Friday, September 14, 2012

Quiet time

Ahhhh.... Do you hear that? If you hear anything other than the sounds your house and surroundings usually make than you are hearing more than I am. No one is currently talking to me. No one. Everyone is all tucked away in their quiet time spaces doing quiet things. Ahhhh..... (Okay, the puppy is whimpering a bit)

I had a friend ask me to write more about this, so here is my first week's report. We started quiet time on Tuesday, the same day we started school, but this is the first day that I've been home to enjoy it. The week has been so crazy that I've had errands or meetings every day. Now I get to have quiet time, too.

So far it has gone well. Amazingly, I was able to start with the full hour and a half that I had planned. I wasn't sure how things would go, so I had prepared myself for 45 minutes at first and then working up to the full time. I chalk our initial success up to a couple of reasons. The first is my creation of quiet time bags (I ended up skipping boxes because I didn't have any the right size, and went with canvas bags because the breed in dark corners and I always have too many.) I filled these for the four grade school children. I figured the older ones could happily entertain themselves (plus, they often still have work to do) and the little girls are actually napping. I concede that the creation of these bags is pure bribery. But for 1 1/2 hours of quiet everyday I think I came off cheaply. I went to the dollar store and filled them with little things that can be done on a lap... coloring books, crayons/colored pencils, stickers, blank paper, kaleidoscope, small plastic toys/animals... you get the idea.

At the start of quiet time I have everyone go to their spots and I bring them their bags. (H. also gets the fun activity of doing her eye patching at this time as well.) They play quietly until I come and tell them quiet time is over and collect the bags. There have been a couple of instances of people coming out and asking if it is over yet, but they have returned to their spots without fuss when told to. There have also been some wheedling for getting access to the bags outside of quiet time, but this has been a no as well. The bags would lose their cachet if they could be played with all the time. Upon opening the bags, one boy declared it was better than Christmas. I figure I can get a while out of the current contents and then every so often I might stick in a new surprise to keep it fresh.

The other reason for our initial success, I think, is because we all really do need a break and some quiet in our day... no matter the age. It's just that a child is less likely to realize that. And other than it makes me a calmer happier mother to have this breathing space, this is the biggest reason I decided to re-institute the quiet time practice. We (our society) is not really good about quiet, calm, peace, and restfulness. It's as if we have collectively forgotten that these things are good and valuable and how to go about creating them. I want  my children to have a sense of how to be quiet with themselves and to know that this practice is important. It will also help in my quest to make our home a place where its members can find rest.

At the end of quiet time, we have all been going around the block on a short walk to help with the transition between being alone and being with others again. Walking is a great way to use both sides of your brain and to help those sides communicate. Anytime you can achieve this is aids in higher thinking processes. That would be opposed to the purely emotional reacting that some of us in our family resort to and what we try to avoid. Plus exercise in general is a good mood stabilizer.

So, these early afternoon hours this week have been good. The mornings have progressively, though slowly, improved and I imagine after another week we'll hit our stride. The time of day I need to think about is the free time which happens between quiet time and dinner. This past week, the late afternoons have turned fairly ugly and I would like to work on ways to avoid the general ugliness, preferably without resorting to drugging to putting in a DVD, though given the ages of children and their developmental/emotional states at the moment, maybe I just need to lower that bar a little and give myself some grace. I'm not entirely convinced yet, so I'll keep working on it.

And now I'm off so I can avoid having all of my quiet time eaten up by sitting at the computer. The day is far too nice to let that happen.

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