You have the right to remain silent. Use it!
I know you think I'm kidding, but I'm not.
Actually, you can give yourself the silent treatment with a "noise time out."
Quiet space – where it's not just you who remains silent, but the radio, the phone, the television, the computer – is not just a luxury. It's a necessity, even for the most extroverted of parents. Turn off the noise and give your brain some room to breathe.
Why You Need a "Noise Time-Out"
Today I was driving – miraculously, alone in the car – and I turned off the radio. Silence. It's amazing how loud it can be. But then the noises in my head started competing for airtime. Tempted to turn on the radio several times, I stopped myself. The thoughts of people I wanted to contact came in to my head, and I let them whirl around. I confess to making one call, fortunately only to leave a message. But I returned to the relative quiet of my chatty brain.
Why is it so important to have quiet, alone time? American actress Helen Hayes once said, “We live in a very tense society. We are pulled apart…and we all need to learn how to pull ourselves together. I think that at least part of the answer lies in solitude.” She knew a little about being pulled in different directions: she is one of only 15 people to have won a Tony, an Oscar, a Grammy and an Emmy. Perhaps because she took her own advice and treated herself to solitude when she needed to recharge!
Quiet allows us to:
- Refocus during busy times.
- Improve concentration and memory. Studies show a link between solitude and improved focus and enhanced performance.
- Calm down when stress and chaos seem to reign over our lives.
- See the big picture and discover what's really important and what's just noise.
- Slow down!
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Treating Yourself to Quiet
Life as a parent is a noisy experience on many levels. One way to quiet the noise is to just turn it off, literally. Like my quiet (mostly) car ride, take the opportunities when you can to enjoy solitude. You can't turn your thoughts off as easily as the radio, but that's okay. Just sit with them. Let them be.
Give yourself space where there is no one to talk with, and nothing structured to think about. Some ways to do that (or be with that):
- Take a walk.
- When the kids are in bed, don't turn on the TV or check your email.
- Hop in the shower.
- Close your door and have a five-minute thought break. Two minutes if your kids are especially amped up! Any bit counts.
- Do some chores. Wait…what?
I have one friend who gladly does the dishes every night just so she can have some quiet time – for truly, who's going to bother her and run the risk of being drafted to join her!? It's a sneaky little trick, but it works.
So, what do you think will work for you, hmmm?