When my daughters and I snuggled on the couch this week to read Quiet in the Garden by Aliki, it reminded me of the importance of slowing down as a family. I loved that this book emphasized the need to slow down and enjoy quiet. In fact, when we do slow down, we notice things that we didn’t notice before because we were too frenzied to notice! We wear ourselves out, run ourselves ragged, become stressed and irritable and exhausted… until we force ourselves to slow down and rest.
My husband and I plan regular intervals of experiencing quiet and rest as a family. We find that we need to slow down from extra activity and just enjoy one another and the world around us. We do this as individuals, as a couple and as an entire family. Here are some of our favorite ways to slow down with our kids:
- Leave an open weekend on your calendar. Sometimes our weekends fill up quickly with birthday parties, church events, appointments, trips or guests visiting our home. My husband and I enjoy having an occasional weekend that is reserved for family time.
- Make breakfast together. My husband likes to mix up homemade waffles or blueberry pancakes and cook with my oldest daughter. My youngest daughter and I help set the table. We enjoy sharing a yummy, special breakfast together!
- Spend time in nature or outdoors. Take a walk on a local trail, bike to the park or play a game outside in the yard. Our girls enjoy kicking around soccer balls, playing tag, hide-and-seek and red light, green light. This is also a good time of the year to check out a neighborhood farmer’s market, go apple picking or visit a pumpkin patch.
- Play board games or do a puzzle. Even though our girls are young, we play games like Hi Ho Cherry-O, Chutes & Ladders and Candy Land. We also enjoy doing puzzles together on the floor in our sunroom. Almost all of our games and puzzles came from thrift stores. If you don’t have many games and puzzles, these can be great gift suggestions for relatives who ask!
These are just some ideas to get you started in taking some time to slow down with your family. I would love to hear how your family intentionally slows down, whatever the age of your children! My husband and I continue to make it a habit because that time is so refreshing to our family and reminds us of the joy of experiencing life together.
Best Ages: pre-k – 2nd grade
- When you reach the last page of Quiet in the Garden, ask your child to find all the animal friends who join the boy for a picnic.
- Visit a local gardening center and buy some supplies to plant a flower or vegetable in a pot. Even though we live in the city, we have been able to grow cherry tomatoes and flowers in pots on the back steps of our apartment home. Our daughters particularly like to help with the watering and picking of the cherry tomatoes!
- Do a matching activity of the garden animals and the foods they eat as the boy observes what is happening around him in the garden. Print out free clipart and tape or hang with magnets on your board for the whole class to see.
- Take your class outside and be nature observers. Set a timer for 1, 2 or 3 minutes depending on the age of your students and ask them sit to quietly and observe what is going on around them. Then sit in a circle as a class and share what you saw. Finish up the time by playing fun group games, such as freeze tag or red light, green light.