Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Our Peaceful Space

James is entering a new phase. It's the I'm-a-big-boy-and-I-don't-have-to-listen-to-you phase. *sigh*

I'm sorry to tell you there has been a mass outbreak of tantrums and back talk in our home. And I'm sad to confess there's been a fair amount of arguing and time-outs happening as a result. *double sigh*

One night, while nursing Juliet, my mind contemplated James' new phase. It's been truly baffling to my husband and me. Yeah, we know it's normal for kids this age to assert themselves, to test the waters, stretch boundaries, etc. Be that as it may, it's not easy and none of us were handling it very well. I really wanted to find a better way to confront the situation.

It's amazing - the power of prayer and this wonderful community of mom bloggers. Thanks to some openness of mind (my prayer answered), and an assortment of ideas from around the blogworld, I came up with a solution...

Enter: Our Peaceful Space
~looking out over James' two favorite places - his backyard, and the ocean~

The idea for this space is very Montessori, and it was something I actually learned about in my training, but for some reason forgot about. Strange how that happens. Anyway, in the Montessori world this space is often arranged at a table for two in a classroom (to help resolve conflicts).

I put a lot of thought into this space, taking time to consider the items and which of them would be most useful and calming to James. He's a very introspective person, which is a beautiful thing, but it can cause him to get a little over-analytical and anxious. (*cough* no idea where he got that from *cough*)

Here's what I've included. Again, I gathered my ideas from all over the place, but Deb's post has all of the links save for this one and a few others I link to below.
:: printed finger labyrinth (found this on Google images) - this will be replaced with this soon.
:: mind jar
:: calming cards (inspired by this post, I made these myself and will share the printable if anyone is interested)
:: knitted bird (I knit this a while back - it's actually called, "The Bluebird of Happiness". How fitting!)
:: sea shell (wonderful because in order to hear the sound of the ocean inside, James has to be very calm and still)
:: clove and cinnamon box (smells sooooo good!)
:: wooden heart (resides inside of the clove box)
:: image of a boy doing the lotus pose (this will remain until I replace it with this book)
:: quartz (promotes balance and healing)
:: smooth stone (naturally a cool temperature, which feels nice on the face and neck. Alternatively, it can be held tightly in the palm of one's hand for a few moments and then it'll feel warm.)
:: rosary and angel box (my rosary which I purchased while in Vatican City)
:: framed photo of children dancing
:: buddha board
:: dream catcher
:: window star (made this a long time ago, but it still looks so pretty when the light shines through it)
:: mat
:: comfy cushion
:: a few tree blocks (for contemplative building - mine are a bit uneven, so stacking them requires patience and focus.)
:: wooden egg timer (3 minutes - for the times when James is in a "how much longer??" kind of mood)

I know by Montessori standards this is a bit much. And I know the above list shows how eclectic we really are (I always say we've got a Catholic Montessori Zen Waldorf-y thing going on!). :) As I said, this is what works for us. I wanted this space to be a place where James can go and just be, whenever he wants. It is also the place he goes to whenever he acts out. It's his happy place, if you will.

I'm very pleased to tell you this set up (coupled with some tips from this post) has made our home a much happier place. That's not to say our home is completely frustration-free (I mean, James is almost 5, and I am whacked out on sleep-deprivation), but it is definitely better. James really enjoys his "peaceful place" and visits it often just because he wants to.

Oh and PS: I've been known to peace-out in this special space, too! It's so inviting and relaxing!

Do you have a peaceful spot in your home or classroom? Feel free to share your link in the comments section!

Want to make a peaceful spot? Here are some other peaceful items you can add to it (or rotate in, as I plan to):
:: hang prayer flags
:: this book by the wonderful Montessori Mama
:: single flower in a simple vase
:: wooden dove
:: mini zen garden
:: singing bowl or
:: energy chime
:: beeswax candle inside a beautiful lotus votive
:: Tibetan prayer beads
:: engraved stone
:: beach sand in a bottle
:: dolls for role playing
:: other beautiful natural items (sea glass, star fish, pine cones)
:: peace materials from Montessori Print Shop
:: small statue of Buddha
:: I spy bottle
:: beeswax ornament
:: books on peace
:: these beautiful multilingual peace cards

~Thank you for your comments!~


Olives and Pickles said...

