So your toddler stopped napping? Maybe you are pregnant, maybe you have a newborn, or maybe you just need a break in your day in order not to go crazy. Hey, I get it. Everyone needs some silence in their day and break from the chaos that is raising young kids. Losing that nap can feel like a strong blow but don’t fret, there is some relief! Even if you have a very clingy toddler or preschooler, you can replace and transition toddlers from nap time to quiet time.
The advice to ‘sleep when baby is sleeping’ is pretty much a cruel joke to any mom with more than one kid. It just doesn’t happen. Out of desperation, I decided I needed something to change- enter quiet time.
7 Tips to Start Quiet Time
Step 1- Talk about it with your child before hand-
Let them know in language they can understand what they can expect and why you are doing it. Older toddlers and preschools might get more out of discussing the why but for younger ones, just simply explain what they can expect.
Step 2- Pick the time you want quiet time to happen-
For us the most natural time was during my baby’s afternoon nap. By then everyone was tired and cranky and needed some time to relax. You can also do quiet time in the morning or do two different quiet times, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Step 3- Decide the rules-
You will need to decide exactly what “quiet time” means for you. It might mean that they need to stay in their own room the entire time. Or it might mean they can play where you are but they need to keep to themselves. You pick the rules that you are comfortable with.
Step 4- Offer choices-
By giving them some choices, they feel more in power which is important in their cooperation. So give them the choice of where they will play during quiet time. You could also give them the choice of listening to calming music or silence.
Step 5-Start slow-
Don’t expect a hour of quiet time the first day. You would probably be setting them and yourself up for failure.
How long to start out with is going to be dependent on your child and how comfortable they are with being away from you. If they are not used to it, you should start small around 15 minutes and slowly increase it everyday. Using a timer is a great way for them to get used to quiet time, it provides them comfort knowing that when the timer goes off quiet time will be over.
Once they are used to it, you can decide how long you want quiet time to last. Ours last at least an hour. We base ours on baby’s nap, when the baby wakes up quiet time is over.
Step 6- Provide suggestions or activities:
At least in the beginning. I think the main goal of quiet time should be to help kids learn to play on their own and use their imagination with little intervening from you. However, in the beginning they may need some choices or direction.
You can create busy bags, busy bins, invitations to play, or have special toys that only get played with during quiet time to make it fun and engaging in the beginning.
After getting used to playing on their own, they will build the ability to entertain themselves which is such valuable skill for them and for you!
Step 7- Expect some resistance:
There will definitely be some resistance in the beginning and even once quiet time is established. The most important thing during this time is to be consistent.
When my daughter protests quiet time, I empathize with her feelings and then I be firm that we are having quiet time. This is usually when I give her a choice, “music or no music?”, “upstairs or downstairs?”. Once I have empathized and reiterated the rules and then given her a choice, it almost always stops the protests.
So there are my 7 steps to getting your toddler to have quiet time. One of the added benefits is on a semi-regular basis my my daughter actually ends up falling asleep on the couch or floor during quiet time even though she gave up a regular nap almost 2 years ago.
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