When my kids stopped napping, I suddenly had 12-15 hours of time to fill. I quickly realized that not only did my kids need a break at some point during the day, but so did I. I also learned that my boys needed time separate from one another. They usually get along pretty well, but our day goes much smoother if they have some separation at some point.
I quickly began to implement a quiet time.
Quiet time is a short period of the day that your child (and you) can spend doing independent quiet activities. Your child can spend this time in their room or wherever they have books and toys. We typically have each child go to their room.
Since we have been doing quiet time, I’ve seen nothing but positive outcomes. My kids often emerge from quiet time relaxed, recharged, and typically in a better mood than when it started. They’ve had time to regulate their bodies, enter into imaginative play, and just decompress from their day.
This does take a bit of planning, so here are some things we do to set everyone up for success:
- We do it at the same time every day. Right now, quiet time is when we get home from school. On the weekends, it falls at a natural break in the day, typically between activities. It’s become such a part of our routine and the kids know to expect it.
- I started with 20 minute increments, and as the kids have gotten older and gotten used to the rhythm of this, quiet time has increased to 1 hour. Adjust your expectations to the age of your child and work with them where they are. Also, mentally prepare that this does not look perfect every day. There are days in which my kids come out and ask me 10 different questions which can be frustrating. But they are learning valuable skills that we all need to rest and they do better the next day.
- We do not do screens during quiet time. For our family, this is screen-free independent play time. Some activities they gravitate towards are magna tiles, books, sticker books, and crafting. One thing I invested in a few years ago is an old fashioned CD player. Over the years, when relatives ask for gift ideas, I send them books with CDs that they can listen to and follow along. My boys felt proud to be able to know when to turn the page when they heard the ding and it gave them a sense of pride and independence before they could actually read. The library also has a lot of books on CDs as they get older and don’t need the books to go along with it. This has been a household favorite activity.
- Keep your plan firm, clear, and consistent. If you decide to only do it 5 days a week or 7, just keep it consistent. Get into a rhythm and make it known to your kids just how important this time is for everyone and that it’s not budging.