I will hear every now and then of kids who took naps until kindergarten. But more often then not I hear of kids completely dropping their naps by the time they have reached age three! Then all of a sudden parents are stressing over not having those quiet time hours to themselves. Once your children drop their naps you are probably wondering how and when to start quiet time for your kids.
Here is what we have been doing for the past few months and it works wonders for all of us!
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In This Article
How To Do Quiet Time For Kids
When Bobbie was two and a half years old for about two weeks she had completely stopped taking her afternoon naps I thought “this is it! no more quiet time for me!”. Luckily, some reserve psychology worked on her when we started calling “nap time” quiet time.
Still, it is a hit and miss if she takes a nap or not. But, I am not about to give up my two hours of precious quiet time every day.
Whether or not if Bobbie takes a nap. I have noticed that she is happier and much better behaved when she has some time to herself.
If your child has dropped their nap and you feel inclined to start doing quiet time. Here are the secrets to my success!
Use A Video Monitor
If you have a video monitor, it is SUPER helpful for quiet time. If you are nervous to have the door closed a video monitor will help calm your fears. The one we have is Lefun Wireless Baby Monitor and I love it because it can tilt, zoom in, zoom out, it has night vision, and a microphone! That way I can talk to Bobbie without yelling upstairs and risk waking up Owen.
Plus I can easily pull up the app on my phone to see what Bobbie is doing in her room. Instead of having to peek my head in her room to see that she is quietly entertaining herself then all of a sudden she has 1 million things she wants to tell me or show me.
Get A Big Fat Digital Clock
This is a great thing to use for older children who can read the time. I will share what works for toddlers here in one second. For the clock, you don’t need to go fancy or expensive. Literally go to Walmart or Amazon and find the biggest, cheapest clock there and use that.
When you get your clock. Set the time for when quiet time starts. If quiet time starts at 1:00 PM, set the clock for 1:00 PM and then let your child know what when the clock hits 2:00 or 3:00 then they can come out. No matter what time it is always set the clock at the same time.
Now for toddlers who can’t tell time or who don’t know their numbers yet. This light clock is amazing! You can set a nap time timer on the clock (which you can use for quiet time) and the clock has a very playful alarm and a light!
When quiet time starts the light is red, then 30 minutes before quiet time is over the light is yellow and when it is time to get out the light turns green!
If your tot struggling going to bed and staying in bed this clock works perfectly for that too!
Make Quiet Time For Older Kids Coincide With Youngsters Naptime
One of the goals of quiet time is so that mama can have quiet time too! I have found that the afternoon is the easiest time to do quiet time. It’s like a mid-day break for everyone!
When Owen was born I got him on a schedule that made sure that one of his naps was when Bobbie had quiet time. If your youngest is already on a set schedule, don’t bother changing their schedule the best is to schedule quiet time for your older kids that same time as nap time.
You will no longer have interrupted naps because everyone is quiet!
Consistency Is Key
This is no joke one of the biggest parenting tips about anything and everything. Consistency is KEY! If you are inconsistent where some days your kids have quiet time and some days they don’t, you will face a lot of resistance on the days you do decide to have quiet time.
Pick a time that your kids will start quiet time every day and how long quiet time will last. If you are just starting quiet time with your kids the best way to introduce quiet time is to hold a family meeting and let your kids know what is quiet time and what time it is going to be and how long it will be.
Then it is your job as a parent to hold to it! When you stay consistent with quiet time you will notice how better behaved your children are.
Yes, Do It On The Weekends Too!
Wait…what? Yes, do quiet time on the weekends too! Quiet time on the weekend seems to be needed the most. Now as your kids grow up and you no longer have nappers you can change this if you want.
For us, since Owen takes an afternoon nap every day (except Sunday, we have church at noon and so quiet time is after we get home from church) when we go on vacation, we still have quiet time for Bobbie and Naptime for Owen.
Now like I mentioned above, this may change for us as our kids get older and we no longer have nappers. But as long as we have nappers the older children will have quiet time.
Create Quiet Time Bins
Just because your kids are doing quiet time it doesn’t mean they need to be board out of their gourd! Your kids will not want to do quiet time if they find it boarding.
One thing you can do is to put together some quiet time bins that your kids only get to play with during quiet time. This way you are giving them something to do while in quiet time. You could do coloring books and crayons, books, blocks, cars, marble tracks, etc.
Don’t put any loud, flashy light, or noisy toys in their quiet time bins. Because quiet time is a time for your kids to lower their energy and avoid being stimulated.
