“To live in a peaceful home is to experience paradise on earth.” - Shri Radhe Maa
Imagine this - a tidy home where children play happily alongside one another, dinner cooks itself, partners split the load equally, and the laundry comes out of the dryer folded.
It’s fun to dream, isn’t it?
We can’t have it all, but we can certainly have some of that. And while I know that creating a peaceful home in the chaos and bustle of modern life can be a real challenge, it can be done with small and intentional steps.
There are three “ingredients” to a peaceful home life.
- Peace within yourself.
- A peaceful environment.
- Peaceful relationships.
Peace Within Yourself
The foundation for a peaceful life starts inside your own heart and mind. Before you can create a peaceful home life for your family, it’s important to cultivate peace within yourself.
Each of us were wired with certain beliefs in childhood. We learned about ourselves from our caregivers and the world around us. Sometimes, the wiring from our youth, which was required for survival then, does not serve us now. Re-wiring those circuits is a daily practice, not a one-time “to-do.”
This requires a bit of self-work. Understanding what experiences have shaped you into the person you are today allows you to take control of your story and become the person you want to be. Our stories are powerful. They define who we are, the way we conduct ourselves, and color the lens through which we see the world.
We can unconsciously continue well into adulthood letting others fill our pages while we sit idly by, or we can take ownership of our stories and challenge what has been written by others without our permission.
Just as you might revise a written manuscript with a red pen to refine and improve the story, you can now bring your own story into the light and make the necessary corrections. While you had absolutely no control over those pages filled in by your family in your earliest days, you do hold the pen now.
Consider the following questions:
- How was your childhood?
- What are the relationships and the events that shaped who you are today?
- What have been the major turning points in your life?
- Which relationships (other than the one with your parents) mattered most in the formation of how you relate to those closest to you now?
- What beliefs do you have about yourself?
- What beliefs do you have about children and family?
Take some time to reflect on these questions. Then, if you find it helpful, write out the highlights of your life story on paper. Begin with your earliest memories and just let them flow without being critical or holding judgment about what you are writing. Include everything that you feel is relevant to who you are today and who you want to be. Once written, take a red pen or highlighter and mark the parts that you feel need revision - the parts that are holding you back in your quest to be your best self.
For example, if a parent was overly critical or demeaning, leading you to believe certain falsities about yourself, you can re-write this now. Simply scratch it out and replace it with what you know to be true about yourself today. If you felt unlovable as fallout from a breakup or like a failure from a teacher’s demeaning words, you can revise these stories to give yourself more power, more credit, and much more love.
This is owning your story. You aren’t denying your past or pretending that certain things didn’t happen. Rather, you are simply looking objectively from an adult point of view and declaring that your past will not rule your present.
You can cultivate peace within yourself by simply owning your story and offering yourself now the love and compassion that you have always deserved. As you heal old wounds and release false beliefs, peace will flow through you.
A Peaceful Environment
A sink full of dishes, a heap of laundry, toys scattered about the floor, and piles of unused, outgrown, and unwanted things seem par for the course in parenthood. And yes, having a spotless and tidy home isn’t realistic for everyone, but it is helpful to be aware of how clutter can affect your mental health and your peace.
In The Unbearable Heaviness of Clutter, the author points to a study in which researchers measured participants’ general well-being in relation to how clutter might be affecting their lives. The study, published in Current Psychology, found a substantial link between procrastination and clutter problems in all age groups. Frustration with clutter increased with age, and among older adults, clutter problems were also associated with life dissatisfaction.
“The findings add to a growing body of evidence that clutter can negatively impact mental well-being, particularly among women. Clutter can also induce a physiological response, including increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone,” says the author.
It seems there is a good reason that the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo became such a sensation. When our home is chaotic, our minds are more chaotic. When our home is tidy and peaceful, this reflects in our emotional state as well.
Here are a few ways to create a more peaceful environment.
- Tackle one room per week. Donate what is appropriate, trash what you can, and organize the rest.
- Create cozy, peaceful daily habits in your home with your children. Curl up with a good book together. Have hot cocoa in the evening. Play a board game. Snuggle up on the couch for a television show. Have a “spa day” and pamper yourselves.
- Surround yourself with beauty and things you love. Think fresh flowers, flameless candles, books, plush pillows, and calming decor. Once the clutter is out, add in a few peaceful-feeling touches that make your home feel cozy and warm.
- Engage your senses. Play soft music in the background. Light a candle that smells delicious. Hang curtain lights in your window for a soft glow at night. Wear plush socks and fuzzy pajamas.
- Create a Calming Corner in your home - a space with emotional-regulation tools such as the Time-In TooKit for your children (adults can use it, too). This can be your and your child’s go-to space for meditations.
This is a broad subject, so it’s difficult to sum up in an article. There are lots of different relationship dynamics in the home. Parent-child relationships, partner relationships, sibling relationships, and possibly relationships with other live-in family members all make this a complicated topic. I cover how to create peace in all of these relationships in my book Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide. However, I will attempt to give some useful bits of advice here.
The parent-child relationship cannot be peaceful if it is built around control. Authoritarian parenting invites power struggles, and this is the opposite of a peaceful relationship. Homes, where physical punishment, isolation, and shame are used as discipline techniques, will struggle to find peace. Positive parenting offers us the opportunity to guide our children while maintaining a close relationship.
If you are here, you are probably already familiar with positive parenting, if not already practicing it. If you’d like help in this area, our Positive Parenting Course will give you the tools and support you need. We also offer coaching services. A good place to start, if you are new to it, is with trading Time-Outs and other punishments for a Time-In.
Peaceful sibling relationships take work. Creating a culture of peace between siblings in the home is intentional work. Parents often unwittingly spark the fires that we spend days and years trying to extinguish. I know I made my fair share of mistakes in this area, and here is what I learned.
- Comparisons can have two outcomes. One is resentment toward the “better” sibling, and the other is a feeling of inadequacy or low self-concept. Even when you’re giving one the “favorable” comparison, for example telling her she is so much more responsible than her sibling, this sets up a competitive atmosphere. Instead of comparing, describe what you see, what you like, what needs to change, or what needs to be done, and leave the other children out of it.
- Did you or your siblings get labeled when you were growing up? Was it openly accepted that one was the “the smart one” or “the athletic one” or “the ambitious one?” I accidentally labeled one of my boys “the funny one” when they were little! I didn’t do this on purpose. It happened rather covertly when I laughed at him and said things like “You are so funny!” His brother would pipe up, “Am I funny, too?” Then he sought to “measure up” with performances meant to make us laugh just as much. This is a tricky situation, because how can a parent celebrate the strengths and accomplishments of one child without fueling competition? I think the key is to make sure that every child feels loved enough, valued enough, and good about themselves. The fix for us was not to stop laughing at my child’s hilariousness but to find something about his brother that we brought to light equally and celebrated.
- Acknowledge their bond. I made a point to notice and point out when my boys were kind to each other or playing well together. There is something to be said for speaking out about what you want to have happen in your life. What you focus on, you get more of.
- Set clear limits. Children deserve to feel safe and comfortable in their own homes, and unchecked sibling rivalry can make a home feel like anything but a safe haven. I don’t expect my kids to always get along or even to always like each other, but I do expect them to avoid resorting to violence, taunting, or name-calling. This is a boundary that I made clear to them. Teach children conflict resolution skills and emotional regulation, but understand that these skills take time to develop and master. Keep teaching and holding your limits!
Creating a peaceful home life isn’t easy, but it is important work. It is my hope that the peace we cultivate in our homes while our children are small will ripple outward. One thing I know for sure is that if we ever hope to live in a peaceful society, we must begin at home.
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