"Like Thoreau, I love a wide margin to my life" - the less packed into a day, the better." (p. 23)
The first time I read Mittenstrings, the above sentence resonated so deeply with me, I copied it out and taped it above my kitchen counter, the spot where I keep all my calendar paraphernalia. Since I'm a homebody at heart, I tend to err on the side of quiet anyway, and yet, with three growing children - all with varying interests and needs - as easily as anyone else, I too can be swept along the racetrack of life.
Peace at home: what does it mean for your family? Do your days allow for sufficient time spent at home together? Not just time spent getting meals on the table, and clothes in the washer, but time to just "be" with your loved ones? How often do you find yourselves sitting quietly together after supper? Are you ever just still, or always, seemingly, "on task" or on the move?
What gets in the way of this kind of peace? I would agree with Ms. Kenison that it is, indeed, too much activity. Too much time spent outside the home going, going, going. I think finding peace means maintaining a balance - a satisfying combination of outside activities and time spent at home. And for each family the equation will be different. I personally require a good deal of time at home to feel peace, and I think my children do, too. The weeks when most of the calendar blocks are filled in are the ones which end with me feeling frazzled and disconnected. (And, as the saying goes, "If Mama ain't happy ...)
Of course this doesn't mean to say that just by being at home we are creating the kind of peace and calm that is described in this chapter - the quiet attention paid, the simple connections made. This is a challenge as well - to learn how to slow down and enjoy stillness. Maybe you, like me, find yourself with a quiet "at-home" day and think, "Oh good! I can get this done, and this, and this ..." While there is certainly much to be said for honest work done together in support of our home - this cannot take the place of just "hanging out." Think of how we enjoy spending time with our closest (grown up) friends - wouldn't the best way to re-connect be to just sit and catch up?
So then, what kinds of activities (for lack of a better word) promote such a peaceful place, an environment to foster connection? Handcrafts, read-alouds, puzzles and games, audiobooks, perhaps? This is all good fodder for a future post: How do we create the peace once we make time for it?
It is up to us - as mothers and wives - to keep a close eye on our family's schedule. And the only way to do that is to make time to do so. I would propose scheduling (again, for lack of a better word!) routine times when we can sit down and do just that ...
(And this is just a rough idea, nothing set in stone yet.)
Yearly or seasonally: Take stock and call a family meeting.
- Who wants to do what this year?
- Discuss vacations, birthday parties, and holiday goals.
- Decide upon volunteer and charity work.
Monthly: Sit down with month-at-a-glance calendar
- Look at an overview of the month ahead.
- Consider themes and goals.
- Jot down steps to take regarding:
- current projects (i.e. basement re-organization, vegetable garden)
- seasonal aspirations (i.e. catch tadpoles in April, beach days in August).
Weekly: Make a plan and discuss it with family.
- To -do's
- Family fun
Daily: Assess the day's schedule.
- List must-do's.
- Where can peace be found/created today?
I am eager to hear your thoughts on this chapter (or if you haven't read the book, this area of family life), so please leave a comment below if you have the time. I'll leave you with my second favorite quote from this chapter, which really gets at the heart of the matter:
"Knowing peace at home, we bring peace into the world."
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. :)