Hello Silence, My Old Friend
You just finished cleaning the last remains of this morning’s fiasco (breakfast) and you finally sit down to enjoy that freshly brewed (and still hot!) cup of coffee. You close your eyes, take in the nutty aroma wafting out of the cup in your hands and are just about to take that longed-for sip when in bursts your 3 year old demanding a snack (already), followed closely by his older siblings deeply engaged in a heated squabble over who bumped into whom and led to that lovely cereal mess on your newly washed floor. (That sugary cereal they were sneaking as a post-breakfast dessert no less.)
It’s morning and you don’t want to start the day yelling so you head to your sanctuary (aka. the bathroom), but not before your bare feet collect a few Fruit Loops along the way. Just a quick Indiana Jones booby trap maneuver across that field of legos and you’re there!
You close the door behind you. Silence at last.
Thirty seconds later, a bang on the door snaps you back to reality. You’ve been found.
Teach them that it is in the silence that we can better hear God’s voice.
Don’t worry. I won’t ask if you’ve ever had this happen. I don’t have to. I know it has.
Wherever it is that you happen to escape to when the chaos of family life gets to be just a little too much for the moment, be assured that seeking refuge is completely normal.
Believe it or not, it’s actually a survival mechanism!
A few years ago I came across an article detailing the ways in which auditory overload is bad for our health—mainly, it increases stress levels. Maybe that’s not a huge revelation, but considering the fact that the average person is surrounded by noise all day (the noise of traffic outside your window, music, human voices, toaster oven beeps, electronic toys, the gentle hum of your furnace; you get the picture), our brains are pretty resilient, so don’t be too hard on yourself when a little spat or another snack request sends you into a fight-or-flight search for some immediate peace and quiet. Sometimes it doesn’t take much. Clearly you need the break; your brain can’t handle any more stimuli. Listen to it. You’ll be a better parent for it.
And guess what? Your kids need it, too. And so much more! Their brains are still developing, and at an incredible rate.
If you’ve ever wondered why some days your kids are constantly fighting with each other, are impatient, irritated, demanding instant gratification, it’s because they’re simply exhausted and their brain is craving silence; they just don’t know it.
Now that I know this—and Science has my back—I no longer feel guilty or like a bad parent because I occasionally want to hide in the bathroom from my kids.
And I don’t want you to feel that way either.
Allow me to challenge you today to reduce the stimuli in your family’s life: implement an hour of quiet time in your home every day.
Make it at the same time of day so your kids will quickly learn when to expect it. I’ve found that between 2-4pm is usually the best time (and a great opportunity for your one undisturbed cup of caffeine!), but do what works for you.
Explain that this is a personal quiet time and try to separate everyone (including yourself) as much as possible. Encourage your younger children to play on their own (or do it when they’re napping), and your older kids to engage in quiet activities such as reading, drawing, puzzles, etc. It may take some time before it’s a welcome and routine part of your day, but it’s worth the initial struggle.
Try it out for two weeks as a practice run and observe how your family dynamics change.
And when we enter the season of Lent in just a few short weeks, tell your children that this new quiet time of their day can also be their time with God.
Teach them that it is in the silence that we can better hear God’s voice. Show them how to use the quiet as an opportunity to converse with their Heavenly Father.
Invite your family to discover the sound of silence.
It’s a requisite for life.
"Do small things with great love." – St. Teresa of Calcutta
We believe that Salvation begins in the home, which is why MMH Press is dedicated to helping parents discover the foundations of their motherhood and fatherhood as revealed in God's plan for the family. We seek to inspire Catholic parents to transform their home into a sanctuary of love, to raise their children in the Faith, and together lead a joyful and fulfilling family life.