I want to share with you something that I try to do with my kids most days in the summer. We call it “Quiet Time“. I’m sure this is not a new idea to most of you, however I think it is worth “re-mentioning” because I think it is a wise practice and very worth-while!
What is it? In a nutshell, Quiet Times are an intentional, specified time where each person is to be alone, occupying themselves quietly, and not allowed to disturb others. (not even mom!)
For my children who are young, but no longer napping in the afternoon, Quiet Times happen all year long. But as some of my children have gotten older, and their school days have stretched longer- taking advantage of this practice during the school year has pretty much worked itself out of our schedule. However- in the summertime, when our days aren’t filled with schoolwork and the responsibilities and schedule are different, everyone participates in Quiet Time. And you know something? We all enjoy it. Actually, my older kids seem to like it the best! I find that it provides a needed break from all the ‘togetherness’ and also a little structure to an otherwise care-free schedule. Neither of those are bad things, but too much of a good thing can quickly become tiresome and stale.
This is what “Quiet Time” looks like in our home:
~Each child goes to his/her own room. My boys share a room, so one of them uses the living room as his location. We also used to use “Mommy and Daddy’s” bed for a spot.
~A timer is set- usually 1 hour.
~During the specified time, each child may play quietly in their own room. When they are younger, I limit them to staying on their bed to. As they get older, I allow them to play on their floor as well. But, whatever they do has to be QUIET. Most of the time my kids will listen to an Audiobook or music while playing with their selected toys, which they have gathered before the time begins. Things like legos, paper dolls, coloring books, books to read, puzzles, lincoln logs are favorite Quiet Time activities for my older kids. I don’t like the idea of using television or electronic devices (ipod, etc) for Quiet Times because I want the kids to use their imaginations and entertain themselves. (Uncle Rick Audioclub is a great resource for Audiobooks,- many of these titles are also available, here. We also love these audiobooks)
For my toddlers, I make a box and include many different activities that are to be used only at Quiet Times. Some examples that I have used in these boxes are: books, stickers, puzzles, stacking pegs, sorting games,etc… But nothing that makes a lot of noise.
There are also specific RULES for Quiet Times. When my kids are just beginning to have Quiet Times, I review these rules each day before their time begins, so they are sure to remember. Because, if the rules are broken, a punishment will result. It might be a good idea to review the rules with the older kids from time to time, too
1. No Talking (or really loud truck noises, etc…kids can get creative) 🙂
2. Stay on the Bed (or sofa, etc)
3. Cannot come out of room or call Mommy until Quiet Time is over or unless there is a real problem that cannot wait (and let me just note that sometimes you might want be tempted to get slack with this rule- but don’t. They will think it is hard at first; be consistent and they will learn to abide by it and realize that they really can go a whole hour without “needing” something from mommy!)
4. Have fun! (my little girl always giggled at that part) The point of this ‘rule’ was to remind them that a Quiet Time is not a punishment! That’s not the intended use. Even those kids who don’t think they like to play alone, usually will find that they do enjoy some time to themselves, once they get used to the idea.
Sometimes I might also require that the older kids read something for the first 10-15 minutes, and then they can play. This would also be a great time to encourage independent daily Bible reading.
However, other than that possible requirement, allow your kids to choose what they want to do during this time, within the guidelines. Don’t use it as a time to stack up assignments- because that will surely make it seem like a chore, instead of a gift.
5. When time is up- the kids have to clean up any mess they may have made.
So- WHY have a Quiet Time?
1. When you are with your kids all day long, and they are with you all day long, and they are with each other all the time, too- personalities can begin to rub each other the wrong way. You know the old adage: “Familiarity breeds contempt” and also, “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Sometimes we all just need a little space; a little time apart from arguing, competing, socializing, needing, wanting, asking, doing.
By having just an hour away from one another, it gives the children some time to just be alone. It also gives Mom a chance to either sit and rest for a little while, or to catch up on some chores or to make necessary phone calls, or do bills, or sit on the porch swing and get a few moments to gather your thoughts after a frazzled or busy morning!
2. Quiet Times also encourage the kids to entertain themselves without relying on a sibling to entertain them, or the television, or mom.
3. Quiet Times are a good time to just be still. I used to quote “Be Still, and Know that I am God” with my kids as Quiet Time began.It is a good practice to just BE STILL for a time each day. I believe it is a good discipline to learn- and something that will benefit them as they grow older in a world that will always push for busyness.
Over the years, there have been times that I have fallen out of the habit of having these daily Quiet Times, but, whenever I start back, I always wonder WHY I EVER stopped? My kids come out refreshed, ready to play with each other again with less arguing, I’ve accomplished things and feel more ready to deal with the interruptions and “life” that will happen the rest of the day. Most of the time my kids look forward to quiet time- sometimes they even ask for it. I’ve also found that my younger kids will not balk at this concept like they will at the word NAP. And while playing quietly on their beds, they often fall asleep
So- as I said- this is not a new or original idea, but I encourage you to at least give it a try for a week or two.
What about you? Do you already do a version of Quiet Times in your home?
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