Friday, December 11, 2009

Quiet Time for Littles

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?


aspiritofsimplicity said...

I think that is a very nice idea. I did similar when my girls were small. Sometimes I would let them watch a movie...they usually ended up falling asleep. At this time of year I used to have a little nativity set that I would let them play with.

smalltowngirl said...

I think this is so important too. I have teens and I feel like we all still need a "quiet" time. Things get really crazy and I want my kids to realize that they need to take time out to just be. I am reading a book called 30 ways in 30 days to save your family. I just read a chapter yesterday about creating a family quiet time. Glad to see that you are doing that in your family. I was good at it when they were little but I am having to come up with new ideas as they get older. The book have some good ideas. Thanks for reminding us that we need to have quiet time in our busy lives.

Bevy @ Treasured Up and Pondered said...

I really like this... I have been thinking about how to implement this somehow -soon- into our lives. My little still sleep - my time is then "catching up" on things when in reality (like you said) this is just as important for mamma to be relaxed and rested. I think I can still sew "quietly", though. ;)

I LOVE the sign on the door...idea!
Awhile ago I was telling Scott that I should do this because inevitably someone always comes to the door while they are both napping...

Thanks for great ideas~ again.

Jennifer said...

I was so disappointed when my daughter stopped napping in the afternoon. At that time, she would lay in her bed and sing. That didn't seem very quiet and restful, so we implemented quiet time for her. She has what we call "the big blue book bucket" which is a blue plastic tub that was intended to hold ice and drinks. It holds some of her favorite books, and we put it up her bed with her. Then she reads during her quiet time. She's only 4, but she loves this time to herself. She's usually in a better mood when she's done too.

I hadn't thought about quiet time for me too. I try to get done many of the things that I don't like to do while she's up and about. I do most of my computer work when she's having quiet time. That's usually relaxing for me, so I guess that could be considered some personal time for me. I may have to rethink that part of the quiet time though. Thanks!

Audra said...

My oldest has quiet time of just resting on his bed, he very rarely sleeps but lays there while the four younger ones sleep. One is about to outgrow sleeping and we will have to change around to accommodate that. I usually have my Bible study then read blogs, I try to rest and not do any work during that time. Working during nap didn't seem to help the work load, just kept me from resting. I enjoyed reading what works in your home. Thanks!

Bessers said...

We have a very similair "rest time" in the afternoons, normally at 1 or 1:30. My 2yo takes a nap while my 4yo plays quietly in his room by himself for one hour. At times I have felt guilty about "making" him do this, but whenever I have skipped it, I notice that he is unsettled. I really think everyone is happier having this down time. I have heard of other homeschool families that continue this into the school years with a quiet reading time in the afternoon of 30 - 60 minutes. Sometimes I have "rest time" also. Other times I use it to get caught up on work. It's great to hear that others are implementing the same ideas!

Sarah said...

thank you SO much for the post on this topic!!!! this is really a struggle for me right now. but, I think that with a little work, we can get that hour in at least with her. i'd really like to get it back to 2 hrs. though. 1 hr. is just not long enough!!!! thanks for the ideas!! I like the sign on the door and the answering machine. because... the phone ALWAYS rings during nap time!! argh!

Dawn said...

You are right in that quiet time is always changing. When I only had 3-5 kids, they all laid on their beds for quiet time, reading or whatever.
Now, with 8 still at home with me all day, we do things a bit different. My 14 yr old usually does focused schoolwork during quiet time. It's a time she can concentrate on some tougher subjects, and since she is not a morning person, it works well for her.
Everybody else gathers in the living room, spreads out on the furniture and floor, and I put in a video. They all rest quietly while watching their one video of the day, and occasionally someone falls asleep.
I do allow my 11, 10, and 9 yr olds to read or draw or something like that in their bedroom if they choose.
And I usually have my computer time then. I try not to be on the computer when they are up and around; at least not blog reading.
So, that's whatworks for us right now. Sorry to be so long winded!!
See you tonite!

Anissa said...

We LOVE QT at our house! From about 1 till 3, all it still at our house. It is essential because my 3yr old and 9 month old (and mommy) need naps, and my 5 year old huge bundle of social energy needs some forced down time.

Training the oldest was not easy, it included me sitting on the bed beside her while she laid quietly and I did bible study or read a book. But now she stays on her bed and reads quietly for almost 90 straight minutes!

I have chosen to be really strict with quiet time, mainly because my super high energy girl needs very strong rules to keep her focused.

It is a huge blessing to know our family will have peace (almost) every afternoon.

The older girls stayed with a family for 2 days that does not have QT. It was amazing how much self discipline was lost in those 2 days without down time!

Oh, I also trained my girls in a "driving quiet time". We pile in the van at 130 and go driving around the countryside for a while. They look quietly out the windows or nap -- no toys, no books, no talking, no questions. I play sweet piano music on the radio and I get some great thinking time on my mini vacation through the countryside.

Anonymous said...

Monica, Books on tape with earphones are also a great quiet time activity.
Playdough and water colors are good too.:D

Anonymous said...

