As parents we can often feel the pressure of keeping our children engaged in activities with friends and play dates. We ourselves feel we must connect with other parents along with tending to seemingly endless daily tasks. It can seem manic at times and constantly busy. We find we don’t have much time to just sit with our children. There is value is just sitting with each other, doing nothing, thinking about nothing in particular, just simply being in each other’s company, relaxing and unwinding. We can forget how comforting it is to just sit still. It is important, especially in today’s hectic world full of distractions, to teach children the importance of just being.
Try to incorporate family time where you are present in each other’s company. Dark evenings by the fire are ideal for this. Simply stay inside with your children, staying cosy and warm and just chill out in their company. Calm time, quiet time, nothing special time! (The Danish have a special word called hygge that describes time spent at home with others in a cosy atmosphere.)
What are the ground rules?
Mobile phones and TV may need to be off limits in this quiet space. The time and day would need to be prioritised just like all other activities. Think of it as an activity you have paid for up-front. You usually never miss these activities. Don’t allow it to be optional. It is quiet time but it is not silence time, you can talk if you choose to or sit in quietness. Whatever activity you choose, make it your space and your time. Let everyone have their say; dream it up and then plan what is realistic.
What quiet activities could you try?
- Mindfulness involves focusing calmly on the present while acknowledging feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. If you talk with your children about the business of life and introduce the concept of mindfulness to them I am sure they will want to try it. It may be difficult at the start if you are all used to be being busy.
- You could introduce some nice colouring books from the mindfulness series, there are so many to choose from for adults and children.
- Massage is another option for quiet relaxation. You can learn some simple massage techniques from YouTube.
- Listen to quiet, relaxing music. There are hours of relaxing music compilations also on YouTube.
How long should quiet-time last?
This only need to be half an hour of your week, longer is great but it doesn’t have to be an entire evening. It shouldn’t be something you dread. A the parent, you need to take the lead and support your children to feel happy and safe in their own company, not doing anything specific, only relaxing. Each week you can try new things and bin them if you don’t like them.
Create the space in your home and see if you can feel the positive energy it can create for you and your children this autumn and winter.
This article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly parenting tips.