Sarah asked the other day about quiet time for littles. Two of mine still go to sleep in the afternoon, but Emily has been having quiet time only for a couple of years. Since I only have one child that has been through this - I know that not everything works for every child.
I hope you will weigh in and share what has helped you in planning a quiet time for your children.
To me, a time of quiet is important and not only to me for a bit of rejuvenation and rest time. I think it is important for my children to have down time. To learn how to be still and quiet, to learn to not be entertained for a time, to learn to spend time by themselves. As an introvert, I thrive on quiet introspective time alone. But, not everyone does.
Getting into a quiet time routine took a lot of time in our house. I tried all kinds of things to help the transition - but in the end, I think time was what helped the most. Training and getting used to what quiet time means.
Here's how it works in our house - everyone heads for quiet time at 1:00. We've had lunch and gotten wiggles out, sometimes we read book just before and sometimes we don't. Samuel goes down in his crib - with music on. Rachel goes in her bed - she requests no music. Emily goes into our den and I usually sit on my bed.
Since Rachel and Samuel still sleep - I let their sleep time dictate how long they are down. When they wake up, they get up! Unless it goes too late in the afternoon - then I wake them. Emily's quiet time is for one hour. I used to set a timer to help her understand how long it was - but, don't do that much any more.
Emily is allowed to look at books, color, cut, work on her handwriting, play with whatever toys are available in the den or rest on the couch. Usually once or twice a week, she will fall asleep in which case, her quiet time is longer that day. I don't necessarily require her to play quietly - just to play with what she has available by herself for this time. She usually spends a good part of the time coloring. Once or twice a month, I might let her watch a movie during her quiet time - but this is not our norm.
One thing I tried early on was to have a quiet time box and the toys in it were things they could only get out during quiet time. Puzzles, felt board with felt pieces, magnetic paper dolls, special books, etc... I had hoped this would be something fun to look forward to during quiet time - but it really was not a draw for Emily - so I haven't pulled any of that out in a very long time. I may try it again when Rachel outgrows her nap time.
I find that when I have some down time in the afternoon - it is very helpful to me. It allows me an opportunity to rest and refresh, to refocus and to have a few minutes to think clearly without many extra demands on my time and energy. I try not to do my chores and housework during this time, but to truly rest or do something I enjoy like crafting, reading, watching a movie, etc... This time of rest really does make me a better mama, more relaxed for the rest of the day.
I have extended quiet time beyond just a routine in our home. I do not answer my door between noon and 3pm (there is a sign on the door explaining this) nor do I answer the phone during this time (message on answering machine explains this). Our quiet times can easily be filled with noise even if it is not coming from our children.
It may help to start small. I was reminded while writing this that I started out by setting a timer for ten minutes and had Emily look at books alone for that time. Then I read to her and put her down for a rest after that. It has been a process of getting to where it is today - and I am thankful that we are in a good routine right now - but I know that these things are always changing. Rachel will outgrow her nap fairly soon I would think - so our schedule and routine will evolve again.
As with anything, only you will know what is best for your home and family. Ask friends for ideas and receive input, but then make sure to pray and ask God's guidance and wisdom in establishing a routine like this in your home.
Any thoughts to share regarding quiet time for littles and their mamas?