Home Education

When Naps Are a Thing of the Past

March 11, 2015 by Hayley Beck
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen I had only three children {all under the age of three} naps were imperative, for all of us! Now that they are 7, 5½, and 4 years old, naps are a thing of the past. But there’s something still imperative about everyone having some downtime. So, we have “Quiet Time” between 12:30-2:00pm every day. During this time, my two youngest children {ages 1 and 2½} are napping, but my three older children are not.

 

When Naps are a Thing of the Past

 

Quiet Time used to be in the middle of the afternoon, for us, but now it begins immediately following lunch, when the younger two are tucked away in their rooms napping. We close all our blinds — something about closing the blinds communicates a ‘hush’ tone — and with our home tidied from the morning chaos play, we are ready to begin our Quiet Time Activities.

Quiet Time in our home has evolved over the years, like many things as children grow. In realizing that we all still needed down time, but not quite in the way of a nap anymore, I decided to create “Quiet Time Activities” for each individual child.  Anyone who didn’t need a nap would have the opportunity to play on their own; no loud noises, be mellow, stay separate, and guess what? No need to share! This means setting My First Dollhouse exactly how they want, or they could have the conversation with their Little People just as they imagine. It is their play time, just for them.

Of course, Quiet Time is also for me. I enjoy having the downtime as well. That moment when you breathe a sigh, and have the opportunity to sip hot tea {and maybe even finish it}, read a book, reply to emails, schedule appointments, or call to check on a friend. I can even use it for prepping dinner, or baking a special treat without ten hands trying to help. Or {gasp} take the opportunity to nap myself — don’t those 10 minute power naps do wonders?!

 

Instituting a Quiet Time

So, how did I start and what does it look like?

I went through our home and wrote down all the things my children could do that were age-appropriate, things they could do on their own, for at least 20-25 minutes. I also chose activities that are difficult to do with babies and toddlers awake. Have you ever tried to do a floor puzzle when a 12 month old and 2 year old are present? Trust me, I don’t recommend it. And, I also chose activities that they usually wouldn’t choose to play during the day.

Once I had my list of activities, I chose three activities and three locations in our home for each day of the week. I tried to choose seemingly different activities. So, for one day I may choose to have the dollhouse set up in the living area, a work-alone craft such as sticker by numbers at the dining table, and age-appropriate puzzles such as these in the master bedroom.

I assign my children to an Activity Station and tell them the rotation for that day. “Child A will start in the dining room, then move to the living room, then move to the master room. …. Child B will start in the living room, move to the dining room…” and so on. This allows each child to know their order of play, especially when they are excited about a certain activity.

I set the timer for up to 25 minutes. When the timer ends, each child is to take a few moments to clear up their mess, and pick up what they were playing with. In essence, getting it ready for the next child to start with a clean slate. It is also teaching the value of picking up after oneself. It gives a fresh start for the next child, and then there are no complaints about this activity being more to pick up than that activity, and starting the afternoon off sour. But, how would I know such a thing?

 

Benefits of Quiet Time

Quiet Time Activities gives something to each of us; for the placid child who enjoys being on their own, for the extrovert who needs to learn to enjoy being on their own, and for the leader who has no one to boss but themselves. Not only does it give individual play time, but sometimes the opportunity for me to be with a child one-on-one. I have a specific day set aside each week when I bake or prep dinner with my children, one at a time, as they rotate. It works wonderfully. You know that doing a floor puzzle thing with a 12 month old and 2 year old? Same goes for baking.

After Quiet Time Activities were established in our home as part of our day, I found that it worked marvelously to occasionally skip altogether and allow my older children to just play together, especially if they were outdoors and enjoying the sunshine, without the responsibility of having the younger ones in tow. On the other hand, if there seemed to be a need for everyone to rest after a busy weekend or an extra full weekday, I may just set up an audio book while they lay down on the couch and listen for the first Quiet Time Activity, and then separate after that for just two rotations. If I happened to judge poorly and the afternoon went haywire because Quiet Time Activities ought to have taken place, I have resorted to setting up Activity Stations behind closed doors and keeping the little ones with me in the living area. This has worked well also, though I seldom do it.

