When I think of a word that I hope my home encompasses, I choose the word PEACE. I’d love for everyone who comes here to feel a sense of peace while they stay… and that includes my kids!
Our house is full: 2 big boys (6Y and 3Y), a bitty baby girl, an old, incontinent dog, a noisy hamster, a hilarious husband and a chatty me. This place can get rowdy. My boys are just like most children. They love to play, build, dig, run. They dig giant trenches in the backyard and dissect slugs and beetles, go lizard hunting and are dying to one day find a gardener snake.
These are the most beautiful moments of childhood to watch as a mom. No prompting is needed for their imaginations! A stick is quickly a bow and arrow; a tree is obviously a spy lookout. I love the energy that my boys have! I would never dream of squashing or limiting the zest and zeal and magic it is to be them. I hope to inspire and encourage them to hold onto that creativity their entire lives!
I hope you agree that peace does not equal quiet. Peace does not equal stillness. Peace in our home is defined more like this…
harmony in personal relations; a state of unity or tranquility
I realize this sounds super lofty, but let me assure you, peace is attainable…even in a home filled with joy, laughter, music, opinions, fart humor and energetic kid-ness.
Here are a couple peacekeeping tips that work for us.
1. When we play, we are CONSTRUCTIVE, not DESTRUCTIVE.
In our home, this means we don’t play in a way that is solely for the purpose of destroying things. Instead, we try to create. Now, every kid likes to knock down a tower of blocks, so that’s not what I mean. I mean, we don’t bang the toy on the ground repeatedly to see how long it takes to break it. When explaining constructive vs. destructive to the boys, I’ve said something like, “Let’s play in a way that is not just about hurting someone or something. Let’s respect our toys and others in the way we play.” There are no hard and fast rules to this, but I’m sure you know as a mom the overall heart of destructive behavior. My oldest is even familiar enough with these words that he can see it coming if I’m headed his way while he’s being destructive! I’ve found setting this standard consistently has helped my kids be respectful of other people’s homes and property, as well. Instead of barreling into a friend’s home ready to rip the cushions off the couch and have a party, they have a little checkpoint in place from our standards set at home.
2. Everything in it’s place or “Take it Outside”
We live in Texas currently so this is relatively easy with our weather and backyard. A year or so ago, though, we lived in rainy London with only a tiny patio. So hear me when I say I know this can be challenging. If things are getting rowdy in the house, mom calls recess and out you go. Sometimes, I go with them…we take a walk, play some soccer, see who can whistle the loudest, whatever, but sometimes, the baby needs me or I need a holy minute to myself and they are out on their own. The rules outside with noise are totally different than inside. I worried when we had our baby girl that I would constantly be shushing the boys. Although I still am a bit of a noise warden, I find freedom in knowing the boys have learned there are appropriate places for different kinds of playing…and the whistles and the nerf blasters belong outside.
All of us need to take deep breaths often! Since my boys were old enough to throw a fit, I’ve been teaching them to stop and breathe. I will literally get down on my knees, hold their sweet little shoulders and ask them to breathe with me. We take three or four deep, slow breathes before anyone says anything. You know those moments when your kids are charging at you ready to tell you all about what the other one did wrong? Or when you are simply trying to tell them it’s dinner time and it’s as if you have interrupted their one and only chance at an Olympic medal? They are flipping out, right? And you are about to, also! At least that’s how I am when too many voices are coming out at the same time in all different directions and the dog just peed in the house and the baby is screaming and the doorbell is ringing. It is all flying at us and we need to breathe!
This is also the tool I use to introduce self-control to my kids. They look at me cross-eyed when I first use this word because truthfully it is not a popular concept in the world around them. So, we define self-control physically at first. Self-control is sitting or standing still with your hands together taking deep slow breathes. Amen, for some self-control. I know I need this skill daily. In our home, when the wheels are starting to get shaky like the might fall off pretty soon, we breathe and this mama prays for restored peace.
4. Push Kindness
Kindness is big in our home. We pray for our children to be friends with each other and enjoy being with each member of our family for their entire lives beginning now. So, in order to foster that, we hope to set a strong foundation of kindness no matter the situation. As soon as they show signs they can understand me, I teach my kids to say,
“Kindness on my face, kindness in my voice, kindness in my heart.”
And, yes, we point to face, mouth, heart and it’s borderline uber cheesy. But you know what? It really helps ME to keep the peace in my own voice, heart and face when my kiddo is losing his cool. When I hear the snippiness, see the funky face or sense the overall attitude, I stop chosen child and say this with him. I think it’s similar to the deep breaths. It’s a pause in the situation to realign ourselves and keep the peace.
5. Shuteth Thy Moutheth
Not quite a commandment, but I’ve found this to be key in sustaining peace in our home. And I’m not talking about my kids. I am very much in the process of learning that when I think I need to talk, I should probably just listen. My family needs me to hear them. My kids really yearn for someone to listen to them…about the small things like which Ninjago is their favorite today and the bigger things like the bad dream they keep having. I long to be a peaceful presence in their life…someone they know is always ready to listen to them with a calm, quiet acceptance of whatever they want to share. I consider these early years to be when I earn my street cred.
How do you create and keep the peace in your home?