Right away we developed a quiet time routine. Through the years the structure of our quiet time has changed to fit out needs, but these are a few of the schedules we have used in our family:
As the toddler phases out their naps, we still put them into their rooms at nap time and closed the door. We told them that they didn’t have to sleep. They could PLAY! They had to be quiet though and they had to stay in their rooms. We started doing it only for 5 minutes at the beginning, then we slowly added time to their quiet play until it was about 45 minutes long. When it got too noisy we just poked out heads in and gave a friendly reminder. If they have a problem with coming out then we filled a cup with teddy-grahams or another small snack/treat and told them that at the end of quiet time they could have the whole cupful of snacks. But every time they came out of their room one of the snacks would be taken out of the cup. Stay near the door with the cup of snacks (just hang out with your book during this training time) and every time they step foot out of the door just say “uh-oh!” and take a treat out. They will be upset but after the loss of a few, they will learn to stay in. Usually with toddlers a few little snacks are worth learning a new routine. Once the routine was established they actually really looked forward to their quiet play time and were renewed and energized by that alone time. I think even kids need some time to themselves!
Mixed Ages Quiet Time:
Now that we have 4 of all varying ages, we plan our quiet time during the baby’s afternoon nap. I put the baby down and we meet on the couch downstairs where we have three segments of quiet time:
#1: Reading Out Loud: We set the timer for 15 minutes. The younger kids all pick out their favorite picture books and I read to them for 15 minutes.
#2: Read-to-Self: We set it for another 15 minutes and we have a “quiet reading time” where we sit on our own and read silently to ourselves.
#3: Quiet Play: We split into our rooms where we can play quietly alone or with siblings as long as its quiet. I don’t close the doors for the older children unless they are forgetting the quiet rule. They play quietly anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours depending on how deeply they get involved in their activities and how flexible our schedule is to allow them to continue.
Quiet time is the rejuvenation and cuddle time for our family. I love that I have a set time aside to read aloud to them (otherwise I may decide on a whim that doing housework is more vital). I also love that we have a time to sit quietly together and read and they can see my example and love for reading. Its also great practice for reverence and being able to sit quietly without disrupting others.