I love this question from an ABCJesusLovesMe family member: Just saw the sample daily routines on the ABCJesusLovesMe website. What is an afternoon quiet time and how do you get a busy preschooler on board?
This is a really good question! Below is an explanation and some points to help get you started.
What is an Afternoon Quiet Time?
If you read last week’s post on How to Have a Quiet Time, you know that “quiet time” is often referring to time set aside with God, reading your Bible, and praying.
But in this instance, I am referring to time set aside for young children to nap or quietly play. Beyond quiet time, we called this nap time or room time depending on the age of the child. While the youngest one sleep during this time, older kids can play or read quietly. In our home, quiet time was typically 1-3:00 each afternoon.
Growing up with quiet time as the norm, it was rarely a battle in our home. But if you do not currently have a set quiet time built into your daily routine, you may be apprehensive to instill. But before we get into the how, let’s discuss the why.
Why are Afternoon Quiet Times Important?
We all know that babies and toddlers need naps during the afternoons. But even after naps have ceased, preschoolers need time for quiet activity. Play and learning is exhausting work and quiet time gives the child a chance to rest and refuel.
Next, mommies need a break. Quiet time provides a moment for a mom to refresh as well. She can clean, catch up on various items, do laundry, have an uninterrupted quiet time, read, shower, attend to a job, or simply take a nap.
Lastly, room time trains the child who no longer needs a daily nap to entertain herself with independent play. This is key to your child’s imagination, development, and self-discipline.
Tips to a Successful Afternoon Quiet Time for Preschoolers
1. Before you introduce a daily quiet time, decide in your mind what you want this time to look like. Keep in mind each of your children’s personalities and abilities. What will your expectations be? In our home, the key to quiet time was that the children had to stay in their rooms or quiet time area and do an activity quietly. They were not allowed to continually get up or leave the space.
2. Think of the process like a mini bedtime. A routine is necessary to prepare the child. I began quiet time by reading my children a book. This made quiet time a fun, relaxing time that we looked forward to. I tried to spend a few minutes with each child alone – starting with the one who most needed the longest nap!
3. Provide a basket of toys for non-nappers that is only played with during nap time. This keeps the toys fresh. (See suggested toys below.)
5. Give the child a visual cue so he knows when quiet time is over. A light comes on, music begins/stops, open his bedroom door. The visual helps stop the “Can I get up now?” question. Amazon offers several wake-up alarms clocks that can used for nap time as well. (I also suggest this for morning wake-up time.)
6. Just as with bedtime, don’t stray from the rules – the child is to stay in the space and play quietly or nap. Don’t let one more drink or seven bathroom trips become a habit. Train the child so that she knows the expectations and then hold the boundaries firm. It will provide both of you with needed rest and a break.
7. If you have a mischievous child who requires more supervision, place a baby gate in the doorway. This allows you to peak in on the child’s activities. Another option is to saw the door in half. Then, you can close the bottom half and peak through the top. (No, I have not actually done this but a friend of mine did. She took the doors to Lowe’s to have them cut in two creating a 2-piece “barn” door.)
8. Because of the goal of rest and independent play, I discourage electronic use during quiet time. Even learning apps and videos. Save those for special times and use quiet time to create and build imagination.
9. If this is a new concept to your day, start small. Begin with 15 minutes and increase as the child learns to play independently. (How to Teach Independent Play)
Sometimes it can be a challenge to provide quiet toys that children can play with that don’t require parent involvement and won’t make a mess. But with a little training on how to independently play, the ideas below will have your child begging to extend quiet time! Yes, this happened many times with my kiddos.
- Bristle Blocks and Magna-Tiles
- Coloring Books – The Color Wonder markers and books are great because the markers only write on the specific books. (Remember to limit marker use due to fine motor development.)
- Things to Spot Books (like Where’s Waldo)
- Cars with a Car Mat
- Dolls, Polly Pockets, Magnetic Dressup Dolls
- Trains and tracks
- Magnetic Drawing Boards
- Pipe cleaners and craft sticks
- Paint by Sticker Books
- Building Straws
- Puzzles – My youngest especially enjoyed the jumbo puzzles.
- Lite Brite
Afternoon quiet time is a win-win situation for everyone involved. I highly suggest it, and once you get it implemented you will too!
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