In our house, 2 hours of daily quiet time is not optional, it is mandatory. I need time for myself to breathe and get things done. I also need time to sit on the couch and eat chocolate without anyone looking.
When I do not find time for myself, I am much less patient and am not as present with my kids as I want to be. After lunch time is when I start feeling drained and know that I need to have time to recharge. When my kids napped together, it was easy, but after napping stopped…not so much.
My oldest is the easiest kid ever. Seriously, I lucked out with him. From the time he was two weeks old, he started sleeping through the night – 8 hours straight. He also napped every afternoon up until he started kindergarten. I’m pretty sure if he was not in school full time, he would still take a daily nap.
Then came Mr. Middle. He is the polar opposite. Strong willed and pusher of boundaries. As a baby he would only sleep if I was holding him and only for 45 minutes at a time. Nap time was hit or miss (mostly miss). We were finally able to get him to take a reliable nap around the time he was two, after we moved him into his brother’s room.
For a while, it was blissful! Then, along came baby girl and napping three kids at the same time became an impossible feat. Mr. Middle decided he would only nap on occasion, but I still needed that alone time. I would spend up hours in the boys room trying to force him to sleep, and making myself crazy in the process.
I knew that forcing nap time wasn’t working, so I decided to implement a daily quiet time instead. During this time, the kids are allowed to read books in their beds or play quietly, but they are not allowed to disturb me. It took some getting used to at first, but I kept at it. The fruits of my labor paid off and I now have 2 hours of quiet time every single day. This is how I made it work:
If quiet time is new for your kids, it may take a few tries before it becomes routine. Make sure to have clear rules and boundaries and to enforce them every single time. For instance, my kids are not allowed to leave the room they are unless they are going to the bathroom. There have been a few occasions when my oldest came out and asked for a hug. Each time I sent him right back to his room. This may sound cruel, but, I know he was just testing the boundaries to see what he could get away with and if I gave in, he would continue to come out again and again. By the way, he was fine. And now he stays in his room the entire quiet time.
Separate the Kids
This one was huge for me. At first, I tried to have them sit quietly on their beds in their shared room. That did not work so well. Inevitably, after a little while, it would always turn into a fight or they would get too rowdy and start jumping off furniture. To solve this issue, I would have one kid in the playroom and the other in their bedroom. They get to take turns choosing which room they want to have quiet time in. This solves any disagreements on the matter up front.
Get Digital Clocks
Having a digital clock is a way for the kids to know exactly when quiet time is over. This eliminates the need for them to keep asking you if they can be done. My oldest, can tell time, so I keep the clock in the room he chooses for his quiet time. When time is up, he lets his little brother know, too. If you’re kids can’t tell time, this is a good opportunity for them to start learning. You could also use a toddler clock that lights up when time is up. We use the Onaroo Night Owl.
Allow Each Child To Choose Location
Quiet time is designated to the playroom or the bedroom. As I’m sure you can imagine, the playroom is usually the place both of them want to be, but they cannot both be in the same room during quiet time. To eliminate fights over who gets to be in the playroom, each kid gets a chance to choose where they want to have their quiet time. I rotate who gets to choose each day so there is equal opportunity for them to have the playroom.
The key to quiet time success is keeping them entertained. If they are bored, be assured that they will be coming to you. Choose activities that you know your children enjoy and that do not bore them easily. I give each of the boys a stack of books to look through, and coloring books. They are also starting to have an interest in writing, so I give them a blank notebook and pen. Other good choices are puzzles, workbooks, and building blocks.
Set Them Up For Success
The whole point of quiet time is to have some time to yourself to rest and recharge. Do your best to make sure the kids are set up with everything they may need or ask you for during this time. For instance, I give each of the boys a water bottle so they don’t have to come get me if they are thirsty. If they have a cold, I will give them a box of tissues. Anything you can think of to set them up for success. It is also a good idea to feed them and have them go to the bathroom before quiet time starts.
Taking time for yourself is not selfish. It is essential for your well-being. When you are refreshed, you are putting your best self forward for your family. Showing your kids that you are taking care of yourself also models to them that their needs are important, too. You can have time to yourself again if you are consistent in your approach. It may be hard to start, but after a while, it will just become part of the routine.
My kids will continue to have a quiet time for the foreseeable future. I believe it benefits them just as much as it benefits me. The tips above are what allow me to continue to have quiet time every day. It keeps me sane and gives me something to look forward to in those hard moments.