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Quiet Time with Children - A Parent's Piece of Peace

By Sally Collings - 14th September 2010

Silence is a distant memory for most parents. Our air is full of squeals, giggles, screams, shouts, electronic game noise, keyboards. There’s not much space for silence in between it all. Even when the kids are at school, the noise goes on.

I work from a home office and there is almost always someone in the house other than me. Our part-time intern said the other day that her parents also have a home office, and she loves the energy it gives to their house: it is not shut up and still for most of the day then filled with activity for brief windows at the beginning and end of each day. I love that perspective, but the fact remains that it is a really rare and blessed event for me to be in the house, by myself, in silence.

I’ve got that introvert quality where I get my energy from a little solitude. Without it, I get tetchy. Very tetchy. So how does a parent get a piece of peace? It’s a bit like the Crowded House song, ‘Take the weather with you.’ In a world of constant noise and buzz and activity, to find silence you need to make your own.

This week I read an extract from Parker Palmer’s book, A Hidden Wholeness. Parker is a Quaker author and activist who has some great perspectives on silence; here’s a fragment that spoke to me:

Our culture is so fearful of the silence of death that it worships nonstop noise — perhaps as a secular sign of ‘eternal life’! In the midst of all that noise, small silences can help us become more comfortable with the Great Silence toward which we are all headed. Small silences bring us ‘little deaths,’ which, to our surprise, turn out to be deeply fulfilling. For example, as we settle into silence, where our posturing and pushing must cease, we may experience a temporary death of the ego, of that separate sense of self we spend so much time cultivating. But this ‘little death,’ instead of frightening us, makes us feel more at peace and more at home.
… Silence brings not only little deaths but also little births — small awakenings to beauty, to vitality, to hope, to life.


Reading that makes me think that silence matters – not just to maintain my sanity, but as a quality to encourage in my children too. It can start with slowing down; just spending time together, watching the garden grow, practicing the ability to sit in silence without needing to talk. It’s a challenge with a five-year-old and a seven-year-old, but I think it’s a project worth working on.

image freedigitalphotos.net/Rob Wiltshire

Comments (2)

SallyCollings's picture

Making space for silence

Good to hear of someone else who believes in silence, even though it's hard to get (or make!) sometimes. Like most things with small children, it is hard at first but practice helps and they do get used to the idea. My 7yo's class went on an excursion to the botanic gardens a couple of weeks back and the whole class went through the Japanese garden in complete silence, so that they could absorb the serenity - I never would have thought it possible but they did it!

CathyCorcoran's picture

Beautiful piece

"Silence brings not only little deaths but also little births — small awakenings to beauty, to vitality, to hope, to life."
Love this line. Oh so true and we need to give ourselves this time. The more reflection/silence we are able to have the better we are at mindful parenting. Although its easier said than done.
I make it a part of our routine to have the silences - I think it helps my little people refresh. They don't always like it initially but they know this is part of mummy's routine (daddy's not necessarily!) I too get tetchy if I dont get some quite time. My brain feels like it will burst. I do love my little people and the sounds they make but as the saying goes "silence is golden!"

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