“Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright…”
This is the beginning of my all-time favorite Christmas tune. Growing up in very Swedish Lutheran town, my elementary class even learned this song in Swedish.
But as I became a mother, the absurdity of a quiet Christmas night became more apparent. According to the story, there were numerous angels heralding and barnyard animals present. Shepherds were shouting and a baby was born in a barn because there were so many tourists in the town…not exactly the picture of peace, quiet, and serenity.
Over the years, I’ve found that an important aspect of keeping my sanity is to make sure I have some time for peace and quiet. A time-out, you might say, for myself: to think my own thoughts and to focus more on being proactive than reactive to the momentary chaos before me.
Silence heals, noise hurts.
In 2011 the World Health Organization called noise pollution a “threat to public health,” and stated that “there is overwhelming evidence that exposure to environmental noise has adverse effects on the health of the population.” Constant noise can lead to heart problems, mental stress, and high blood pressure.
Do you have two minutes?
And in a 2006 study in the journal Heart, it was found that even two minutes of silence can be more relaxing than listening to relaxing music. The researchers found that silence lowered blood pressure and resulted in better blood circulation.
Two minutes of quiet can relieve stress and tension and help replenish our mental resources.
Quiet time with kids…the impossible dream?
Here are some tips to creating some space for a mom’s peace this holiday season.
Have you ever had a friend/relative say, “If you ever need help, call me”? Do it! They weren’t lying. Take an hour or two or an afternoon off. Go to a coffee shop. Visit the library (adult section, not children’s). Take a nap. Take a long, hot bath. Everyone needs some time to replenish their mental superpowers. You can find several drop-in daycare events during the holidays or trade an afternoon with a friend.
Get together with your spouse, partner, or significant other and determine how many holiday parties and events you want to go to. Rate them in order of importance and stick to it. You can’t please everybody and you can’t be everywhere. The holiday season is supposed to be one of love and joy, and too many parties can lead to anger and grumpiness. Set a curfew for yourself. Set a time to leave the party.
Bundle up and take a walk in the snow. Listen for the crunch under your feet. Walk around your neighborhood and see the Christmas lights. Getting outside, even in the winter months, can decrease anxiety, boost your immunity, and aid in digestion. Amazing, huh?
Take a break from holiday music
An easy way to get some quiet is to turn off the radio when your little is asleep in the car. I’ve been amazed at how much I enjoy a peaceful vehicle when I turn off the radio.
Play the quiet game
Okay…this is an oldie, but a good one. If your kids are a little older, set a goal with how long they can be quiet. If and only if you are present, light a candle for them to focus on. Somehow a little flame can keep a kid’s attention longer.
Nap when they nap
Another timely tip: when they nap, take a break yourself. Do you really need to get all the housework done? Give yourself some time to refresh yourself. Get some hot tea and a blanket and listen to the silence.
True confession: as a mom of four, one Christmas season, I hired a sitter and took myself out to lunch to have time to organize my thoughts and my holiday list. I dined in pure quiet and delight, and it made the whole season a little bit cheerier for myself.
Be honest and realistic
Moms, most of us have grand ideas of the delight and joy we want our kids to experience during the holiday season. We want amazing memories that they’ll talk about their whole lives through. Through making a little quiet time for yourself, you’ll be able to keep the perspective and the mental stamina to make this holiday season full of laughter, joy, and maybe a few memorable snowball fights.