Could there be such a thing? Too much peace! According to Miss Yin, 9, I’m a hog for serenity, a glutton for calm, even if the peace I crave is not exactly the noble end-to-all-wars variety. (of course I do wish for that, but my immediate needs are much closer to home). I’d sell my soul (and throw in the kids) for a bit of quiet at times, for a simple moment to catch my breath – at least that’s how I feel on occasions during the witching/whining/wining hour (ie 5-6pm when sometimes only wine will drown out the sounds of the whining!).
So this post is about work-life-family balance, and how to find some time for peace without shutting out the ones you love in your quest for quiet etude. Let me start by saying that selfishly, but in some respects nobly, dedicating some time to still your soul is a good thing – not just for your own sanity, but for the cause of world peace (or at least household harmony). If everyone was tranquil in their hearts and minds, serene in their souls, happier in their homes, then I’d imagine we’d be more cool, calm and collected in our workplaces, cooperative in our communities, united in our countries and less discordant in our world. There you go – world peace is just a few steps away from internal peace!
I don’t claim to be an expert (hence my over-reliance on wine as a coping/calming strategy) but I have found a few simple ideas work, sometimes.
- It doesn’t take long – in Miss Yin’s opinion I might want too much peace, but in reality, just a couple of minutes will do at a pinch, provided its actual peace. The simple opportunity to collect your thoughts can be more valuable sometimes than the chance to meditate or do yoga for an hour can be (Mmmm, well maybe)
- It must be actual peace – which doesn’t mean going to the toilet/bathroom with your two year old watching (and nagging, and trying to sit on your lap). It means going to the toilet in private. For once. I would actually settle for going to the bathroom as a form of rest and respite, if only I could do so alone.
- Plan your time – (cue laughter). Divide time into manageable chunks and schedule in some precious moments for peace. Do a deal with your kids (or your partner if necessary) to devote an amount of time to their needs, and then you’ll need to look after yourself. Better still, look after your own needs first and you’ll be calmer and more focused in looking after theirs. Seriously, I’m very lucky to have an older child who supervises the younger one in the bath, even if she sometimes needs to be bribed. If I plan things right I can get dinner started, put the kids in the bath, and then find some time for peace and a glass of wine, or cup of tea (OK probably wine). Bliss.
- Listen to music – it drowns out the whines and makes cooking dinner a sensory experience (well sort of). Music may not replace silence, but it can still quiet your soul no matter what activity you have to be doing.
- Spend quality time, then take time-out – I don’t mean the kids get time-out – I’m talking about myself. I’ve found when I devote my full attention to my child they’re more accepting of my need for peace afterwards. Placating occasionally works, but it’s better to be genuinely and intently focused – kids can pick when you’re trying to rush and fob them off. And that means shutting off all internet devices!
- When you spend quality time, you find peace – if you really concentrate on meeting someone else’s needs (whether a partner, friend or child) you can get lost in the moment as they find focus and calm too (and focus on you).
Soon enough you are sharing in a sense of achievement perhaps, of love, of joy even (or at least the homework will have been done!).
All of this is posted with the proviso that that I don’t always put this into practice, and the disclaimer to always drink and parent responsibly!