It can be challenging to establish a regular quiet time habit for your toddler or child at first, but the advantages are numerous and well worth the effort. Continue reading to learn why and how to create a quiet time for kids.
My 2 older kids were both 18 months when the napping stopped. I was not too thrilled about this because this was MY quiet time, and it was JUST GONE!
The sleep crisis that happened due to a nap was too much to handle, and having the boys drop the nap really helped with bedtime.
Unfortunately for me, nap time was the time I used for myself. To watch tv, nap, prep for dinner, scroll on the phone…anything that was quiet and semi relaxing.
So when the naps were dropped, I needed something for my own sanity, and that’s when we implemented quiet time.
What began as a means of preserving those unbroken hours has turned into one of the best long-term parenting decisions I’ve ever made! Quiet time isn’t just for toddlers; it’s also for older children, siblings, and families. It’s a way of life now.
What is Quiet Time for Kids?
Quiet time is a period during a typical busy day where you and your children start doing independent, quiet activities.
These activities can be done in the children’s bedrooms, or even out in the living room, but they must be nice and quiet.
Some quiet time activities can include reading books (or looking at pictures for younger children) and playing with toys that don’t make a lot of noise like Lego, playhouses, and stuffed animals.
When To Introduce Quiet Time
Ideally, your child would nap until he or she was at least three years old, and then you would begin to introduce quiet time once that nap was gone (more on how to do this below). However, I would advise against starting quiet time too soon. If your child is under the age of three and is having trouble napping.
How long should quiet time be
I prefer quiet time to last anywhere between 45 minutes and 2 hours. And, to be honest, I frequently extend my boys’ time to three hours (this is when I get the majority of my work done)! If quiet time is a new idea for your toddler or preschooler, I recommend starting small and gradually increasing the time.
Having a visual representation of how much time is remaining for your child to see can be really beneficial, especially as they become accustomed to this new behaviour. It will allow them to see how much time has passed and how much time is left on a visual basis.
Benefits of Quiet Time
Increases Focus And Attention
Uninterrupted and independent playtime is great for increasing focus and attention in children.
Children focus on their tasks without other distractions, and this really helps them with strengthening those focus skills.
If you think about this, when there are no distractions and noise, it is easy to get into your own mind and think about things that you may not be able to think about when there is a lot of busy going on. The same thing happens to children, and quiet time can bring peace and mindfulness into a children’s life.
Another thing to note is that the ability to control your thoughts and quiet your mind is a great way to learn self-regulation skills, which are so important!
Quiet time helps children recenter and recharge after a busy day too.
When my little one was in Kindergarten, the school day was short, but the stimulation that happened in those 2.5 hours of school was intense. This lead to DAILY behavior issues.
Quiet time after school really helped slow down the tantrums because it helped center and recharge him.
Read more about our after-school routine here if you’re having troubles with after-school meltdowns too.
Allows Kids time To Recharge
Lagom is a Swedish concept that approximately translates to “good enough” or “just enough” — enough to be satisfied.
This also applies to mingling with others for Swedes, who are more socially reticent than we are (on average). It’s not because Swedes are colder or more introverted; rather, they appreciate a healthy balance of invigorating social time and replenishing quiet time.
Quiet time allows you to disconnect, refocus, and take a mental break. This is a good habit to have at any age. It’s a way of life choice.
When children are playing quietly on their own, they discover that there are things they can do on their own, without the help of mom, dad, or sibling!
How awesome is that?
The confidence-building that happens during simple, quiet time, may not seem like a big deal, but the progress, especially when it’s daily, is so important.
Just as quiet time builds confidence, it also helps build that independence, which is great news for moms who really just want to drink their coffee while it’s still hot.
I see this in my kids day in and day out. The stories they come up with when they play by themselves are just fascinating.
My little one is always on an adventure with Mickey Mouse (we have a play clubhouse that is his favorite), and the amount of flying Lego cars and houses that float in space that gets created is pretty darn cool.
Sometimes I wish my imagination was still that big. As an adult, I’m very much so an inside-the-box thinker.
Besides living through this proof that quiet time increases creativity, there are also studies out there that show the very same results!
They say that bored children get creative.
I mean, it only makes sense, what else are they going to do? If you are continually creating activities for kids to do and keeping them busy busy, the children will start depending on YOU always to entertain them, and they will NOT be creative with coming up with their own to-do’s!
It would be best if you let your little ones have this quiet time, let them be bored, and use that imagination.
Allows a Rest for Mama
Last but not least, but honestly the BEST, is that quiet time allows rest for you.
Imagine having uninterrupted time to drink your coffee, fold the laundry, watch a show, get some work done, go over finances, talk to a friend, etc.?
Yeah, I know, it sounds too good to be true, but with consistent quiet time, your children will learn to do things without you, and you WILL be able to get some peace, quiet and alone time. It’s TRUE!
When a child is given unstructured time, he or she must use their brain in a new way – innovatively.
They must make decisions, plan ahead of time, and create – all of which are hallmarks of critical thinking and executive function. Unstructured play is linked to more self-directed executive functioning, according to research.
Do you ever become completely absorbed in a project or activity to the point where you lose track of time? This is known as a state of flow in positive psychology, and it is linked to creativity and enjoyment.
Uninterrupted play is the only way for children to acquire this deep state of flow. Although it may occur during physical exercise, unstructured play is the most natural environment for flow to develop.
