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Have you ever wondered how to have quiet time when your life is anything but quiet? The toddler is having a fit, the baby is teething and you’re exhausted from being up all night, the dirty dishes won’t wash themselves, an older child needs help with math problems that you can’t remember how to do, the budget is crying from the stress it’s under, and you haven’t showered in two days. I hear you; life is loud.
Will Someone Please Tell Me How to Have Quiet Time?
I have asked that question so many times over the years, and the answer is never the same because the season is never the same. As soon as I find one way that works, something changes: we have a new child in the family, a work schedule shifts, nap times disappear, or something else mixes up my plans. And I start over again, trying to figure it out. Have you been there?
But here’s what I’ve learned: Quiet time isn’t a routine. It’s something that happens inside of you.
Being quiet, or still, is a heart attitude. It’s one you can achieve standing in the middle of a football stadium or sitting in the sand at the beach. You can even have it standing in the middle of a chaotic kitchen with a kid hanging off your leg, baby food splattered all over your shirt, and frustration threatening to take over.
Having stillness in your heart is the answer to the mystery of how to have quiet time in a house filled with children and a to do list that just won’t quit. And honestly, mama, that’s when you need it more than ever.
There is No Right Way to Have Quiet Time
One of the biggest hindrances I faced as a new mom trying to figure out how on earth to have quiet time was all of the chatter in Christian circles about what quiet time was “supposed to” look like. I mean, really, everyone seemed to know how to do it…except me.
You needed a special spot, a journal, pretty pens, maybe a candle, your favorite worship playlist, and quiet surroundings. Don’t forget to brew your favorite coffee or tea. All of this while your kids were still asleep in the morning, or napping cherubs in the afternoon. Heck, it sounded like they were telling me I needed a miracle. Or a new life.
My life certainly did not work that way.
We lived in a small house and the very second I went to the bathroom in the morning, my kids were popping up out of bed. They woke up with more energy than I remember ever possessing. If and when they both napped in the afternoon, I took that time to pick up the house and start dinner. I often collapsed for ten minutes, but my brain was too fried to try to read. Quiet time? Not hardly.
How to Find Still Waters
One of the most alluring passages in all of Scripture to me in those early years of motherhood was Psalm 23. I would imagine lying down in a pasture and napping, or dream of sitting beside still waters and finding my soul restored. I knew that if God promised to lead me to that place, it did indeed exist. So I began to desperately pray for a way to find it.
Still waters don’t always happen in a still life. And a loud life doesn’t have to mean a loud heart. Learn to settle your soul, sweet mama. Your quiet time doesn’t have to fit a mold presented to you by your favorite author, Facebook friends, or Pinterest. Let the Holy Spirit gentle your emotions, calm your mind, and soothe your heart.
How to Have Quiet Time in Different Seasons of Life
Over the years, I have found still waters to sit by in many different places. I have figured out how to have quiet time in each of those seasons, but it has never has looked the same twice. Here are a few different solutions that have helped me at various times and with different ages/quantities of children at home.
Special toy basket just for quiet time
Have a little basket of fun toys that you only pull out for 30 minutes each day. The children will be so very excited to play with those toys because of that special time with them! And that excitement will hold their focus so that you can drink a cup of coffee or tea, read the Bible, and pray while they are entertained.
Sit in the midst of them
This idea was inspired by reading about Jesus’ public ministry time. He was always in the midst of the crowd, talking and teaching and ministering in the center of the chaos. So I started sitting in the middle of the floor and reading my Bible out loud. It wasn’t peaceful or anything particularly beautiful, but it was surprisingly precious and I still find myself doing it.
If you haven’t ever tried this, give it a whirl. It may not be easy in the early days, but it’s amazingly rewarding. Your children will see you sitting at the feet of Jesus, and letting them clamber around you. They will not see your faith pulling you from them, but instead you’ll be bringing it to them in a tangible way. You’ll still need quiet time on your own; even Jesus pulled away from the crowds for rest and prayer. But in the day to day of it all, this can be a beautiful thing.
When they’re resting
Do all of your children nap or read books at the same time each day? Could you create a time when they do, perhaps after lunch? During those times, learn to walk away from the chores that will inevitably still be there when quiet time is over. Learn to be Mary instead of Martha for part of your day. This was oddly one of the more challenging lessons for me to wrap my head around, because I love an orderly space, but it’s so important.
While they do school
If you are are homeschooling, set them up with an independent project. In 1st and 2nd grade, it might be making something out of Play-do such as an Indian village. In older years, it might be reading or math worksheets. Get them working and sit at the table with them, doing your devotions while they do school. Even if you have littles, they will likely be happy to craft or color at this time, since you’ll all be together.
While they watch TV
In the summer months, I often let my kids start the day with one 30-minute TV show. I have used that time to read my Bible and get dressed. It is quick, but effective. Consider a short treat time for them, as well as for you!
Now we are in a season where we do devotions together as a family. If I can’t squeeze in quiet time on my own, we still have this time of fellowship together where we read from Scripture and talk about what God is teaching us. This nourishes my soul more than I ever anticipated.
What does your family do each day for devotions? If you have something you are doing, then even if you can’t squeeze in some individual time on your own, you’ll have this fellowship together in the Word and God’s Word never returns void. We are currently using Long Story Short, by M. Machowski. Another favorite is Our 24 Family Ways by the Clarksons.
Dance and read
Sometimes it’s just fun to put on your favorite upbeat worship CD and dance together, then read 5 verses or so out loud. You’re teaching your children to enjoy Jesus and cherish His word. Simple, but such a balm to a weary soul.
Make the Choice to Quiet Your Heart
I never did find time to just sit and bask near a pond of beautifully still water in those early days, but I did learn that I could go to Jesus (our Living Water) at any moment and find grace for the day. One of the sweetest gifts of those early days was learning to rest in Him, even when life wasn’t restful. I did that by reading the Word each day, even if there wasn’t time to do it the way I’d dreamt of (or that other blogs and books told me I should).
Often that meant sitting on the floor in the middle of a pile of toys while my kids clambered around me and reading the Bible out loud, just so I could hear myself think. The children were happy because I was with them, and reading to them, and over time I began to find joy even in my loud quiet time because the Word of God never returns void. At first it was hard, but it did work.
I encourage you, dear friend, to seek God. Ask Him to quiet your heart and lead you beside still waters. Ask Him to show you which of these ways you might best use to find the time to sit at His feet, or to show you an entirely new one just for your special family.
Whatever you do, though, don’t let guilt creep in when you hear others talk about what it “should” look like. Don’t lose the freedom of living in grace by believing the lies that it’s only quiet time if it happens according to a formula or trend. Jesus loves you, precious one, and He is waiting to spend time with you. You are His unique Beloved, and He will meet you exactly where you are if you ask Him to.