There was day when I couldn’t wait for nap time. After an exhausting morning of running after the kids, coaxing them to eat breakfast and then lunch, scraping the dishes clean, playing tea party for the umpteenth time, and running all over town to complete my list of household errands, I was–well–exhausted. They usually were, too. Bellies and minds full of new experiences and tastes, a naptime book or two and blanket, the girls often fell asleep for a solid two hours. Ahhh…the idea of “mommy’s happy hour” just changed dramatically. No longer at the end of the day with a martini or a glass of wine, happy hour now was smack in the middle of the afternoon with a glass of Coke.
Not so anymore. My oldest is almost 5 years old. She hasn’t napped in…well, has she ever really napped, or was she just so quiet I couldn’t tell the difference?! I won’t hold my breath. The blessed “naptime” for Kate is over. A sleeper she is not. A kid with a ton of energy, creativity, and fear that she will “miss something” she is.
But, mommy still needs naptime. Oh, no–I’m not sleeping (although the idea makes me want to curl up like a baby and suck my thumb), but in the reality of things, there is just no time for rest. I need alone time, and I am sure you do, too. We all do.
Each day, I institute “quiet time” at our house. Really not an earth-shattering idea, but if your kid has grown out of naptime, I urge you to do this. It will make a big difference to the way you feel at the end of the day. Of course, your kiddos may have other ideas.
To make it work for us, I tried the “quiet time basket” in which I fill with little trinkets, books, flashcards, notebooks, and a craft item or two. I tell Kate to rest quietly on her bed for a few minutes (about 15 minutes–long enough for me to eat a quick bite of lunch) and then I will present her with her “quiet time basket.” Believe it or not, it keeps her busy for another hour and half while I do something that needs to get done or relaxes me. The deal is: she has to stay in her room while she has the basket and everything goes back into when she is finished. I put the basket away for the next day’s quiet time, often re-filling it with some items she hasn’t seen in awhile.
Make it work for you:
- When looking for items to fill in your kids’ basket, think of what really interests him or her.
- Small quiet toys are ideal: books, stickers, puzzles, small blocks, beads, Wikki Stix, other small manipulatives
- If you are brave, consider adding washable markers, paper, and stamps.
- Give her an assignment, “How about you make a card for Nana’s Birthday?”
- Speech practice for our CAS cuties…flashcards or a worsheet from your SLP
- Little handheld games like Leapster and a game or two, a kid-sized “computer”
- Lite Brite, Etch-a-Sketch, other classics that don’t require much noise
- Add a new music CD from time to time. Find them in the kids’ audio section at your library
- Consider a snack that won’t spill or make too many crumbs. A fruit twist or something of that nature works well.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating you lock your kids in their rooms while you sip wine and watch soaps all afternoon! What can a well-planned quiet time can do:
- Develop introspection
- Allow kids to learn how to manage their own time
- Give kids an opportunity to be creative
- Help kids make their own fun, rather than you constantly entertaining them
- Encourage kids to explore new or different things (like a different genre of music or a new type of book).
- Provides talking and word practice for our kids who struggle with CAS. They can test out their skills without fear of doing it wrong.
- Increases confidence–“Hey, I can entertain myself and have fun doing it!”
- Of course, it helps us parents, too!!
Happy Quiet Time.