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January 20, 2016

Giving Our Children What They Need.

Sarah Mak/Unsplash

We all need access to quiet, stillness and space.

In our overcrowded, busyness-addicted society, we often think doing more equates to being more successful.

But the theory of “less is more” can take us a long way back to ourselves.

Our children need quiet downtime to just feel what it is to be in their own skin.

Just consider how many adults right now are in the process of re-learning how to be with their own selves. How many people are trying to figure our where their own center is and how to be comfortable alone with their thoughts (and spending a lot of money trying to figure this out)?

What if this was never taken away from us?

I have home-schooled my children, for many personal reasons. However, this past fall my daughter went to school, also for many personal reasons. And overall, it has been terrific.

Her school is lovely. The teachers are caring and responsive.

I actually cry in awe when I walk through the halls, just feeling the humanity in the building and soaking up all the caring that has gone into making the school day such a positive environment for these lucky kids.

I see no ill intent in that building—only love.

I have to say, however, that my daughter finds the busy schedule of the school day exhausting, being accustomed to going at her own pace at home her entire life.

She finds the day kind of crowded. This morning she asked me, “Why don’t they just start the clean-up earlier from art class so we aren’t so rushed, and then we could finish the project another day.”

Yes, she is a very reasonable girl. I am constantly astonished, and proud of her.

Of course, what I was thinking but didn’t say back to her is, the teacher is trying to cram all the curriculum and all the creative projects she can into the school year, shoving them around assemblies, field trips and special holiday celebrations.

Her teacher is trying to give the kids the most she can, including daily yoga and breathing (the quiet time).

I get it.

So what I do, to help my daughter balance this busyness, is ensure there is a lot of quiet time, silence and space around the school day.

Yesterday was Sunday, and I hung a hammock chair above the couch when my daughter told me she just felt like “swinging.” My daughter just rocked in that hammock swing for hours on end, asking me to turn off the radio because she wanted it quieter. I think she read a book. She had that time to choose what was right for her, and this is what she chose. Swinging quietly in a hammock swing while reading a book.

Our kids need time to be with themselves, in their own creative juiciness.

Just like we do.

The first way we help our children get accustomed to spending quiet time with themselves is by role modeling it. We can stay home in the evenings, turn off the screens and let our houses be quieter.

This is called taking care of our mental health. This is also how we have lived as humans for millennia; we just need to remember what it is like.

Our children learn a lot more from what we do, and how we act, than from what we try to teach them. They are watching us, all the time.

In our house, we have always had an enforced quiet time in the evenings, usually around eight p.m.

I have told my children that I need the quiet time in order to be a good parent to them tomorrow.

I have told them I love being with them, and wish I could snuggle and read longer, but I know if I don’t take my quiet time I won’t feel my best the next day.

Now my children tell me they need their quiet time.

My daughter takes a day off school just to lie in her loft and read or play quietly. My teenage son chooses an evening alone instead of a sleepover, if he knows he has personal projects he wants to focus on.

They both love social time, but they also love being alone. Sometimes it is hard for them to choose, but I try to encourage them to find time for both during the week.

If the weekdays have been quiet, I invite people over on the weekend. If the weekdays have been busy, I will cancel social plans on the weekend, knowing my kids need their time in their own bedrooms and souls, just to feel like themselves again.

I know I do.

Let’s give our children what they need. Let’s ensure there is enough quiet, stillness and space in our homes, and in our schedules, so our children can always feel like they have enough time and space just to feel like themselves.

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Relephant Read:

Sensory Overload: The Importance of Downtime In a Sensory Stimulating Society.

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Author: Ruth Lera

Editor: Toby Israel

Image: Sarah Mak/Unsplash

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