I used to roll my eyes when I heard or read about moms talking about how much they loved quiet time. Quiet time? What’s that?! My kids are NEVER quiet. How could they get their toddler or preschooler to be quiet for any amount of time?
I was dumbfounded and slightly annoyed that my kids wouldn’t do the quiet time thing.
I eventually clued in on some pretty basic, but genius, ways to get kids to not only have quiet time, but to ask for it.
First, hype it up! I realized that if I got super enthusiastic about having quiet time and I found a way to make it enticing, the kids would follow suite.
Give them a huge incentive! I told them that quiet time is awesome because they get to play with whatever they want and.... here's the kicker....they DON’T HAVE TO SHARE!!
Let’s just be honest, that’s pretty important to kids with several siblings. I can’t tell you how many times an HOUR my kids fight over the same toy. Usually I have to say something along the lines of “please share, or nobody gets to play with it”, or “if you keep fighting over it, I’m putting it away!”. You would think that by now my kids would understand and one of them would relinquish the object and go find something else.
The fighting usually gets worse. Power struggles. Ah, the young age of trying to figure out how to get control and give yourself whatever your self darn well pleases.
It’s usually about that time that one of them will ask to play quietly in their own room. I pretend like I’m really thinking hard about it, contemplating this serious question, unsure of what to decide. “Hmmm….I don’t know….didn’t you have quiet time yesterday?” Eventually I concur that “Yes, quiet time sounds like a great idea! I’m so glad you thought of that!” And off to their rooms they go.
But if your kids still protest being alone in their rooms (my 3 year old hated being by himself for any length of time), here are some tips on how to get your kids to stay in their rooms:
Be consistent. We have quiet time at the same time every day. It’s right after lunch when the two youngest are taking their afternoon nap. It’s just what we do. Every time. Without fail.
As we continue to implement a routine day after day, the kids just naturally fall in line. They may fight it at first, and even whine about it from day to day, but kid’s actually need routine. It helps them to know what’s coming next.
Be adamant. It’s natural for kids to try their hand at bucking the system. They want to see what they can get away with, how far they can push the boundaries. But if you’re set on the kids having quiet time each day, then be adamant about it.
The first couple of days may not include any amount of quiet at all. Mine sure didn’t. My 3 year old cried off and on almost the entire time. He kept coming out of his room. Eventually I had to put up a gate in his doorway. Which he decided to climb over. I wanted to just give up.
But I didn’t. I made it part of our daily routine, and I was adamant that he was going to stay in his room. And now...he simply goes into his room after lunch. I actually don’t even need to say anything about it. He’ll occasionally come out and ask if quiet time is over, but the crying and the whining have stopped.
Be affirmative. When you hear them playing nicely in their room, let them know how proud you are of them. When quiet time is over, tell them that they did an awesome job staying in there the whole time and that you love how well they played by themselves. Express how cool it was that they got to play with all the toys and do whatever they wanted, and that quiet time is so great because of that!
A few other tips:
Have them clean up after quiet time is over. Kids can make a mess, even if it’s just one kid in one room. My kids know that they have to clean up their toys before they can come out. That might mean they spend another 30 minutes in there playing. Obviously I don’t mind that one bit. But before they can do the next thing, the room needs to be picked up.
Be mindful of what they are doing. I made the mistake of not checking on my 3 year old. I could hear him in there playing, and the door was open, so I assumed all was well. All was NOT well. He consumed a whole tube of maximum strength desitin. Ugh! And in case you find yourself in the same predicament as I did, maximum strength desitin is NOT poisonous! Even if you consume an entire 4 oz tube. A quick call to poison control eased this mama’s fears and I was told that it could simply cause diarrhea. But lesson learned! If it’s a little too quiet during quiet time...go see why!