More often than not, when I mention to another parent that my girls still have nap/quiet time, I receive a look of shock. This is usually followed by responses such as
- "My kids would never do that."
- "How do you get them to stay quiet?"
- "My kids are too old for quiet time." (told to me by a lady with a 3 and 4 year old)
- Some parents seem to believe that there is a set age where a kid should stop taking naps during the day. Truth is that even adults need to take a nap during the day every now and then. However, with children it is a lot harder for them to realize that they are tired and in need of a nap. With so much excitement going on throughout the day, most children will not recognize or ignore sings of being tired resulting in temper tantrums and bad behavior. When a child is left in a calm and quiet area by themselves, it becomes much easier for them to recognize those signs and fall asleep on their own. My oldest is 4 and she will still takes a nap during the day about once a week.
- It is important for children to learn how to play by themselves. My youngest is 2 and still takes naps most days. For the longest time, she always had someone to play with, whether it was Mommy, Daddy, Sister, or other friends and family. When it was quiet time she would almost immediately go to sleep. She didn't know how to play by herself because she never had the opportunity to. Now that she does not take naps everyday but is still expected to spend time alone with herself, her imagination has flourished. Some days I will sneak up to her door and just watch her. It is amazing, the stuff that she comes up with at her age. As for my 4 year old, she loves the fact that for at least 1 hour out of the day, she is not expected to share her toys with anyone. I think it gives her a peace of mind knowing that she doesn't have to worry about her little sister running in her room and snatching her toys or throwing things at her. Sometimes she will even ask me "Mom, is it quiet time yet. I want to play by myself."
- It saves YOUR sanity. If you are a working mom (or dad) and your children stay home with you on your days off, it is super important that you take some time for yourself. Most daycare's (all of them that I am aware of) require kids to take a nap or play quietly on a cot for 30 minutes to an hour a day. So why not make your children follow the same rules when they are home with you? You could be amazed what you could get done with an hour of peace. Organize your day, prepare an amazing dinner, take an extra long bath. (of course you could do all these things anyways but wouldn't it be nice to be able to do them without little ones running circles around you and asking 5 billion questions.) For those of you who are stay at home moms or work from home and spend 24/7 with your kids, trust me, you need this time to yourself. No matter how much you love your kids and love spending time with them, you need this time to collect your thoughts and just relax.
- Although my girls have a set quiet time right after lunch, there have been days when I needed quiet time to come sooner or later. A few days ago I had a bunch of work that I wanted to get done before noon. around 8am (2 hours after they woke up) I told them is was quiet time. Both girls went in their room without even arguing and played quietly until lunch time. I was able to finish all of my work which I am pretty sure I would have not been able to complete had I not sent the kids to quiet time. After lunch we all spent some much needed time playing and running around in the back yard. This week my husband is working night shift. Usually when he works nights I make the children play outside most of the day so that they don't wake him up. However, today it is cold, windy and raining. Again, around 8am I told them it was quiet time, And again they played quietly until lunch time. My husband had to wake up shortly after lunch time so this worked perfect. I also give my kids quiet time in the car. On days that we have a bunch of errands to run, the girls can get pretty cranky from sitting in a car seat all morning. Once they start getting cranky, I declare that it is quiet time. I am not sure why I can ask (or yell) at my kids to be quiet and they could care less but the minute I say "quiet time" their voice drop to almost a whisper.
- Set aside a few boxes of toys that are only to be played with during quiet time. These toys can either be toys that your children already have or you can go out and purchase new toys. I highly recommend you use at least 7 boxes (unless you work away from home and your children are only home a couple days a week). This will give you one box for each day of the week so that your child will not become board with them too easily. When shopping, let the girls pick out their own toys or if using toys you already have, let them help you pick and sort through them. Make sure that you explain to your children that these are very special toys and that is why they only need to be played with at special times. Honestly, I think that this is the number one reason that my girls love quiet time so much is because they get to play with their SPECIAL toys. The toys them self are not anything special. But when you tell a child they are special they will believe that they are. My oldest has a couple extra boxes with toys that contain small items that my two year old could easily choke on. She thinks these toys are extra special since only she can play with them. You don't have to use large boxes or fill them with lots of toys. We use shoe boxes. One has a few barbies, another has some pet shop toys, another has a few beginner sewing items, a puzzle, ect...
- If your children have their own rooms then they should have enough everyday toys to keep them entertained. However if you are separating the room or have a play room separate from the bedroom that your child's toys stay in, you should also give your child a few other options besides just the box of toys. Along with the special toys and the toys that are already in their room, my girls also receive a writing utensil (i.e. crayon, pencil, colored pencil) and paper. I also set aside a few special books that their grandma gave them. Most books in our house get ripped up due to fights and not being taken care of properly. However, these books are only allowed out at quiet time. Since the girls think these books are special, they take extra good care of them. Not to mention that the girls are separated form each other so there is no chance of them fighting over a book and accidentally ripping it. Some of these books are 4 years old and look brand new.
- Don't give in to the questions. The girls will often ask me questions or try to talk to me during quiet time. Obviously questions such as "Mom, can I go potty?" or "Mom, I ripped my toenail and it's bleeding, can I get a band aid?" should NOT be ignored. However, if your child's questions are not that important, answering them will only lead to more questions. But I do not recommend that you ignore your child either. A simple "We can talk about that once quiet time is over with." usually works for my kids.
- If your kids share a room, be sure to set aside a special area for each child. Up until about 10 months ago, my girls shared a room. My youngest was still in a crib (and taking daily naps) at the time, so it was easy for me to place her in her crib. However, to keep my oldest from disturbing her, we made her, her own special area in the corner of the room. We had a bean bag that was stored in the closet but got to come down during quiet time. I explained to her that this was her special bean bag and it had to stay in her special quiet time area with her during quiet time. She was so excited about having her own special area that she hardly ever got off the bean bag. She did wake up her sister on 2 different occasions. When this happened I took the bean bag and all of her toys away and made her sit in her quiet area by herself for a couple more minutes. She quickly realized that quiet time was no fun without toys and after the second time she never woke her sister up again. Another idea would be to set up a room divider or tack a sheet to the ceiling to temporarily separate your kids. Make sure you talk to the kids about how special their own area is and take down the dividers as soon as quiet time is over.
Do not expect your kids to be completely silent. If you want complete silence you are better off taking you kids to day care or dropping them off at a relatives house. During quiet time my girls often read books out loud, sing to themselves, and talk to their toys. However their voices are a lot quieter than they normally are. Make sure your kids know what noise level is expected of them.
Make sure your kids get TONS of exercise before and after quiet time. My girls spend most of the morning running around and playing outdoors. On days that it is too cold or windy to play outside I try to keep them active indoors, however I notice that on these days they are much more rowdy during quiet time. It is unrealistic to expect your children to sit quietly in their bedroom for an hour or two after they have spent all morning sitting in front of the television.
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