The other day I got to observe a very sweet, active little guy. He was going in and out of a garage. He was busy. He was in the kitty litter. He was in the not-for-children-not-organic bug spray. He was dripping paint on things in the garage. He was playing with a cat that didn’t want to be played with. He was re-arranging all of the garden ornaments. He needed supervision by an adult every minute. His mother was awesome; patient and kind while responding to his needs and re-directing him.
This is so developmentally normal for some children who are small. And yet, it can be so challenging from the perspective of a parent to literally have to be on your toes all day long to save your child from danger or harm. And so hard to never have a moment to sink into peace, quiet and stillness.
Peace, quietness and stillness. For just a moment. To breathe. To pray. To just be.
As parents, how do we find this? Time can be so hard to come by.
Some parents like to get up before their children. For some parents, this is more frustrating than not in terms that then their small children are also awake and up when they leave the bedroom or they just sense someone else in the house is up. Gentle boundaries over time can help, and I have had parents say their children really did stay in their rooms at a fairly young age (5 or so) until the sun came up or a certain number was reached on the clock. That type of child can exist!
Some parents swear by an early bedtime and then having time after the children go to sleep. I myself am an “early bedtime” for children kind of person. That can be hard in a world when many people are not into early bedtimes, but that can work for some families. Perhaps then those parents can garner some time in the morning if their child sleeps in later.
Some parents have an entire night to themselves each week when their spouse or partner will take the children and they go out of the house. Or their spouse or partner will take their children out on a weekend afternoon or morning and leave mom home. Figuring out when, where and how you will get some breaks is really important. Some parents don’t seem to mind being home and with their children at all times, but most I have talked to, especially after their children are a bit more independent – ages five and up perhaps- feel comfortable enough to start thinking about this.
Some parents have the ability to exercise daily and consider that a peaceful, still time for their head even if their bodies are moving! However, again, this usually depends upon having someone else care for your children unless your child does exceptionally well in a sling or stroller for walks.
Some parents create a village. It can be hard to find like-minded parents and entrust that parent with your child. I think this can be so hard especially for mothers who consider themselves attachment parents – no one can do it like them! That is true, but in this case no one is going to be mom except mom, but mothers can have a village help you so that mother can be the best she can be. Often children seem really ready to stay with a friend or neighbor on occasion around the age of four or five if it is within your neighborhood or a close family friend. Around age 10 and up children may be ready for sleepovers. (and yes, there is a specific reason I say age 10 and up, and I actually prefer the teenaged years for sleepovers, but that is another post!)
Some mothers really can have time whilst their children play outside. This can especially happen with groups of multiple children or children that are a bit older. I think if you are home a lot and have a great rhythm in doing this, it can be so helpful. If you have really small children and are just getting into the world of rhythm, please consider this. Healthy play outside perhaps with you near but not on top of them, or as they are older, you inside and the children playing outside can work really well if it is part of your rhythm and routine to have your children create their own play and you not feel as if you have to fill up all their time with structured, adult-led activities.
For very small children, you will probably get the most peace and silence in just being outside together. Many parents tell me their children have almost frenetic energy when they are inside and have a hard time leaving their parents alone, but outside things seem to slow down and children can get absorbed just poking in the mud with a stick, listening to the creek, watching insects and birds. This is especially true of small children.
Have a steady rhythm. Just having a rhythm of in and out breath can be such a positive way to garner those few peaceful moments.
Know your child. If you have a child of higher energy, you probably will have to get that child’s energy out before you even try to sit down. If you can stop, observe and think what makes your child peaceful or see when your child is most peaceful, that can be a big help in tailoring time and space for peace.
How do you model reverence? Part of being peaceful and silent is to feel reverent towards life. Praying, reading sacred texts, gazing at beauty, wondering about the small and ordinary, being able to be still without chattering comes from modeling and providing these opportunities.
I would love to hear from you. How do you gather a few moments for yourself in the midst of a busy world of small children?