On Good Friday evening, I sat with my husband and our four boys in one of the farther back rows in church, and noticed something amazing. There was a row of sweet girls sitting in front of us, sitting still and quiet, and the lone boy in the row was kicking his feet and bouncing up and down. Quietly bouncing, but bouncing still. And then I looked at my boys. Also bouncing. And kicking feet. And fidgeting. And rocking back and forth. Mouths closed, but constantly moving some other part of their bodies. I looked around the room and observed the same phenomenon in row after row. Still, quiet girls. Bouncing boys. Life with boys is never still or quiet. And the more boys, the less quiet. I’m learning to appreciate that difference. I know that our Heavenly Father built that restlessness into these boys for some noble purpose.  I’ve quit trying to change it and started trying to manage it. To find some way to have the peace and serenity I so desperately need in this house full of bouncing boys.

If I’ve learned anything in these last 11 years of boy-raising, it is that the noise is inevitable. Instead of trying to force the noise out of them, I started by eliminating some of the other noises in the house.

Ditch the electric pencil sharpener. Even in our relatively small home school, it seemed like our pencil sharpener was constantly sharpening. Then one day it broke. Wouldn’t sharpen another pencil. And we were forced to switch to good old-fashioned hand sharpening. After living like that for a week, I couldn’t believe how much quieter our home had become. So, much to my children’s dismay, I refused to get another electric one. We tried several sharpening options and finally ended up with good mechanical pencils and an Amazon-sized supply of replacement lead. They are happy. Mama is happy.

Ditch the home phone. We now have two cell phones and no home phone. And with the ability to reject calls and block numbers, no more constantly ringing telemarketers. Sometime in the near future, I know we’ll have to add another cell phone for when kids are home alone, kids’ friends calls, etc… But we’re not there quite yet.

Ditch the TV. Ok, we didn’t get rid of the TV completely. We actually have two. But none in the main living area of the house. One in our bedroom and one in the basement. So when the kids are playing Wii or watching Ninjago, I don’t have to hear it. Of course there are rules that go along with having the TV in a room away from me, but that is another post entirely.

Ditch the kids. Just kidding. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

Afternoons = quiet time. This came about because of the little one in the house that needs an afternoon nap, but I enjoy it just as much as he does. For the older boys, the quiet time can be a nap, reading, or playing outside (and possibly screen time). If they don’t like their options, then I get to choose. If they’ve been really good and really quiet, it can also transition into quiet playing in room time. Alone. Because brothers = noise, always. And to keep it fun for them, the amount of time they spend outside = the amount of screen time they can have for the day. It sounds like that could turn into a lot of screen time, but with about 4 hours between the end of school and the beginning of dinner, if they spend 2 hours outside and earn 2 hours of screen time divided by 3 boys, that isn’t bad. Tricia has also written a series about the benefits and how-tos of afternoon quiet time. If you haven’t seen her ideas yet, don’t miss them!