By the way, Quiet Time Activities dovetails nicely into our Circle Time or Morning Time. I know, it’s the afternoon, but this is when it fits perfectly into our day {right about 2:00pm}. Our alone time has come to an end, I gather my older ones to begin our Time together, and as the younger two get up, my lap is prepared to hold a drowsy wee one while they wake fully up, and the joy of Circle Time brings us to begin our afternoon together before five young ones are anxious to go running off and playing together.

Quiet Time Activities have created the wonderful opportunity of regular playtime alone. Planning it on paper has avoided me scrambling and feeling fragmented at a time when everyone, including Mama, needs a break, to stop for a moment and catch one’s breath, and then be ever-so ready for the afternoon. In our home, it brings a sense of peace and of joy even. Perhaps it is the privilege they have, if just for a short while, to play their way without anyone telling them otherwise.

 

Quiet Time Activity Ideas

Here are some things that work well for our Quiet Time Activities that aren’t listed above:

Day And Night Game, Color Code GameMagnetic Dress-Up DollsMarble Race, Listening to music with headphones, or a story from Librivox.org with headphones, or playing a game on the computer with headphones, Stamping & Coloring. Other ideas that may work for your family: an age-appropriate do-alone craft, sewing kit, lego.

Quiet Time Activities

Click here to download!

I created a very simple document that is displayed on our school board for easy reference each day. You can download it here. On Thursdays we rest as we have P.E. that morning for 2 hours at a nearby park, plus my 4 year old may sometimes still fall asleep. You’ll also notice I have a rotation for Saturday as well. Whilst we do not have a school day routine on Saturdays we have found it’s still vital for a successful afternoon to have some alone, quiet time on Saturdays as well. Sundays we require everyone to lay down on their beds and rest because of our current schedule for that day, church in the morning and our small group that meets late afternoon. We may squeeze in a family board game of some sort toward the end of Quiet Time while the younger two are still napping.

So, here’s to planning a serene portion of your day, no matter the ages of your children.

 

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24 Comments

  • Reply Mama Rachael March 5, 2017 at 10:28 am

    On days with baking or dinner prep, does that mean no down time for you? How do you balance the screen time during rest time with other times of day? I’ve got a 5 yr old and 6 mo old, so I don’t need to rotate people yet, but these give me ideas for structuring the time, so I get a longer down time! This introverted mom-mom needs the break from extroverted oldest ☺

    • Reply Hayley Beck March 5, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      Hi Mama Rachael,

      You are right- those days that I had scheduled for baking or dinner prep I did not have any downtime, but I strategically chose those days of the week.

      I’m not really sure I understand what you’re asking when it comes to screen time during rest time with other times of the day. So if I’m not answering your question please feel free to elaborate. I only have screen time during quiet time, and I only have allowed Starfall because I don’t have to be concerned with where they click.

      And actually, I’m in the process of writing a follow up post to this one because my children are just a little bit older now and I have more children, too and so our Quiet Time has evolved yet again. But for you just having the one and with your oldest being five some of these ideas may just work perfectly. Let us know.

      • Reply Mama Rachael March 6, 2017 at 7:58 am

        Thanks for you thoughts. My 5 yr old is an all in kind of kid. He loves screen time and would spend all day on it if we let him. Both hubby and I struggle with this too, so working to establish limits. We have a wii with a balance board so this is a regular use of screen time. I’m thinking through how we might better use screen time. I like the idea of days that have starfall time (we love their stuff!) Or maybe some self paced math site, during quiet time, since these are relatively quiet activities. Then other das allow for wii time after quiet time (since that’s not so quiet). This might just be me thinking out loud. Thank you for you response, it did help me clarify my own thoughts.

        • Reply Hayley Beck March 7, 2017 at 9:56 pm

          Hi Rachael,

          You’re definitely in a unique situation with just one having to entertain themselves. That in itself is challenging. I’ve been thinking about how having a rotation of things to do may help direct his play. Even using screen time as a motivation; something like, “Let’s have you do [this activity first] and then you can play on the Wii for 30 minutes” or something like that. While establishing ‘limits’ as parents we still have to allow the need to wean our children away from screen time if they’ve had too much for a period of time, wouldn’t you say?

