I want to add to this title that I also deeply believe that this simple solution is an incredible remedy for anxiety and worry as well. Once I say what it is, you may shoot me an eye roll and want to click away. I promise I'm not crazy.
So what's the solution? Knitting.
I said you may roll your eyes or leave. But give me 45 seconds and hear me out. The first thing to keep in mind is that knitting is not the "only" solution. Rather, I would propose that all "handicrafts" are a potential solution that IS Biblical. And I have proof! (Still- don’t leave yet. I am a marginally sane person.)
Before I get into the scripture, let's run through a common Mom/Child scenario that I believe results in a massive amount of our everyday stress, conflict, and impatience. See if it resonates with you.
For a few minutes, your kids are playing nicely all by themselves. You take a deep breath to soak this in- knowing, in your profound mom-wisdom, that this is a fleeting moment. You may pick up your phone completely unconsciously or after 2-3 minutes, you get a little bored of watching all their cuteness and decide you'll either share this precious moment on social media, text a friend, or see what the world is up to.
You begin scrolling through InstaPinTwitFace, and after a few minutes, you get absorbed into something- the hilarious comment section on a ridiculous meme or article, an interesting or encouraging blog post, a political debate, etc. Essentially you get mentally or emotionally invested into what you are viewing… thennnnnn one of your kids suddenly needs something. Someone is hurt, hungry, thirsty, has to pee, or has stolen a toy.
Whatever it is, your brain has to now stop doing something it was invested in and attend to something else.
Cue your frustration, impatience, and irritability. Why? Because you were mentally or emotionally invested, and you’ve been abruptly interrupted.
Because you were DISTRACTED.
I've shared before that one top issue that leads me to impatience and irritability is distraction, and my phone is my top offender. Whether I'm sharing on social media for work or pleasure, answering a PM/DM/email, or taking a few minutes to "quickly" type up a blog post, I end up engrossed in my phone more than I would like to admit.
It's not ALL bad, but frequently my good intentions are poorly timed, and the task ends up not being as quick as I'd hoped. I've worked hard over the past year to implement a few ideas that I've shared before to tackle this bad habit... but I often end up falling back into it over and over again.
Most of my previous ideas, albeit helpful, were not HABIT-CHANGING since they didn't replace a bad habit with a good one. Those ideas would interfere with my habit, but they didn’t give me something TO DO instead. The most effective path to overcoming a negative habit is to replace it with a positive one. We often don't succeed when we simply try to STOP doing something with no alternative action.
Where does knitting come into this? Knitting is a specific handicraft that I had always been interested in, so last year, I taught myself how (good ol' YouTube!). I got halfway through a scarf and stopped. The other day, it dawned on me to pick it back up and finish it for the winter. As I’ve sat outside in the perfect fall weather, rather than scrolling InstaPinTwitFace, I’ve been knitting.
I’ve observed some amazing changes and have had some great realizations that I want to share with you:
My boys have been completely unbothered by my inattention while they play. From the perspective of a child, there is no value in staring at a phone. They want the attention back on them (something of value), so they’re constantly calling “MOMMY! Watch me! Look at me!” and finding 100 reasons to tattle or fight. However, when I’m knitting, they see the value in what I am creating. It’s a real, tangible thing. The first day, they asked several questions. I showed them what I was doing and allowed them to give it a shot. They quickly lost interest and left me alone. FOR A REALLY, REALLY LONG TIME. If I’m knitting, they’re playing. The end.
While my hands are busy, my mind is also busy, but it is not DISTRACTED by what I am doing. I'm not a pro knitter by any stretch of the imagination, so I do still have to think as I knit. But I am also able to entertain other thoughts and other conversations. When someone tries to hurl a rock at their brother, or someone got jabbed with a stick, or a tween pops up to ask about Facetiming a friend- I am 100% undisturbed. I am not grossly absorbed in this simple, purposeful task. I am doing it, but it isn’t ruling me. It is easy to look away and take breaks, chat with my boys about birds or pine cones, and then return to my work seamlessly. Peacefully.
I am content because I’m not bored. My children are content because I am available.
I feel accomplished and productive! One negative side-effect of too many distractions is feeling like I am always behind and not accomplishing what I’d like. Scripture tells us that we are image-bearers of a maker, a producer (1 Corinthians 15:49 and Genesis 1:1). Creativity is in our DNA. And no matter your skill or perceived lack of creativity, there's a handicraft out there that you CAN do well and would enjoy to do (I have a resource for this down below). Just as our Creator is a producer, designer, organizer, and artist, so are we ALL- to varying degrees. And when we work with willing hands, creating something that is beautiful, useful, or unique, there's a feeling of accomplishment that we can receive nowhere else. We aren’t wasting time while our children play, we are producing. And the ultimate outcome of production is always JOY.
We are not meant to be idle. An idle mind/hands are the devil's playground is no old-fashioned, outdated saying. It's Biblical. (Proverbs 16:27) Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16) Let me reassure you, when we are mindlessly scrolling through a feed, we are almost always entertaining idleness.
Creativity and production are the hallmark of the Proverbs 31 Woman. We need look no further than this chunk of scripture to see that it is a BLESSED and virtuous thing to produce with our hands. The Proverbs 31 Woman does not suffer from the scourge of fear, idleness, or distracted living. (Proverbs 31:10-31)
In the past, I assumed that she made so many things because she had to, right? She definitely did not have Target (bless.her.heart). But with careful reading and consideration, we can realize that she likely did not have to create them herself. So why didn't she just buy those things?
Because she had the wisdom to know that creation glorified her Creator as she worked with willing hands. . AND that idleness would lead to worry, gossip, and fear. When we create with our hands with a HEART bent toward glorifying the one who created us, it leaves little space to entertain lies from the enemy. Knit-one-pearl-two is more engrossing than you think. Verse 30 is quick to remind us that she was a woman who FEARED the Lord- which means she feared him alone. Her patient productivity left no room for anything else.
I know you may still be questioning me. "How can something so simple really be so impactful and meaningful?" I think the only real way to prove it is that you take me up on the challenge and try it yourself.
Let us not be the first generation who's legacies are all digital. Let us not be the generation that allows artistry that's been alive for millennia to die with us. Let us not be the generation that, if the internet disappeared tomorrow, we would have little left to show for all of our time.
Let us honor the admonition of Paul when he says: "Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us." (2 Thessalonian 3:6)
Need some help getting started? I want to share a free printable I created for kids but is excellent and helpful for the whole family. It's a "Menu of Handicrafts". You can use it, equipped with Google and YouTube, to find something that you have the space to do, can begin with little investment, and feeds your soul.
——->>>>>>>>CLICK HERE TO GET THE “MENU OF HANDICRAFTS”.
Also, you'll want to check out the following resources that I've found that I either am using or am drooling over!
The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing- I have this and love it. I'm slowly reading through and absorbing new techniques. My growth is epicly slow but engrossing and fun nonetheless.
The MAKE Content Bundle from Wild + Free. While I don't have a current membership to W+F, I've had one in the past and loved it. I prefer the print editions personally. I can't do a monthly commitment of $19.99 for it, but I love grabbing occasional back issues.
I'm currently very intrigued by Rooted Childhood from Practically Hippie. I'm still pondering trying a month, but I LOVE what I see on Instagram. This is geared toward your children, but if craftiness is new to you, it would be an excellent primer for the whole family!