Life with two young boys in the house can be loud. Very, very loud. Loud games are commonplace. Loud voices – frequently laughing and having fun, though not always – punctuate the hours. There is always a lot of crashing, be it boys tumbling into something, block towers collapsing, or a bookshelf being cleared by my toddler. Our house is filled with lots of chasing, lots of summersaults, lots of jumping, and more dancing than I ever would have imagined. My boys also love to play music, mostly in the form of listening to other people’s CDs, but also making their own with instruments and, of course, tons of singing.
All of this adds up to a huge amount of noise. And to me, a sensory-sensitive individual, it’s an enormous amount of stimulation.
At times I find myself feeling frustrated, without exactly realizing why. When this happens, if I touch base with myself, I realize that it’s frequently because I’m completely over-stimulated. You see, I need quiet. My body needs quiet, and my mind – especially – needs quiet.
I need quiet to think, to dream, to ponder, and just to be. Quiet time spent standing in our yard or looking out the window or reading a book is wonderfully refreshing to me. If I have a few minutes that I can sit uninterrupted and drink a cup of tea, it feels like a total rejuvenation.
Whether people realize it or not, I think everyone needs some time like this. Our world is so full of constant stimulation, that I think people frequently forget the beauty of silence.
I know that kids make noise. I think it’s important to allow them a space to make noise. When it’s easy spend time outdoors, my boys can do a lot of running and noisemaking in our yard. When the weather is less friendly (that is, when the wind is blowing so much that none of us want to be outside for more than a few minutes – and that’s saying a lot for my outdoor-loving boys), I realize that they need to be able to get that energy out inside.
Balancing their abundant energy with my need for moments of quiet throughout the day can sometimes be precarious. But I find that when I need quiet, my boys often do too, even if they haven’t realized it yet. So when I get the urge to flee from all of the noise, I try to bring them with me. We all need to step away from constant stimulation periodically.
In order to accomplish this, I frequently invite my boys to sit with me and read a book. They both love to hear stories. And while reading aloud may not be completely quiet, it at least gives us some calm, focused time. Inviting them to draw or make art with me is another way that I help us to calm down and turn inward a bit. When everyone has a pencil or crayon in hand, things tend to be a bit quieter. The third way I bring the boys into a calmer space is by singing quietly. Both of my boys love music, and my 6-year-old loves to sing. By setting the tone with my own quiet singing, I can often bring him to sit and sing beside me.
These few moments of calm will usually help me to reboot, regain some perspective, and be ready to start again.