          I think in your situation, if it were me, I would have more things scheduled throughout the day, maybe even have a plan in place as a guideline. Not that you’d need to follow it to a T but scheduling pockets of his day will also allow you blocks of downtime that you know are coming up for you as well.

          If you have a morning activity time or structured play time planned and an afternoon activity structured play time planned then in-between could be more of a quiet time giving you the downtime you need helping you be more present and available during those other times as well.

          What do you think?

          Hayley

  • Reply Sarah Denley March 11, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    I loved this so much! My oldest has long since given up naps and is a very independent, quiet child. Her brother recently gave up naps and he’s…loud and a social butterfly. Right now, he’s just having time in his room and I get out puzzles and things that he doesn’t typically play with. We would like more children and we have a small-ish house and I was wondering how I’d make this work. Thanks so much for the suggestions!

    • Reply Hayley Beck March 12, 2015 at 8:58 pm

      Sounds like you’re already off to a great start, Sarah.

  • Reply Pam March 11, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    I love these ideas. I have never thought of setting up stations for them. Brilliant!

  • Reply Tristan March 11, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Quiet time has been my sanity saver for years! Today I was especially blessed by quiet time because it meant I could nap. I’m pregnant with #9 and some days I just need a nap. The ‘big kids’ ages 13, 10, 9, 7, 6, 4 were in their beds reading, coloring, or listening to the audio book playing in the hall between bedrooms. The 3 year old and 1 year old and I were all napping. Bliss!

    We don’t do any playing with toys during quiet time, it just never worked well for us. We’re in a small house (3 bedroom, less than 14oo sq. ft. for the 10 of us). It means I have multiple children per bedroom. Everyone is in their bed. Coloring/drawing material and books are the only allowed items. Toys were just too tempting – seeing a sibling a few feet away playing made some children desperate to play with that exact toy. Ahem…

    Great post!

    • Reply Hayley Beck March 11, 2015 at 7:18 pm

      Thanks for sharing what you do in your home, Tristan. It’s wonderful to be able to share how different we as families do things but achieve the same desired result.

      I, too, am in a 1400 sq. ft home, but just for the 7 of us… so I understand about having multiple children per bedroom. That may be why you and I must be somewhat strategic in our implementation of quiet time.

      p.s. I’m still voting for a girl! 🙂

  • Reply Rebekah March 11, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    This is exactly what we do (without the rotation…mine are still young enough I think that would take a great deal of supervision). My children are 4, 3, 2, and one due in June. Thanks for the extra ideas! It’s hard to find busy things such little children can do on their own.

    • Reply Hayley Beck March 11, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      Rebekah, I went back into the post and linked to the Fisher Price dollhouse that we use. My four year old needs more help than my older ones, and so oftentimes I am with her on certain activities or close by. My kitchen and dining room are adjoining so if I’m in the kitchen I can be close by to help. A floor puzzle is something that I’ve found my 4 year old can do and also playing with the magnetic dolls I mentioned. She is also working on the Day and Night Game but for this activity I usually try to have something else for her as well, as her attention span is not as long as the others. She wants to keep up with her older two sisters, so that’s different than if she were the oldest. When my older two were 3 and 4 1/2 I would use the Fisher Price dollhouse and even a car mat with matchbox cars in separate rooms and we only did one or two activities for 15-20 minutes each. It does get easier as they get older and can do more on their own.

  • Reply Amber March 11, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    What a great post, Hayley! I love how you have it all planned out and thought out ahead of time. I find after lunch is my lowest energy period, and trying to set up quiet time on the fly is such a challenge. I usually feel like I have to dive right into schoolwork once the baby and toddler are down for naps, but I’m giving myself a little breathing space today and it is definitely nice. Although I’m a little concerned about getting done what needs to get done before I have to start dinner prep…

    • Reply Hayley March 11, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      My mornings can go haywire too and we can opt to do our schooling during naptime. Though I admit, I find it more of a challenge to do read alouds? Sometimes I feel my eyes going cross-eyed and my voice droning on…

      I have thought that we may have to move in this direction the more school work we have in future years, but for now, this is what works the very best. I just so need it.

