Are you ok to be alone with your thoughts?
At this time of year and especially this year we hear about the value of reflection. Being quiet. Contemplating what we’ve learned over the year, what we did well and what we could have done better. In the shower, walking in the forest after a snowfall, sitting in your comfiest spot with tea before the rest of house is awake, listening to mellow music in the car on the way to work…and thinking.
If anything good has come out of this year of stoppages, perhaps reflection has been the most fruitful. Most people that I’ve talked with have reflected on their entire lives over the last several months….needs vs wants, how we spend our time, what is really important. When the world moves into its new normal, besides all the obvious differences we’ll see, I think more people are going to have greater insight into what they want their own world to look like. And reflecting more on what we want for our lives will most definitely benefit those outside our circles more than it will benefit those of us who are reflecting.
When we spend time reflecting, others will always benefit. What use is it to reflect if not to figure out how to better relate to those around us? To be a better mother, a better daughter, co-worker, friend or spouse. Despite the pandemic, I’ve witnessed and read about how people are caring for each other like they never have before - collecting food and clothing for those who need it, helping neighbours, writing letters to seniors stuck inside who can't see their loved ones. People have been thinking. Thinking about what their community needs right now. It’s been an empowering thing to watch and be a part of.
“Reflective thinking turns experience into insight.”
John C Maxwell
How do we help our kids to become reflective?
Give them time with nothing to do. Thinking time. While homeschooling our kids throughout their elementary school years, for at least 3 afternoons a week, we had quiet time after lunch. Mostly that meant that they would be alone in their rooms for 45 minutes to an hour. They could play or read or lay on the floor complaining about it. No tech allowed (although thankfully my kids were one of the last generation to not be bombarded with tech at every turn for their primary years, so it wasn’t too hard to avoid). I rarely used this as my quiet time of course. But because we started this when they were young they just got used to being alone with their thoughts. This wasn’t planned ‘reflective time for the kids but I think that being alone is where it all begins.
Most people aren’t homeschooling and can’t do an afternoon quiet time with their kids. So maybe try to set aside some quiet time on a weekend or on an evening before tucking your kids in, even if it’s only once a week.
Do it yourself. Even if they don’t actually see you during your quiet time, your kids will see the results of it.
Journalling is a super helpful tool for reflection. Even if your son/daughter only writes down (or draws) something that they’ve been thinking about, it's still a good start. Writing prompts are a great way to help kids reflect. This link has some amazing reflective writing prompts for you and your kids (of course some aren’t applicable to a 6 year-old). Here are some of my favourites:
- List some of the things that make you laugh and smile.
- What are some of the things that bring tears to your eyes?
- What qualities do you look for when choosing your friends?
- How was your day? What was your attitude about the day?
- What is one thing that you wish other people knew about you?
Here in Ontario we’ve just heard that the entire province will go into a 28 day lockdown on Boxing Day. I’m not going to get political here. Throughout this entire year, our family has tried hard to look at the good and not just complain about the bad. And so on the good side, for so many of us around the globe, what a great time to instill some quietness into the souls of our little ones (even if some of them - or all of them - aren't so little anymore).
The world has never needed the outworking of our reflection more than it does today.
Merry Christmas. Be blessed.