Keeping a Peaceful Home in the Midst of Chaos
by Kristina Matz
Hey, friends! This article is a little bit different from our usual articles. In light of a unique season in our world, where many of us have home lives that look quite different from the norm, we wanted to share some tips that will aim for an environment of peace in our families. These are some quick thoughts that have been born out of our own experience raising five kiddos and being home with them throughout the week. We’re sure many of you already implement these tips on a regular basis, but we always love being reminded of things that we tend to overlook when our normal routine changes. May they prove to be a blessing during this trial that has been laid before us.
Keep the TV in Its Place
It is so easy to use television as a babysitter in our homes. We’ve been there, we get it. But this always causes more chaos than peace in the long run. While we may gain a few moments of quiet early on, the restlessness and overstimulation that come later bring with them a host of other problems. This truly goes for screens of all kinds. We make a choice for our own immediate gratification that ends up provoking our children to anger (Ephesians 6:4). While we are not saying that screen time can never happen, if we want to maintain peace in our homes, we are saying that it needs to be the exception and not the rule.
Enlist the Help of Siblings
This one is huge for us! It’s literally a win-win all the way around. We assign an older sibling an amount of time or a specific activity to be spent with a younger sibling. This blesses the younger sibling and keeps them entertained while also trains our older children to count others as more significant than themselves (Philippians 2:3). Much older siblings can be asked to do more advanced activities and sit for longer periods of time, but even very young siblings can stack blocks, color, or look at picture books with younger siblings. As long as we keep our expectations accurate for all kiddos involved, this is a great way to create a peaceful environment when everyone is home together!
Share Our Load
Let’s be honest, being home more means more cleaning. And if we try to tackle this all on our own we may find ourselves feeling frazzled and be tempted to respond to our family with impatience and even annoyance. One great way to prevent that from happening is by sharing our load with our children. Even very young children can help to throw trash away, put shoes where they go, or put silverware away. These tasks might seem small, and maybe that’s because they are, but each small task takes a little bit of our load. Side note, this also gives our children something else productive to do and trains them to be people of order rather than chaos and confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33)!
Clean As You Go
Along the same lines as sharing our load, it’s super important that our children learn to clean up whatever they’ve finished playing with before they move on to something new. If we don’t do this, before long we’ll realize that there is a tiny trail of random toys all over the house. And when we are already feeling a little bit more on top of each other than usual, added “stuff” only increases the tension. This is one that tends to get away from us before we’ve realized it. And that’s okay! When we realize the trail is piling up we simply need to stop their current play and ask them to retrace their steps and clean up what was left out. They can resume play as soon as the mess is clean!
Direct Times of Play
It’s easy to think of playtime as belonging to our children. But while it is definitely something they partake in, it does not belong to them. God has asked us, as parents, to steward over our children in every area of their life, playtime included. This is why it makes sense when we oversee play for reasons of safety. Our children are children and they don’t have the ability just yet to often know what’s best for them. We need to confidently view even their playtime as something that falls under our purview as their parents. When we see that siblings need a break from one another, we can give them each a puzzle to do or a book to look at or read. When our children are finding themselves “bored”, we can give them a blank paper and some crayons to draw with. Our kids do not need to love our direction or even think it’s the most fun they’ve had all day, but they will need to obey it (Ephesians 6:1) and trust us. Even when met with resistance (which may happen 95% of the time in our home), this always proves to be extremely helpful for our children and the overall peaceful environment in our home. Side note: It also provides a much-enjoyed stretch of quiet while they find themselves busy with something new and independent!
Sweat It Out
Even if you don’t have a yard for the kids to play in and the parks have been closed, finding ways to help our kiddos get their energy out during the coming weeks will prove to be a huge blessing! Similar to winter time when it’s often too cold to play outside, we need to be creative and find ways for them to sweat indoors. A couple of ideas to consider is creating obstacle courses in the house. Personally, we do this while still maintaining the normal rules of our home (ie. no jumping on furniture or climbing on it), but we get creative. Crawling over a table and around a chair. Flipping over a laundry basket and having them tummy crawl over it. We also find safe kids’ workout videos on Youtube. These are fun and give the kids something to do that’s active and gets them sweating!
Be Consistent in Correction
It will be so very easy for us in the coming weeks to see this extra time with our children as an interruption. In all honesty, it might be! But we need to remember that our children themselves are not the interruption. They are, in fact, our most important stewardship outside of our own relationship with the Lord and our spouse. And one of the key aspects of this God-given stewardship is the correction of our children (Ephesians 6:4). But that view of being interrupted gives way to ignoring “little” sin because of the nuisance of having to stop what we’re doing in order to correct it. That decision to ignore their sin, however, only leads to more sin and never leads to more peace. On one hand, we need to remember that seeing our children embrace sin and not immediately rushing to stop it is even more unloving that watching them reaching out to touch a hot stove without intervening. On the other hand, we need to remember that ignoring their sin rather than correcting it also gives them room to continue in their sin. As with so many things in life, doing the hard thing now gives way to much better things down the road! Consistent correction always leads to peace. It might not feel like it in week one of this new, temporary way of life, but weeks two and three should begin to produce beautiful fruit from our faithfulness!