      I hope your afternoon goes well and dinner prep is smooth-sailing wherever it fits in. 🙂

  • Reply Claire March 11, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    I’ve had a quiet time in the past, but for various reasons it fell by the wayside, and when I’ve tried to reinstate it, it hasn’t worked out. I love these ideas, especially the baking day. I’ll have to think about whether I can convince my now- 3yo to get on board. We’d have to work up to it, I think… But can I fit it in? we already don’t get enough outdoor time… But I’ve noticed that sometimes including down time like this can somehow create time elsewhere in the day… Ponder, ponder… Thanks for the post!

    • Reply Hayley March 11, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      Outdoor time is so important as well, isn’t it? Sometimes I find that being outdoors is enough and I don’t bring them in for quiet time at all. {And, sometimes I regret it.} I began quiet time activities because there was bickering and I didn’t want it to become the norm. Really, I use this as my guide, and sometimes I do just allow my older three to play outside and enjoy the lovely weather. And if it goes haywire, then I can do two activity rotations or even just one. But I’m with you- outdoor time is so important!

  • Reply Julie March 11, 2015 at 11:55 am

    I have been where you are with five children 6 and under, and what you are sharing is what we always implemented, even when the children gave up their naps; it was a life saver. They needed the quiet, and I did, too. I always told them it made me a better Mama to have some quiet in the afternoon. It still does! Although my children are older now, I still have a younger crew, too, so this is a good reminder to continue with this for their sake and mine. Thanks so much for the activity recommendations. I plan on purchasing several of them for an upcoming birthday.

    • Reply Hayley March 11, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      It sure makes me a better Mama. What activities do you do for your older ages, Julie? Do share.

      • Reply Julie March 11, 2015 at 5:28 pm

        My older children are now 13, 11, 9 and 7. They love to draw, read a “free read”, play outside, or listen to audio books. For my boys, they have LOVED the radio drama Sugar Creek Gang. They are expensive because of copyrights, etc. but they have been a wonderful investment. Any of these things seem to work. They just know that it is a quieter time in our house due to their 2 younger siblings napping. It is a part of our family culture, and always has been, and I think they actually appreciate it as well. Sometimes I forget that they too are not able to have quiet in their day due to all of the people that live in our house…9 and counting! As much as having a large family is wonderful because there is always someone to play with, it has it’s downside in that there is a lot of stimulation all the time, and it is hard to get away from it. A bike ride or walk by themselves is also a good choice for that reason.

        • Reply Hayley Beck March 11, 2015 at 7:12 pm

          It was actually my oldest that inspired me to consider this for quiet time because she really enjoys being on her own, and my second just loves to be right by her side. It’s this balance we create for our children in larger families, isn’t it?

          My oldest, now 7, sometimes does opt to pass on an activity and just read a ‘free read’ and sometimes my 4 year old may opt to just draw and color.

          Thanks for sharing what you do. I’ve heard of the Sugar Creek Gang but haven’t really looked into it. Thanks for inspiring me to do so.

  • Reply Catie March 11, 2015 at 9:54 am

    I love this! This is exactly the season I’m in right now–my baby naps and my two girls (and me!) have Quiet Time. Keeping them quiet and busy for the amount of time I want can be challenging, as you know. I just love your ideas and I hadn’t heard of those toys before so thank you for linking to them. 🙂

    • Reply Hayley March 11, 2015 at 1:42 pm

      It’s such a wonderful season, isn’t it? But this time in our day can feel so crucial for me so I can give my all before and afterward. Please let us know how it works out for you when you begin to implement it.

  • Reply Sarah Mackenzie March 11, 2015 at 9:24 am

    This post is a great resource! Quiet times for my big kids have been absolutely imperative to my sanity as they’ve grown past napping stage. Now I need them to go do something quiet so that I can get some solitude while the babies nap. 🙂 Thanks for writing this!

    • Reply Hayley Beck March 11, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      Thanks so much, Sarah.

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