The Importance of Pausing as a Family

The Importance of Pausing as a Family

Slowing down isn’t always easy to do.

Recently, I realized my daughters needed more slow times, more unstructured play and more quiet activities. Summer is always so tempting to rush about — swimming, walking and playing outside, going places and visiting parks. Playing outside and doing activity after activity is not always what we need but it’s always what we feel we must do in the summer. Add to that a summer of very little rainy days and it’s enough to exhaust a family.

At least that’s how we’ve been feeling — judging by how tired and cranky we’ve all been feeling lately.

In fact, I suspect we’ve had a very bad case of a soul fever in our house.

Soul fevers is a phrase coined by Kim John Payne, author of “Simplicity Parenting.” I read Payne’s book last fall when I was launching Awesomely Awake and I yelled out a few, ah-has when I read the chapter on Soul Fevers. The authors describe soul fevers as illnesses of the soul that are just as serious as a physical fever. In fact, recovering is much the same. You know your child has a soul fever if he’s just not acting right — perhaps misbehaving or withdrawing more than usual. This acting out, the book states, is a sign of a larger issue and a serious break is needed.

In the adult world, we called them mental  health days. Remember those? When was the last time you took a mental health day and watched a chick flick and ate take out? Yeah, me either.

When was the last time you gave your children a mental health break?

Any intentional parent knows when things just aren’t feeling right. We are present and aware and understand that slowing down is as important as breathing.

Children need slow days, too. Well, I guess I just didn’t think they needed them since they are on summer break from school after all. 

That’s when pausing as a family is necessary and effective.

Clearly, our children need downtime even if they don’t think they do.

Lately, we have had to get serious and start cutting back. I have to do this every now and then for myself … you know, start looking at the calendar and really start considering what’s important and what is just going to have to wait another year. It’s hard to make those decisions — especially when you’ve been looking forward to something. But this year it’s urgent. I see how this crazy go-go-go mentality that my kids often inspire with their wants and desires is impacting our days negatively. They may not like that we have to forgo a few social events, but it’s what we need to do to get back on track.

Last week, we put swimming on hold and just enjoyed each other’s company inside. We made friendship bracelets and other art projects that were just fun and had no purpose.

This week, at their urging for a walk, we went on a slow pajama walk instead with strict rules of no rushing, no playing and no running. We’re having Sunday Sundaes. We’re squeezing in more snuggle time. Now that we’ve started doing all of this, the girls seem more open to staying close to home rather than running about. They are now choosing more quiet, simple activities rather than the loud, boisterous ones they were picking a few weeks ago.

The result has been a much more peaceful, much more loving atmosphere at home.

I’m kind of liking soul fevers, in fact.

Discuss: How do you know when your family needs to slow down and take it easy?

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12 Responses to The Importance of Pausing as a Family

  1. I love the book Simplicity Parenting! So helpful! Since my children have to share two households, I sometimes think they need more downtime after a weekend away from our house. If we take an afternoon to snuggle up with a good book or relax with a movie, my kids are more content than if we run from activity to activity.

  2. I love seeing my kids engage in active, rambunctious play. Personally, I don't see it as a symptom of "soul fever" but as the gift of summer, where you can run around until it gets dark at 9pm. Unlike school – where you get a measly 20-25 minute recess, have homework to do, and it gets dark at 7pm. I think this has a lot to do with family culture, the parent's own temperament, and what kinds of experiences you, as a parent, see as nurturing and sustaining. When I hear my kids in "loud boisterous" activities, I think GREAT! HAVE A BLAST! LET IT GO! ENJOY LIFE! I don't think, "Geez, I'd rather you were being quiet, sitting at the table, making bracelets."

    • I think this article is not saying that loud, boisterous activities are bad, but that kids also need time for quiet activities. Some kids need more quiet time some need less, but I do believe that all kids do need some of it.

  3. Oh my goodness, Rebecca! The author wasn't saying that those activities were bad! She simply said that HER CHILDREN were exhibiting some behavior issues that she felt were a result of being too busy and loud, etc….No one is criticizing your parenting, so it would be really nice if you weren't so defensive….good grief! If the loud, busyness isn't affecting your kids, that's great! This article simply didn't apply to you…no need to be catty. :)

  4. Thank you for spreading the word to slow down. Whether it be a lot or a little, everyone needs to enjoy some relaxing time at home now and again.

    • We sure do! I need more of that right now myself! Thanks, Rebekah. Hope all is well with you!

  5. Wonderful post, as always. Sometimes it’s easy to get so caught up in schedules, whether it be our children’s or our own, that we forget about the moment. Those unplanned quiet times, silly times, and snuggle times are my favorite.

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