My social media marketer told me an interesting story about her upbringing: she was homeschooled from first through eighth grade, and spent all day at home with her mom and siblings. Every day after lunch, they had “quiet time”: an hour during which the kids were to play by themselves or quietly with each other, while their mom got some much-needed silence in the house and focused time to get things done.
Quiet is good for the mind
Of course, the kids did not like quiet time. It was boring! Kids love attention and instant gratification, and it’s a challenge for them to be self-contained for an hour. But as we know, just because kids don’t like it does NOT mean it’s bad! I’m inspired by this idea.
The benefits for kids are many: they learn and practice self-entertainment. They learn how to be alone and the value of silence. Even if they complain about it at the time, such a practice will hugely benefit the children when they are older.
By the time you have teens in the house, it’s a bit late to instate “quiet time,” but it seems like teens now need it more than ever. With everyone on their smartphones, our kids are constantly stimulated, without much time for their brains to get rest. Our brains need downtime to function and develop. Even though teens are too old to be made to take “quiet time” daily, it’s still an important conversation to have with our kids – and an important habit to model.
What would YOU do with quiet?
Imagine: if you had an entire hour of silence every day, what would you do? If the phone didn’t ring and you turned off your text messages, how would you spend that time? Perhaps reading quietly and sipping a cup of a tea. Maybe doing a project in your home, like organizing your files or cupboards. Perhaps writing on a personal blog or nurturing a business idea. Or maybe you would just sit on your couch, and do nothing!
Here are eight ways we can adapt “quiet time” to suit our busy lives and our teens’:
- Family Walks or Hikes: if you teen is game (*wink*), suggest that you take a walk around the neighborhood with her, and that she leave her phone at home (and you take yours just in case of emergency, not to check it!). It’s an opportunity to spend quality time together, to enjoy the outdoors, and to have a break from online stimulation.
- Pet Care: same concept! As you walk or play with the dog, suggest and model doing so without music, a phone call, or constantly checking texts.
- Turn Off Phones: simply turning off our phones is powerful. It spares us from phantom vibrations and can help us focus on the task at hand, whether cooking, driving, or folding laundry! Suggest that all family members turn their phones off for an hour (or half hour) each day.
- Household Silence: just like quiet time, have a time of household silence a few times a week. Any questions must wait, music must be played with headphones (if at all!), no phone calls are answered. We are seldom exposed to silence these days, and it’s amazing what it does to our awareness.
- Quiet Meals: many families have rules such as no cellphones at the table. If you regularly have meals together, it can be a good opportunity focus on conversation and mindful eating, without the stimulation of the TV, music, or phones.
- Soothing Showers: if quiet time is hard to come by, use the shower! Instead of listening to music or the news, enjoy the silence. Dim the lights or use scented candles for a more relaxing experience.
- Meditation: guided meditations, while not silent, can do wonders for quieting the mind. Local business Mindful Decluttering & Organizing has a great post about mindfulness apps you can bring with you wherever you go.
- Rejuvenating Rest: even resting can be noisy. If you’re accustomed to listening to music or watching TV before bedtime, experiment with having quiet time instead. At first, it may make your thoughts seem louder. But over time, notice how the silence can help you feel calm and still before you rest.
Scheduling an hour of “quiet time” makes sense with young children. It might not make the same sense in your situation. Still, there is benefit to considering what an hour of silence would mean, for you and your teenagers. Perhaps it’s something you can schedule once a week. What do you think?
Image by Jason Briscoe