I’ve never really been a fan of “themes.” You’d never guess it, since I’ve thrown some pretty epic theme parties in my days (read: “Tour de Franzia”). But it’s true–I don’t like “theme-decorated” rooms or “theme-dinners” or “theme-weeks” at school or work. In fact, it’s pretty difficult for me to settle on just one “theme” for a blog post; however, without intention, it seems like this school year started with and has continued to center around one clear theme: peace.
It’s not surprising really, with all the moves we’ve been making as a family: our daughter started preschool at our local Montessori school; my husband continues to navigate the delicate relationship of family medicine physician with his trusting patients; I re-committed to weekly therapy sessions with a new psychotherapist. In our house, it’s a season for self-reflection, transformation, and continuing improvement. And all of these paths require a peaceful existence with each other and, most importantly, ourselves.
So just like that, we’ve turned into crunchy peace-loving hippies.
I know this all sounds like roses and daisies, but let’s not kid ourselves–we have a THREEnager in our house. I would venture to say she is ANYTHING but peaceful these days; however, when we use a few simple tactics and make some easy changes to our daily routines, we are more able and willing to keep things kind.
Here are some tips:
Take quiet moments.
At our daughter’s school, they take time during the day to sit quietly and close their eyes and just be. This encourages her to be mindful and learn to calm herself internally instead of lashing out. We brought this idea home and now instead of “time outs” we take quiet moments for ourselves.
Talk about feelings.
We’ve started to incorporate peaceful communication in our house and it is a real game-changer. We’re trying to start sentences with “I feel *blank* when you…” instead of accusations or jumping to conclusions. This is a big improvement not only for our toddler, but for our marriage. Speaking kinder to each other makes a big difference.
Respect the fit.
This one is the hardest. A few days ago, our daughter decided to throw a major 3-hour screaming fit, running from room to room screaming “NO!” at whoever fell into her path. It didn’t matter if she ran into me, Papa, our dogs, or the microwave–she was gonna scream at it. As a last ditch effort, we told her, “We are not going to speak to or approach you until you are finished with your fit. We’ll be right here if you need us.” So we sat quietly doing our own work and did not respond as she continued yelling. Then her feelings subsided and she came to us ready to interact again. I don’t know about you, but there are countless times in my life when I feel like doing the exact same thing! Screaming and yelling at anything my eyes meet. Empowerment is sometimes the best medicine–giving the fits “room to breathe.”
Set the alarm 5 minutes earlier.
Just kidding about ‘respecting the fit’ being the hardest–this is definitely my biggest struggle. We’ve found that when we are rushing to get out the door, tempers flare and nerves fray. If we make the effort to wake up a little earlier every morning, or plan to get out of the house 5 minutes before we would normally schedule, everyone feels and acts a lot more peaceful. Of course, an extra cup of coffee is required.
As you can see, trying to be peaceful is not always easy and a lot of words like “struggle,” “hardest,” “screaming,” and “learning” made it into this post. Even though we are not always successful at being as peaceful as we want to be, the process of trying forces us to be a little slower to act, and take more time to think about how we will proceed. We spend more time looking inward at how things make us feel rather than projecting our anger at the people we love the most. It seems the most improvement is made in the “striving” to be peaceful, the journey rather than the destination.