We've been too busy. How do I know? One of the tell-tale signs in our household is that of the younger children bickering. That translates into a need to refocus, say "No" to more out-of-the-house learning opportunities and spend more time at home being a family.
So, the last couple of weeks, I've made it a point to only leave the house on Fridays. I wait until then to run all of my errands and do all of our shopping. I'm "shoring-up" relationships with each child individually by spending time together. We've made it a point to get back into the habit of reading together every evening before bed, playing games together regularly, going for walks and talking after our family devotions at supper-time. We've had lots of fun doing our chores together and singing.
I was very inspired by a blog post at Momy's about family fussing. I took that idea and added some of my own ideas to come up with a fun way to focus on family peace for our younger children.
"We love one another, treating others with kindness, gentleness and respect."
"We encourage one another, using only words that build up and bless others."
"We are content with what we have, not coveting what others have."
"We are generous with what we have, sharing freely with others."
"We choose to be peacemakers, even when we feel like arguing."
I then colored a wide green stripe across the top where all clothespins begin each day. That is followed by a wide yellow "warning" stripe. Next, comes a wide orange stripe with "Go to bed for 30 minutes", then a red stripe with "Lose computer time for the day" and for our youngest, "No bedtime story". Lastly, there is a wide purple stripe with, "Go to bed one hour early".
When a fuss arises, they each tell me their side of the story and then we talk about what they could have done differently to keep the peace, and which family way was violated. They then get the punishment that they landed on. When they get up they ask each other for forgiveness and give each other a hug.
If a child stays in the green all day, he may choose between playing a game of his choice with me or me reading an extra bedtime story to him.
So far my two youngest have really enjoyed this and have not moved thier pins beyond, "Go to bed for 30 minutes". It has really helped them to have a reward for being peacemakers, and they are very disappointed when they have to move their pins into the yellow, knowing they won't get that reward.
I must admit, the peace is wonderful and so is the slower pace!
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"