Naptime is a mother’s best friend. It’s the short vacation that you need to survive, the chance to secretly eat some chocolate, and psych yourself up for the rest of the day. It’s the only quiet moment that you experience in a day and it literally feels like the only saving grace on those really long days that feel like they aren’t going to end. Some moms use this time to get things done, while others (ME) use it to sit down and breathe.
But what do you do when your kids get a little older and start to escape the nap time phase?
What do you do when taking a nap starts to interfere with getting them to go to sleep at night? What do you do when nap time loses its luster and you are all of a sudden left without a moment to yourself in the middle of the day?
Have no fear! I am here to present to you the sequel to nap time: Quiet Time.
You can laugh at that anti-climactic answer, but Quiet Time really is the next best thing to nap time. Eventually, your kiddos will outgrow the need for a nap, but you will never outgrow the need for a little time to yourself in the afternoons.
For your health and sanity, I beg you to consider implementing Quiet Time. Here’s how to get started:
- Pick a Time of Day: In the beginning, I based our quiet time schedule around what was previously nap time. The kids were already familiar with this time of day, so it was an easy transition. Now I base it around when the baby naps in the afternoons, which usually ends up being about 1:00 pm. Pick a time that works best with your day and schedule it.
- Choose a Duration: The duration of quiet time in your house will vary depending on how old your kiddos are. My older kids can stay occupied for two hours sometimes, while my four-year-old tends to max out at an hour to an hour and a half. You may need to start with thirty minutes or one hour and build up from there. Once your kiddos figure out how it works, they’ll be able to maintain independent time for longer stretches of time.
- Set Your Boundaries: This one is important! Make your expectations clear to your kids and review them every day. After a week or two, they won’t need reminding. In our house, the kids must stay on their beds and not let their feet hit the ground. They are welcome to read out loud or talk to each other if they need something, but they must use whisper voices. Set the tone for what you want this time to be like in your house–your kids are capable of meeting those expectations.
- Choose Acceptable Activities: Decide what activities you are comfortable with your kiddos doing independently during this time. You probably don’t want them dragging out scissors and glitter, nor do you want them picking out a loud game to play. Our kids grab 5-7 books and read (or look at the pictures) on their beds. Sometimes they grab a sticker book or a coloring book with a pouch of crayons. I don’t open up too many options for these activities because I want them to have some downtime and not be too stimulated.
5. Practice: Quiet Time will be exciting to your kids at first and they are likely to quickly jump on board! However, don’t be surprised if on day three they all of a sudden are whining and not wanting to follow through with the expectations. This is normal! Review the rules for Quiet Time, lower your time to 30 or 45 minutes and practice. Gradually extend your time until you find a good fit for your kids.
I’m a firm believer that moms – and kids for that matter – need time for themselves. The days can often be long and if we aren’t finding ways to breathe and refill our cups, we will not be able to care for our little ones the way we want and need to.