Whether or not your child is napping it is essential to their development, and your sanity, that they have a daily quiet time. Much like establishing a nap routine, quiet times take a little getting used to especially if you haven’t done one before or you have a level ten clinger on your hands.
Just a little note before we get started, I am not a child psychologist nor am I a medical professional. These tips are ones I’ve learned on my own as well as reading quite a few articles from trusted sources. That being said, don’t take what I’m saying as law, you must find something that works best for your family and will benefit your child in the long run.
Why is it important for kids to have a quiet time?
- Quiet time helps to recharge an easily overstimulated brain in a toddler or preschooler.
- You’re teaching your child the valuable skill of being alone in his or her thoughts.
- Quiet time helps with transitioning from one part of the day to the next; morning to afternoon, quiet time, evening, bed.
- You need a break to recharge too.
I loved this article by JenniFrizzellFuller on BlogHer about the benefits of quiet time. Here’s a quote from the article that particularly resonated with the message I’m trying to get out to you regarding the importance of this daily ritual (click here to read the article in its entirety):
Emotional Processing: In the book Reset Your Child’s Brain by Victoria Dunckley, she says, “Dealing with constant input lowers the brain’s ability to work through emotions and make sense of what’s being learned” (Real Simple, Jan. 2016). Providing adequate time and quiet space for children to process various emotions that they are perhaps feeling for the first time will allow them to learn coping skills, appropriate responses, and healthy habits around those emotions. Also, it’s helpful to practice quiet processing with young kids especially when they are frustrated or angry (aka, two years old!). Taking a break, taking a breathe, and finding words can lead towards better future responses.
Change is difficult so if quiet time is not something you’ve been doing with your child this can be a very challenging transition. I promise you: It’s worth it. Part of raising adults that will contribute to the good of society is teaching a child to be independent. When your child goes to school there will be a separation that takes place and if your child is literally never out of your sight the mere event of being separated from each other will be excruciatingly difficult. If you have a level ten clinger (the kid who has to sit in the bathroom while you take a shower, no, I’m not talking about a baby or even an 18th-month-old) trust me, it will only get more painful for you the older your child is at the first time of separation.
What does quiet time look like?
- Alone in a room without electronics – TV, tablets, smartphones
- Have toys that are quiet available for your child to play with – puzzles, toys that encourage make-believe, if you have an older child try some crayons and a coloring book (I would never do that with my two-and-a-half-year-old but I would with my five-year-old.)
- Soft music if your child hates the silence but I encourage you to get them to the point where they don’t need any outside stimulation
- Books, books and more books
How do I get my kid to actually stay put long enough during quiet time?
The thing I’ve noticed after 8 years of motherhood and three kids is that sudden changes to routines and demanding behavior just doesn’t work. Why? Because a toddler and preschool-aged child simply do not have the cognitive ability to just “get over it” and make the change because you said so. It takes little steps day by day to get your child used to playing independently. So to start out with, if your child has never been alone in a room by himself, try only doing five minutes. The key thing is to understand that there may be some protest crying and you have to know the difference between “I’m hurt and sad” and “I’m so angry with you right now”. Your child wants to be with you; you are the light of their life and it’s easy to soak that in and want things to be that way forever. That’s not how life works though and if you want to raise a capable adult they have to learn how to be an individual.
If protest crying is too much for you to bear, try these things after you’ve made sure that the child is safe in a kid-proof room with books, puzzles, and toys:
- Set a timer and go on the other side of your home.
- Take a shower.
- Put in some earbuds and listen to a short podcast or jam out to two songs.
- Do whatever you can to distract yourself.
Remember, this first time you’re leaving them is for a short period of time. As your child gets used to being alone try extending the time out. I’ve always had the rule in our house that I’m the one who determines when quiet time is over; my child doesn’t get to have control over that. The only reason I do this is because if they were to have it their way they’d do two minutes of quiet time and then they’d come bounding out of their room demanding to be entertained. The goal in this is to teach them to be independent and to entertain themselves away from you. I feel like a good length for quiet is one hour. This gives both you and your child ample time to recharge.
If you aren’t used to having a quiet time during your day it will take some getting used to and there will be protesting from your little one. Understand that this will be short-lived and you will be so thankful that you’ve made quiet time a priority for yourself and your child(ren).
Bert Anderson is a blogger and social media manager mom of three living outside of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. She’s the author behind the blog First Time Mom, where she honestly chronicles the peaks and valleys of parenting. Even though she has more than one child, Bert maintains that whether you have one child or 19, there’s a first time for everything. She’s a lover of coffee, conversations, pop culture, healthy living and fitness.