Naptime is the best time. Isn’t it? But what happens when your toddler or preschooler drops their nap? Scream? Run for the hills? If the end of naptime is on the horizon, there is no need to panic. I am here to share the ultimate guide for quiet time for kids to help set everyone up for success. Yep. That downtime you almost lost will meet you soon on the couch.
In this article, I will share why quiet time benefits everyone in your family & tips on how to get started with quiet time for kids.
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Why quiet time is important
I am not willing to lose my downtime. (and I don’t have to be)
As parents, our days operate and function around our child’s naps. It’s a time when everyone gets a break. A recharge. You get solo time. You get time to check a few things off your list. You get time to drink your coffee. I didn’t realize how I took this built-in time for myself for granted.
But I sure got a wake-up call when my oldest decided to drop his naps. Suddenly, the day seemed to double in length, I got nothing done, and everyone was crabby.
Something needed to change.
I needed to figure out how to get my son to have downtime. Something to allow his mind and body to slow down so that I could recharge myself, just like the good ‘ol napping days.
The answer is quite simple. But, how to actually do it may be the hard part and can feel intimidating.
What is quiet time?
Like a designated nap time, quiet time is scheduled into your child’s daily routine. This dedicated time is intended to be time spent alone either in their room or a calm space, distraction-free. When you establish a space for your child to play independently, you give them the freedom to create and play. This builds confidence.
Experts acknowledge that quiet time is essential and beneficial to growing children. Child psychologists agree that quiet time for kids gives them the opportunity to:
- Deepen learning and understanding
As I mentioned, once my kids started dropping their naps in our home, we began using quiet time instead of naptime. It gives their racing minds and constantly moving bodies a break. This break is essential to having a positive, fun, and playful afternoon!
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10 reasons why quiet time good for kids
Okay, so here I am after a quick Google search telling you that quiet time is important for kids. But why? Why is this mom on the internet claiming quiet time to be so important?
Quiet time for kids offers so many benefits for your child:
- Allows physical rest
- Boosts mindfulness
- Builds confidence
- Develops self-awareness
- Encourages independent play
- Increases creativity
- Improves bedtime routine & sleep
- Recharges the body and mind
- Time to decompress thoughts and feelings
- Uninterrupted play
Don’t feel guilty about quiet time – it’s good for you too!
As parenting goes, we are only the best version of ourselves for our kids when we take care of ourselves first. If you don’t get time to recharge throughout the day, you will be left feeling exhausted, drained, and burned out.
Did you know? Dedicating quiet time for your kids is just as important for them as it is for you!
When you schedule quiet time for your kids, you are getting naptime back again. And think of all the things you could do to take care of yourself!
- Catch up on your favorite show
- Check a few things off your to-do list
- Enjoy a mid-day coffee in peace
- Prep dinner
- Respond to emails
- Scroll Instagram
- Sit down and take a load off
- Stare out the window (only me?)
- Zip through your favorite parenting workshop
When quiet time is over, the idea is to feel rested, productive, and ready to be so much more present for your kids! – so promise me no chores, okay?
How long should quiet time be?
When it comes to determining how long quiet time should be, this is a personal choice. The length of quiet time is subjective.
Ask yourself, what is my child used to? If your child has been playing in their room rather than sleeping at naptime, start with the time they typically self-entertain. Keep in mind tha child’s focus is typically is twice their age. Read more about normal attention span expectations for kids from Brain Balance.
If you are starting to incorporate quiet time in your home, the best thing you can do is: Start small! Slowly and gradually, add time. When you start small, you are setting them up for success. And yes, that is a portable potty I said to my youngest’s bedroom to help establish the habit of staying in his room during quiet time.
PARENTING TIP: When your child successfully navigates their daily decisions, they will feel confident and motivated in their abilities.
Tell me how to set up a quiet time!
