Kathy, Lura, Stephanie and all you other wonderful mothers out there: How do I “keep calm and carry on?” Wow, that is the question, isn’t it? Many of us realize after some time in parenting and in homeschooling that we actually are the ones who set the tone for our families. However, it can be a “whole ‘nother ball of wax” trying to figure out the steps to take to do this consistently and effectively.
What you are looking for is to cultivate a really peaceful energy of quiet joy in homemaking, parenting and in life. I do think some of this comes just with time and experience. I know that for myself as a third-time mother I am much quicker to set boundaries in a calm manner and follow through in a patient way. It is always my goal to cultivate that same sort of interest in challenging parenting situations as I see in picking up a piece of lint off the floor. Ho0hum, ho-hum, ho-hum. I really think any parent who has a child of any age can do this though. It really is just a commitment to practice, just like practicing anything else you have learned in your years of living. Practice, and don’t give up!
I don’t think the goal is to be a “valium mother” where you are not authentic or real, but I think over time you learn to save your big reactions for the big things and you hopefully have perspective from knowing development of the holistic human being in body, soul and spirit. That is what this blog is all about!
I am an Episcopalian, and one analogy often used to describe the basis of this religion is “the three-legged stool”of Scripture, Tradition and Reason. I would like to borrow that analogy for a moment. See if you can picture a simple, wooden three-legged stool in your mind’s eye. Do you have it? On the seat of the stool is the word “Calm” or the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On”. On each leg of the stool the following words are written: “RHYTHM” “THOUGHTS/WORDS” and “TIME”. Let me explain each leg:
1. The first leg of this stool is RHYTHM. We all want peace in our homes. Well, the opposite of peace is CHAOS. If you would like to tame your chaos, then you need a rhythm to your day.
A rhythm is not a “schedule by hour”, but it is a flow and an order. I have many back posts on this blog about establishing rhythm. Rhythm is the best and most important place to start in establishing peace and authority (remember, not mean and nasty dictator authority but loving authority!) in your home. Start around awake times, meal times, nap times and bed times. This includes a reasonable bed time and awake time for yourself.
Once this is established, then move into more of the details: outside time, time to have a practical activity that you focus on each day of the week, inside play, time for singing, maybe adding in a time to tell a story. Time for in-breath and time for out-breath.
Rhythm also goes along with the festivals of the year, so you have to spend some time with your journal, a piece of paper, your significant other and think about what festivals your family will celebrate and why that resonates with your family and how you will celebrate. Then you can move into planning for those and working those things into the DOING with small children at home. The doing becomes pieces you can fill in for the practical work of your daily rhythm – baking, crafting, creating.
Rhythm also needs to include when you will do your housework. Again, there are many back posts about this subject on this blog. I personally like www.flylady.net for mothers trying to tame their homes. I like Flylady because I think her plan is actually “do-able” with small children because it tends to work in small chunks of time, it asks you to start where you are, and it works in baby steps. Many mothers I personally know have found success with the Flylady system, including myself.
2. The second leg to this three-legged stool is “THOUGHTS/WORDS”. Change your thoughts, change your words, change your life.
Change your perception of anger: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/22/the-battlefield-of-the-mind-anger-and-parenting/
Change your attitude: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/06/17/the-power-of-being-a-positive-mother/
Be kind in your home: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/03/kindness-in-your-home/
Change the words you use with your children: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/05/23/changing-our-parenting-language/
Set boundaries in a loving way, referred to on this blog as “holding the space” and “being the rock”. Here is my favorite post on that subject: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/12/02/re-claiming-authority-part-one/
3. The third leg to this three-legged stool is “TIME”. If you know what your values and priorities are because you made a Family Mission Statement, are you using your time in a way that reflects that? Or are you wasting a lot of time wandering in circles feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start? Go back to rhythm! Plan your week out on a piece of paper! Start somewhere!
Are you wasting time on the computer? I find for many mothers the biggest time waster is not TV or even the phone, but the computer. Many mothers, especially mothers of small children, seem to spending an awful lot of time looking at blogs of so-called “perfect homes” and “perfect families” instead of spending their time planning or actually being with their families! For the most part, I keep pictures OFF of this blog for that reason. You should not be comparing your family to mine or to anyone else’s family, and pictures make this a really easy trap to fall into! It is so tempting with these blogs to feel inferior and as if everyone has it all together, so why don’t we? I guarantee that I am just a humble work in progress with real life days and so are all the mothers of those beautiful blogs. We are all just real human beings!
I think one of the biggest ways we can become guardians of our time and to redeem our time is to spend it in PMP. PMP is my way of saying prayer, meditation, and planning. If you pray over your concerns, meditate and see what that small quiet whisper tells you and plan, you will make better decisions for you and your family. Life will flow!
Remember: rhythm, thoughts/words, time. The keys to keeping calm and carrying on. If you need to, tack up some reminder words or pictures on pieces of paper. Come up with your plan for what you will do when that last boundary is crossed; how will you react and how will you de-escalate the situation when it is no longer a time for learning for anyone in the household?
These are things worth pondering during these Holy Nights.
Much love and many blessings! You can do this this year!