“The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways.”
“A happy heart makes the face cheerful.”
When I think about all the families going through lockdown right now, I think about cabin fever. Doing life, all of life, eating, sleeping, working, schooling all under one roof. I think of that cooped up feeling and a craving for quiet, privacy. Parents everywhere: I am in awe of you. It has made me reflect on when my own children were small and ask, what were the things we would do that guaranteed a happy family, with no scritching or scratching? What was it that enabled us to calm down, brought smiles to faces, and gave all of us five minutes peace?
These are the things that worked for us:
The 5-minute swoon – at 8.10 every morning, Christopher Lawrence used to play a piece of music on ABC Radio which he called the daily Swoon. Every morning, in our household, there would be raised voices, tears, and quarrels, but somehow, we would all be in the car in time for that moment of calm. You could feel the tension leave the car as we entered the beauty of the music. It would settle an entire family and we’d be ready to face the day.
Reading books – surrounded by petulant, grumpy children and feeling rattled and grumpy myself, opening a book and reading together was like experiencing magic take place. Those children would relax, snuggle into me, stop poking at each other, and listen. For the time that I read, there would be calm. The same thing happened if we all listened to the story being read on audio.
Riding bikes – we discovered this by accident. We went to Canberra for a weekend in the middle of winter. It was cold and wet. The children were argumentative. For one hour we hired bikes and cycled around Lake Burley Griffin. For one hour one family of five was happy, laughing, and contented. That hour inspired a purchase of bikes for all of us, enabling us to greatly extend that hour of family happiness.
Surviving lockdown as families?
- Why not find your own swoon music and build a swoon time into your day? If you have access to Spotify, you will find many play lists with that title. What music calms you? At the moment, I am listening to Psalm 46b sung by Sons of Korah.
- Why not find an audio book you can all listen to and build a “drop everything to read” time into your day? Perhaps return to an old favourite. Ask your children for their suggestions. your local library will usually have access to an app with audiobook that you can borrow.
- You might not have access to bikes, but we all have local parks. A brisk walk, a run, a daily “letting off steam” time for everyone.
- For more ideas, ask your children for their suggestions of things you can do together to give you all “five minutes peace” and restore calmness and bring a smile to every face.