After a particularly active morning with my toddler, I feel like I’ve wrangled a crocodile.
This kid is busy, he’s fast, he’s strong, and he’s loud! It’s a real challenge to get through our homeschooling work with all the antics he creates! I love him to pieces but boy, does that kid wear me out! The nice thing is that because he’s so active, he also wears himself out. Every day after lunch, I wrestle him up the stairs to his room, read him a story and tuck him into bed. He snuggles up with his blanket, a few stuffed animal friends and drifts off to sleep. There he snoozes for about 3 hours.
By then the rest of the kids have also retreated to their separate spaces. Everything is peaceful. Ahh – quiet time has arrived.
Quiet time has been a tradition in our house for the past 12 years.
It started out as nap time when my oldest was a baby, but once he outgrew his nap, we didn’t stop having quiet time. By then, a little brother needed a nap in the afternoon and I needed a break. My oldest son would park himself in his room and listen to audio books or look through picture books while the baby napped. As the next 2 babies came along, we continued the tradition.
Quiet time is my time to recharge, to work on my blog, write, or maybe just to read a book or (gasp!) take a nap. The older kids use this time to finish any school work if necessary, build Legos or just read a book. It’s a hugely important part of our daily routine.
Quiet time is important for us because we all need a break from each other.
We spend so much time together during the day, that we all appreciate a peaceful block of time to ourselves. Everyone also has his own space for quiet time. Although they share bedrooms at night, for quiet time, one boy goes into my bedroom and one takes the guest room. This way no one disturbs anyone else.
Quiet time leaves us refreshed for afternoon activities.
We head off to our co-op, or violin lessons, or just regular chore time with renewed energy and patience.
Quiet time at our house doesn’t start on a rigid schedule.
I find it hard to be on a strict schedule. Instead, it starts when I announce that it’s time. If we linger over lunch or are finishing up an exciting chapter of a read-aloud, we don’t stop what we’re doing just because pm has arrived; instead we break for quiet time when it fits our needs. If the littlest one is particularly tired, quiet time might happen early one day.
Regardless of when it starts, we usually take 90 minutes for the big kids and up to 3 hours for the toddler, depending on how long he sleeps. I’ll tell the kids upfront what time quiet time is over. Before they learned to tell time, I would just tell them to listen to 2 CDs or maybe set a small timer for them to keep with them.
Do you think your kids won’t amuse themselves quietly for 90 minutes at a time?
You can build this habit slowly. Start with just 15 or 30 minutes. Give them an easy way to tell when the time is up. At times, I’ve had to gently send my kids back to their rooms with a reminder that the time wasn’t up yet. It will definitely take time for kids to remember to stay put.
Toddlers can have quiet time, too.
Occasionally the toddler will decide he’s not tired at all and refuse to sleep. In this case, I will give him a couple extra books to look at in his crib or put some music on the CD player. I may also end up bringing him downstairs with me and reading him books. My kids have all taken naps at least through age 3 and beyond so this isn’t a problem most of the time.
Give them a reward to look forward to at the end.
We usually follow quiet time with something fun – a yummy snack, more of an exciting read-aloud, outside playtime or maybe some screen time. This helps everyone cooperate with the plan since they know something nice will happen afterward.
It does take a little training and preparation to make quiet time happen.
But it’s so worth it to all of us to have this break in the middle of the day.
Insisting on quiet time for your kids doesn’t make you a selfish mom; it makes you a wise mom.
Everyone can benefit from some extended downtime once a day. If you don’t already have this kind of time built into your day, I highly recommend giving it a try.
My kids will be stirring soon and our quiet time is almost up. I’ve checked some things off my to-do list and am ready once more to wrestle my little crocodile. The funny thing is that after a good nap, he has usually turned into a sweet little lamb.
If you need some more motivation to initiate quiet time, visit Hodge Podge Homeschool for tips on Afternoon Quiet Time For All Ages.