This unstructured time is necessary for children to practise these abilities. They need time outside and plenty of pretend play with other children, but quiet time brings forth a different kind of play.
Quiet time gives your children the space and opportunity to enter that wonderful state of flow, helping them to build executive functioning skills.
Tips for Starting a Daily Quiet Time Habit With Your Kids
- Practice Gentle Returns
- Be Consistent
- Suggest Things To Do
- Don’t Give Them Electronics
- Frame It As Quiet Time for Everyone
- Use A Digital Clock
- Use A Video Monitor
- Make Quiet Time For Older Children Coincide With Nap Time For Younger Children
- Keep The Length Of Quiet Time Reasonable
- Don’t Force It
Practice Gentle Returns
If your child is having a tough time staying isolated in their room during the designated quiet time, practice returning your child to their room gently and encourage them to play on their own.
You’ll only have to do this a handful of times until they get used to the idea of quiet time at home.
If you are consistent in having daily quiet time, you will have a lot more success. You can practice quiet time during the week and on weekends too!
It’s also a good idea to have a quiet time at the same time every day. For example, if your children get overtired after lunch, then that’s a great time to start a quiet time.
For my children, our quiet time starts around 2 pm as that is when my children seem to really need it.
Suggest Things To Do
If your children need guidance in how to keep themselves busy, offer them some activities that they can do on their own such as reading books, play with Lego’s or have a tea party with stuffed animals.
You don’t have to create an activity for them, but you can offer suggestions on how they could possibly keep themselves busy during this time.
Don’t worry if they get bored; they will figure it out.
Don’t Give Them Electronics
Electronics busy the mind, and that sort of defeats the purpose of quiet time, doesn’t it?
With all the flashing lights on any given device, it can make your child overwhelmed, which leads to more tantrums and meltdowns.
So it’s best to do not screen-related activities during quiet time. 41 Genius Activities For Teens When Everyone Is Stuck Inside and Fun Indoor Activities For Kids 1-8.
Frame It As Quiet Time for Everyone
Let your child know that this quiet time is not just for them; it’s for everyone! If everyone HAS to do quiet time too, the children are much less likely to refuse it and go against the grain.
I mean, if it’s for everyone, then the child feels included by doing the same thing that everyone in the family is doing too.
Get A Digital Clock
If your little one is visual and needs to know how long they have quiet time, it could be a good idea to grab a digital clock.
Some children are visual, and they need to be able to envision what quiet time looks like in terms of time.
See also: Brilliant Sleep Clocks For Toddlers
Use A Video Monitor
If you are worried about your child getting up to no good on their own in their bedroom, you can use a video monitor to keep an eye on them.
Make Quiet Time For Older Children Coincide With Nap Time For Younger Children
Sometimes it can be challenging to create quiet time for all the kids in the household.
If you do have older children, it could be ideal to have quiet time at the same time as the younger children’s nap time.
If everyone could get onto the same routine and schedule around the home, family life just becomes easier to manage.
Keep The Length of Quiet Time Reasonable
For kids under 3 years of age, quiet time can still be nap time or it can be quiet time with mommy. It’s going to be difficult to have a 2-year-old who can be on their own for quiet time.
For children who are 3 years old, they should be able to spend 20-30 minutes quietly without an adult in the same room.
Children ages 4-6 can spend 30-40 minutes of quiet time independently.
Children over the age of 7 can spend up to an hour doing quiet time on their own.
Don’t Force It
Last but not least, to have success in implementing quiet time in your home, the best thing to do is not force it.
If your child is simply not ready to do quiet time, you can keep trying to introduce it using the tips mentioned above, but the important thing is not to get upset if things aren’t working out the way you thought it would right off the bat.
Remember that practice makes perfect; there is no need to create a battlefield over this.
Once your routine is all settled in, you really will benefit from the break, and all family members can regroup and take on the rest of the day with a new attitude!
Quiet Time While On Vacation
All of this is wonderful when routines and timetables are consistent. But what about holidays and vacations? Aren’t those the most overbooked periods of the year?
This is where family quiet time comes in handy. During the winter break, have a hot chocolate and reading session where the entire family snuggles together on the couch and reads aloud.
Schedule some relaxation throughout your trip – a nap between the pool and the beach, an afternoon of reading, or create a family hammocking habit (yep, it’s now a verb!). It’s so easy to go, go, go, but some of my favourite memories are of rainy beach days when we remained inside and played games and read all day.
How long should quiet time be for kids?
When it comes to quiet time, how long should it last? Quiet time should range anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours in the ideal situation. Start with a 15-minute time increment when implementing quiet time and work your way up. Children, as you presumably know, thrive on a regular and constant schedule.
What do you do when your toddler won’t do quiet time?
If your toddler is having trouble with quiet time, then you can encourage them to sit quietly beside you with an activity. This way they are close to you, and are engaged in something that doesn’t require your attention.
Is it OK for a 2 year old not to nap?
Yes, it is ok for a 2 year old to stop napping completely. However, it is still important for them to have quiet time if they have dropped their nap.
Bottom Line On The Benefits Of Quiet Time For Kids
Isn’t it true that knowing all of the advantages that await your children makes you cherish Quiet Time even more? I hope you and your children have a wonderful time adjusting to Quiet Time.