Weekly Feature

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Quiet Time: Why Mom Needs It and How to Give It

October 31, 2010
by findingDulcinea Staff
The best possible present you can give a busy parent is a brief period every day to relax and reflect on the world around her. FindingDulcinea explains the virtues of quiet time, and why moms should get some.

Slow Down

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A 2006 Health magazine article cited findings from The Families and Work Institute that indicated that working mothers “spend both more time at the job and more time with their kids than their counterparts did 25 years ago.” Cardiologist Marianne Legato, author of “Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget,” explained that women who are constantly reacting to a stream of demands often suffer from chronic exhaustion, which triggers stress hormones that raise blood sugars, and increases a woman’s risk of diabetes, heart disease and memory problems.

Dr. Orli Etingin, director of the Iris Cantor Women’s Health Center in New York City, suggests that everyone take 45 minutes a day for “do-nothingness.” Reading a book, listening to music, or going for a walk qualify as quiet activities as long as they are “relatively passive.” During quiet time, brain cell growth occurs and enhances mental function.

Karen Grigsby Bates, a mother and journalist, extols the virtues of quiet time in a 1999 article for Salon. On business trips she luxuriates in the silence of her hotel room: “No ‘have you seen my shoes/glasses/homework/CatDog/shirt/property tax bill?’” At home, Bates creates her own quiet time in the early morning, listening to the birds and NPR.

Walk, Sit, Run or Ride

Leo Babauta, author of the Zen Habits blog, says museums, art galleries, libraries and gardens are perfect havens for an overburdened mind. He also goes running at 5 a.m., when there’s less traffic, so he can appreciate the “full-to-nearly-bursting orange moon lighting the sky, [and] the hush of the nearby ocean.”

Not everyone is willing to sacrifice their sleep in order to have a few minutes of peace. These individuals must work harder to find the respite they seek, perhaps by turning a traffic jam or long train ride into a time of reflection.

The real secret to quiet time is mindfulness. A recent article in Psychology Today cites Jon Kabat-Zinn, the biomedical scientist and meditation expert, who says that to break free from our controlling thoughts and worries we must “stop doing and focus on just being.” Jay Dixit, who wrote the article, explains, “Mindfulness involves being with your thoughts as they are, neither grasping at them nor pushing them away. Instead of letting your life go by without living it, you awaken to experience.” Dixit asserts that being mindful leads both to mental and physical well-being.

Babies Need Quiet, Too

Sometimes, the best way to ensure that mom has her quiet time is to give her baby his quiet time. Each day, babies are actually working hard, absorbing new stimuli and exerting energy by attending to caregivers and others around them. A Parenting magazine article advises that parents need to know how to tell when their baby is worn out, and not feel as if they need to provide stimulation at every moment. Giving babies time to “space out” allows them to take charge of their environment and increases self-confidence.
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