Keeping the Hearth Sacred and Sane

This fall I often felt like a ping pong ball let loose in a padded room. As I read news and different perspectives, many very adamant, some quite angry, I sometimes forgot to listen to myself.
I became aware of the imperative to create times and tone at home in a reverent and committed way. I found that days when I stuck to practices and habits that supported my sanity, I had an easier relationship with the apparent insanity of some of the world. I emerged from these weeks, more committed than ever to remember and practice what reminds me to connect with my own voice, heart, and spirit. 
Because I don’t currently have youngish children living at home, I spoke to a few moms, whom I respect, asking them what helps them keep home sacred and sane.
Although the interrelated specifics varied from household to household, here’s what I found out:
  1. Have routines and systems for home chores, guidelines, img_1469
    and time. Have clear expectations and build in regular opportunities for communication about them. Some moms have systems to post and/ or check off chores. Look for what works and doesn’t work, and invite children’s feedback and ideas.
  1. Practice the Art of Ritual – It is an art. There are family rituals and personal rituals. A ritual could be gratitudes at dinner, a walk after school, lighting a candle or feeding the birds. It can also be about moments of silence, mindfulness, brain breaks, prayer, or listening to nature. There can be brief rituals of waking and greeting the day and rituals before bed, such as softly and tenderly washing one’s face. What makes a ritual is that it’s about habit, awareness, intention, and sensation. In a wonderful blog by Courtney E. Martin,”…even washing the dishes can be a kind of ritual…It’s about pace and intention, the senses and symbols…the meaning you imbue…rather than the script you inherit.” 
  1. Prioritize activities. What is “sacrosanct”? One mom commented on clear boundaries between work and family, and another about boundaries with social activities. In our ordinary human beings lives, demands can fluctuate. Kids get sick, relatives visit, and work loads increase. If boundaries are crossed, one respondent then gives relationships involved special time. She shared that it is very important  to have clear perceptions and communication. “We must have ways to talk about it,” she commented.
  1. Be in charge of meaning and purpose. What brings meaning and values into the home? One mom has playlists that help set the tone. Another avoids plastic toys, and has systems to reduce clutter. One regularly takes the kids to volunteer making meals at a homeless shelter. Another uses a glass jar for family members to write down acts of kindness done by family members. They read this at meals or family meetings. What are the threads that the family chooses to regularly and routinely weave through life at home and interactions with each other?
  1. Prioritize the when and where of electronics. Some keep electronic time for weekends or have specific hours. There are timed apps for pads, which lock the pad down when the time is reached. Another firmly recommends that electronics are not allowed in bedrooms. I was struck by the peace and calmness of her daughter’s room. I see how this will make things clearer and easier as her daughter gets older. 
  1. Fill you own cup. If we don’t find ways to re-Source ourselves, we set a family tone of emptiness

    Romantic atmosphere with candle lights and flowers on dark background

    and feeling scattered. One mom, addresses her own needs for beauty and simplicity with “hygge”, a Danish concept of comfort, relationship, simplicity and beauty as a resource, such as candle light, flowers, a fireplace, warm throws and socks. Another spoke of the importance of having an identity outside the home, such as a class, a skill, an expression, or a blog. Marianne Williamson emphasizes taking transition time, even it’s 20-30 minutes, to help ourselves ease from our roles of super-doer moms and workers to be with our bodies and souls, and our partners. 

  1. Compassionately listen to others and self and encourage others to do the same. Not feeling seen, even by ourselves, is a major burden on the nervous system. Ask oneself and others about needs. Listen for messages behind behavior. Listen with ears, gut and heart for and share feelings. Continue to learn about healthy conflict. We are all learning what it means  to authentically be and express ourselves. 
As I found myself trying to wrap my head around the world, I found myself loosing hope, because I couldn’t find easy answers. I could forget the growing revolution of compassion, restorative justice, mindfulness, collaboration, and kindness. I forgot that, just as the brain is wired for reaction, it is also wired for relationship and compassion. Let the news of home include announcements of creativity, passion, and celebration in the family, the community, and the world. Nurture sacredness and sanity by looking for and sharing hope, visions, ideas, and positive actions. 

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