Don’t Give Them Electronics
Okay, so we are fairly strict on electronics in our household. We wanted quiet time to be a time where our kids get to be by themselves and wanted them to open up their minds to be creative.
It is super easy to have electronic entertain us for hours. Every day children are being exposed to electronics and they are constantly being stimulated which leads to children being overstimulated. Therefore resulting in more tantrums, meltdowns, arguments and other challenging behaviors. Children shouldn’t have more than one hour of screen time a day. Now, that is way easier said than done but it can happen!
We are not against electronics at all! Heck, both Tucker’s and my business is online. We have family movie nights and every now and then I let Bobbie play some learning games on my phone.
It is important to determine what the goal of quiet time is BESIDE having quiet time for yourself. Like I said for us our goal of quiet time is for Bobbie to explore who she is, to open her mind to creativity, spend time with just herself for a short period of time, and not rely on us as parents for entertainment.
Decide What You Are Going To Be Flexible On
One thing I am not flexible about is the length of quiet time or my involvement! Quiet time in our household is for two hours. Now I don’t mind if Bobbie play’s in the hallway, our bedroom or her bedroom.
Take some time to think about what you are flexible on and what you are not flexible on. Then at your family meeting let your children know the “rules” of quiet time.
I do prefer her to stay in her room. She does pretty well at staying in her room. Sometimes she will go grab something out of the hallway or our bedroom that she wants to play with and takes it back to her room.
I also allow snacks in her room. I pick snacks that don’t make big messes but I found that Bobbie kept coming downstairs saying that she is hungry even though we already had lunch. So I fix that I put some snacks in a container and she can eat some snacks while she plays in her room.
Expect A Mess
I hate it when things are messy I get very anxious and stressed so our house is always pretty clean. But, during quiet time I had to prepare myself for the mess. Because it will be messy! You may find all their clothes pulled out of their drawers and toys everywhere.
This was a mess I was okay with because the messier Bobbie’s room was the more fun I knew she had and I want her to have fun in quiet time!
When quiet time is over, it is expected of her to clean up her mess. I will help a little but I usually sit on her bed and talk with her while she cleans up. DO NOT CLEAN UP THEIR MESS! You will dread the end of quiet time if you walk into their room and you can’t even see their floor.
We have a saying in our house which is “your mess, your responsibility”. Bobbie will sometimes make less of a mess or put her toys away when she is done with them because she doesn’t like cleaning up a huge mess at the end of quiet time because she knows that mom isn’t going to clean up her mess.
However, other times I walk into a HUGE mess and I get to listen to Bobbie tell me what she did while in quiet time as she cleans up.
If you have never done quiet time before or you have here and there but haven’t been very consistent with it. The trick is to start slow. If your kids are not used to it you will probably get some push back for the first few days.
Expect some complaining and “this is dumb” type of comments. Don’t go straight for 2 hours right away especially if you have never done quiet time before. Start with 30 minutes and then slowly increase the time with 30-minute increments.
2 hours is about the max you should do. Also, don’t forget to make quiet time fun! this time isn’t meant to be boarding. Sound super excited when it is time for quiet time and talk about how you can’t wait to hear what your kids did during quiet time.
For us adding snacks made quiet time more fun and every now and then when Bobbie starts getting bored of the toys in her toy box (aka quiet time bin) I will rotate toys and books that way she has something new to play with and read.
When To Start Quiet Time
We started once Bobbie was starting to give up her naps. Somedays she would fall asleep during quiet time or she would play in her room for the whole 2 hours. If you have never done quiet time and your child has stopped taking their naps it would be a great time to start doing quiet time!
Benefits Of Quiet Time
Not only does mom benefit from getting a couple of hours to herself. But the benefits of quiet time for children are massive! Here are a few benefits of why you should be doing a quiet time with your children.
1. Quiet Time Is A Space For Your Child’s Developing Creativity
When children are constantly being entertained by parents they lack the ability to entertain themselves. Research shows that children benefit greatly from being bored that is where true creativity is born!
I don’t necessarily say children are board during quiet time but they are involved in unstructured playtime. Unstructured playtime is where there are no rules to follow to play, no instructions, and no “this is how you build a block tower”.
There was a study that was done where out of a group of 52 children in the 6-7 age range were separated into two groups. One group was allowed to play with salt-dough for 25 minutes, and the second group has to follow a structured exercise involving copying off text from the board.
They then asked the children to make a collage of a creature using tissue paper materials. This was later repeated a few days later and they found that the children who were in the first group were more creative with their creatures the built and how colorful they were.
2. Quiet Time Helps To Increase A Child’s Autonomy
When children are involved in unstructured playtime it forces the brain to work in a different way- in an innovative way.
