Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Quiet Home

I was thinking today of how much I like the quietness of our home. At the time, I was sitting at my sewing machine, the needle humming away, and although all 6 of my family members (minus my married sister) were there in the house, a stranger would never have known it.

Now, we're not always that quiet. No, indeed! But there is generally an air of quiet in the house that is surprising enough to cause several friends of ours to comment on it.

A quiet home is not necessarily a home where nothing happens. Ours is a very active household; my sewing students come and go, my Dad and brother are departing and returning from their workplace, and Mom or I are frequently running errands. (Our driveway ought to have a revolving door thingy, so we don't have to play rush hour with the cars.)

My younger siblings are studying, going in and out the back door to the great outdoors (often trying to sneak rabbits or chickens inside), playing games (NOT board games) in the basement, using B.B. or air-soft guns in the house (yes, really), raising sawdust and wood chips in the work area as they create a new project...

Mom and I are often tinkering in the kitchen, using noisy appliances, or banging pots and pans. All five of my siblings and I play more than one instrument, and rare is the hour when at least one of us is not practicing, or playing musical CDs.

Like every household, we operate. We move. We talk. We bang stuff around. But still, we have lots of quiet. I want to list a few things I think contribute to a quiet house, but first: why desire a quiet house?

I think the blessing of a quiet home is something we all understand. It's peaceful, and soothing to tired nerves. It's conductive to study, to keeping your mind focused on the task at hand, and creating a welcoming environment. When the household is constantly full of screams and shouting, chatter and loud laughter, little legs running to and fro, objects hitting the floor, etc., it affects your mind, don't you think? It's a lot easier to pray, too, when you can hear yourself think.

So how to have a quiet home? Well, I think it's all based on habits. And, of course, quiet is all relative to the season of life you're in. "Quiet" sounds mighty different when you have 3 toddlers in the house than when you have five young adults in the house. :)

Some habits that have helped us:

~ Cultivate "Quiet" Hobbies
No, I'm not suggesting we all take up embroidery and painting, and never touch a hammer or guitar. But we spend a lot of time doing quiet activities in our house; reading, writing, computer, sewing (in my case), ...And many chores are relatively quiet; sweeping, cleaning the toilet, organizing clutter, dusting, etc. But you can't be quiet forever, and that leads me to my next point:

~ Schedule Your Noise
We have certain hours of the day that are set aside for school. Even though I'm not in school any more, I know my younger siblings are supposed to be studying during those hours. So, I don't practice my fiddle. And I don't play a CD while I'm washing dishes. And I don't carry on long, energetic, enthusiastic conversations with Mom while I'm in the room where they're working. I save my talking for later.

Quiet times are a major practice in developing this habit. When Mom was expecting my younger siblings, all the siblings who were already here had lots of practice with learning to be quiet, because she would frequently need to take naps throughout the day. While she was lying down, she'd turn off the lights in the house (so long as the day was sunny), to remind us to be quiet, and we learned to talk in low voices, play or work quietly, not to start tickling each other, and not to play with dice on hardwood floors.

This is the biggest "tip" I can offer on this subject. It's proven to be very valuable for us. Schedule times for just "quiet." The habits will carry over into other times of day.

~ Do loud stuff outside
Let's face it - we were made to make noise! Especially when you've got young folks around, noise is a great thing! It releases mental energy, or something. :) So go outside, and laugh, and be loud. Just do it at a decent time, so the neighbors won't mind. :)

*(As a side note, I want to mention that I've noticed something about my siblings; they play fairly quietly, even when outdoors. Ever watched "screamers" play? They shriek at everything, setting the dog two houses down to wailing. The whole neighborhood knows when they're out. But for some reason, my little sisters never caught that habit - which is nice! I'm afraid I'm more of a shrieker than they are; just play tag with me sometime!)

~ Cultivate Quiet Voices and Bodies
Some people just don't know they're making noise. It's worth trying to cultivate the discipline of self control in the area of your volume level. I remember trying to help my brother understand the difference between just whispering, and truly being quiet. Whispering doesn't help if you're tromping down the hallway at 5:30 in the morning! But the gentle reminders paid off - he's now pretty quiet when he wants to be. :) Now if we could just get a certain sibling to shut the bathroom door without rattling the doorknob so loudly at 11:30pm. :)

And, when the inevitable sounds happen....

~ Contain the Noise
Ours is not a large house, and it's easy to hear what's going on in other rooms. Sometimes that's fine, but other times, you just don't want to hear that piano lesson played one more time. Shutting doors, plugging in earphones, and turning down the volume helps to keep tempers more cheerful. And, when "sharing noise" can't be helped, learn to either enjoy or ignore! :)

~ One Room, One Floor
As a general rule, only one person in a room talks at a time. Even when you're not sharing in a particular conversation, you respect that person's right to the floor. In general, we don't usually have more than one conversation going on in a room at the same time. If somebody wants to start another discourse, they move to another location. (Example: two little people want to play together, they move to a bedroom. A phone call for you; you move to another room to talk.) The major exception for this is when we have guests; then, nearly all the rooms in our house are filled with happy chatter, from multiple mouths - and we love it! Other exceptions would be at the dinner table (yes, I know, it's not "proper") or when we're playing games. When competition is going on, everybody is talking. :)

I think I've talked enough for now. I just wanted to share a few thoughts with you. Really, though, in the realm of "quietness," the most valuable thing you can cultivate is a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great worth. Why don't you share some habits that have helped you form that kind of quietness in your life?

1 comment:

Ruth Ann said...

I love quiet.

Don't always know how to go about achieving it, but I love it when I get to just be there and enjoy God and me and quiet. :)

Thanks for writing this. It was sweet, and I enjoyed it. It's true that productivity isn't always louds. And yours sounds like a productive and happy home. :)