Monday, November 17, 2014

A Screen-free Quiet Time

A Screen-free Quiet Time
 I’ve come to the end of my Sunday school series: “There’s No Place Like Home”. I enjoyed teaching it and would like to continue come spring. I especially appreciated how the older moms in the class shared hints and experiences with the younger moms. 
In the last class I talked about the importance of fitting into the rhythm of the day, a screen-free quiet time. One mother in the class is a home educator. Another mom plans to home educate. Therefore, I kept my topics general to be edifying to all. But you must know. I can’t help my bias. My secret opinion (which is no secret now) is that it is the home teacher - who works diligently with her children all day – and who by no surprise runs out of steam - who could glean most gratifyingly from my recommendation.

To the home teacher solitude is golden.
Part of home teaching is learning and living abundantly and joyously alongside our children. A mother can do many things with her children about her. But there is also a private aspect to the religious and creative life that thrives in moments of solitude.  

This November I’ve had a quantity of quiet time. I’ve stayed close to home. Puttering about the house I’ve been patiently trying to wean off a medicine I started for chronic pain. Anyway, by contrast, how vividly I remember those early days of motherhood.  By an orderly arrangement of hours I squeezed in a little quiet time - for myself and my children. It was good for all of us. A break is good for body and soul. Being alone gives refreshment to togetherness. It seems to be something necessary for creativity and reflection.  

"Shakespeare, Leonardo Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln never saw a movie, heard a radio or looked at television. They had loneliness and knew what to do with it. They were not afraid of being lonely because they knew that was when the creative mood in them would work.”  Carl Sandburg (poet)

What is my recommendation? Pick a time in the day that works for you. Be faithful to it. After some weeks it will feel quite normal.

I remember following a string of morning of lessons with a late lunch, chores, and a picture book read aloud to settle the youngest child (above the age of napping). Then, with every child in his or her quiet time spot - set up with a screen-free occupation of their choosing - I’d turn the dial on the portable kitchen timer to set it to ten minutes (graduating to 20 minutes thereabouts). I’d place the timer in the upstairs landing outside the bedrooms. And I’d retreat. 

Leaving the timer to its ticking I would sit in a sunny window overlooking the back garden. I’d bow my head to read, pray, journal, write a paper letter, or just lay flat on the bed for a stretch and watch the dust in a sunray float in the air and settle on the nightstand. If I could forget about dusting for the time being, I’d feel my shoulders relax, my forehead soften, and my eyes want to close. 

When the timer reached the rickety ringing of its real bell, the children knew quiet time was over. We would return to the active parts of our day with renewed vigor – and perhaps even a renewed attitude.   

Later in the afternoon, padded by thick sweaters we would file out the back door. We needed the fresh air and the removal of four walls. The children would head for rope swing, bicycle, or wagon. Or, we would take an autumn nature walk together shuffling through the fallen leaves. 

A wise mother will, if possible, proved opportunities for her children to be alone so that each one will learn how to fall back upon himself for counsel and entertainment. Beautiful Girlhood, chapter 23 “The Quiet Hour” 

Explanation of Photographs


This month, on a yellow-leaf day, I assembled the pattern pieces I cut out for an apron for myself. I will continue its progress when my Christmas presents are completed. I decided to lengthen the hem and omit the ruffle. I will cut out a plain square pocket to applique the pineapple I cross-stitched. A pineapple can usually be found somewhere in the kitchen.

Second-guessing the green paint color I chose for the parlor I took some decorating books off the bookshelf. I guess you could say that I am “in between” computers since my old computer no longer supports Pinterest. Therefore, I am glad I kept several decorating books on hand for these bouts of indecision.

Several years ago I stitched this strutting roaster (or is it a turkey?). Anyway, I liked its message and am passing it on to one of my married daughters. It could be displayed for a variety of holidays. 

The nesting dolls are waiting for my grandchildren on Thanksgiving Day.  

In a quiet time I opened Drawn From New England – a biography of the children’s book illustrator, Tasha Tudor, written by her daughter Bethany in 1979. Lost for some years my copy was recently found in my daughter’s house. I was glad to see it again. Today I do not have the same startling enchantment I once had of it. In the mid-nineties I was still in the throes of nest-building and wrote a review of it for an issue of Parents’ Review. Oh, my. That was nearly 20 years ago. And yet, although my interest is subdued I can still appreciate Bethany Tudor’s affectionate writing. 

She marveled at how her mother turned every household chore into a domestic 19th century art. This must have been quite a feat in the years just after WW II when the young family moved into a 17-room ancient New Hampshire farmhouse without electricity, modern appliances, indoor plumbing and central heating. The hours of Tasha Tudor’s day were spent waking up early to milk a cow, attending to her garden, baking bread in a black-bellied wood stove, washing buckets of clothes by hand and sewing much of their own clothing. 

For her four children and herself she balanced manual labor with make-believe. And Tasha Tudor made much of birthdays and holidays with creative homemade efforts. The family’s lifestyle and fanciful seasonal celebrations became a model for the water-color illustrations in the children’s books for which she is best known. Some of the most vivid memories Bethany Tudor has of her mother are related to her art. Practically speaking, book royalties paid the bills. 

