Searching for Connection
Many parents tell me that they want more quality time with their children and teens. They want to be able to have deep conversations, laugh together, and enjoy shared activities together. They want a relationship of trust and openness, and quality time seems to be a strong indicator of the strength of the relationship.
Yes, AND what about being silent together?
Creating silent, mindful time together can also be quality time, and with intention, these moments of quiet and calm can create support your family in developing trust and openness.
An Honest Look at Patterns
Many people are uncomfortable being in silence with others. Our culture has trained us to always be busy, stimulated, and engaged, so this makes sense! For example, we might have the tendency to fill voids with small talk or perceive a lull in conversation as “negative.” Sometimes we force conversations with our loved ones because quiet feels too uncomfortable. Other times, we default to replaying the latest frustration or conflict, running through it step by step.
Yet, if you can be in this place of discomfort, with consistent practice, over time, you will be able to relax into the quiet with your loved ones.
In invite you to view these moments of shared silence as laying and nourishing fertile soil for growing a very alive relationship with your children and teens. Furthermore, I invite you to enjoy being in the physical presence of our children and teens without big expectations, pressure, or agendas.
Moments of shared silence can take many forms. Thus, I’m so excited to share 20 ways to be quiet with your family. The list includes a few opportunities (indicated by an *) for chit chat after. Keep in mind, these ideas DO NOT include devices/phones!
20 Ways to be Quiet with Your Family
- While driving, invite everyone to notice the scenery and how it changes along the highway. Pay attention to colors and textures. *At the end of the drive, share observations and curiosities.
- Read together. Share the same room, and read individual books. *Share summaries or highlights at the end of reading time.
- Eat a meal in silence. Suggest using all of the senses during the mean: look at the food, smell it, and so on. There is also an opportunity to appreciate the meal– the cook, the farmer, the animal, etc. *Share what mindful eating was like after the meal.
- Look across the room at your child or teen, and with eye contact, just smile.
- Talk a quiet walk together. In the neighborhood or at a beautiful or interesting location– a lake, downtown, a mountain trail, etc.
- Put an album on together. Decide who or what to listen to together, and enjoy a silent listening party. *Share favorite songs or lyrics at the end.
- For young ones, (every once in a while) play with blocks or toys without coaching or naming everything. Just play together in silence.
- Do a puzzle together without talking. (I bet you can’t do this without laughter!)
- Clean house or organize a room together. Decide which tasks each person will tackle, and get started, working quietly.
- Go to a beautiful outlook, park, or natural space, and sit together in quiet.
- Practice mindfulness, together. Play a guided meditation or prayer recording and sit together in quiet self-study. YouTube or the Insight Timer app have plenty to choose from.
- Write. Journal, get creative, or get work done. Each person can work on their own project while sharing the same space/room/table.
- Craft or create together. Painting, pastels, coloring books, and clay can be fun! Knitting and sewing too! *Talk about your creative processes at the end.
- Stretch or do yoga together. Free form, no verbal guidance. Or play a guided class on YouTube.
- Hold hands or hug without words.
- Make heart maps together in silence. (Ask Courtney for more info about heart maps!) *Share and explain your maps at the end.
- Garden together. Pot and plant together, or give love, attention, and water to plants and veggies in quietly, enjoying the process and the sounds of nature.
- Build something together. Perhaps a lego structure or a tower made from random craft or paper materials.
- Take a nap. When it’s needed, let quiet time be a time of rest.
- Do a combo of 2 of the above options. For example, your teen might want to read, while you decide to write. Your child might paint while you work on a puzzle. Keep this silence a time of connection by sharing space together.
Putting Quiet into Practice
It’s a good idea, especially at the beginning, to set a timeframe for silent time. Decide (with your child) how long you intend to be in the space of quiet. Aim for at least 15 minutes, but adjust depending on the activity, your child or teen’s age and attention span, and the overall comfortability with this idea. Browse the list as a family, allowing each person to select an individual activity or arriving at an agreement together. I also encourage you and your family to build upon this list. What else do you love doing in quiet together?
As you dig into these practices, you may also find yourself (and your teen) feeling supported. This is a good opportunity to document your support system— the people, places, and things (like quiet?!) that help you refuel.
Here’s to hearing the crickets together…