What Is Cocooning?
“Cocooning refers to the intentional effort to withdraw from the larger society in order to create a maintain a certain level of security and comfort. This shift is sometimes motivated by a desire to separate from the wider culture, and also by the need to be alone. As a metaphor, the cocoon references the covering spun by many varieties of butterflies as protection during their time of transformation from pupae to adults.”
I’ve had cocooning on my mind lately as the mom of a new baby.
Something in me has longed to be at home as a family during this time. No coming and going. Just being. It’s been a nourishing season of laying low and adjusting to our new lives.
It hasn’t been boring or confining, but rejuvenating and sweet.
By this point, we’re starting to transition back into a normal pace of living, complete with road trips and daily outings… because that level of cocooning wasn’t meant to go on forever. It was meant to give us the time and space we needed to find our new normal.
This practice is not only good, it’s quite beneficial for a strong, simple and settled home.
Three Types of Cocooning
As I see it, there are three types of cocooning that we must do. Just because you don’t have a new baby doesn’t let your home off the hook!
1. Daily dose
This is the need for a peaceful time of togetherness as a family each day.
It will not come through the television or in the chaos of homework and chores, but through intentional times like sharing a meal and praying together.
In her book, Disciplines of the Home, Ann Ortlund writes,
“Eating together is a sacred thing, a ritual of commitment to each other. It says loud and clear, without any words, ‘We belong to each other.’ The family table should be a central spot of the home; you have many beds but only one board.”
In our home, dinner is our “together” meal. With the TV off and everyone present, we have a great time of conversing and laughing together each evening. It’s built in to our family culture. We expect and enjoy this time together.
For your family, perhaps breakfast or lunch would be more doable. It doesn’t matter which meal, but if you can get your family together for one a day it will go far in knitting together your family unit.
Times of devotion and prayer together are probably the most intentional “daily dose” cocooning you could do as a family. Through reading God’s word together, talking, sharing and praying, you are able to connect on the deepest level.
I love the conversations shared during these times. They provide a rich opportunity to grow and think and deepen together. They allow us to reproduce our own spiritual lives into our children.
2. For a length of time
Just like when baby Emily was born, sometimes we need to cocoon for a period of time for a healthy adjustment or to be refreshed after a taxing season of life. Perhaps one family member has been away for an extended period of time or a busy time in life has just ended.
This type of cocooning is probably the most intense, but it allows family members to rediscover and reconnect with one another, as well as rest and reestablish patterns of living.
3. While the kids are young
For a young caterpillar, a cocoon provides a safe place for him to undergo his transformation into a mature butterfly. In the same way, we shelter and shepherd our children during their young years by “big-picture” cocooning.
No, we aren’t confining them to our home, but we do need to spend a lot of time with them, filtering influences and offering protection and guidance. In this way, we have the privilege of helping mold them into the persons they are becoming.
Children don’t need to feel the full weight of the worlds influence, they need to be carefully nurtured at home.
“In all the little daily patterns of the home–the laundry going into the same hamper, the sweaters into the same drawer, the hair getting washed and the shoes polished on Saturday nights–God is at work. He delights to glorify Himself in the commonplace… He fills clay jars with treasures.” –Ann Ortlund
Consider what it would mean for you and yours to incorporate the practice of cocooning into your daily lives.
The ideas in this post are adapted from Disciplines of the Home by Anne Ortlund.
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