A Daily Quiet Time is Important for Children – And Moms, Too
Creating a daily quiet time for kids helps them learn how to entertain themselves and how to be comfortable without external stimulation. A daily quiet time improves mindfulness in children, which creates better emotional health. It gives them the time and the space to hear themselves think and to calm their minds and bodies.
I first implemented a daily quiet time with my children when my oldest was around three years old. When he gave up daily naps I turned his usual naptime into a quiet time. The truth is that his daily quiet time benefitted both him and me.
It’s tough work keeping a little one entertained all day – especially when you have more than one child. Although I don’t believe it’s a mom’s job to entertain her kids all day (See my article You Don’t Have to Play With Your Children) that doesn’t change the fact that most preschoolers don’t know how to self-entertain without being taught.
So, maybe having a daily quiet time for kids is not as easy as telling them to go to their rooms and read a book. But, it doesn’t have to be a difficult process either. I’ve got six tips to keep in mind when you create a daily quiet time for your kiddos.
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How to Have a Daily Quiet Time for Kids
Most children will balk at the idea of a quiet time at first. They’ll find it boring without electronics. But eventually they’ll settle into a daily routine that includes some time away from mommy and siblings.
If you don’t already have a solid daily routine, check out my tips on Daily Routines for Stay-at-Home Moms.
A Word About Electronics During Quiet Time
Look, if you want to let your kiddos use electronics during quiet time go for it. I talk more about my opinions on kids and screen time in my article about controversial parenting choices that I don’t regret. Spoiler alert: My kids get unlimited screen time. You’ll have to read the article to see how that worked for us without being unhealthy.
If you don’t want your children using electronics during quiet time, that’s up to you. If you find it helpful to allow electronics during quiet time go for it. Only you know what’s best for your family.
Quiet time provides a period of rest and relaxation for your child. Sometimes relaxing includes screen time. Sometimes it doesn’t.
Now, let’s talk tips.
Keep it Consistent
Decide when quiet time will be each day and then stick to it. As a stay at home mom of young children, I created a consistent daily routine. Quiet time happened right after lunch each day. At that time of day all of the errands were finished, so we were settled in at home. Quiet time fell between lunch and snack time. This break in the day gave me time to get ready for the afternoon and evening ahead.
You may find that a morning quiet time works better in your home. Just be sure to keep it at the same place in your routine each day. You’ll find your kids fight it less if they already know it’s coming. Children thrive when they have a consistent rhythm to their day. They more easily accept the next step of the routine when they expect it.
Make Quiet Time For Older Children Coincide With Nap Time For Younger Children
As I mentioned already, I chose to have quiet time in the afternoons right after lunch. When my oldest was three years old, my middle son would often nap around 1 pm. I wanted quiet time to coincide with naptime so I could also have some quiet time for myself!
Scheduling quiet time for older children during the naptime of younger children helps keep your home peaceful while the younger children sleep. No more interrupted nap times because of an older sibling’s loud play.
Scheduling quiet time during nap time also allowed me to have uninterrupted time to nurse the baby before he fell asleep. That’s a win-win!
Create a Separate Space For Everyone
If your children each have their own bedrooms it’s easy to give each child a separate space for quiet time. If your children share a room, you’ll have to get creative.
Allow one child to have the shared bedroom for quiet time while the other has quiet time in the living room. I’ve allowed my boys to occasionally have quiet time in my bedroom for a change of pace.
When my oldest son was closer to eight years old, sometimes he wanted to have his quiet time outside. If the weather was nice, I obliged. He liked being able to play without his little brothers around. We had a couple of rules, though: If he decided to come back inside during quiet time, he had to do it quietly. Also, he couldn’t stop to check out what I was doing before heading to his room to finish quiet time. (Because what I was doing might involve sneaking a piece of chocolate that I didn’t want to share.)
Keep The Length of Quiet Time Reasonable
A full hour-long quiet time is a wonderful thing. However, it’s not always a practical thing. Unless your three year old, for example, is an uncommonly introverted child, he or she isn’t going to want to be alone for an hour.
Boredom will take over and quiet time will become a painful experience.
I suggest the following quiet time limits for the following ages:
Under 3 years old – Nap time or quiet time with mommy.
A child under the age of three won’t understand quiet time. They will likely cry or come find you if left alone for a forced quiet time. Let their daily nap serve as quiet time. If they no longer nap have them sit quietly with a book or toy (or screen) in the same room as you.
If they become restless or loud, remind them that it’s quiet time. Redirect them back to a quiet activity.
Don’t make them sit quietly for more than ten minutes at a time.
3 years old – 20-30 minutes of quiet time alone.
Help your child settle in with a quiet activity. Check in on them every ten minutes or so. At first they will likely protest being alone, so keep the quiet time short.
Of course, this depends on the maturity and introversion/extraversion of your child. Gradually bump the time up a minute or two each week until you reach a full 30 minute quiet time.
4-6 years old – 30-40 minutes of quiet time alone.
If your child has never had a quiet time before, I suggest starting with 20 minutes and working up to 30 or 40 minutes.
Check in with your child every 15 minutes or so for the first few days. Set a timer so they can see how much longer quiet time will last.
Be sure set them up with a quiet activity before leaving them alone.
7 and older – 45 minutes – 1 hour of quiet time alone.
Start with only 30 minutes at first, then gradually add minutes until you reach the right amount of time.
Give them a timer that tells them how much time is left.
Set a Timer for Quiet Time
I taught my boys to look to the clock to answer the question of “When is quiet time over?” . Without a view of the clock, they’d pop out every five minutes asking if it was time to come out yet.
Thirty minutes feels like an eternity to a child. If they can’t relax enough to engage in reading or thinking or drawing or playing they won’t get the full benefit of quiet time. Constantly asking when quiet time will be over isn’t relaxing for anyone!
Set a timer so your children know how much longer they have to entertain themselves.
Don’t Force It
Don’t make quiet time a battlefield. At first, your children probably won’t understand the concept of quiet time. Tell them about it the day before you plan to implement it. Tell them that it’s a time where everyone plays alone and plays quietly.
Explain the rules about not bothering others during quiet time and only talking to mommy if there is an emergency. (Be sure to define what an emergency consists of based on their age and maturity level.)
Decide if you’ll allow electronics during quiet time. I did allow television or movies for my children. If you won’t allow electronics, be sure to provide books, art supplies (like crayons, not paint, of course!) and other things that they can do without help.
Start slowly. If your young child emerges from his or her room after only five minutes, praise them for making it that far and send them back for five more minutes.
Don’t get upset because your child won’t stay put in his or her quiet place. Give more attention to the fact that they made it for as long as they did. This is a new concept and being away from their main source of entertainment – YOU – is difficult at first.
Show compassion and let them know you understand how they feel, but remain firm that quiet time is here to stay.
After you and your children settle into a routine daily quiet time you’ll all benefit from the break you get from each other and the time you have to regroup before tackling the rest of your day.
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