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    Home Education

    Thinking Through The Introvert Advantage (What is the Purpose of Quiet Time?)

    January 13, 2010 by Brandy Vencel

    Most home-educating families I know of incorporate some sort of Quiet Time into their afternoons. And many couple I know who do not yet have children have commented that if they were doing what we are doing, they would want to have regular Quiet Time, too. When the children are very young, Quiet Time is really Nap Time, sometimes for Mommy, too. But once naps begin to be dropped, Quiet Time as a formal part of the day really sets in.

    The Options

    There are probably as many versions of Quiet Time as there are families, so I don’t want to talk about the shape which Quiet Time takes as much as the purpose of it in the first place. I can only think of three real options as far as purposes go, but if you have more feel free to add them in the comments:

    1. The primary purpose of Quiet Time is to offer a period of time for “recharging” before the day picks back up with dinner and other later afternoon and evening activities.
    2. The primary purpose of Quiet Time is to offer balance in the lives of family members–much of the day is spent with other people, often all in the same room, and this is a chance to be separate.
    3. The primary purpose of Quiet Time is to offer the introverted mother an opportunity for sanity, a chance to recharge her own personal batteries.

    How we define the purpose of Quiet Time is going to determine what Quiet Time looks like and feels like within the family.

    Which is Your Quiet Time?

    Let me say now that I only consider options 1 and 2 to be valid options. Though introverted mothers may benefit personally from Quiet Time, I think holding that benefit up as the sole purpose for Quiet Time is dangerous. There was a time when, if I had been honest with myself, this was the real reason for our Quiet Times, and I found myself very resentful whenever someone woke up early from their nap, or needed help with a math problem. Now that I view Quiet Time differently, I experience the interruptions differently as well.

    If a family chooses the first option, and decides that the purpose of Quiet Time is rejuvenation, then they are going to be obligated to discover what rejuvenates the individual children. For instance, if you have two extroverts, or one extrovert and your neighbor child is an extrovert also, letting them play quietly together is probably the best way to go, for extroverts tend to be drained by time alone.

    Our Quiet Time is not for the purpose of rejuvenation. It is for balance. It is my belief that the ideal mature person can handle being with others and being alone equally well. And because I am a Christian, I also see the importance of spending time in reflection, prayer, and Scripture reading. Even for young non-readers, having a habit of Quiet Time can offer the space to grow into a more active spiritual life. So, just as I expect my introverts to show up and participate in Circle Time, I expect my extroverts to spend time alone during Quiet Time.

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  • Reply Kate Myers April 4, 2023 at 8:07 am

    Ok – would a fourth category be a homemaking Deep Work section where you can make the plans, break down the time, so you do not have it on your plate when the five, seven and under, ask you how to spell discombobulate and how many days are in a thousand minutes and when dinner is, while you are nursing a baby?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel April 4, 2023 at 3:19 pm

      I think that’s a good addition. I have often done my planning while the children were around and *not* during Quiet Time (which we don’t have anymore as half the children are adults and the remaining are teenagers) but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea for that time, especially if there are a lot of moving parts to sort out.

  • Reply Kerry January 16, 2010 at 1:26 am

    I love “quiet time”. My friends (most of whom do not homeschool) are surprised that we have a quiet time each day, but it is essential to our family’s and my sanity. We all need the time for quiet activities to recharge and let the learning we’ve done soak in.

    My kids often balk a bit at quiet time (good gracious – my eldest is 13…we’ve been doing it that long!), but they all come out much happier people.

    I think I started quiet time because the kids needed the nap, but then I also needed it for #3…and over time it has come to be #2.

    Without it our day seems to spin off course with the constant activity.

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts January 14, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Willa, I agree with you that incorporating some sort of Quiet Time lends itself to the development of holiness, it leaves space for spiritual disciplines…it gives time to have a thought.

    What you said about Edith Schaeffer reminded me of something I once read about Susanna Wesley. She had–what?–17 children or something like that. It is said that she would sit in her rocker and pull her apron over her head, and all the children would know not to disturb her, that she was thinking and praying.

    Mystie, All bets are off when you throw pregnancy into the mix! I spent every pregnancy in complete survival mode–I had 7.5 months of intense nausea every time, bed rest once, and so on. So when we are talking about this, maybe that is another disclaimer: I am talking about relatively normal life rather than making it through pregnancy, newborns, or even something like grief.

    I am thinking that would help. I consider the life I am living right now to be mostly normal: I don’t have tiny babies, I can get a full night’s sleep if I want it, etc. But even last week, when I was at the height of a cold, I had to do what you mentioned and super-enforce QT. It really wasn’t due to selfishness–I was very serious about trying to rejuvenate enough to make a decent dinner and so on.

    Now that I’m thinking about it, I think that what really matters most is the heart attitude. I think one could have a selfish or a selfless attitude with Number Three. The way I phrased it probably wasn’t fair to one who is using Number Three proactively as a way of further laying down her life for others.

