Quiet Time

mancala

My youngest daughter beat me Saturday night at Mancala with the tricks she’d learned from her older sister, who later confessed she’d spent four long “quiet times” calculating which starting places would give her the most pieces.

Quiet time was the routine that replaced nap time at our house. Everyone went to their separate spaces and stayed quiet for an hour so we could all rest. We haven’t had quiet time in years, but I do still separate them occasionally when they’ve had too much stimulation and we need some peace and quiet.

We took a family quiet time this weekend, watching four two-hour sessions of LDS General Conference at home. We’ve been overstimulated by the start of school, new schedules, persistent allergies and colds, and mild reactions to the seasonal flu mist; we needed the peace and quiet.

Coincidentally, one of the woman leaders who spoke, Vicki Matsumori, said that the challenge for us is to create an environment where we can feel the Spirit in our homes daily. She encouraged us to have a quiet time each day to personally pray and read our scriptures so we can allow the “still, small voice” to provide guidance and comfort.

Message after message validated my need for quiet time for myself and my family so I can discern what is really important and identify answers to our problems.

After a family dinner, Mancala, and a read aloud of Little Women to my daughter, I read The Guilt-Trip Casserole, an article in The New York Times about the study from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) which found that “teenagers who eat with their families less than three times a week are more likely to turn to alcohol, tobacco and drugs than those who dine with their families five times a week.”

Ironically, the article reported the negative reactions of a few vocal moms and concluded that “family dinner has become a red-hot item on the good-parent scorecard, by which mothers in particular judge one another and themselves.”

I’m sure I’ll be classified as the mother who judges another, but just reading their justifications for why it can’t work tired me. To be honest, we have family dinners at least five nights a week, and I’m happy about it. If you don’t, so be it.

It is sad that research that identifies how to help our families thrive is presented as women pitted against other women. Any tricks one woman uses to allocate quiet personal and family time amidst a busy life is an aid for me; I need all the hints I can get in the always-difficult parenting game.

As for our family, the commitment to a “quiet time” every day and periodically for a whole weekend relieves the pressures outside our house and allows us to listen to what we can’t hear in any other way.

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2 Comments

  1. Sarah
    Oct 5, 2009

    I think women sometimes go on the defensive when they feel like research is telling them they’re not doing enough. Sad, true, especially since I think the work in the home is more important than any other work they could be doing and we should all be desperate for new ideas. That defensiveness often translates itself into picking on other women.

    On another note: your daughters are ingenious. 🙂 If they’re willing to spend that much time studying and then learning (from her older sister) the tricks of the trade… they’ll go far. 🙂 Channel that energy!

    I love quiet time. I think every kid (and parent!) needs quiet time to “be themselves”… sometimes grandparents/aunts/uncles don’t understand that and it makes me laugh a little bit. (I think they sometimes think I’m ignoring my kid…)

  2. Debs
    Oct 6, 2009

    Hi TJ
    What jumps out at me here is the invaluable quiet time. My older boys are now 19 and 20, both left home, yet still they both take out quiet time each day probably without quite realising actually. I still do that one thing with my 2 younger kids and i’m convinced it takes out much potential negativity too.
    A simple concept seems to hold so much power!

    Debs

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