Here we are, the first of (hopefully) many posts on how I’m implementing some of Sally Clarkson’s wonderful ideas here at the cozy house. First up: daily quiet time. I resisted this idea in the past, mainly because my son is, well, a boy. Quiet is not a word I would use to describe him. Ever. Bless his little energetic heart. Hence why I NEED some quiet time in our days.
I’m currently re-reading a book Sally wrote called “The Life Giving Home.” In it, she gives a wonderful description of what afternoon quiet time, or “reading hour,” looked like at their house. She writes,
One of the best pieces of advice I have received in regard to motherhood came from a mom I met whose children were just a little older than mine. She said, “If you can create the habit of afternoon reading when your children are little, they will keep it going the rest of their lives.”
Each afternoon, generally between two and three o’clock, I would give each child a special basket of books from our home or the library and encourage them to read quietly. Each basket held one or two library books of their choice, a couple of my own choosing, and one or two delightful picture books that they had picked out.
Hello, amazing afternoon idea. The thought of SILENCE and BOOKS for a chunk of each afternoon sounds like heaven on earth. And how simple it sounds…so I determined we would start to implement this hour of mandated quiet/book basket time every day.
To begin the process of easing into a new habit, we visited a thrift store and I let the kids each pick out their own book baskets for reading hour. We also visited the library where we picked out some new books for their baskets. And then we dove right in.
What Quiet Time Looks Like at the Cozy House (so far):
Oh my stinking heck. So far, this new habit of quiet time/reading hour has been a disaster. It’s like the word “quiet” doesn’t exist in my kids’ vocabulary. Children: QUIET time. As in, do.not.talk.to.me.or.your.sibling.for.sixty.minutes. For the love.
Most days the six year old daughter will sit still with her books for at least 15 minutes before she gets antsy. The five year old son has been, shall we say, less successful. At this point, quiet time feels more exhausting than non-quiet time, which is exactly the opposite effect I’m going for.
I try to channel my inner-Sally and tell him gently, “Darling, it’s quiet time. Please go back to your massive stack of pillows and look at your books.” But I’m not Sally, so this usually it turns into a circus of me corralling him and telling him twenty times every minute (and not in a gentle, loving tone) to FOR THE LOVE sit down and stop talking and LOOK AT YOUR BOOKS.
I’m no quitter, so I’m not throwing in the towel yet. I realize that doing quiet time for an entire hour with my two kids who are used to playing all afternoon is pushing it, especially when the boy child isn’t even reading yet. Asking him to sit for an hour and look at books is going to require a daily miracle. So I think I may just require him to have some quiet time in which he sits and plays quietly on his bed while listening to an audio book. An hour is a stinking long time for littles.
It’s also not entirely encouraging that on the afternoons when we have errands to run or places to be, one of my children will say, “Hey! This means we don’t have to do quiet time today! Yay!” (Insert eye roll here.)
So two weeks in, here are my new and updated quiet time goals:
- 20-30 minutes (instead of an hour). I read somewhere else recently that book basket time (that’s what they called this) should last 15-20 minutes. So I’m backing up my expectations on the time frame for the time being. And I should set a timer! If the timer hasn’t gone off, quiet time is not over and you children need to resume your quiet time positions.
- Feet up. If you want to read, awesome. Otherwise, find something quiet to do while SITTING OR LAYING DOWN on a bed or couch or comfy corner that you have set up for yourself. Do not roam around the house.
- Possibly have a snack for this time. (Do I really want to do this? Eh. Not sure. The jury is still out on this idea.)
- Don’t talk to mommy until time is up. Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease give your mother this time to regroup.
This habit-training process is no joke, people.
I know the key is consistency here. If I’m consistent in my expectations, they will EVENTUALLY stop talking constantly and roaming the house. Right?!
They say it takes 30 days to make a habit stick. I’m going to keep trying, because we really do NEED this down time in our days. I’m fairly determined to make this work. It is definitely not going to look like quiet time at the Clarkson’s home, but I’m ok with that. That’s the great thing about families – they’re all different. Seek out what God has in mind for your family and own it. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.