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We’ve been exploring the topic of soul fever in this series of creating a calmer family life.  Once we’ve noticed that our child is out-of-sync and we intuitively feel they need some intentional down-time, we can briefly stop the normal routines, and stay close to our little one for support.

We’re so used to filling up our days with a task and to-do list that it can sound almost impossible to take a break from that daily roller coaster.  But, again, think of a soul fever just like you would a physical fever.  You know that pushing a sick child to keep going through the normal paces of life might result in a longer or more severe sickness.  Well, I know how much you want a better sleeper, less picky eater, more cooperative, content child.  What if slowing down and taking some things off your plate would help you achieve that?

It’s tempting to believe that a slow afternoon and a stint of book reading on the couch will break a soul fever and allow you to move back into full throttle once again.  And you never know, a soul fever might end the moment you just notice and pay attention to it with a fresh perspective.  More than likely, however, it will need to just run its course.  This might be a day or two or it might mean examining what you can simplify in one of the 4 areas: environment, routines, schedules, or in-coming information through screens and adult conversation.

For us, it was evident that the soul fever was brought on by a daily school environment that was a mismatch with what we felt our child needed for her spirit to thrive.  Switching schools may not be the answer, but advocating for your child with your child’s teacher might be.  Young children do not need busy work at home.  The homework our kindergartners and 1st graders are expected to complete is not developmentally appropriate.  Most of the time, these worksheets are a repeat of what your child did that same day in school.

Extra-curricular activities like music lessons and team sports can wait, or at least be limited to one per week, per child.  Ideally, team sports are more appropriate for children 9 and older and music lessons don’t need to be pursued until grade school.  Try not to combine all of these activities for your child to do at the same time.  For the fall, if you must, sign your child up for one activity and choose another for the spring, and another for summer.

Keep providing a slow, consistent, supportive environment for your child while their soul fever runs its course.  Don’t schedule more play-dates during this time.  Just because you received 2-3 birthday invitations in one weekend doesn’t mean you need to attend all of them!  It’s okay to put limits around your schedule so your children have more free time and can experience boredom at least once each day.  Good, healthy food and plenty of rest are the two most important things you can provide children under 7.  Snacks of fruit, veggies, and protein, dinners that include fiber and greens and an early bed time are going to nurture that spirit back to harmony.

To read more about soul fever, be sure to purchase a copy of Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne.