My experience as a mother has shown time and time again that kids need to be centered in the home. They need home to be a nurturing and warming place, with a steady daily rhythm and predictable rules and outcomes. Of course, there are always circumstances that dictate this can’t be the case every day of their lives- there is a world out there, and our families are participating in it! In my family that means we’re gone a good portion of each Sunday to church and then to a large family dinner. We’ve enrolled the kids in a small music class one morning a week. We like to visit with friends and cousins when they’re available.
The trick is knowing what your children can handle! In our family, Breakfast, Circle Time, Nap Time, Dinner Time, and Bed Time are constants in our home’s rhythm and if these are kept we’re much more successful in having happy outings with other children and to other places. However, if we’re in recovery mode, I’ve had to learn how to help my children re-set themselves and find peace.
Sunday found us at church for almost 5 hours, between needing to arrive early for an extra service, our own service going over time, and then a few meetings afterwards. We followed that up with a family dinner at my sister’s house, and getting the kids to bed nearly an hour late. I knew Monday would be rough. Oh dear- rough seems like such a trite word when your youngest spends almost an hour of the night time crying in pain from lactose issues and lack of sleep, both children spend most of the day picking fights with each other and falling on the floor in crying tantrums. Instead of quietly playing like they normally do during the hour I teach piano lessons, they used the contents of their beans-and-beads sensory box as exceptionally loud confetti. That was Day One of our Recovery Period.
Tuesday was Day Two of recovery period. We had no outside commitments. We had play time, school time, meal time, snack time, gardening time, lunch time…and multiple screaming, throw down, lay down tantrums. We had nap time. We had more tantrums and fights. Finally, we took a walk. A very, very long walk. My oldest brought her “nature bag” and I told her she could find one beautiful rock, and anything else she found that reminded her of Fall, to start our Fall nature table.
We said hello to all the dogs we met. We stopped at the beach to dig and wade.
We were gone for hours, and finally we had peace in our home again. If I had taken them for a walk first thing Monday morning, would it have done the same thing for them? No, I don’t think so. They would have just carried their bickering along. But once we re-established the rhythm, and kept our boundaries, they were ready to take in something outside of themselves and lose themselves in it.