Once your child doesn't need naps anymore, it's still important to offer a quiet resting time. Kids need to wind down from a busy morning and rejuvenate for an afternoon full of more fun and stimulation. A day full of constant stimulation can be a recipe for late afternoon meltdowns. This can include anything from refusing to eat dinner, leading to trouble with a bedtime routine, and middle of the night sleep disturbances, which can become a vicious cycle.
This time of day is also important for parents and caretakers. Adults need time away from the frequent demands of children and they need to be able to get things done independently, without constant interruptions. Adults need time away from children so that they’re refreshed and ready to take on the afternoon!
Here are my top 7 tips to help you develop a quiet time routine that works:
- Offer quiet time 7 days a week: Set specific ground rules and create a visual chart of the rules for your child to follow. Some rules of quiet time should include the obvious, and maybe some not-so-obvious expectations. Your child should be capable of staying quietly in their room for the duration of quiet time. It should be included in the rules that they are not allowed to destroy their room, for example, emptying their dresser drawers and trying on all of their clothes. There should be a conversation about what is and is not allowed during quiet time.
- Use a timer so that your child can visually see how long they need to relax in quiet time. Since toddlers can’t tell time, a toddler clock is a great investment for quiet time. There are also Dollar Store timers that can be used as well. If you’re using a countdown timer, let your child know that they cannot come out of their room until all of the numbers on the timer say zero.
- Implement a quiet time box: Decorate a shoebox or a box from the craft store and encourage your child to be a part of the quiet time box decoration process. Put items in this box that your child is ONLY allowed to use during quiet time. You should cycle the items in this box on a weekly basis, or depending on how often your child seems to be getting bored with all of the items in the box. Try to have a variety of options in your child’s quiet time box, without being overwhelming. Depending on your child’s interest, you can incorporate 5-10 items in your child’s box. * REMEMBER: Quiet time is NOT screen time! Quiet time is independent playtime.
- Offer rewards after a successful quiet time. This can be anything from a special snack together or a special outing together. From a quiet walk around the neighborhood to visiting a new playground, there is so much that can be done after a successful quiet time.
- Get audiobooks for your child to listen to during quiet time: Try to get audiobooks that come with the physical book so that your child has the audio and visual stimulation.
- Make the quiet time short: Work your way up to 60+ minutes. Start small. Start with 15 minutes and add 10 minutes every few days. You don’t need to tell your child that you are increasing the length of quiet time. If you increase the length of quiet time gradually, your child shouldn’t even notice the difference.
- Give your child your undivided attention after quiet time is over: Show them that you are excited that quiet time is over and that you're happy to spend time with them now that they have rested. If you have more than one child, stagger their nap times by about 5-10 minutes so that you have that built in time with each child after their quiet time.
BONUS TIP: Quiet time should always take place in the same location. If your child is having quiet time in their own room, make sure to keep that consistent every single day. If you need to have your child in a different room for quiet time, such as your own bedroom, that’s totally fine! Just make sure that you have toddler-proofed the bedroom and that there are no safety hazards that may cause concern for your child’s well-being. Remember that toddlers love to explore and climb, so even if you think something is up high enough that they can’t reach… toddlers are secretly little ninja in training and they will find a way to reach any shiny object! If you don’t want them touching something, don’t keep it in the same room while your child is having quiet time, unattended.
Do not give up on quiet time! This is seriously such an important part of the day and structuring your day will help your child comply with your expectations. The more consistent you are, the more your child will adapt and accept the quiet time rules. Many children begin to look forward to quiet time and enjoy that time by themselves.
If you are worried about leaving your child in their bedroom unattended, a video monitor is a great solution. Especially one with an audio function, so that you can hear exactly what is going on in your child’s room. Sometimes, it’s just fun to hear the little things that come out of kids’ mouths, often times they repeat things they heard adults saying during the day, when we didn’t even know they were listening! But having a camera is also a great security measure to make sure our kids are safe!
You’ve got this! And once you’re in the routine of daily quiet time, you’ll look forward to this time as much as your child does. You’ll feel more refreshed after having a small break and you’ll be able to tackle the dinnertime and bedtime rush!
Author: Missy Yandow is a certified pediatric sleep consultant and dual-certified potty training consultant, owner of Slumber and Bloom. She is an energetic mom of 3, living the dream with her husband, Tim, in Rochester, NY.
To download a PDF version of her tips, click the link to download the free QUIET TIME GUIDE: https://www.subscribepage.com/quiettime