    And then there is the idea of holiness and devotion, which Willa spoke of. I personally try and carve out time for activities such as Bible reading when my children are sleeping, which right now means in the evenings. But if the middle of the day is all someone has at the moment, those sorts of things are imperative. The mother, too, has a soul which needs connection to God, or she won’t be a very good mother for very long.

  • Reply Mystie January 14, 2010 at 4:01 am

    See, because I realized #3 is important for me (and my boys, who are also introverts who don’t know they need the down time), quiet time for everyone is “free alone time,” and singing at the top of one’s lungs while playing alone is not acceptable — *quiet* time, I said! πŸ™‚ Hans does most of his free pleasure reading at that time now.

    I guess I think it’s perfectly acceptable for a mom to say to the school-age child, “This is break time, and even Mommies need breaks. You can keep to yourself and not interrupt for two hours.”

    Of course, I’m also a spoiled homeschooler who grew up with the notion that school after lunch was inconceivable and to be avoided at all cost. πŸ™‚

    I’m also sensitive to this area because my mom didn’t have self-awareness about such things when we were younger, so now looking back she has admitted that a big part of her not coping well actually came down to the fact that she was perpetually overstimulated, and I believe that’s true. So it is something she has cautioned me to be aware of.

    Yes, Willa! It is like being sleep-deprived — and when you really are sleep-deprived and pregnant on top of that, things quickly go downhill. πŸ™‚ I think knowing you need the processing time is important so you can claim those little lulls as you mention.

  • Reply Willa January 14, 2010 at 3:52 am

    Well, and I was thinking that Scriptures set us an example of holy people retreating into quiet before they undertake their duties.

    I think there is something about quiet which is good even for extroverts, and for introverts, it may be even more important in that when I don’t have some processing time, I tend to get really confused, almost ADD in the way I confront things, like someone who is sleep-deprived.

    There have been years when I haven’t been able to manage a formal afternoon QT, because my family is very far apart in age, but I usually try to manage even a couple of little corners of the day — lull or interlude times — when I can quietly process. Vacuuming and retreating to the laundry room to fold, etc, work for me in this way.

    I read that Edith Schaeffer would put a copied Psalm on the window sill where she could see it and meditate/pray as she washed dishes.

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts January 14, 2010 at 12:09 am


    You know, after you wrote that, I realized that there might come a day when everyone-at-the-same-time doesn’t work as well as it does now. I already find QT is encroached upon a lot now that I have two non-nappers–a math problem here, finishing up morning things we got behind on there, etc. At that point, I might very well figure out how to provide this balance for everyone, including me, and I’m not sure how that really differs from #3, except perhaps in spirit. My attitude suffers when I see something as an act of desperation rather than just a common sense part of life, but that could be peculiar to me.

    With that said, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said: “We are in a marathon, and we do need to learn how best to cope.”

  • Reply Mystie January 13, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    Drat. I think #3 is the reason we have quiet time. πŸ™‚

    But let me add this nuance to try to justify myself: You don’t necessarily need a Quiet Time to accomplish #2. I have two homeschooling friends with kids the same ages, both of whom are extroverts. They do school (one-on-one with the oldest, who is the only one with school work) in the afternoon while the littles nap. The oldest gets time to themselves, but during “quiet time” mom and oldest are working on school, so mom never gets a non-interaction time. And both of them are happy and say they enjoy their schedules and that time with the oldest. I, on the other hand, would rather manage chaos while working on lessons than give up my own quiet time. Another extrovert homeschooling friend does errands in the afternoon now that none of hers nap; her kids don’t always play together (whereas my boys won’t do separate things unless I separate them, even though they are introverts), none are yet readers, and I think they are all extroverted. Anyway, I guess in my circles I have found that everyone in a family observing the same, designated quiet time most days is only a standard practice in introverted families.

    I had several QT experiences last year that cemented to me that I do need to acknowledge that #3 is very real. First, I tried re-envisioning QT. My thought was while Ilse napped, we would all listen to an audio book for awhile while doing something quiet, and then we would also have a time of being quiet in separate chairs, doing quiet things, but be in the same room. Part of the reason for this was to work in more read-aloud time, and part was because we needed some tomato-staking. It worked fine for the boys, but I went into dinner-prep, evening chaos time totally drained. Second, when our house was on the market and a realtor might call for a showing any time, quiet time was very inconsistent, and it was 2 months before I realized that a large part of the reason I was so fatigued and overwhelmed is that I had so little “off” time. Third, when I realized it was *me* who needed quiet time for sanity, I started looking at how I used that time. If I spend most of it on blogs, then I have not had a rest from interaction. If I spend it making phone calls or listening to a sermon or conference audio, I have not had a noise break. So instead of using that time as my “get things done” time, which is how I had always thought of it before, I now think of it as my own quiet time for sanity.

    Now, I agree, claiming to need “me time” is dangerous. But knowing oneself is also important. We are in a marathon, and we do need to learn how best to cope.

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