By Caron Goode
Create a Peaceful Home Sanctuary
The holiday season is a busy time for all family members. As you think about decorating your house this year, consider creating a peace sanctuary, a place where we remember to de-stress, talk with reach other and remember those who may not be with us.
A safe haven
We must find a way to create a place that is comfortable and peaceful where we can relax. We need to make a peaceful place in our lives and the lives of our children where everyone can feel calm and connected. Our homes can be that place -- a haven of peace for our families. It is the attitude and the conscious choices the members of a family bring to a home that actively make it peaceful.
In this article you will discover some easy-to-do activities to make your home a haven and a place of peace -- all without spending any money or creating more stress in your already hectic life.
Take stock. Take a look around you. What is it about your home that makes you feel happy and peaceful, and what is it that makes you feel stressed? Make a mental checklist or write down what is not working in your home. These can be items you can see like dirty towels, old newspapers and closed curtains. Also include less concrete ideas, such as feeling no one is home at the same time or that the family doesn’t have a meal together.
Next, consider the positives that you see (nice, relaxing colors in the living room, lots of plants, great games and toys) and things you feel (family projects make it easy for us to all get together, reading the kids a bedtime story seems to relax them). Now that you have taken stock of the current situation in your home, decide what kinds of changes create a feeling of more peace and relaxation. You are ready to make your home a haven.
Talk about it. There isn't a perfect way to make your home more peaceful. Like anything else, you might experiment first. Discuss the idea of making your home a haven with your spouse and your kids. Talk with them about what stresses them at home and what makes them feel comfortable. Listen to their concerns and list what they appreciate.
Have everyone make a list of pros and cons and talk about what is practical. It might not be sensible to agree with your children that they should no longer have to do homework because they say it is stressing them out. However, it might be possible for them to take more breaks while they work or begin their homework after a short break. Children need to come back from their day and unwind as much as parents do.
Get creative. Getting creative might be a change in attitude, or it could be an idea to do something different. One mother decided to say "yes" to her children's requests at least twice a day. She told me that she had begun, through habit of her own stress, to always say no to everything. She feels that her more relaxed attitude is helping her children to relax, too.
Another family created a weekly pizza and games night. Interestingly, this idea wasn't the brainchild of the adults in the family, but of a 10-year-old girl who told her parents she felt like she needed to have more fun with them.
Changing the patterns of stress and replacing them with new patterns that make people feel more peaceful doesn't have to be complicated. It can and should be simple and fun.
Try something new. Less-than-healthy family routines are the culprits of discomfort and stress for family members at home. Maybe the routine is to always have a fast-food dinner and sit in front of the television at night. Often, routines like this get started because of the incredible over-scheduling and exhaustion that plague many families.
One solution that works is to re-examine schedules and decide practically if your family is over-booked. Many times children are the most overscheduled. Perhaps it isn't necessary to play three sports or join so many clubs. Consider allowing children one or two unscheduled evenings a week to do the almost unimaginable: hang out. That goes for parents, too. Does everyone have to work late? Sometimes pulling back a little from the normal routine is a great stress reducer.
Let everyone contribute. An important idea behind making your home a haven is to let everyone in your family have a voice. Remember that each person has his or her own idea of what a peaceful place looks like. A 3-year-old might want to have more time to watch Barney tapes, a 10-year-old might want to have special time to make cookies with Mom, and a 16-year-old might want more trust. You might need more alone time, and your spouse might want the family to get away to camp more often. Consider everyone's opinions when deciding what works for your family. When everyone has a voice, there is more commitment to see this through and stay with positive changes.
Create rituals. Rituals we can count on bring us joy and a sense of family unity. Most of us have some holiday rituals, but sometimes adding one or two new rituals make being a part of a family important and special. When you think about your own childhood, what are rituals you remember? Why not think of something new to increase your family's sense of unity and togetherness? Consider some of the following ideas:
• Share good news. Have everyone tell a bit of good news to the rest of the family every night.
• Share the love. Make valentines for each family member and have a valentine exchange. (This can happen once a month, not just on Valentine's Day.)
• Share yourselves. Work together to help someone disadvantaged adopt a needy family, or contribute time monthly at a homeless shelter.
• Share your ideas. Let everyone pick an obscure holiday and decide how the family will celebrate together.
• Share time together. Carve out special time for each child and do something together that you both enjoy. Use this time to focus on your child and hear what he or she is thinking.
• Share your spirit. Pray as a family or share good thoughts about one another around the table nightly.
Save your memories. Don't overlook the idea that it is fun and loving to remember and store good memories. As you begin some new peace rituals in your family, take a few pictures or make a video recording of everyone's good thoughts about each other. Document the love in your family and then every once in a while get together and look at it. Relive the good times you have created. Doing this creates another loving moment that comes from the continuity of acknowledging your shared love.
Leave a legacy of peace. Finally, making your home a haven of peace will do more than improve your daily lives; it will forever change the way your children see the world and understand and model the idea of family. You can build connectedness in your family and a feeling of safety and safe haven just by paying attention to it. All you are doing is making a conscious effort to celebrate and explore the love you already share for the people you call your family.
© Caron Goode
NFO Attachment Parenting Editor Caron Goode, Ed.D., has written six books on child development, two monographs and co-authored two additional books. Her articles have appeared in more than 200 national newspapers and more than two dozen websites. She and her husband, Tom Goode, ND, direct Inspired Parenting and Inspired Living International in Tucson, Arizona, offering offer parent education workshops, Full Wave Breathing™ and Mindbody Talk™ wellness workshops.