When I am in full health, and have gotten enough sleep, I LOVE my time with children. But when I don’t get enough sleep, or I have a headache, or a cold, or medicine is making me groggy, the amount of energy it takes to care for children just seems beyond my capabilities. And yet there they are, as rambunctious as ever.
Take Care of Faith Collins Day
On days when I feel wiped out, I implement “Take Care of Faith Collins” days. I lower the lights. I pull the curtains. When the children come in, I tell them in a soft voice, “Today’s gong to be a quiet day. Today will be a day when YOU take care of ME!” I lie down on the couch, or in the cozy corner that’s loaded with lambskins and cushions. The children bring over blankets and silks and ‘tuck me in.’ They bring over the dollies and tuck them in with me. They bring over books, and we take turns where they read one to me, then I’ll read one to them. We play the kinderharp. We brush hair and give lavender foot-baths. We drink warm chamomile tea. Take Care of Faith Collins days are days for snuggling, and they are sweet and soft. I talk more softly, more slowly than usual. Things I normally do myself, I ask the children to do for me, and they love to rise to the occasion.
When I first started implementing these days, it was when I had a migraine, or a close relative was seriously ill. It seemed that the children could sense that I really needed some quiet space, and extra care. Even the littlest ones were more quiet than usual. But then I thought, Why not have these days a little more often? The children are clearly capable of doing it when it’s needed, and they seem to benefit from it as much as I do. So I started having these “quiet days” more often. If it was a really rainy day, we’d turn it into a quiet day. If we had a cold snap and we hadn’t been able to play outside in five days, we’d have a quiet day. If four parents said their kids were grumpy or sleep deprived at drop-off, we’d have a quiet day. I’d try to do them often enough that the children would remember them, but infrequently enough that they remained unusual and special. About once a month seemed good.
The reality is that these days still take quite a lot of energy on my part. I can’t just “check out” and let the kids run things themselves; that tends to result in chaos. Instead, I have to use my energy to create this cozy, intimate atmosphere. If a child forgets and becomes loud, I’ll remind them that “today is a quiet day,” and if they can’t tone it down, I’ll say, “if you need to be loud, I’d like you to do it in the other room. Today is a day where I need quiet around me.” Because these days are so snuggly and so special, most children would rather tone it down than be left out of the special atmosphere. But even though they still take energy (I’m still running the show, I’m just running a different show from normal), I find it to be restful and rejuvenating, and the children do, too. Those who need extra cuddling get as many cuddles as they need, and those who wish they were a little bigger get the chance to stand tall and really help on a whole new level. And I get to spend significant chunks of time in a semi-horizontal position, drinking tea and having children love all over me.