Talk about overstimulation of the senses! My kids and I went to a birthday party a couple of Saturdays ago at what will remain an unnamed children’s amusement establishment. Wow. It was like the bad part of Pinocchio: pizza, cups full of high fructose corn syrup and caffeine, lights and noise and germs everywhere, and people crowded everywhere like a Black Friday special. My kids had a blast … riding up and down on assorted machines and exploring other forms of electronic entertainment for four whole hours, then we dragged home.
Contrast this with yesterday afternoon, when my 4-year-old and I made cups of tea and sat out on the deck in unseasonably warm weather to enjoy some fresh air with our Sunday. Or compare it to the simple joy of yesterday evening when we all sat down to paint pictures on the deck. Some of my favorite moments with my kids are when they’re tucked around me on my bed, reading as many stories aloud as we can before bedtime. Others are the few moments I seize when they just wake up or are settling down at night, hugging their warm, (mildly) sedate bodies until the day they grow too big for my arms (or at this point in my third trimester, I lose my lap).
I don’t believe I’m great at raising kids who will succeed in the spiritual disciplines of meditation or solitude or even prayer. I mean, my house and my schedule are more conducive to chaos! I’m convicted as I write this about how much I’m responsible for setting the tone in my home, and how often that tone is one of task-driven excitement from the moment we wake up.
But I want to explore what it looks like to cultivate a hunger for, and satisfaction with, quiet in my kids’ hearts … and my own. Putting limits on their media use is a start, but part of it’s going to lie in me making moments of uninterrupted conversation, listening well to my kids, savoring a few moments where I’m not multitasking, disciplining myself and my kids toward more unhurried activities and schedules together, watching a storm come in, taking walks, cuddling my kids, or making Sundays look different than other days.
I liked the title of a secular book I glimpsed recently on a shelf: In Praise of Slowness. In light of the demands mothering presents, I could think on that for awhile! Richard Foster has written a renowned Christian classic on the spiritual disciplines of meditation and solitude, among others, entitled The Celebration of Discipline. Might be worth a read, because in my experience, “Cease striving and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) doesn’t really just happen in our day.
Any more practical ideas out there for cultivating hearts of quiet in our kids?