Tasha Tudor created a beautiful old-fashioned life for herself and her family. The Christian mother will create her own culture of family traditions while remembering to live in the reality of the Kingdom of God.  

Is a quiet time retreat in your schedule?

Comments are welcome,

Karen Andreola


  1. I admire Tasha Tudor and have actually joined a qroup of Tasha enthusiasts , but still know little of her true character or religious beliefs. I read where she was indeed Christian, but also read where she believed in reincarnation......wasn't sure about that. Still I love the simplicity in the life she chose to live, and enjoy reading about all her many talents. Her illustrations are so sweet , everyone I've seen I've liked. Your words are too always an encouragement and your many talents are also a joy to see. I love the cross stitch you shared in this post. Your home is just beautiful and I look forward to seeing all your Christmas decorations, if you choose to share :) Blessings to you and yours dear Karen........I pray your Thanksgiving Day is wonderful

  2. "Lost for some years, my copy was recently found in my daughter's house." Oh, yes! This happens to me too. When it happens, I hiss in my best Gollum voice, "THIEF, THIEF!" I do have to tell you, in the interest of full disclosure, that my own mother's copy of Tasha Tudor's Take Joy sits on one of my shelves awaiting the Christmas season. I guess I'll have to look in the mirror and hiss at myself!

    Afternoon quiet has been a habit at our house for many years now.

    Happy Thanksgiving!


  3. I really love that Carl Sandberg quote! As always, such a lovely post, Karen. <3 A lot of food for thought.

  4. I try to take some quiet time for myself everyday. We don't always all have the quiet time, my children being old enough to occupy themselves happily, without 'official' quiet time. I find I need it to think my own thoughts, and refocus.


  5. I remember when my children were little, I always tried to have a quiet time for everyone after lunch (we homeschool.) Now that they are all older, it is more difficult. There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done! :-) This post was a good reminder to make it a priority. I also loved the Carl Sandburg quote. And your cross-stitch sampler is beautiful. I particularly like the rich colors of thread you used. Very pretty. Thanks for the beautiful post. I needed this! :-)

  6. On our very first day of homeschool ever (my two oldest children began their education in public school), I was amazed when, after lessons were finished, the children retreated to their rooms for some quiet time alone. It was just what I needed to regroup, although it hadn't been my plan nor my idea. Like most mothers, I benefited from some moments of quiet and restoration. I know that your words and ideas have been a blessing to the ladies in your class!

    Your beautiful home has an aura of quiet and rest as I peek at the photos that accompany your text. Best wishes to you as you settle on a paint color. I think it is easier to choose my child's curriculum than to choose a paint color. I am more confident in the former. ;)

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  7. I always enjoy decorating and making our home cozier at this time of year.

    I enjoy Tasha Tudor's books. It makes you wonder how she found time to do it all...lack of modern distractions, perhaps? for thought, anyway.

    I hope your health is improving, Karen.

  8. I enjoy looking at my decorating books, too. I like ones about English Cottage Style. I have the Tasha Tudor book you wrote about. I believe I bought it after reading your recommendation in Parent's Review. I have several other books about and by her as well. I wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    Dianne L

  9. Hello Ladies,

    Your chats put a smile in my day. It sets my thoughts for arranging a sort of "blog-friends get-together lunch" here in Lancaster as I'd like to meet you in person this side of heaven.

    My Christmas decorating these few years is mostly faux greenery with a few strings of lights, a little tree or two and a hand-knit socking on the mantel. Click “Christmas” on the Labels to scroll through photos.

    I found a passage in Harry Davis' book, "The Art of Tasha Tudor" (pg 66-67) that sheds some light on "Is Tasha Tudor a professed Christian?" Mr. Davis claims that, when asked this question in public she would give an answer – to his relief - that was oblique so to avoid controversy. The beautiful Christmas cards she provided her publisher are understood by Christians but Mr. Davis claims that Tasha Tudor disliked them. She “thought people wasted far too much of their lives in spiritual contemplation.” She prefers to spell God N-A-T-U-R-E (capitals his) and shares a similar pantheistic approach to religion with Mr. Davis.

    This is an example to what extent people welcome a comfortable “form of godliness” and even enjoy doing-up Christmas and Easter traditions (with trees, lights, food - eggs and chicks) yet deny the One True God as He has graciously revealed Himself to us in Scripture. Most of us know people (even extended family members) who do this and have been praying and trying to be a good testimony to them, for years. Don’t give up on your loved ones.

    – Karen. A

  10. I like your comment here, Karen. Thank you for sharing!

    No matter what Ms. Tudor's beliefs, I appreciate her art.

  11. I think your blog looks great! This is a wonderful post, and so needed. I think making it a priority is a good idea. I think about it, but don't follow through with it. Thank you for the reminder. I am reading through your book, Pocketful of Pinecones again. Such a wonderful book :)

  12. Blessings to you Mrs. Andreola! I am trying to build a routine into our lives that works since I now have to help my husband with his business. I do appreciate screen free quiet time!