It's so important that we all learn how to gear down and reflect and rejuvinate ourselves. The younger we learn it the better. Reading books has always been a big part of our down-time. My son likes to do puzzles and Legos so I let him do that during our quiet-time. My daughter is now 20 and at university and she told me that she was so happy she learned how to gear down and reflect and just "be". It's a good way to relieve stress and refocus on what needs to be done.


Deb H said...

Great post, Monica. My mom, mother of 10 kids and go-to person for many other adults who needed advice, implemented a quiet time for herself. The phone came off the hook from 12 - 2 every day - it was her one time during the day in which she could partake of restful activities. Rejuvination is such an important thing!

Kelly said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one with the no phone between 1 and 3. People act like I'm crazy, but I think they are foolish to have to be "connected" every moment. Your idea of letting your wishes be known on your machine's message is a great idea. Thanks Monica.

EmeraldsinGold said...

I was wondering which top you picked to wear with your skirt for Christmas? Will you please let us know? :)

Debbie Fisher (debbiedee) said...

We still do this even though my boys are 14 & 17 and I work full time during the school year.

I first learned of doing this on Dobson. I don't remember the guest he had that day, but I remember she had LOTS of children and told about doing this. My first thought was "yeah right, there was no way this was going to work for my toddler children at that time". But I was wrong! Ü

I loved the idea, because it bothered me that we expected our children to be quiet during church, but never during the week, so how were they suppose to know and understand why they had to be quiet for an hour on Sunday??!!

We started out small as well. Now on the weekends and in the summer we do this still starting at 1 and usually for an hour...longer if needed. My boys love it and if something comes up that we need to do, my 15 yr old will say "but we haven't had quiet time yet". I love that we have instilled this in them and it is fun to see that others do this as well.

Anonymous said...

Excellent ideas! We have instituted time on Saturday when we do not answer the phone...those that know us, know to leave a message and were it an emergency, of course we would respond immediately. It has greatly contributed to our peace. I think it is too easy in our run all the time society to be without quiet time and most people would do better to "put up a few fences" of quiet time during a week.

I have enjoyed reading here for some time...just usually don't write a comment.

Debra said...

I also agree that quiet time it important. We do it here when school is out - no real set time anymore - usually about 2 or 3 though for 30-60 minutes. It's good for everyone. When school is in there usually isn't time with homework and other activities but if there's time I will do it for about 30 minutes. It really rejuvenates us & makes our evening routine run smoother.

melissa said...

I really appreciate your post. I've "always" thought that the kids' naptime was a time for me to get things done, but I don't feel rested afterwards! I think that for the new year, I will try to re-evaluate how I use my quiet time during the kids' naptime. Love it!

janhad3 said...

I don't even know you, but I imagine what you are like and how your home must be filled with such a wonderful spirit. I loved reading this. I am way past these days - my youngest is 15 - but I think what you're doing with your children and this quiet time is vitally important. It IS so important that moms have private time to read, study, do whatever relaxes and rejuvenates them, and just as important that kids learn how to settle down and not have to be so stimulated. To learn to be okay with their own company. Bravo for your Mother work!

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

We also have a quiet hour every afternoon. Most of the time if anyone goes to sleep, I'm the one! :-) My girls are 4 and 5, and they always listen to an audiobook during rest time and play quietly on the bed with quiet toys or look at picture books. With a baby coming this summer, though, I know our routine will have to change a little, at least. ;-)

agnes said...

This is so true. I have 3 and my oldest is 11 but they all have quiet time. They read or play in their room quietly. The rule is no noise so they don't wake up my little one who sleeps for nap.

Maggie said...

I applaud you for desiring peace in your family life. I hope you will be able to continue that even when the kids are older. Boundaries (Cloud and Townsend), is an excellent book. My entire life changed after reading it! It is about each of us creating our boundaries and not allowing others (including our children and husbands) to violate them and being careful not to violate the boundaries of others. It is what God wanted for the Garden of Eden and we all know how we blew that! God bless each of you during this glorious season.

Maggie said...

I applaud you for desiring peace in your family life. I hope you will be able to continue that even when the kids are older. Boundaries (Cloud and Townsend), is an excellent book. My entire life changed after reading it! It is about each of us creating our boundaries and not allowing others (including our children and husbands) to violate them and being careful not to violate the boundaries of others. It is what God wanted for the Garden of Eden and we all know how we blew that! God bless each of you during this glorious season.


I love this. What a great reminder to get thsi routine back into our day. I have let it slip away with my oldest (four) to everyone's detriment. She loves to color though and I LOVE the idea of me on my bed for AN HOUR! Wow, what a blessing that would be! Your posts and photos are beautiful and inspiring and I look forward to following them more now that I have found you!

Christine said...

Thank you for this, Monica. Having a set quiet time has been so helpful in my household. Lately, it has been a bit of a struggle, since my 2 yo learned how to climb out of the crib. This post has given me some much needed inspiration.I will definitely be needing everyone in the house to take a quiet time, especially once my baby is born. (due 3-1-10) Thank you so much for this post!