Such a great idea! I will work on that asap, my C just turned 4 and her favorite phrase is "I'm a big girl, don't tell me that" or"don't talk to me like that"..etc! So I may follow your idea.
Could you please tell me,how do you get James to visit his peaceful enviroment?is it after time outs or just anytime?
Just getting some ideas to see what works better for us.
Thank you!
And I hope baby girl is doing great!

The Knitty Gritty Homestead said...

I just posted yesterday about our Play Oasis...just a collection of calming, natural objects/toys on our coffee table. It's calming in its predictability...no one is allowed to knock down others' towers, and everyone knows how to tidy it back up. It's calming a lovely! Read about it here:
Your peaceful space is lovely; glad to hear it's working out!

Mommy Moment said...

We have the "When I make Silence" book that you linked to in our Quiet area. It is wonderful, and your space is beautiful. Thank-you for sharing!

Ria said...

I'm definitely interested in the calming cards. Here's my e-mail, chumar23@hotmail.com
Thank you for offering your beautiful work!

Sandi said...

What a beautiful space in your home.

I have been pondering creating a peace table in my kindergarten classroom. My big issue has been "where". The pictures in your post have inspired me to make space -somewhere!

Eddie said...

My preschool sidekick is in a similar phase as James (sigh). I am definitely going to try your "happy place" idea out, because I am really sick of the stomping and carrying on. Thanks for this!

Unknown said...

How Did you get your calming jar to settle slowly. Did you try the glycerin? I am going to try mine again as the first one settled so fast! Love your peaceful spot and would love the calming cards too!

Counting Coconuts said...

@Amanda: I used LOTS of clear glue! Glycerin would work too, I think. I have loads of it... wish I would have thought to make use of it! As for the cards, I'm happy to send them to you - just send me your email address. :)

Deb Chitwood said...

What a beautiful space, Mari-Ann! I love the variety of objects you've chosen for it. Thanks for linking to my post! I added a photo of your peaceful space and your post link (as well as Chasing Cheerios' peace basket) to my Peace Education post at http://livingmontessorinow.com/2012/01/19/montessori-inspired-peace-education-activities/.

Tracy Gatten said...

Mari-Ann, if you haven't already found them, you should check out Gail Silver's "Anh's Anger" & "Steps & Stones." Two beautiful books that teach that while anger isn't a wrong emotion, it is how we deal with anger that can be wrong. My son is 3 & we tell him to "go sit with his anger" quite a lot lately. We also encourage to take deep breaths & count. The illustrations by Chirstaine Kromer are beautiful! Well done on creating such a beautiful space for your son!

Mummyzilla said...

This is such a great post. I've created a peace basket based on your ideas, you can see it here: http://mummyzilla.blogspot.co.nz/2012/06/peace-basket.html

toady mama said...

Thank you for all the work you put into your blog. I found it by Googling montessori peace methods and so this was the first post of yours I saw. I put a quiet space together for our house and it's worked well. I just blogged about it today.

Unknown said...

I love your peaceful space and will try to make one for my 3,5y old daughter! But my worry is - how to keep 1,5y old baby brother away from it??
how do you keep your baby busy when working with big boy? did you already write more about it? please share a link because I've just started following your blog!

Bobi from Croatia

austin and kayti said...

Hello! I, too, and wondering about keeping younger siblings out of this space. I have a 1.5 and a 3 y/o. I'm inclined to believe that they would both try to take things out of this space and drop them everywhere all over the house. How to you keep this space somewhat contained?

Unknown said...

I am interested in the calming cards :) Could you please email me at akiraclothing@gmail.com


Unknown said...

Your peace space is exactly what is missing from my special ed preschool classroom. We have so many students with behavior problems who would really benefit from this space. I am also interested in your peace cards if possible could you email them to me at butler.brittany615@yahoo.com

Thanks I can't wait to set this up!


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