Our lives tend to be filled with activity. And I am discovering, so are our children's lives. My girls, although not the kind of kids that could be termed as "busy", rarely stop even when we are at home. Aneliese is always singing, talking, building, drawing, pretending, or helping. She crashes briefly for an afternoon nap (today while mid bite) and then goes again until her reluctant eyelids fall at bedtime only to pop open far too early in the morning. And Cecily, well, she is busy finding things to discover, acquiring bruises from the discovering, and making her share of noise and music. I have been reading some books and articles lately on establishing rhythms and daily structure to a child's life. As I have been reading, we have also been slowly trying to incorporate some of these things into our lives so that even though we are still busy and doing various things, life won't seem so chaotic and hurried. I have found really helpful hints even simple things like stopping to look at the sky as it colors with the sunlight each morning. Or ideas of how to have a peaceful morning routine that fulfill the needed requirements for moving into the day minus the angst. Now lest I sound more together than I am, I would say that just being more than blurry eyed, half asleep and stumbling around resentful of early wake-up call is a big step. And I was a morning person! However, I digress.
One book that I have taken a lot from is called Sanctuaries of Childhood: Nurturing a Child's Spiritual Life by Shea Darian. She is a Waldorf educator so her books are written along those lines. Some of it is a little sentimental, feely for me and some of it, I am just plain not into. But she has practical ideas that I really haven't found else where. She really encourages seeing the spiritual in all of life which is really important to me. Her belief, and I agree, is that it is just as valuable as a healthy breakfast is for a child to connect spiritually each day. To discover and know the One who created them. Some suggestions that she makes are morning prayers, or a waking up song or story or a corner for quiet thoughts. A suggestion that I liked was to have a quiet place where each family member can go for morning prayers, reading, and just general quietness. What I have wondered though is how to encourage it as a natural and enjoyable part of the day as opposed to something forced.
I really need some time in the morning for quiet, for speaking and for hearing. With the arrival of babies, this time had been lost for me, but lately Dan has been making sure that I have that precious half hour first thing in the morning. Cecily usually sleeps a little longer so Dan and Aneliese spend time together reading or playing. I retreat to our little sitting nook upstairs and read, journal, and listen. Sometimes I hear them downstairs talking about "Mama's quiet time" but I know that I will be undisturbed. When I emerge a while later, Aneliese always asks if I am done and usually has another question or two. The last few days have seen an addition. She then says that she is going to have her quiet time and either go upstairs to the nook or into the spare room and is.....quiet. She will sit quietly, sometimes look at a book, sometimes sing softly but she is.....quiet. When she comes out, she is smiling and happy. Sometimes she takes another one or two later in the day. Always joyfully. Was my way of encouraging a brief time of quiet more simple than I had thought? Is it possible that by this becoming a natural and much enjoyed part of my day, it is being instilled in her as valuable?
Wow, this turned out longer and slightly different than I had intended but I leave it there with this simple encouragement. Find some quiet in your day and encourage it in your little ones, it really makes the activity that much better. Okay, I'm done.