11 Tips For Creating a Peaceful Home Base

11 Tips For Creating a Peaceful Home Base
Today we're talking about 11 tips for creating a peaceful home base, because let's face it, a single parent's home often tends to be a little slice of chaos. We have 11 key tips to creating that peaceful home.

There are so many outside forces affecting our homes. Let's be honest, our own lives feel chaotic. So how can our home not mirror that chaos? We want our homes to be a haven of peace for our kids and for ourselves. But how can we do this when we and our kids face so much instability? We've created a great list that will be helpful that we're going to walk through with you.

These are verbal and non-verbal. There are things that we can do in both these areas that are really important.

Tip #1: Be Consistent and Predictable

Many of us know that children thrive in environments where they know what to expect and there aren't a lot of surprises. Every child benefits from consistent rules, consistent expectations, and having regular mealtimes and bedtimes. There are things you can’t control, so look for the things you can control - maybe it’s breakfast or picking them up from school or praying with them before bedtime. Routine helps to provide a specific sense of security.

Tip #2: Clear Communication

Another thing that’s really important is clear communication, which includes speaking kindly to each other. Choose your words carefully. We don't yell, we don't scream. We're rarely sarcastic. Sometimes we're sarcastic, but in a funny way, not in a demeaning way. We try not to be too negative. We just don't need it because there's so much negativity in the world already. I don't need to pile on to my child and he doesn't need to pile on to me. I try to focus on positive reinforcement and constructive criticism. It’s really important to me that I don't yell and don't speak in a way that makes him feel he's disrespected or can't be heard and can't speak up.

Tip #3: Listen Actively

This means showing our kids their feelings and opinions are valid and important. This doesn't just involve listening to the words or asking questions. It's also the non-verbals. Really trying to dig in, putting yourself on their level and trying to find out what's going on. To create a peaceful home base, everyone needs to be heard and known. As Dr. Dan Siegel said, use the wonder statements to connect with your kids. For example, “I wonder why you might be feeling this way” or “I wonder what might make you feel that way.”  Have a sense of wonder about your kids and what's going on emotionally with them. Also, notice their body language, and what's happening with their face.

Tip #4: Display Affection

The non-verbal cues such as hugs and pats on the back and kisses are to show your love and support. To help them feel seen and loved. Your positive facial expressions and body language can reassure them that you're here and that they’re safe. This can also apply if they're crying or feeling some big emotions. You can go to them, express empathy, and help them feel like you're here for them and that their big emotions don't scare you. If you spend that time hugging, kissing, touching them in some way, rubbing their back, rubbing their feet, and talking with them they're going to have a lasting connection with you that can't be broken. Everyone needs someone whose face lights up when they walk into the room. That someone that delights in us.

Tip #5: Show Empathy

We need to show our kids empathy - it’s present in our homes. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of someone else. In the haven we create, we allow space for all the emotions not just the ones that are so-called feel-good emotions but anger and sadness. We can say, “You seem angry, what's going on? Tell me about it.” Whatever feeling they’re having we can show empathy and validate it. Again, we're letting them know how they're feelings matters and that our home is a safe place to experience their feelings.

Tip #6: Model Peaceful Behavior

We are the primary role model for our kids.  Show them how to handle stress and conflict in a peaceful and constructive manner. This includes managing your own emotions effectively and being able to show them how to be peaceful and model peaceful behavior, even when anxiety and conflict and all kinds of things come up.  To be able to handle anxiety and conflict in a peaceful and constructive way is obviously going to be better than not. You can be honest with your kids in an age-appropriate way, for example, by letting them know if you’re stressed out or anxious.  Then, if something comes out wrong, you’re out in front of it and can own up to it and apologize.

Tip #7: Create a Calm Environment

There are many ways to create a calm environment. It doesn’t just have to be about managing the clutter. It can be playing chill music or subtle hues of music. Using lamps instead of overhead lights for softer lighting to create a relaxing mood. Minimizing noise where possible and even choosing calming paint colors for your walls. Create specific spaces for study, relaxation, and play.

Tip #8: Healthy Lifestyle

We don't just need things mentally or emotionally. We need to take care of our physical health. Sleep is important so that you can be your best. These factors greatly influence moods and behaviors. You cannot create a calm, peaceful environment if you or your kids haven't had enough rest. Being well rested, and having enough nutrition, trying to maintain some balance. Set yourself up to be able to make as many healthy choices as you can for you and your kids for the season that you're in.

Tip #9: Encourage Self-Expression

Allow children to express themselves through art, music, and/or other creative outlets. This can help them manage their emotions and promotes mental well-being. Your kids might have unique interests or hobbies that are different from what you like to do. Try to lean into this and make space for what they’re interested in, not starting from any presuppositions, and embracing all of who they are as an individual.

Tip #10: Teach Problem-Solving Skills

Encourage your kids to come up with solutions when they face problems. This is not just about handing them the answers but instead teaching them that they can grapple with things, they can struggle with things, they can try to figure things out and being with them in this helps them develop resilience and self-confidence. It may feel like it's the opposite of creating peace because you're allowing them to sit in this struggle, but the truth is that creating a peaceful home is creating a place they want to come back to because they know that they'll not only be encouraged and inspired, but they're equipped there as well.

Tip #11 Have an Open-Door Policy

By having an open-door policy, we mean allowing your kids to ask questions. This can be anything. For example, asking you why you're making the decision you're making. And instead of getting mad about the question, being okay with it and hearing them out gives them the opportunity to perhaps share their perspective. But also, an open door policy on questions about life or hard questions about what happened between you and their other parent. If they have the ability and the safety to be able to come to you with any question, hard or easy, that's how you’re going to create a safe home for them to land, embrace that!

This list is not a laundry list to make you feel ashamed about the way you're missing the mark.  Be patient with yourself and your kids. A safe home base is a gradual process and there will be bumps along the way. Again, be patient with yourself. The key is to remain consistent and committed to these efforts. Take one of these things this week and start working on it, but be patient with yourself. Paul Coleman says, just trend in the right direction, that's all we're asking for.

Listener Question

Hi, I'm Flora, a single mom. I'm concerned about my adult son not dating. Do you think it's because his dad and I had a hard marriage and divorce?

Your son is affected by his environment, just like you are. His reaction to divorced parents may either be that his feelings are the antithesis or he’s overcompensating. It’s understandable that both of those extremes exist. You can have empathy for him, try to understand what he’s feeling without trying to fix him. Relate to him as much as you can.

Be curious to find out what he’s thinking by using a wonder statement. Instead of asking, “Why are you not dating?” Ask, “I wonder what you think about dating as you look at your life. Moving towards dating, what are you scared of? What are you excited about? What sounds awesome?”  The idea is to dig into what he's thinking because there's no way to really know until you dig below the surface a little bit.  

Also, for you Flora, you may want to check your guilt or your shame that's telling you that he's not dating because of your marriage and divorce, that it's your fault. Are you telling yourself this story and projecting it onto him? It could have nothing to do with you.

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