Acknowledging the benefits of quiet time for kids is step one of building quiet time into your daily routine. But it’s easy to say you know it’s good for your child. But HOW do you get this quiet time party started?
Setting your child up for success is the key to establishing a healthy and happy quiet time routine for kids!
Quiet Time Toys for Kids
15 quiet time toys and activities that kids actually play with. Fun ideas to help kids independently play and parents take a midday break.
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- Option one: Give them a few ideas or activities – Set them up with a coloring book and crayons or grab them a breakfast invitation busy bag. When my boys started quiet time over the pandemic, I had each child pick one toy they would like to bring to their room.
- Option two: Place a basket of quiet time toys only allowed for this period.
- Explain the plan with your child. Talk with your child about how this is the same as naptime, but now they can choose what to do in their room.
- Use a visual timer – This is a great timer to use for a child that continues to poke their head out the door asking when the time is up. If your child is satisfied with the quiet time expectations, keep the visual timer as a backup.
- Start small – begin with a short window of quiet time, and slowly increase the time. For example, start with 10 minutes on the first day and increase by 3 minutes each day until you reach your desired length.
- Use an audible timer so they know when quiet time is done. An audible cue is helpful and exciting for kids when finishing and completing tasks.
Quiet time activities & ideas
The ultimate goal of quiet time for kids is for your child to play independently. But sometimes, especially when you are first starting with a quiet time routine, your child may need a little inspiration or direction for their independent play.
Breakfast invitations are an excellent way to encourage independent play.
Here are three 3 favorites (breakfast invitation) activities that can be used as quiet time:
Here are a few easy, no-setup options that your child can get themselves:
- Building (magnetic tiles, wooden blocks)
- Reading – Here are the best books for a Kindergarten read-aloud.
What if my child is resistant to quiet time?
It is so common for children to resist the idea of quiet time. As we know well, children crave closeness and connection. And quiet time often means they are by themselves. Understandably, this may driyour child’some resistance, even some anxity. This is normal.
Here are some tips to help encourage quiet time:
- Positive reinforcement – Offer a small reward once the quiet time is done (maybe a snack or a visit to the park). Here is how I reframe power struggles and allow my child to have some say in the day.
- Proximity – Kids crave connection, so start with quiet time in a space that is near you. Once they are comfortable with playing without you, try moving the location to their own space or bedroom.
- Start small – Begin with a very short quiet time (10-minute max) and slowly add on.
Remember: Quiet time is beneficial for everyone in your house! Just because your child doesn’t want to be alone doesn’t mean you have to dismiss the idea of quiet time for kids altogether. Find ways that work for you, your child, and your family dynamic to make quiet time work in your home!
Quiet time can create a healthier and happier home for everyone!
Scheduling quiet time into your child’s daily routine can offer so many benefits to their growing, developing, and learning minds. It can ultimately build their confidence with independent and creative play.
Allowing your child to spend some solo time in their own space also allows you to get some time to yourself to prep dinner, answer emails and recharge with your much-deserved mid-day coffee. Don’t feel guilty about incorporating quiet time. In fact, it’s the opposite. Quiet time can create a healthier and happier home for your family!
More independent play activities & ideas
If you are looking for more activities for your child during or after quiet time, check out some fun activities! But remember, quiet time should be self-directed. This list of toys under $25 has the best quiet-time toys!
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Quiet time is a designated time of day for solo independent play for your child. Think of it as an alternative to naptime once your child drops their naps. It encourages independent play while allowing your child to calm down and recharge for the rest of the day.
Start small! Setting your child up for a positive and successful period of quiet time is all about making it simple and easy for them. Begin with a short quiet time and gradually add time to lengthen the quiet time. You can use an audible timer so they know when it is over.
What kinds of activities are good for quiet time?
Puzzles, books, stickers, building, and audiobooks are all easy go-to options for quiet time. Many of our breakfast invitation ideas are wonderful quiet-time activities as they encourage independent thinking and play.