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Today I want to talk about a simple habit I have employed for many years in my own home and one that I frequently encourage young mothers to begin. Next to prayer and scripture, it is hands-down my single most effective secret weapon for combating homeschool mom burnout (or any kind of mom burnout).
Is homeschool mom burnout real? Yes, I assure you, it is! Homeschooling is an all-consuming, demanding life ministry and, like anything really worth doing, it is easy to become discouraged and want to give up. Do any of the following describe you, dear mamas?
If you said yes to any of the above, I want to introduce you to a habit that will help you find rest and peace in your day.
Is this a new concept for you? Does it sound crazy?
Too good to be true?
If so, then please let me explain to you how to implement a family quiet time in your home and how it can revolutionize your day!
But before I explain to you what a family quiet time is, let me first explain what it is not.
Family quiet time is not the same as "me time."
It is not the attitude of "Oh. my. goodness. I have got to get away from these kids. They are driving me crazy!!" Nor is it the idea that we can only cope with our parenting responsibilities by escaping reality on a regular basis. Family quiet time is not keeping our kids quiet and out of the way so we can sit around wasting time on Facebook or binge-watching Hallmark movies.
Family quiet time is a healthy habit that brings peace and rest to our homes. It is not to be used as a means to indulge our flesh or as a way to "cope" with sin issues in ourselves or our children.
Okay, now that we've established what it isn't let's talk about what family quiet time is and how wonderful it can be!!
As homeschooling mothers, we are constantly pouring into our families. Giving of our time, energy, patience, wisdom and love. But we cannot keep drawing from a reservoir that has run dry. No one, not even homeschool mamas, have unlimited resources of patience and energy. We need rest. We need small moments of solitude. We need time to think, dream, plan, reflect and pray.
Did you know that Jesus frequently withdrew from the crowds for solitude and prayer?
And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. ~ Matthew 14:23
Jesus departed from there, skirted the Sea of Galilee, and went up on the mountain and sat down there. ~Matthew 15:29
When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. ~Matthew 14:13
And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. ~Mark 6:31-32
Wow! If perfect, sinless Jesus desired quiet and solitude, how much more us mothers? No wonder so many of us go around weary, irritated and run down. We neglect to follow the example Christ set for us in scripture.
Family quiet time can be adapted in many different ways, depending on your family dynamics and home. It won't look the same in every home. Some families have personalities that are more introverted and the children will naturally seek out solitude and quiet hours. Perhaps in homes such as those it will only be necessary or beneficial to practice family quiet time for the toddlers or on Sunday afternoons for rest.
I happen to live in a house FULL (and I do mean FULL!) of extroverts. So family quiet time is something I greatly treasure and have benefited from much over the years.
However you choose to implement family quiet time, the concept is the same. It is basically a time where your children are required to separate themselves from you and each other and busy themselves with quiet activities. This provides you, mama, a time of rest during your busy and demanding days. It is a short moment of time each day for you to think, pray, rest, think, plan, read or pursue hobbies or other interests (more about that later).
Here are some of the ways I personally have adapted the idea of family quiet time in our home. I think you will see how easily these ideas can be modified to meet your unique family needs.
>> Related: 6 Ways You Can Find Time for Devotions & Prayer + FREE Quiet Time Journal for Busy Moms ebook
There is a certain age my babies reach (it's different for each child) where I know they are ready to be trained for "couch time." Couch time is the first form of quiet time I begin with my children. Sometime shortly around or after age 1, I start by setting my babies on the couch with a small pile of books or toys and say to them, "You're going to have a quiet time. Don't get down from the couch until Mommy tells you to."
I keep this time short, usually no more than 15 minutes when starting out. The important thing is that you are training your children from a very young age to understand that when Mommy says "quiet time," they must stay still and play quietly.
I cannot stress enough here that consistency is key!
If you are careful to always use the words quiet time and to reinforce that they must sit still until quiet time is over, you will be amazed at how quickly your children will learn this habit.
Now, when my babies and toddlers are still napping, I schedule our daily quiet time around their naps. In other words, I use nap time as my quiet time; however, at some other point in the day, I begin training the toddler for sitting still for quiet time, knowing that some day they will not need afternoon naps, but I will still want to have quiet time.
I do not make my young toddlers sit still quietly for an hour or more. "Couch time" is simply the way I begin early training for quiet time later on when they stop napping or are able to play alone for longer periods of time.
It can help to reinforce the idea of quiet time by having a small basket of books and toys that are only brought out and used during quiet time. If you read my article6 Ways You Can Find Time for Devotions and Prayer, you will know that I advocate a quiet time basket for your little ones to use during your morning prayer and devotion time. Here are some of my favorite quiet time toys to use in a basket:
Of course, you can always save money by making some quiet time activities yourself! Check out our Busy Toddlers & Babies board on Pinterest for some great ideas!
