I don’t know if it is a uniquely American trait, but when I ask someone how they are, the most common answer is, “I’m so busy.” I get it. My answer was “keeping busy”, “chasing these kids around” or “crazy like always” for a long time. Somewhere along the line, Americans decided busy equals value. We over schedule ourselves and our kids and fall into bed every night physically exhausted and mentally spent. Spirituality and a peaceful life give way to schedules and to-do lists. We wish for more hours daily as we scurry from activity to activity barely taking a breath. We have become human doings instead of human beings, always active, rarely resting or living the moment.
How to begin designing a peaceful life
At the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, I decided to try something different. I deliberately put quiet time in my day. From 7:45am until about 10am, I was quiet. I wrote, meditated and did yoga. Sometimes I cleaned and decluttered while listening to calming, instrumental music. I rarely talked on the phone and stopped going to most morning activities outside my home. The result was I lost weight, my house was cleaner, I started writing and blogging blog, and I owned my life. My life didn’t own me. I was living a peaceful life for the first time, and I loved it.
A peaceful morning becomes a peaceful evening
My quiet morning revolutionized my day so much, started an electronic shutdown every evening in our home. After eating and cleaning up dinner, we spent at least one hour away from all electronics except one. We allowed Kindle reading and Kindle games like Scrabble that enhance your mental capacity.
So how did that work out?
At first, my kids balked, especially when we didn’t have after dinner activities outside our home. My boys liked to read, but they rarely did more than school required. We missed TV and electronic stimulation which surprised us since we had a lifeline cable plan and already prohibited weekday gaming. But something wonderful happened. We found other ways to be. We all read more. The kids went outside; even the high school aged ones. We talked more, and I accomplished more in the evenings than ever before, not in a running around way, but in a de-cluttering and beautifying my home kind of way.
A glitch in the system
The thing about having systems is that there will always be glitches. For us that came when we had three days of tornado warnings, band concerts, family birthdays, and my husband working over 24 hours of overtime. The old busyness overwhelm crept back in. I missed the quiet moments and feeling of control of my life. Thankfully the overwhelm was short lived, but the lessons are life long. That craziness helped me appreciate the calm of a peaceful life. I realized how much I love having my husband around and how much he really helps around the house when we both unplug. I learned my writing, quiet time and yoga nourish my mind, body and spirit, and most importantly, I know the choices I make for my life really do take me to the next level as a human being.
All these years later, I still plan quiet into every day. There is still a to-do list; and we still have occasional evening activities, but I consciously choose less busy days. I create quiet time, to live in the moment and be fully me. I challenge you to do the same for yourself. Need help? I’ve made you a list.
How to create a peaceful life for yourself
- Take a few minutes to plan the next day. Some people sleep better when they know what is happening the next day. Laying out clothes the night before for you and your children reduces morning stress, especially if you’re not a morning person. Having a printed family calendar helps even if you normally prefer a digital calendar. Read about how to create a Family Calendar that works and revolutionize how you look at each day.
- Wake up 15 minutes earlier and mentally rehearse your day. Take a few moments to breathe and meditate and think about having a peaceful morning. I started this when my oldest started high school. My children attended three different schools on three different schedules. I called it “the three hour launch”. Well planned, I finished my home blessings before the last child left the house at 8:45 so I could have quiet time. If not, “my time” usually disappeared.
- For working parents, whose mornings involve getting yourself out the door as well as your children, quietly lunching in your car or taking a walk are ways to incorporate quiet time without taking time from your family.
- After your children go to bed, read a book or sit in the stillness rather than surfing the web or turning on the TV. Better yet, do something that lifts your spirits, whether it’s crafting, writing, meditating or painting your nails. Even a few minutes of quiet pampering each evening brings peace to your day and may help you sleep better too.
- If you do surf the web or watch TV in the evening, set a shutdown time 30 minutes before you want to go to bed. That gives you time to get ready for bed, talk with your spouse or teenage children if you have them and wind down from your day.
Creating a peaceful life in this busy world isn’t easy. It means saying no to things most parents say yes to, but in the long run, you and your children will reap huge rewards. As always, if you like what you’ve read, please share and sign up for our email community below. We share even more ideas about how to Move Toward Better, live your best life and let the rest go.Like what you see here? Click here for ways to support the Moving Toward Better mission.