How To Do Quiet Time
When my twins dropped nap at 4 years old, I was one sad mama. I treasured that alone time to work and get things done around the house. Plus, by that point in the day, I *really* needed a break from my sweet cherubs! <- it’s true!
When they dropped nap, I attempted quiet time, but it turned into a wrestling match and breaking things. #twinboys We don’t have toys in their room because I am a firm believer that bedrooms are solely for sleeping and resting. So I left them in there with just books and stuffed animals, no rules and their imaginations. What could go wrong?!
Their sweet imaginations ran wild. Needless to say, it wasn’t quiet time and it certainly wasn’t restful, for anyone. Three-ring circus is a better description!
We ended up ditching quiet time in place of TV time and they had to rest on the couch for one hour. It worked for our family and schedules. We got some snuggles, which is always a personal favorite, but…
I really wished that I had still had some downtime to do what I needed/wanted to do during that time. I also wish that I had given them some minimal stimulation, independent activities that they could do vs. screentime. If I could go back, I would have created quiet time boxes!
Before we talk about that, let’s explore how to switch from napping to quiet time…
Know That Your Child Is Truly Ready To Stop Napping
Most children are ready to drop their nap anywhere between their 3rd and 5th birthday. Some kiddos are ready right at 3 years old and others hold onto to that nap for dear life until kindergarten!
When you start seeing several of these readiness signs and it has been going on for at least 7-10 days, your little one is likely ready to start this transition:
- Not melting down on no nap days
- Naptime is pushing too late and your little one isn’t settling until after 2:00 pm
- Bedtime is pushing too late because your child is taking 1+ hours to fall asleep
- Your little one is fighting you at bedtime by coming out of their rooms or calling for you with a million requests
- Your child begins waking at night or early in the morning
If this sounds like your child, it may be time to move to quiet time instead.
Why Quiet Time Is Important
Being awake for 12-13 hours a day with no downtime is tough on young children! Their little brains and bodies need time to calm down, decrease stimulation, and rest, even if they won’t nap.
During quiet time, children are experiencing amazing developmental benefits, like:
- Creativity – have you ever heard that boredom creates creativity? With some time, you’ll be surprised with what your kiddos will come up with!
- Recharging – time away from stimulation can help children to be more patient and decrease tantrums. Quiet time helps adults with this too!
- Understanding emotions – children are better able to understand and regulate their emotions, resulting in increased tolerance
- Autonomy – your child will learn to rely on themselves for a short period of time and self-soothe when they feel boredom. This increases self-esteem and self-reliance, both skills which are important as little people grow
- Processing – children have time to make sense of all the new information that they are taking in every day and solidify what they’ve learned when they have awake downtime
I think we can agree that these are all important!
When Should We Do Quiet Time?
In the afternoon, after lunch. The ideal start time is between 12:30 – 1:00.
How Long Should It Be?
Aim for at least one hour and if your child is happy playing independently, you can do up to two hours. It really depends on your child.
What If My Child Falls Asleep?
If your child falls asleep, limit the nap to no more than 30-40 minutes so that you don’t have bedtime battles when you try to get your little one down during their normal bedtime. You may want to push bedtime back by 30 minutes to make it easier for your little one to settle.
Where Should We Do Quiet Time?
I recommend quiet time is in your child’s room. This will give your child a comfortable, quiet place where they can relax and play quietly or rest.
If you have toys in your child’s room (aside from books and stuffed animals), I recommend that you remove them during quiet time so your child doesn’t get overstimulated while trying to rest.
If your child is in a bed, you can setup quiet time activities on the bed or on the floor near the bed.
If your child is in a crib, you can setup your little one in their crib or setup a comfy spot to rest outside of the crib, like a nap mat or a sleeping bag.
How Do We Do Quiet Time?
If you are like “there is *NO* way my child will do quiet time!”, I want you to stay open-minded and patient with this process. It’ll be worth it! Just like when you did independent naps or going to sleep without sleep associations, your toddler or preschooler may protest at first. Children really don’t love change!
When transitioning away from nap and transitioning to quiet time, it is helpful to talk about the change and your expectations/rules with your child in advance. By doing this, you’ll give your child a chance to process the change and to ask any questions / express any concerns. I normally recommend in the morning after breakfast.
“Your body doesn’t seem tired at nap time anymore so we are now going to do quiet time each afternoon instead. If your body is tired, you can sleep or you can rest and play quietly in your room. Mommy made these quiet time boxes for you to play with while you are resting or you can read books or snuggle your stuffed animals. You have to stay in your room during quiet time and stay quiet. Mommy will be having quiet time too. We got you this special clock to let you know when quiet time is over and you can come out of your room.”
If your child does leave their room, make sure that you silently return them to their room with just a simple phrase like “it’s quiet time. I’ll see you when quiet time is over. I love you.” Stay consistent with this so, in time, your child will respect and even enjoy their downtime.
Using quiet time boxes can be a good way for your child to get the rest they need, while still having something to do while resting.
What Are Quiet Time Boxes?
Quiet time boxes are low stimulation, independent play activities that your preschooler can do while resting and relaxing. Your little one gets all the benefits of quiet time and you do too!
I recommend creating multiple boxes – usually one for each day of the week. Each day your child will get the quiet time box at rest time, with toys that they don’t regularly play with. This makes these toys special and can help to hold your child’s attention.
If you find your child losing interest in the quiet time boxes, it may be time to switch up the items.
Also, make sure that you review the items with your child in advance so they understand each item.
Creating Quiet Time Boxes
What’s You’ll Need
- Clear plastic bins – with covers is easiest so they can stack when they aren’t being used
- Labels the bins for the day of the week, which will help with rotation
- 4-6 items for each box that your child can play with independently
What Items To Include
Below are ideas of what to include. You can find inspiration on my Quiet Time Boxes board on my Amazon shop page, but keep in mind that this doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You can use toys that you have at home or you can also look at the Dollar Store for toy ideas we well. There are tons of free coloring page and dot-to-dot printables you can download as well.
- Coloring Books & Washable Markers
- Activity Books & Dry Erase Markers
- Reusable Sticker Activity Pads
- Activity Boards
- Fine motor skill building items
- Do A Dot sheets and washable dot markers
- Water Wow
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Lacing Sets
- Color Wonder activity books
- Magnetic dress dolls
- A small tub of playdough – you know your child best! Some may be able to play independently with this in the cover of the tub and for others this may be a recipe for disaster!
Some children may also enjoy a low stimulation audiobook playing quietly in the background.
RIP Nap! But with these tips, your little one should be relaxing soon and you’ll get downtime to do what you need to do as well!
Tag us on Instagram at @bellalunafamily to show us how you put these tips into practice!
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