carry through, or help them have some private time in the near future when that's not possible.
  • Choose the family's overall functionality over any single "rule."  My children know they can watch a video or movie in the afternoon, and we all thrive with the break that this provides for us.  There have been days we pile into the car to just take a drive, because we need some quiet time.  A wise mother once taught me of the joys of "a Popsicle and a tub" in the afternoon, which is a trick I also use (believe me, it's a magical combination!).  You get the idea: be flexible and in tune with your family's needs.
  • Find a place to take a nature walk.  It amazes me how being in the "wild" (even when the wild is a corner of a city park or behind the local pool) makes children find a place of quiet.  You take them there, and before you know it, they are stomping through a creek or creating imaginary stories.  Go everyday for a week and find yourself becoming calmer and more centered, too.
  • Create spaces that invite quiet play.  A chair next to a basket of books.  Some wooden train tracks in a container on the floor.  A box of dressup clothing next to a mirror.  
Okay, now comes the fun part.  How do you find a place of quiet in your own home and life?  How do you invite your children to participate?

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