Does Awareness and Quiet Have A Place In Your Home? (Episode 314)
Have you fostered awareness and enjoyed the quiet in your home, or is it a fend-for-yourself-borderline-chaos environment? Most likely it's in-between, as we recognize seasons of life that tend to slow down, and other times when they speed up.
When our kids were younger, we did an experiment on quiet that really rocked our world. It's not too late to foster awareness and quiet at home, and here are some tips to get you started.
Years ago when our daughters were 4, 6 & 9, we were learning a new normal with a completely different lifestyle than we'd ever experienced before. In October 2016, we'd hit the road to live full-time in our RV, and our living quarters got quite a bit smaller.
As we worked through our rhythms and learned how to be together while still allowing for some space, the need for QUIET was pretty loud (oh so punny). We focused on engaging the senses and really stopped at the "sound" sense.
We listened to a TED Radio Hour on embracing the quiet (you can hear it and read about all the senses here) and decided to try our own experiment at home.
We had talked some with our kids about what we'd heard, and our oldest, always listening, I'm sure had tuned in while we were listening to the podcast anyway. So we decided to put it to the test, and simply stop talking.
We woke up one morning with the goal of not speaking for the day.
Our Quiet Experiment
So we woke up and stayed silent. This was hard for me, as we didn't really prep our children for this. I wanted to do my typical thing and launch into a full narration/explanation of exactly what all we were doing and why.
However, in life, things rarely work that way. People are rushing through and often times it's up to you to figure out what's going on versus expecting to be told.
So our children learned what was going on through their confusion, curiosity, frustration, and desire to connect to us. And it was pretty powerful.
- A child embraces the quiet and mimics the silence (remember monkey see, monkey do). As you minimize your words, lower your voice, and pause more, your child will often mimic your behavior. Keep that in mind for the opposite as well.
- When those who normally talk are silent, it opens the door for those who are typically quiet to speak up.
- How often do we feel the pressure to answer/respond to every single thing? Sometimes kids ask questions just to talk but don’t really care for an answer. Or they ask a question and they can figure out the answer on their own. Not responding to every single comment/question with your child allows the opportunity for them to process out loud and figure out their own conclusions. Allow space for processing.
- It got much quieter - the kids immediately started whispering more. The next morning, it was super chill. Less fighting, way less demands, and more quiet play.
- Less is more - there was a lot of talking done that was unnecessary. Listen more, lecture less. Be okay with not having everything resolved.
- Encourage silence and connection in other ways. Remember the power of positive, non-sexual physical touch.
- Conversation is such a deep way of connecting…yet…holding back and observing - to be quiet, aware, and notice before plunging forward…can make such an impact on what you soak in.
- It helped us to be more intentional about what was said. What was worth voicing, fighting for, and pointing out?
- Take it to your own most intimate relationship. How often have you simply looked into each other's eyes with no words spoken? It can be quite unnerving and vulnerable, yet so powerful!
Nathan loves to take the girls exploring in the woods - and during this time, he was reading "The Way of the Scout: A Native American Path to Finding Spiritual Meaning In A Physical World". They all learned about living in nature, being one with it, and seeing it in new ways.
They learned about "scatter vision" and how to see more while focusing on less. It's a fun exercise to look at things in a new way and silence your mind in the process.
Fostering Awareness At Home
Our first step in fostering awareness at home had to start with silence so we could stop and take in what was actually going on. So often we swoop in wanting to fix things yet don't take the time to notice the reality of what is. We can get so skewed in the "right" way we miss what is right under our noses.
When you stop first and get quiet, you pay attention to what is surrounding you. You start to see what is taking over - is it one person in your home, the blaring TV in the background all the time, or the screaming that has just become the norm for your young children?
The best way to make a shift is to first bring awareness to what is.
What do you love about the rhythms and energy in your home? What do you want to cultivate? It's okay to be loud and crazy. We definitely have that in our house. We simply wanted to introduce more peace and calm as well.
In order to foster awareness and quiet at home, the first step is simply being aware of your surroundings. Simply stopping and noticing can give you so much insight.
Tips for Bringing Awareness To Home
Here are a few guideposts we abide by now in our home.
- When you walk into a room, come in silently. Observe what is going on around you. If someone is talking, wait until they are finished before you speak.
- Take turns – for every story you tell, comment you have to make, etc., allow the chance for someone else to give back to you with their own voice. Don’t compete…complete.
- For every complaint, come up with five positives that you are grateful for right at this very moment. Remember Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day? The more you speak it, the more it becomes your reality. Remember the law of attraction.
- You have the right to feel any and every emotion. Voice it and get it out. And, you don’t have to dwell on it. Don’t allow it to become you – create the energy you want to have, and allow that to direct your day, instead of the reaction to a negative energy. The last thing we need in the midst of our struggle is shame for being human (Brené Brown). Don’t bring someone else down - what good does it do for anyone?
- Be open to learning new things from anyone you meet. When hard times hit, ask “What does this make possible?” What can you learn - you have the opportunity to learn something from everyone.
- Before you dive into dinner as a family, observe a moment of silence. Regardless of your religion (or lack thereof), taking a moment of silence before you eat allows you to reflect on your life with gratitude, listen to the peace and calm that begins your evening, and reset and recharge everyone with an equal energy of meditation. I was amazed at how simple this was and what a difference it made in our dinner times. We started with just ten seconds of silence and are building it up to potentially 2 minutes. They forget what they were complaining about or acting crazy about, and simply soak in the silence. It’s magical.
- Take in the moments. Be present. Stop planning for the future or dwelling in the past. What’s done is done, and what is tomorrow can wait until tomorrow. Be present in the second that is right now. Close your eyes and take it in. Wait to worry.
There are so many signposts in our lives - those things that are brought to our attention and we get to choose what we do with them. A signpost isn't a concrete map; it simply shows an opportunity where you can assess your next step. Sometimes we'll find signposts that send us running in the opposite direction. Sometimes we'll find some element that resonates with us and others that don't. Don't throw it all out. We learn in so many ways - and through books, experiences, conversations and simply living life, we're going to have a lot to weed through.
Keep an eye out for the signposts that light you up along the way, and how you can use them to move forward. The more aware you are of your surroundings, the more opportunity you have to find them, and embrace the calm and the quiet when you need it.
There are so many ways to foster awareness and quiet at home. Two great book recommendations that help to achieve this are Simplicity Parenting and The Danish Way of Parenting - two of my most favorite parenting books.
Beware of signposts - it’s not the destination. It simply states what could be coming, and our experiences with it will all be very different. Don’t throw it all out if one part doesn’t resonate. Learn through your own filter, and look for the lesson in everything.
Try a quiet experiment in your home. Start instilling a few of these lessons on awareness and see what a difference it may make. It may bring out the more quiet one in your home, and allow your more vocal family members the opportunity to learn and celebrate something they didn't know. And, it gives space for us all to celebrate how the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us.