One thing I tried really hard to focus on last year was, creating a peaceful home. To me, a peaceful home is one where everyone knows what’s expected from them and where everyone feels comfortable and safe to be who they are.
One where everyone feels respected and they themselves respect each other.
One with no yelling and no busyness, no rushing and angry tears.
One with routine and calm.
One where we can feel the presence of God as we leave and walk into, when we return.
How does that happen? Well for me, I am a big believer that kids need routine. I am also a big believer that moms need routine. Routine is how I keep stress and burnout at bay. (Sometimes ’self-care’ just ain’t gonna happen when you want or how you want!)
I realise that when the girls don’t have a routine or when things don’t happen when they normally would do, I am bombarded with questions and complaints, and I begin to feel myself losing control. In our home, lack of routine usually results in a lot more tears, messy areas, stressing over meals, manic last-minute shopping, forgetting to pick up things, laundry overload, fits of yelling, basically EXTRA chaos that to me was unnecessary and totally not worth it. So, enter Routines!
Not only are routines important, but so are rhythms: the flow and feel of your home. When I am stressed and my anxieties are heightened it has an effect on the members of my home. They feed off my energy. As moms we lead the pace of our homes, most times. So in order to maintain the peace in our home, I needed a reset.
I wanted to keep Jesus at the centre of our home and I needed to find ways to instil His Word in their hearts consistently, develop their confidence with affirmations and encouragement and build resilience by giving strategies to regulate themselves, cope with difficult situations and problem solve. (Look out for my post on ‘Important life skills I want my girls to learn as they grow!) Here’s what I did, I started out by setting the atmosphere:
Worship music in the mornings.
It’s great to wake up and start your day ushering the presence of God into your day through worship. It’s also great if you’re struggling to keep up with morning devotions.
Dancing music in the afternoons.
In the afternoons, we ask Alexa to play our favourite dance tunes and we cut some rug while I make dinner. Dancing helps release any disappointments and stress from the day, and they absolutely love it! It gives us a chance to do something together.
We also try to do morning positivity. We have a positivity jar with positive affirmation quotes and scriptures. We choose one from the jar each morning and while they have breakfast, I sit with them and have my tea or fix my lunch while we chat about what it means and how we can use it to command our day. It’s a good time to connect with them and fill their tanks physically, spiritually and emotionally before I send them out into the world. Before, I would be rushing around ironing or putting my make up on, packing bags. Now, I get up early enough to make sure that I am ready before they are up, so we can have a smoother morning and I can have time for those crucial moments to be present with them before they begin their day.
Pause and Breathe
I also try to pause before I respond to them. With the mental load we carry as moms it’s easy to always be so reactive to every situation that occurs. The problem I find is that being reactive led to hurt feelings and over- reactive responses and I found myself feeling mom guilt and mom shame constantly. Sometimes I am so wired from all the things to be done bouncing around in my mind, I struggle to connect with them at their level. I’m always expecting everyone else to keep up with me. Not fair is it? Mom guilt made me feel horrible and if I felt low in mood, it affects the mood in my home as well.
Now I pause to listen attentively and take a breath before I respond to situations. A pause that allows me to halt the thoughts circling my mind and tune into what’s happening around me. It gives me time to be present and more intentional about my response, so I’m not overreacting, by yelling or snapping or just plain making a big deal over trivial things.
Wind down time in the evenings
As soon as I get home, I’m like a mad woman racing to start dinner and check homework, practise spellings etc. etc. so bath time is sometimes done late, we struggle with finishing dinner, because they’ve had too many snacks while they waited for dinner to cook. DRAMA, and I don’t do DRAMA!
I meal plan at the end of every week, so that I’m clear on what I’m cooking each day and have what I need to do so. I also set an alarm for the girls for bath time so they know the routine and will set the bath themselves once the alarm goes off. At bedtime, they have a 10-minute timer until lights go out and they comply with this on their own, because kids love routines! Some nights, we listen to a few podcast episodes, from Keys for Kids which is based on stories that are relatable for kids with a scripture teaching. On other nights, I play worship music for them at bedtime. We start our day with worship, we end our day in worship.
Model my expectations
I’ve been working more and more at modelling my expectations. Here’s what I mean: When I walk into the girls’ room and the bed is untidy and messy, I immediately want to rant about it, but then I check my bed, and wait… oh yeah, mine is messy too. They take their cue from me. If I’m answering their requests in a raised tone, they will use a raised tone with me or with each other. If I am sarcastic in my responses, I notice the sarcasm in their tone when they speak with each other.
I have realised that it’s very small things that begin to create mountains of chaos and disorder in our homes. Once we start naming these and working at them one by one, we can enjoy a more love filled, joy filled and peaceful home life. I’ve realised that we put pressure on our families to meet demands that we’ve placed on ourselves and when they fall short, we feel disappointed and stressed. When I lower my expectations from hubby to get things done around the house, he is much less guarded and more open to helping me out when I need it. When I give him the space to operate in his own rhythms, I get more from him. When I place my own demands on him, it results in reluctance and it’s the same with the girls.
Now that I have named these little chaos creators, I am now working on consistently working at eliminating them and maintaining my newly established rhythms.
How important are rhythms and routine in your home?
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