What happens in your mind when you leave the podcast off and go for a drive? A run? A walk?
That's your interior life and it's valuable to 1. Know it's there and 2. Feed it with the best ideas, questions, and literature so that your mind can be nourished and healthy.
People are born with the mind ready for good food but just like a baby learns through exercise to roll over, sit up, crawl, walk, and run, a baby also learns to concentrate, control their emotions, and give effort through practice.
You won't do yourself or your children any favors if you don't give them time to be quiet or to be bored, to have unscheduled time for imaginative play but if you neglect the building of the mind, that play may not happen as easily.
Mindless entertainment on screens is the obvious culprit but so is too much busyness -overscheduling happens to children and not just adults.
If you decide that helping your little people have a rich interior life is important, here are some ideas to try:
First, feed the mind:
- Listen to different styles of the best music available: classical, movie soundtracks (The Magnificent Seven is a current favorite here), big band jazz, folk tunes, 1970's rock'n'roll, etc.
- Read aloud fairy tales, funny stories, Bible stories, picture books, folk tales, and nursery rhymes (we just can't get enough of James Herriot's stories for children).
- Memorize poetry together and recite it (small children, and I recently learned my husband too, love funny, silly pieces like "The Yak" by Belloc and "Animal Crackers" by Morley). Poetry seems intimidating but choosing fun and short pieces makes it approachable. And poetry builds out rhythm and paints pictures for the imagination like nothing else!
Then, water and sunshine:
Essential: open time and space
Nice but not necessary:
- A small table with easy access to paper and art supplies
- Dirt, shovels, kitchen items like muffin tins, whisks, bowls
- Dress up clothes or pieces of material
- The natural response to food and water and sunshine is growth. You will see your children develop their interior life. And it will amaze and inspire you on your own journey to cultivate yours.
Special note: If you are currently living with a bad case of "I'm bored!" children, and your own mental state is exhaustion, try this in baby steps as an experiment:
Instead of harping on no screen time (or giving up entirely and just handing over the keys to the kingdom) actively work each day for ten minutes or more to feed your family's minds. Give it a month of strong nourishment. It'll happen that as you also make sure there's room in your daily schedule, you'll see your children start to play the most wonderful games all by themselves without bothering you to watch something.
I'm convinced that the antidote to many ills is a strong and vibrant interior life.
Do you have additional ways you feed your children's minds? I'm all ears!