When I wrote this post for Muffin Tin Mom it got such a huge response from her readers and my own that I am doing a follow-up post with ideas for what I call Quiet Time 1, 2, 3! If you haven’t read the post where I expressed my exasperation with trying to get my son to nap when I have an infant who also needs my attention I encourage you to pop over to Muffin Tin Mom and read it. This is my post of ideas for what we do now that nap time has been put to rest. Over the years I have heard from countless parents how this post stopped their quiet time power struggles. I am thrilled to know these quiet time tips helped bring a little peace to your home.
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Kids need predictability and some children like my son really, really need it. For quiet time we always use his bedroom. I encourage you to use the same place every day. Also as you can probably guess I would suggest doing it at the same time every day too. At the very least always do it after the same activity, whether it’s as they come off the school bus, after lunch or after another daily activity. Then there is no argument , everyone knows that after this it’s quiet time. Also something that I have noticed is that if I randomly say ” Hey in 5 minutes it’s quiet time.” My sons feel like it’s a punishment . That is so far from my goal . I have to remind myself to make it fun and interesting not an exile from the family. I am sure it can feel like an exile if I am not careful, which must be hard with a new sibling.
OK enough about that… you aren’t reading this to hear about my adjustment , you are here to read about ideas for your own child’s quiet time!
We have 3 small rugs in my son’s room and I usually lay the activities out on there so he sees, I also use his bed. My main prop though are cards with the numbers 1, 2, 3 on them. I lay them down with 3 activities my son must do before he can have free choice. I use MUST loosely. If he doesn’t do them I don’t worry too much, they are more like offerings . However if he opens the door and says ” Can I come out yet?” before 45 minutes I will require him to show me he has finished all three activities. The point isn’t to force him to do anything. The magic of 1, 2, 3, is that it gets him focused on play and not on the door and trying to be “done”. So far it’s been magical for us.
Here are some of the activities I have laid out for him that have been helpful and fun for us.
These are favorites. I rotate about 10 different ones and am always on the lookout for more. Make sure they are able to complete them without your help or you will hear “I need heeellllp!” before you even get down your stairs.
Toys and Books
It’s amazing how if you focus on one toy all of a sudden something forgotten is met with renewed enthusiasm. Our favorite toys are Mr. Potato head, plain old blocks, Little People and LEGO. Books are usually offered in themes or I will ask him to choose 5 , and provide his Woody doll with them asking him to “read” them to Woody.
Art and Writing
We have done a few art projects that have worked great. Stickers and sticky back foam have been great quiet time art tools. I have cut a container full of different color shapes from the sticky back foam and given them to him to simply create, match the shapes or colors with paper. With stickers I gave him paper with a basic scene on paper for example- a volcano and palm tree for dino stickers, igloo and water for penguin stickers etc..
Writing projects like this one have been well received too. I give him fun cards to write to people he chooses . The goal for us isn’t perfect letters, but rather simple practice with pencils, adjust the goal and expectations. Remember make it too tough and you will have a frustrated child seeking help , too simple they will be board and looking for you too. We also use magna doodles for name writing practice, and drawing whatever he chooses. Provide a mirror and you can make a self portrait station too!
Color Wonder coloring pages have been great as well. I give him 2 pages to choose from with a stiff file folder to use as a desk
Conventional coloring pages with crayons were risky and a wall did get some extra decoration, so it’s on the shelf for now but it might work for you. Again I would give a few ripped out pages not the whole book which can be overwhelming. If they are not the type to be overwhelmed , by all means give then the book!
This is last because it’s been our saving grace. He loves it. Some days I just lay out his dress up box. Often I set up scenes like this Home Depot . We use an old lap top as a cash register, a name tag and phone for most our set ups, then use his toys and books for the other props. So far we have done a post office, library, grocery store, coffee shop, home depot, a doctor’s office and veterinarians.
Not all children need so much structure, but some like my son are simply overwhelmed by the options available when told to go into their room and “play”. If you want more details about any of these feel free to ask in comments, as well as leave your own suggestions!This post contains affiliate links.