936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
It was born of guilt. Reaction, perhaps—to something we had allowed to slip out of hand. We needed to put the TV away, this we knew, but then my husband had an idea.
“Why don’t we hibernate?”
I suppose this is how our family normally goes about taking away something we’ve grown too dependent on. We focus not on what we are losing, but on what we will replace it with. In his mind, this was quiet, calm, candles, books, podcasts, games… rest. And so four years ago, our family began hibernating.
This year as the time to hunker down approached, we could feel the anticipation from our children. Never have I seen a crew of kids so eager for rest. When our eight-year-old came out of his bedroom on the first morning of hibernation, he was singing a new tune set to the melody of “Old McDonald had a Farm”, only he sang, “Hibernation—Time for rest! E-I-E-I-O.” His toddler sister offered up background vocals from the breakfast table.
We all have this ache for rest imbedded into our souls—a design from our Creator, the One who knew we would work ourselves to pieces if He didn’t step in. Hibernating during the dark, cold winters is something that has taken place for thousands of years—a time for the land to rest. Creation sets the example and invites us to do the same. Our annual two-week practice of hibernation acts as a radical reset for my family, a stepping into sacred rest. The Danish know well how to hibernate. They call it “Hygge” (HOO-gah), a word that has no direct translation to English, but in essence is “The art of coziness”. Just like a bear hunkering down in its den to wait out the chill of winter, my family has come to eagerly embrace this time of practicing the art of coziness together.
“But what about work?” One mama asked me a few weeks ago after a speaking event. The topic of screen time detox was bouncing around the room of mamas. “Oh we work, don’t get me wrong,” I explained. Hibernation is not the same as a staycation. Work and school and cleaning, tantrums and discipline and sibling quarrels, all of these still take place. But in the midst of it, we learn to rest.
Although the days do take on a slower pace with more art, books, and music, hibernation takes its claim at evening. As the sun goes down, so do the lights in our home. Candles are lit, phones are tucked away, music fills our home, and stacks of books are abundant.
What do our two weeks of hibernation look like?
Let me preface this: hibernation does include a couple of family movie nights. This year we’re enjoying a couple of classic musicals. Let me also promise you that our first year of hibernation included a hefty dose of push-back. As I mentioned, this yearly ritual began as a reaction. Screen-time was taking over our home and our kids’ attitudes. But every year has become easier. At this point our kids are too excited for the atmosphere of hibernation to miss the TV. They also know that Daddy and I will be putting away our phones and work in the evenings, and they can count on time spent around good books, art, and games.
Calm and quiet
As we lower the lights in the evening, an ambience settles over us. After the kids initial need to dance and run and play in the darkness of our home, they migrate to their stacks of books, or to the table with art supplies, or to the couch to sit next to us as we read our own books. Although hibernation is never perfect, it is day-by-day, year-by-year changing the culture of our home and the pace of our life.
Hibernation usually kicks off with a trip to the library, where we all stock up on good reads. Books are strewn about the house ready to fill hands, minds, and hearts. As we read together (or separately, but side-by-side) the stories cement hibernation. Time is also given to watercolors, activity books, sketching, coloring, and games. With screens put away, our evenings are free to fill with creative and inspiring endeavors. On the weekends, hibernation also includes family hikes or walks or trips to the library.
What hibernation does not include:
During these two weeks, we try our best to limit activities that take us apart. We don’t do this perfectly, mind you, but we’re much more aware of what we give our time to outside of the home. We protect our quiet evenings together, and focus on family outings not focused around crowds, functions, or tasks. Really, we just go outside together.
Steps for hibernating as a family:
Perhaps the greatest gift hibernation has given our family is how it has refused to be bound by the two weeks we give it each year. The values, ambience, and culture it lends have seeped into our entire year. Along with us, our children have developed an appreciation—no, an absolute need for rest and togetherness.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!