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The Benefits of a Quiet Life - Issue 158
July 02, 2010
Hi there! ....

This week we turned a new calendar page and there was reminder that was ironic in its truth. This year we are using a calendar I created myself and there on the month of July is the saying “smell the roses”. What a necessary reminder for this month which is so busy. Smell the roses. I used to grow roses, even here in the tropics, and had cut flowers in my home nearly every day – but those days are gone as my roses gave up! But the saying is still true – there is plenty of beautiful tropical colour around me replacing the roses. In the midst of busyness I need to take a break, to pause and reflect on the important things in life. After all that is what smelling the roses is all about.

It is also ironic that I write about the benefits of a quiet life this week, in what has probably been one of the busiest seasons of my life. And yet I write from knowing what has been happening in our life and knowing truths I need to build on and strengthen in my life. On the one hand life is busy with the many projects I have happening and yet I have enjoyed this month with my children so much because we have only taken on what is necessary, we have focused on what is important. I have also made time for days at home filled with creativity and fun family times.

Live life with your kids!

If you are an Australian reader I would appreciate you reading this special request.

The Benefits of a Quiet Life

"The monotony and solitude of a quiet life
stimulates the creative mind."
~ Albert Einstein

I have certainly found truth in this quote – time at home, time for quiet reflection and experimentation breeds creativity in our home. These days education circles place a lot of emphasis on collaborative learning and I agree it is a valuable life skill (to be able to work with people). Creativity can certainly come from a think-tank environment but if that is the only creative environment we are in we eventually run dry. We have nothing to give. Solitude and reflection seem to revive that creativity.

Charlotte Mason talks of Masterly Inactivity: That the child, though under supervision, should be left much to himself - both that he may go to work in his own way on the ideas he receives, and also that he may be more open to natural influences. (Vol 1, p 177)

Our homes, unless we are very deliberate about it, are easily swept up in the fast-pace lifestyle of modern living. We have every modern time saving convenience and yet we rush rush rush, running out of time regardless of what activity we are engaged in. When we see the benefit of a quiet life maybe we can start to change our lifestyle.

Creativity isn’t just the ability to make stuff or to paint; we are creative in our thought processes, our understandings and our ideas as well. Creative processes reflect what is going on in the spirit and soul – in the heart of a person, which is why so much art form is dark and angry these days. But it need not be so for our children – creative expression whether it is in music, dance, using words, painting, building, cooking, running and so forth, needs to reflect our love of God, needs to reflect the joy in our heart.

We ‘put in’ to our children so much during the day they need time to reflect and process it all. Sometimes it helps us to understand our children’s world when we find a parallel in our world and relate it back to theirs. Think of a conference you’ve been too – full on information, a great time, new friendships made or old ones renewed, more to learn, questions to ask. It is an amazing 4 days or so but by the end of it your head is just spinning. This could easily be our children’s life (not just four days, but their life). We fill their days and weeks much like conference organisers fill this short-term opportunity for us – chockers!

Remember the feeling of exhaustion at the end of a conference? I believe our children often feel like that at the end of a day. They have received instruction to change their heart, they have learnt knowledge and practiced new skills. They have asked questions and been involved in discussions. They have struggled with new ideas and maybe even felt like they failed at an experiment. They have interacted with people that may or may not understand them. There is a whole pile of emotions that our children will have processed during the day – they will be exhausted. Not only has it been go-go-go from activity to activity but it has been go-go-go in their little heads as they process it all.

We need to give them a break! I don’t know about you but I often feel like down time after a conference – time to process, time to reflect, time to find out how I’m going to put all I’ve learnt into action. This is masterly inactivity as Charlotte Mason calls it. It is a quiet life as Albert Einstein calls it.

We may be afraid that our children will cry “I’m bored” if we don’t fill their days. We may be afraid that they are going to miss out in life if we don’t take them to every opportunity. And that is where we need to understand the alternative - masterly inactivity. It isn’t just letting a child drift aimlessly with nothing to do, hoping they’ll do something that doesn’t need your supervision. It is teaching them and then directing them to do something with what they know. I like that phrase in the Charlotte Mason quote “that he may go to work”. Masterly inactivity isn’t doing nothing, it isn’t recreation, it isn’t just fun, it isn’t unproductive. It is just the opposite. Masterly inactivity is working with, processing and expressing what you have learnt without the expectations of another person's understandings or agenda.

I believe our children need to know the ‘how’ to do things. How to sew, how to draw, how to cook, how to build, how to write, how to learn etc and then with the skills that they have been taught I let them go and experiment, have-a-go, put their twist to it - be creative.

But unless we are at home they cannot do this. When we are out and about we have a different agenda for that time slot in our day. We are directing our children’s thinking and doing to some degree. Instead we can trim back our commitment and give our children free time where they can be experimenting with thought and deed, finding expression to the things that they have learnt.

Related Articles from Lifestyle-Homeschool
Being Bored

Dealing with Boredom (on my blog)

The benefits of Play

Blog Updates this week
If you would like to subscribe to my blog can I recommend Feedblitz. I haven’t worked out how to get this on my website as a button for you but once you open up Feedblitz, scroll to the bottom and you will see where you can subscribe to any website/blog and receive updates through your email. I use this for all my blog reading.

Dinner table Conversation prompts – see the vast variety of ideas that you can help you engage in intentional conversation over the dinner table.

Book Review: What He must be if he wants to marry my daughter - I really enjoyed this book and have come to understand key issues that are important in the training of our sons.

A Resource for Discipleship We are planning on using Plants Grown Up and Polished Cornerstones as a tool in helping me spend some intentional one on one time with each of my children.

My Internet Reading lately Links to different things online that I’ve found helpful and encouraging.

Blending Life with Lessons e-book - Does your everyday life challenge your homeschool ideas? This is my journey as I discover that it is possible to disciple my children in today's busy lifestyle.

Heart Focus Parenting - A heart focused parent will keep their attention on their child's heart for God, instead of on external behaviours.

My Sitemap is a quick reference to all you will find on Lifestyle-Homeschool. I encourage you to have a browse around!

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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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