Cultivating Peace At Home
We all want a peaceful environment at home but that can be difficult to create and to maintain while juggling so many things. We want our kids to have a sense of normalcy even with the messiness of being parented alone for anyone reason.
Kimberley Mitchell, former single mom, and part of our Solo Parent Society team shares a key for her was changing her morning routine. The kids were getting up late so things were rushed and stressful. They were eating junk food cereal, yelling at each other not to forget things, and then running out the door frazzled. One day after another morning like this, there was arguing in the car before she dropped them off to school. As the kids got out and slammed the door, she decided that day something had to change. She thought “What if something happened today and that was our last memory of our time together?”. She had had enough. She bought each of them alarm clocks and told them they had to decide how much time they needed to get ready so they could be at the table for breakfast together at a set time. Kim also set her alarm much earlier, so she was awake before them. She started playing Christian music in the morning and she stopped letting them eat cereal. Instead, she gave them eggs and toast and they all sat down peacefully for breakfast together. When she dropped them off at school, she started asking them, “Who is always with you?” God. “Who will always love you?” You. “Make good ___?” Choices. “And the angels are all around you.” And then they said goodbye. Now, Kim’s twenty-year-old son will still say the answers back to her!
As parents, it is up to us to take responsibility for cultivating peace at home. We set the mood with our kids. Kimberley did just that by deciding she would wake up earlier to create margin and routine. When she got up late, she would be stressed and angry with herself but it would carryover to her kids. She knew she needed to set a tone of peace and love so they could walk out into the world being fed with God. This is hard but there are things we can do to be deliberate just as she did.
Robert made a serious commitment to have a routine also but he focused on the evenings. He and his kids always ate dinner together. They went to bed at the same time, and it started earlier than expected. Although 9 pm was bedtime, Robert said he would start moving toward that goal at 8:15 pm. He created margin for himself and for his kids so that by the time it was lights out, all the necessary things were done. This allowed them to feel at peace and be ready to fall sleep. Now those evenings are some of his cherished memories because he was present and connected with his daughters. Our kids know when we are calm, peaceful, and present and it ushers in the same for them. While it may seem challenging to start bedtime that early, or to change our morning routine, our deliberate efforts help cultivate peace in our homes.
Doing activities together is also important like dinner, games, and prayer. These things require planning ahead. Serving somewhere together is also significant. When we are helping other people, it takes the focus off ourselves and fills our hearts as we give to others. Doing it together makes you and your kids a team, a force of good, a reminder that you have something to offer as a family.
Kim remembers times at night when she and her kids would sing, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”. She prayed that her kids would remember those songs when they need to be encouraged as adults. These intentional times are priceless as her kids are growing into adults.
Chip Dodd talks about the importance of having a “home base”, a safe place for kids to return where they can share their feelings openly and be seen and known. Home needs to be a place that is peaceful, fun, where your kids can be silly, accepted, and know they are loved. Major on the important things like being present, talking about God, and connecting with your kids. Play with your kids, dance in the kitchen, lighten up at home! Funny moments are priceless, and your kids will remember those times.
There will be times when we don’t cultivate a sense of peace in our homes. That is just real life. We may be angry and yell at our kids or be impatient in the middle of a stressful day. But when that happens, we can regroup and go to our kids and apologize. We can own our part and decide what we, as a parent, will do differently next time. We can choose to find more margin, or plan ahead to help avoid some of the tensions of a too full schedule. We can choose to build something fun and lighthearted into our day. Is this a tall order for busy single parents? Yes. But it is imperative. Our kids need a peaceful home base to launch from.
Another important thing to remember is that we often see things in the negative as single parents. Our mistakes loom large in our hearts and minds, but our kids are resilient. When we go to them honestly, acknowledging where we went wrong, we build a healthy connection. Seeking forgiveness shows them our willingness to be humble and it helps them to know that we care enough to repair the relationship. Our apologies can sometimes be more impactful than the times we get it right because it teaches our kids to do the same. Being honest and authentic about what we’ve done shows our kids our humanity and helps them accept their own. We can also demonstrate to them an awareness of our need for self-care. We can show them our commitment to self-awareness and making healthy choices so we can lessen times when our temper is short, and frustrations run high. Again, this sets the tone and reminds them to do the same.
Here are some practical tips on cultivating peace at home:
- Be careful about letting your kids hear your dirty laundry. Guard your words and isolate your negative comments about your ex or the divorce process or coparenting so your kids don’t overhear them.
- Be an attentive listener. Our kids need to know we see and hear them. Psychologists tell us that “Sometimes things escalate when kids don’t feel heard.”
- Give lots of positive reinforcement. Compliment your kids, notice what they are doing right, and celebrate their wins.
- Add physical elements to your home that send a message of peace like plants or greenery and candles. Life is messy but add touches to your space that create a feeling of life and order.
Play worship music in your home. Let your kids walk out the door after being fed the truth and love of Jesus.
Cultivating peace at home is so important. As parents, it is up to us to set the mood in our homes and with our kids. We can do this in practical ways through routine, creating margin, expressing gratitude, and adding elements of peace and order to our space. We can also help by providing time with our kids where we can be present, and they can talk to us. Although it takes time and intention, your efforts to cultivate peace will pay off in deeper connection and a sense of security for you and for your kids.
I heard this interview tonight on KLove I’m so excited to learn more. I have been a single mom for 8 years and I’m so grateful to have another resource that encourages others to work on their relationship with God and their kids. So many people think I’m against marriage I’m not but it’s alright for people to be alone and wait for God and his timing. We can learn so much about God our kids and ourselves when we take this season to slow down and BE STILL. Mahalo for your courage to reach out to others it is so needed.
God Bless You