Jan 18, 2013

Quiet Time: It's Not Just for Toddlers

My children stopped napping at very young ages, and like most moms, I mourned a little when it happened. The kids still needed naps - and even if some days they didn't, I needed the quiet time naps offered. As time has gone by and I've found myself increasingly stressed at the end of most afternoons, I've learned a little  trick: Quiet time.

Now you may think quiet time is just for toddlers. Not so! Quiet time is actually a blessing for children of all ages - as well as for mothers. Here's how ours works:

1. First, I chose a time of day. My children tend to start getting really cranky around 2 or 2:30 in the afternoon, so this was the obvious choice for our quiet time.

2. Next, when my children were fresh and in a good mood, I explained that from now on we were going to have quiet time each weekday. (You can do it on weekends, too, if you like.) I explained that in the afternoons we all tended to get cranky and that quiet time would make ours days happier. The children weren't thrilled...until I explained what quiet time was.

3. I explained the simple rules of quiet time: "During quiet time, we will all go into our own rooms. You may take a nap" (expect protests here), "OR you may read a book/look at picture books, OR you may listen to an Adventures in Odyssey or Jonathan Parks CD, OR you may play quietly in bed." Admittedly, the kids still weren't thrilled, but they weren't complaining, either. In fact, my 7 year old was slightly excited to have quiet time away from her little brother.

It's important for there to be no screen time (television, computers, electronic games, cell phones, etc.) during quiet time. Studies show these things are very stimulating. On the other hand, reading a book or listening to a story on a CD has a quieting and restful effect. Also note that while I told the children they could play quietly in bed, I've had trouble enforcing this rule with my 4 year old, so I allow him to play quietly alone in his room during quiet time. This works just fine for us.

4. Mom must follow the rules, too. THIS IS IMPORTANT! I know how tempting it is to use quiet time to do housework, pay bills, or do other work. But for quiet time to truly be effective, mom must follow the rules, too! Nap, pray, read the Bible, pick up a novel...rest.

How long quiet time lasts is up to you. My 4 year old can tolerate about 45 minutes, so that's how long ours is. Sometimes I can stretch it to an hour. I wouldn't go beyond an hour. If 45 minutes doesn't work for you, aim to have at least 30 minutes of quiet time. And don't be discouraged if quiet time isn't all that quiet - especially at first. You an introducing a new routine, so expect it to take some time before the children adjust.

If you stick with it, though, quiet time will be very rewarding. It's amazing how even a short quiet time refreshes and encourages all of us!

3 comments:

  1. I'm not very good at enforcing this with my 4 year old yet... despite the fact her brother routinely naps for 2, 2.5, or even 3 hours almost every day. Some days go better than others, and if it's nice out, letting her go in the backyard to play is an effective way for ME to have some quiet! :)

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  2. People look at me funny when I say my little fella who is three and half no longer sleeps but I still put him in his room for half an hour to an hour every day at the same time so I can recharge and so that he can just be restful, some days he is more willing than others, but I find it is important for our relationship, I used to feel bad until I found that it makes our household more peaceful. Have a blessed day. Tara.

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  3. I LOVE THIS CONCEPT! I think to start we're much more in the 30 minute category--but a really really great idea!!!

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