These activities are rotated every so often so that the child doesn't become bored with them.
At this age, my children transition from afternoon nap time to an afternoon quiet time. Hopefully, if I have been consistent about "couch time" training, my preschoolers will be ready for a longer quiet time. Our quiet time takes place after lunch, when the majority of our school lessons are done and chore time has been completed. (It just makes me feel better to take a little time to rest once the majority of the work is done, but you will find what works best in your home.)
After lunch, I ask the older children to gather their quiet time things and I always let them know how long of a quiet time we will be having that day. When all my children were little, we consistently had a 1-2 hour quiet time every day, but now we are in a new season of life with both teenagers and toddlers, so our quiet times look very different. Most weeks, we only manage to have 2-3 a week (but ALWAYS on Sundays!).
All of the children must be in separate rooms. This is absolutely non-negotiable for me. I learned the hard way when my three oldest boys were little that they just did not have the self-discipline to play quietly in a room together and not end up as a pile of wriggling, wrestling, tussling little boys. It was just too much temptation! (Who am I kidding? They are 13, 14 and 17 and it's still too much of a temptation! They still love to wrestle and will be all over each other at the slightest provocation. Sometimes I despair they'll never outgrow it.....other times I'm sad that someday they will.)
For younger children it helps to set a timer so they have a signal to let them know when quiet time is over. Some children get absorbed in what they are doing and will want to continue their solitude even after quiet time is over. Other children do not entertain themselves as easily or are more social and may begin the annoying habit of coming out of their room every five minutes to ask when quiet time is over. The timer can be helpful to overcome this problem.
Obviously, there might need to be a "grace" period as this habit is being instituted in the home. However, once the habit has been established and the children know what to expect, some children may need to be disciplined for interrupting quiet time. For example, it can be effective to add 15 minutes to their quiet time for every time they come out and ask if they can come out of their room.
Here are some of the things my older children enjoy during their afternoon quiet times:
Okay, I will admit that this age can be tricky. On the one hand, my teens are too busy and too old to be sent to their rooms for a 1-2 hour "quiet time." On the other hand, my teens are very extroverted and it really defeats the purpose of working so hard to maintain a quiet time for the younger children, only to have my teens talking to me and asking me questions the entire hour of rest time. (As I mentioned, my kiddos are all very social. They do not naturally desire solitude.) Not to mention, it is just as good for them as it is for me to learn to find rest in solitude.
I am still learning to navigate this age, but I have found it helpful to talk with my older teens and explain to them that I would like to rest, read, have a cup of coffee and make some phone calls, etc. during the younger children's quiet time. I tell them I am unavailable for conversation during that time.
This probably sounds harsh to you mamas with a houseful of introverts. But don't judge until you've walked a mile in the shoes of a woman with one extreme extrovert for a husband and five extroverted kids! (Ha, ha) I usually ask my teens to separate and busy themselves during that hour with reading, school work, computer time, answering emails, being outside, etc. In other words, I don't ask them to practice family quiet time in deed, but I do ask them to practice it in spirit. (I hope that makes sense.)
Perhaps your teens could work on a cottage industry during quiet time? Check out Rachel's article 4 Cottage Industries for Teens & Tweens.
For more great cottage industries ideas, follow our Pinterest board Cottage Industry Ideas:
Sunday family quiet time is by far the BEST quiet time there is. God was so wise and good to give us the gift of a day of rest, but many of us miss out on the blessing because we fail to rest.
Every Sunday, after lunch, our children (from toddlers to teens) know that there is a mandatory, 2-hour family quiet time. Even our teens are asked to separate themselves and settle down with a good book during Sunday quiet time. My husband and I take a nap, then spend the remainder of quiet time by having private conversations, reading, etc. For my husband, it is usually the only rest time he gets for the week and I know what a difference it makes for him when he gets up on Monday morning to begin a new week of work.
I urge all young parents to begin this habit of Sunday family quiet time as soon as they are able. You will not regret it. It has been one of the greatest blessings to our family and the peace of our home!
You might think that family quiet time only benefits mama, but let me encourage you of all the ways your children also benefit from quiet time:
Did you catch that first one? Solitude.
Now that my secret weapon for combating homeschool mom burnout isn't a secret any longer, I hope you'll try it too! You will be so blessed, dear mamas, by structuring your days with order and rest. Your home will be happier and more peaceful and you will be rested and ready to conquer each day.
Come back soon for ideas and inspiration for using your new found rest time!
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