I am a working mum, and my two girls decided to stop napping at the beginning of the shelter in place. My husband and I quickly started thinking about how we could transition from nap time to quiet time so that we could have some non-interrupted focus time at work during the week and time for ourselves during the weekend.
It worked a treat and has been invaluable. Ready to reclaim a bit of time for yourself? Here’s what we did.
For this to work effectively two things are important: that the kids understand the concept and that the parents are consistent.
The easiest way by far is to start building in quiet time as soon as the signs of giving up naps start appearing. However, it is possible to introduce it at any stage.
- Make a daily schedule that includes quiet time.
Defining the activities before and after quiet time will help settle the concept in the child’s mind. Our girls used to nap after lunch so we put quiet time in after lunch with an activity planned right after.
Set simple rules, for example:
- Stay in your bedroom — unless you need to go to the bathroom or drink water.
- Find activities that you can complete by yourself.
- It’s okay to do more than one thing.
- Show us everything you have done at the end of quiet time.
- During quiet time we all enjoy quiet activities.
At first, you may need to provide a few ideas or options, but after kids get accustomed to the idea they will naturally start to find ways to amuse themselves.
Make sure that books and toys are within easy reach. If you want your children to listen to audiobooks, prepare them before the quiet time and launch it before you leave the room (unless your child can do so independently).
Ideas for quiet time
Children aged 2–4 years
Suggest building a castle, a house, or a city with Duplo, building blocks, Magnet Building Tiles, Real Wood Logs, Building Blocks, brio trains.
Give them a pile of cushions and blankets, they will create their kingdom.
Art with no mess
- Color Pop Button Art (suitable for 18 months+).
- Erasable books (suitable for 3 years old).
- If your child likes coloring in and knows not to color on the walls, you can give them coloring sheets and crayons.
- Kids love stickers! We bought both the regular stickers and the reusable stickers.
Self-reading books, books, and Audiobooks
My 2-year-old loves her Me Reader Book. She keeps herself happily amused pressing the buttons to hear the story. They have a lot of themes: Fancy Nancy, Mickey Mouse, Toy Story.
Kids this age love to ‘read’ by themselves. Leave out a stack of their favorites during quiet time. I created a personalized book for my toddler with unicorns. At first, she kept asking us to read it to her, but after a while, she started looking at the book and talking her way through it independently.
Children aged 4–6 years
Kids this age love to build things too! Just give them a few materials to get them going. Cardboard, blanket-and-cushion forts, and the like are all great hits.
Independent Art projects
At first, it might help if you give your child something to focus on:
- Make a personalized card for your neighbors, grandparents, teachers, friends so that they know that you are thinking of them.
- Let their imagination run free with stickers and a background (paper plate or shoebox). Or choose sticker books such as Paint by Sticker Kids.
- The National Art Gallery offers free coloring pages.
- Activity books and printables that include things like mazes, join the dots and find the difference. Here is a link to free printables featuring animals from my personalized children’s book series.
Self-reading books, books, and Audiobooks
Always leave books around as an option too. The Me Reader Books described above work for 4–5 year-olds too, as well as their favorite storybooks. You can encourage your children to try to read books they love by themselves. In this blog, I shared a list of books that are easy to read and some tips on how to motivate children to learn how to read.
Read-along CD books: a favorite in our home is the ‘Puff the Little Dragon’ book with the audio CD. The girls feel very grown-up being able to play the CD independently.
Here is a list of audiobooks for Elementary schoolers.
My personal experience
Like everything, the key was reminding our children of the rules as they are forgotten very quickly. At first, we found the girls often found excuses to come and talk to us. One wants to show us what she did, the other needs help, or is bored. We gently reminded them each time that it is quiet time and that we will all talk after.
So it takes a little patience, but once quiet time is an established part of the routine it is totally worth it for an hour of sanity during the day.