Today Emma from 95 Acres of Sky is with us to share some wonderful tips for creating peaceful and quiet family times together.
As the days grow ever shorter and the darkness creeps closer earlier each night, my instinct is to draw close to my hearth, snuggle up and hibernate. Unfortunately my calendar, seemingly without any input from me, remains stubbornly busy, forcing me out into icy winds and dark nights a little against my will. As my children grow older their list of activities gets longer and when I accompany that with a busy homeschool schedule, playdates with friends, the work of running a homestead… the pace of life is not as sedate and calm as I would prefer.
Unlike in previous years when dinnertime and bedtime were sacrosanct, our schedule has become a little more blurred; some activities require a later dinner or a much later bedtime, leaving us parents feeling more than a little tired and scattered at the end of a busy day. A rush of activity around the time Mama’s energy level drops is not a good combination in my experience.
What to do? I am bringing back to our table a quiet time lantern. This simple glowing light signals to my two busy boys that the quiet peace of the evening has begun; it may not be at the same time each night but when the light goes on, it is time for gentler voices, bedtime routines and the beginning of evening unwinding.
To make your own lantern, you will need to begin with a dry wet-on-wet watercolor painting. If you have not experimented with this kind of painting before (I highly recommend it as a meditation in itself), head here for a simple tutorial.
You will also need:
- A wet-on-wet painting
- Seasonal stencils or paper punches (cookies cutters are great to trace around)
- Xacto knife or paper scalpel
- Kite paper or tissue paper
1. When you have your painting the next stage is to decide on the shapes you would like your lantern’s windows to be. For this I would recommend either an appropriate seasonal stencil (tracing around cookie cutters works really well) and then cut out with an xacto knife (adult job) or use paper punches to create your chosen shape, this is a great choice for younger children.
2. When you’ve traced and cut/punched out your shapes you will need to choose your window color. I have a book of kite paper that I’ve been using steadily for years that never seems to diminish! Brightly colored tissue paper would also work beautifully; cut a piece to ﬁt over the shape you’ve made but be careful it doesn’t overlap or hang loose. Make a line of glue around the edge of your opening and then add your paper, be gentle as the glue makes the paper extremely fragile.
3. Once dry you can shape your lantern by ﬁxing the two ends together to make a cylinder. Apply glue to one edge and then bend the lantern round to make a tube. I’ve made a few of these and have found that unless you have extremely strong glue the judicious application of staples is the most likely route to success, one at either end seems to do the trick.
4. With an eye on safety I always put my tea light candle inside a small jar before slotting the lantern over the top. That way the beautiful glowing colors can be enjoyed without the risk of the lantern combusting over dinner.
In our home I like to light the lanterns at dinner time and place them in each child’s place, I think it adds a special ﬂavor to the meal and reminds us all (me especially) that we all need to work together to keep any feeling of peace and calm alive. If things get too rowdy I can simply point to the lantern and say “the quiet time candle is burning, remember it is time to be peaceful.” If you are looking for other resources to support peaceful evenings and bedtimes here are a few suggestions you might like to try:
- Candlelight – a friend of mine uses only candle light between dinner and bedtime each night to help bodies to slow down and create a feeling of more serenity.
- Cosmic Kids on youtube is a fantastic resource for guided yoga for children. This is a great activity for between dinner and bedtime, stretching muscles and calming bodies before the transition to bed.
- A relaxing pillow spray can become part of your bedtime routine, it is even more special when you and your child make it together, choosing the scents you ﬁnd most soothing.
- The always wonderful Sparkle Stories have a Sleepy Sparkle storyline that is speciﬁcally intended for bedtimes. A real boon to tired parents and a delight to children of all ages. I cannot imagine bedtime in our house without the aid of Sparkle Stories!
- Shambala Kids have wonderful guided relaxation audios that support children in ﬁnding peace within themselves as they fall asleep. I love to snuggle with my boys and listen to the soothing and comforting voice, I’ve even nodded off a few times!
I hope some of these ideas help you ﬁnd a little more peace and serenity through the cold winter months!