Because during unstructured playtime children must plan, think and create which are helping children develop critical thinking and executive functioning. Research shows this as well, that unstructured playtime leads to more self-directed functioning.
Have you ever been working on a project or a task, and you look at the clock and hours have passed by? You experienced what is called a state of flow and it is associated with creativity and a sense of enjoyment.
Children achieve this state of flow when they are immersed in uninterrupted unstructured play. The state of flow may happen during physical activity but it comes more naturally during unstructured playtime.
This is what quiet time does. It provides a space and opportunity for children to get into this state of flow mind while helping them develop the skills of executive functioning.
Children won’t only experience this type of unstructured playtime and executing function in quiet time. Over time, the ability to play independently will become a life skill for children. They will be able to handle boredom, make a decision on how to structure their time, entertain themselves, and play independently.
3. Quiet Time Allows Children To Recharge
As you do quiet time more regularly and consistently in your home. You will notice the difference it makes for your children. Some mornings Bobbie is just not having it and I look forward to quiet time and afterward because Bobbie will walk out of her room like a completely new person!
Have you noticed that when your child gets home from school they seem really cranky or on edge? The afterschool meltdowns are no joke and it is because of the level of stimulation they are getting for a big portion of their day.
To help your child recenter and recharge have them do quiet time after they have had theirs after school snack. This is a great way to help your child release any stress and to calm their heightened emotions.
Quiet Time Toys
I listed a few quiet time toys above but I will list some more here too! Just like we talk, make sure that the toys you add to the quiet time toy bin are simple toys. Don’t add toys that are noisy, loud, have lots of flashing lights on them or toys that are used for one purpose and one purpose only.
The goal is to have toys that be what every child wants them to be. Make sure you are not overpacking their rooms with toys. Children don’t need a lot of toys because too many choices of toys make children feel overwhelmed and end up not playing with any toys.
For Bobbie, she has three bins in her toy box and they are cars, blocks, and dolls that’s it! You would not believe the towers she has build or the stories her dolls are in.
Here is a list of toys you could add to your kids quiet time bins:
- Blocks: such as soft blocks, wood blocks, magnet tiles, or bristle blocks.
- Legos: Lego Duplo, Small Legos
- Cars/Trucks: Just make sure the cars or trucks don’t have sound or lights on them. They can play with those types of cars outside of quiet time.
- Dolls: The simpler the doll the better! They don’t need dolls that fake cry, poop, pee or drink from a bottle. Those types of dolls are more structured dolls instead of unstructured dolls.
- Marble runs
- Coloring book and crayons
- Stuffed animals
- Doll House
- Dress up clothes
You can also check out my post about the top 16 quiet time toys for more ideas!
Quiet Time Changes As Kids Grow
For younger children, quiet time usually takes the place of nap time. As children grow older and are start going to school and start going more after-school activities. Quiet time will start to be different. Kids are often exhausted after they get home from school, having an afterschool quiet time is a great way to help your child unwide from their day.
You could also do a quiet time before bed. I don’t know what it is but man alive it is like kids save all of their energy and unleash their energy when its time to start getting ready for bed.
An hour before bed or even two hours before bed is another great time to have quiet time. Bobbie has her quiet time during Owen’s afternoon nap and then we have quiet time as a family one hour before bed. Tucker will usually work on a few final things before wrapping up for the night, I may read a book or play quietly with our kids.
We get the kids ready for bed and then do quiet time. That way when bedtime arrives the kids are all ready and they can just go into their room to go to bed. I found that this really helps our kids get into a calm state before doing to bed.
If you ready to start going quiet time in your household remember it will take some time for your kids to get used to it. Make sure to stay consistent at it and even hold a family meeting to discuss what quiet time is, how it works and what the rules are.
That way everyone is on the same page!
I get asked if we do quiet time when we go on vacation. And the answer is YES! It may not be a mid-day type of quiet time but we always try to get one in. On vacation, it seems easier to get a quiet time in before its time for bed.
As you do quiet time in your house you will notice a difference with your kid’s behaviors, attitudes, and emotions. Again quiet time is a chance for kids to reset and recharge. Even as adults we need quiet time to do the same!
Adjust quiet time to fit your family. If your kids don’t like being inside their room for 2 hours then have them do quiet time outside (with some rules of course). Being outside has huge benefits too!
Don’t be afraid to make adjustments to quiet time. The way we do quiet time will probably look different from how you do quiet time. Adjust quiet time to fit your family but just make sure no matter how you are doing quiet time that you are consistent at it!