In the early afternoon at my house, it is quiet except for the cd playing in the background. All three of my not-at-school children are quiet in their bedrooms for 2 hours straight. This two hour block of time is essential and, need I say, sacred to me. If you come over during the hours of 1-3, know that you tread on holy ground.
Quiet time is literally crucial to my well-being as a mother. Being a mom of so many little kids can be draining. And then you think about all the cooking, cleaning, etc. and it can be downright overwhelming. This is my time to regroup and refocus. If I have had a bad morning, it allows me a chunk of time to restart my day. After quiet time, I feel refreshed, and ready to face the next set of challenges.
Know as you read this that whenever I tell anyone about the way that I run my household, I feel like a complete drill sergeant. Instead, let’s think of it this way: If you were a new sailor, you would be given an orientation course. You would be expected to follow rules to a “T” or disastrous things could happen. Not only effecting you, but the entire crew and other sea faring vessels.
I feel that way as a mom. If I spell out exactly what my expectations in each situation are, when a natural consequence or parent-induced consequence occurs, the kids are usually able to figure out why. They are just as new to this being a kid thing as I am at this being a parent thing. I establish clear boundaries and I know what I should be able to expect of them, and they in turn know what they can expect of me.
That being said, here are my secrets to an effective quiet time:
Have a set time
Quiet time is from 1-3. End of story. No questions asked.
Each kid has a physical boundary. Everyone has their own space. It isn’t build-a-fort-in-your-room-with-your-sibling time. It is take-time-to-rest-your-body-and-mind-and-just-relax time. Little kids sleep in their beds, bigger kids can branch out to the couch to lay down and read.
We also have rule-type boundaries. A sufficient number of books, but no toys. We generally don’t have toys in their bedrooms since toys are for toy rooms and beds are for bedrooms, which helps keep the play time to a minimum. Basically the guideline that I don’t reveal to my kids is: I know you are tired after playing all morning and will sleep great since you have a full belly, especially if you are bored enough…and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that philosophy.
Mom is off duty
Everyone is fed, has gone to the bathroom etc. Everyone knows what a 3 looks like on their clock, and they cannot ask me anything until their clock says 3. If the older kids want to play with a friend quietly during that time, or at a friend’s house during that time, they are welcome to, but they have to have an established plan of what they will do so there is no “mom, I’m bored” or “can we do such and such a thing”. The only one that is allowed to break the rule is the baby. He is starting to transition from one nap to two, which is when he will start taking the approximately two-hour nap right along with the other kids. The kids don’t always fall asleep. In that instance, they have to stay in their bed until the cd is over (and let me tell you, I always put the longest cds on during naptime!) and then they are welcome to quietly play until 3.
This is the key to my productivity. I, like every other human being could so easily be sucked into wasting all my time searching to the end of the internet and back. I plan my nap time like I plan every other part of my day. This is the time where I will study my scriptures, do family history, meal plan, make freezer meals, work on a project or craft that I can’t have little fingers around for, or sometimes I will nap at the same time as the other kids. I have found that when I just waste this two hour period, I do not feel renewed or rejuvenated. I may even come away with a worse attitude because my house doesn’t look like a certain Pinterest house or whatever. That is why I consider these hours sacred. These hours make or break me as a mother. They have the power to change me and make me a better person if I take advantage of it!
So, does it sound a little too strict? Maybe. Let me tell you the benefits that I have found from this schedule:
My kids love to read. For the most part, they all look forward to quiet time because then they can read books uninterrupted for 2 hours!
Research shows that kids thrive on a schedule and knowing what to expect. It is part of our routine and has been since the oldest was a baby. We always take naps after lunch. The duration of the nap has changed and may change again, but for now, this is what works for us.
It’s quite a bit harder to help an older child restart their day if they wake up with a bad attitude. Sometimes just escaping the world with a good book or laying down long enough that they fall asleep, or just plain old having some alone time will help them have a fresh outlook on the day.
There are days where I feel like I can only make it until quiet time. Those two hours give me the ability to make it through the day. I look forward to quiet time, not because I can’t wait for my kids to not be around me, but for the interests I am able to pursue, and the ability that I have to dedicate two hours a day to become a better version of myself as a person and a mother.
How do quiet times work in your home?