We have “Quiet Time” at my house for a while every Sunday after church. This started as a matter of self preservation when we lived in a tiny tiny trailer with multiple kids (I think we only even had ONE and TWO back then). The oldest thought she was too old for naps, but she was SO in that phase of almost never napping, but really needing a nap after several days of not having one. Sundays seemed like a perfect solution! That seemed all the more obvious when TWO so desperately NEEDED a nap after church every week. There was really NO functional way in our tiny house to GET sleep to come for TWO (not keep, that we could do, but getting her there was another story) if ONE was wound up after church and noisily telling all about every detail of what she did in nursery or primary.
Hence the introduction of “Quiet Time!” ONE and TWO were sent to bed with quiet activities – books, issues of the Friend, characters from their Noah’s ark set, lacing cards, quiet books, etc. – and the requirement that they play with quietly so the other sister could sleep if she needed. 9 times out of 10 (in those early days) both girls would be sound asleep after just a short time playing quietly in her bed. I LOVED IT!
Then I realized WHY I loved it so much. It was NOT just because both my girls got their naps in happily. It was because I knew they were being edified with their play time, getting needed sleep, AND I got some honest to goodness time to ponder things of the Spirit. Perhaps I’m the only mother that has ever struggled to feel like she has enough time to pray or study scriptures or write in a journal or ever ponder anything without distraction or interruption, but I sort of doubt that I am alone in that challenge. Either way, I was LOVING the feeling of renewal I started being able to gain on the Sabbath like I had when I was in my high school and single college days.
I had always LOVED Sundays! That was absolutely my favorite day of the week! As a mom, I was starting to feel stressed rather than rejuvenated on Sunday. I did not like that one bit! I honestly don’t think I had even noticed how bad it had gotten until we started Quiet Time and I started to feel that replenishing of my soul again each week. I knew that I NEEDED that! Since then, we have had more kids and moved into a home with more space, but Quiet Time has remained.
I have had more than one person question me in complete disbelief about this Sunday practice in our home. People can’t believe that my kids actually go for it (and some times I can hardly believe it myself). But honestly, they like it too. Now we are to the point that most of our kids stay awake through quiet time, but they and I all find ways to refill our spiritual cups. All Quiet Time activities must be done in a way that they do not keep anyone from sleeping if that is what they need – hence the QUIET part. (I mean no one can really feel the Spirit as fully as needed when they are completely sleep deprived. Trust me. I know through way too much experience! Quick math representation… mom of six + entrepreneur + student = sleep deprivation way too often!) Also, the activities they engage in may not be in my space during that time. I don’t do that because I dislike being with my kids, but because I know that an hour of time without them each week makes all the time I spend with them the rest of the week SO much better that it’s worth it completely! The other “rules” are very simple, they (and I) must use that time in ways that we feel like Heavenly Father would be pleased and that are helping us become reconnected/better connected to Heavenly Father and the Spirit. It is an amazing time for us!
I am the first to admit that there are some Sundays that a kid or two can’t seem to deal with the quiet aspect and some Sundays when one might have an un-glad heart about it. I have even heard one or two through the years use THE bad word “bored” when discussing how their Quiet Time was on a particular Sunday. But overall, the issues are very minimal and the rewards are HUGE! The kids are happier and more loving. I am WAY more peaceful and loving. My husband can occasionally catch a nap without background sounds of chaos creating freakish dreams and a more tired self after his nap than he started with. In other words, it is TOTALLY worth it for us!
Now, lest you think my children have super human abilities to be quiet for endless hours on Sunday, I am a huge fan of encouraging all the WONDERFUL things they CAN do during Quiet Time rather than focusing on all the possible things I don’t want them doing then. They take scriptures and journals to bed with them. They can take uplifting toys, coloring activities, scrapbooking supplies, and all sorts of other uplifting things to do to build them and invite the Spirit into our home and our Sunday.
Now lest you think that I have super human abilities to come up with activities to fill their time with wonderful choices of activities, I will freely and openly admit to being a huge addict of Pinterest for things to keep their time full of wonderful things! Here are some of the things we used today…
THREE wanted to cut out the big version of the Armor of God dude in this AWESOME lesson. We are going to use the Battleship style game in our Game Night that got moved from Saturday to Sunday this week too (BONUS)!
ONE and TWO colored some FABULOUS scripture paper dolls the last several weeks and finished them today while the boys started making sets of their own today. I love how MANY options are possible with just this one set of paper dolls. Really, the possibilities are nearly endless! I am excited to see each child’s style and personal creativity come shining through in the ways they decorate these characters. Next Sunday they will finish coloring and cut them all out. Then I will bust out the laminator sometime after that, but before the next week, so that all the pieces can be laminated and ready to re-cut the following Sunday. We will add magnet strips to the back of all the clothes and accessories and use removable double sided sticky tape to position the people on each kids’ magnet board, ready to apply whatever clothes and just have a ball! (By the way, when I say “magnet boards,” what I really mean is empty big huge metal cookie tins that we got after Christmas last year to use for the baby’s blessing at the beginning of January. The cookies were all individually wrapped, so I didn’t even need to wash out the tins before declaring them the new “Sunday Activity Kits” for the kids! They are seriously big around and will be SUPER fun to use either the lids or the bottoms to play with these magnetized “action figures.”)
While the big kids labored on their fun paper dolls, this week FIVE took a cute coloring page from Sunbeams and colored it some more, cut it apart into eight sections, and applied Sticky Stick handles to the back to make a set of Sunday activity puppets. She loved it!
In other words, I may print an activity or two each week. I may let them cut up old Friend magazines and use the pictures to make collages or new Sunday books or self made activity pages for another sibling or another day. I may suggest specific topics of journal writing or scripture study for a child that has been struggling with questions that they want answers to. I may encourage kids to work on Primary talks or Family Home Evening lessons. I may suggest writing a letter to a grandparent, aunt or uncle, cousin, or friend just because that child has been worried about them or I have. Or I may stay out of it all together and let their thoughts, curiosities, creativity, and interests be their only guide besides the Holy Ghost to direct what they do with that special time. The best part is that the greatest success comes by keeping it simple and just focused on drawing closer to Heavenly Father. It doesn’t really matter what they do, the time to “be still and know that [He] is God” is felt by everyone and our family is blessed!
What sorts of things do you do in your family to renew your spiritual reserves on Sundays (or any day)? I am always up for new suggestions! Please feel free to leave them in the comments below and have a wonderful Sunday! 🙂
The image used is compliments of openclipart.org.