Living in a house with five boys under fourteen has zen written all over it. There is a constant battle for independence and alpha male power. There are wrestling matches, screaming matches, and a scarcity of sock matches. Pubescent attitude rears it’s head, while the baby cries to be fed, the three-year-old throws eggs on the floor, and the other two physically fight over Pokemon. Are you feeling meditative yet? The boys constant banter, sometimes playful and sometimes rough, is ever present. Now add in the noise from the various televisions and electronic devices all playing at once, lights flashing on and off as a fight ensues over which lights to turn on, a scuffle with a parent, the laundry is running, and the dishes are clanking. Feeling relaxed and focused now?
Living with five young boys teaches me that life does not create the quiet time for self-reflection and spiritual growth. I often put off time to think, regroup, pray and call a friend for the magic moment of calm. The problem is the calm never comes. I have to make the space to grow and rejuvenate. Lesson learned and now I have to implement the conclusion. Making the space, oh where, oh where.
My first step is to save my energy for positivity. As the kids act up, break the same rule for the hundredth time, or when they hurt one another, it is easy and instinctive to lash out. Yet if I respond in dramatic anger a power struggle ensues and the kids and I both use up all our energy in draining negativity. Now, I try to consciously step back and center myself before addressing them (once any immediate safety concerns are addressed). Despite the yelling and debating, I literally step back, close my eyes, and count to twenty in my head. Then I take a deep breath , consciously calm my tone before speaking, and release the tension in my shoulders. Once the intensity has mellowed, I speak. When I succeed, the kids follow my lead and calm down. We are no longer competing for loudest or most assertive and they see I am receptive but in control. This approach works equally for talking to adults in conflict as well as children.
by preventing an escalation of conflict, we have energy after the conflict to regroup and spend time together. It also results in more time in the day to other things. Like carving out personal quiet time.