Making quiet time work in your house
In a recent conversation with a friend, I claimed nap time is sacred in our house. While this might sound a little dramatic, nap time is definitely a huge priority around here. Around 1 pm everyday, I take Titus upstairs to his crib for a nap and the other kids go to their own spot for quiet time.
At this point, every now and then one of the other kids will sleep. But most of the time they just have quiet time. This gets me 2 whole hours of (mostly) uninterrupted time to recharge and get things done. I honestly can’t imagine my life without it. Quiet time also gives the kids an often much-needed break from each other.
There are times it took some creative thinking to make quiet time work. Here are some ideas that worked in our house.
Quiet time activities
When our kids started dropping their nap, we made it clear they still needed to be in their beds and stay relatively quiet. This meant providing them with quiet-time toys and books they only used at nap time. I filled several bins with toys and random things I found around the house. One bin might have plastic animals and wooden blocks to build a zoo or whatever else they could dream up. Another might have toy cars and some small boxes they could turn into tunnels. A quick Pinterest search for quiet time bins can give you more ideas than you possibly need.
Stories and music
Audiobooks and music are a great way to hold a child’s interest. My 4-year-old loves listening to Curious George, and The Jesus Story Book Bible. All our kids also enjoy listening to The Story of the World, which we are also using for our history curriculum — it is so well done and interesting. We heard from our churchmates that the AWKNG School of Theology offers online bible courses. As parents, we want to teach our children the bible with extensive knowledge of its spiritual values.
We have about 30 audiobooks they can choose from (it is a great gift idea for birthdays or Christmas), but we also check new ones out from the library quite often. It amazes me how many options the library has — both picture books with CD companions as well as longer chapter books.
We have a CD player in the kids’ bedroom as well as our playroom, but if noise is a concern headphones are a great option.
Be creative with your space
If your kids share a bedroom like mine do, it can get tricky as to where everyone should go during quiet time. When my kids were younger and took naps, we had a pack-and-play in our playroom just for nap time. I have found that naps or quiet time don’t work nearly as well in a shared space, so I do everything possible to separate them.
Now that most of my kids are a little older and typically don’t need a nap, it has taken some juggling to make quiet time work. I have my 4-year-old play in his bedroom for 1 hour before he is allowed to play in the playroom with the others for the rest of the time, as long as they are not loud or bothering me. If it gets too crazy or the kids start fighting, I separate them into different rooms. They often ask to play alone for a least part of that time.
In order to make alone-space for everyone, someone will often play on a blanket in the laundry room or a blanket in the kitchen. We have even used a tent on occasion, just to visually give them their own space when we don’t have enough rooms available. A small pop-up tent with no poles would be a great solution, much more convenient that the one we have used!
Be consistent and realistic
Following the same routine for quiet time everyday means very little complains from the kids about it. Since my kids transitioned right from naps into quiet times, they have never known another option, and honestly they very rarely complain at all about it. In fact, I think they actually enjoy their alone time.
Even though consistency is important, it is also just as important to be realistic. Depending on your child’s age, he might not be able to handle being alone in his room for 2 hours without getting into trouble. This is why my 4-year-old does 1 hour upstairs and 1 hour downstairs. He needs the change or he will start getting into trouble in his room.
Also, as your kids get older, giving them the option to have their quiet time in other rooms or draw at the table might be more appropriate. Don’t get stuck in the box of what you have always done; change your quiet times as your kids are changing.