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Introducing a Quiet Time

I knew this day would come, but honestly, I didn’t think it would come THIS soon! We recently decided to transition my son out of napping, as his bedtime was becoming a daily struggle. After putting him to bed for the night, he would come walking out of his room with a grin on his face, lock eyes with me and then sprint back to his room. Does any of this sound familiar?!  The frustration I felt was strong, so I put on my Sleep Consultant hat and analyzed the situation. Sure enough, he was showing ALL the signs of needing to drop his nap. I knew exactly what needed to happen!

In this blog post, my goal is to share the exact questions I asked myself as I began to implement quiet time for my son. I’d love to help make the transition to quiet time a success for you and your child!

What is Quiet Time?

For those who have never heard of quiet time, I feel it’s important to start here. When I refer to “quiet time,” I am talking about a period in your child’s day (typically the afternoon) where your child spends time playing quietly by themselves in a designated room.

When should you implement it?

If you choose to implement a quiet time as a family, it’s best to begin teaching this skill as soon as you see the afternoon nap fizzle out. For some children, their afternoon nap becomes optional. Some days, they take their nap, and other days, they roll around the duration of their nap without sleeping. This would be a great time to offer quiet toys to your child, so if they choose to stay awake, they can have a small toy to play with.

For other children, like my son, quiet time was initiated after the nap had been dropped altogether. This is a great choice as well, as the designated quiet time allows both you and your child downtime throughout the day.  

How long should it be?

The length of quiet time is unique to your family dynamics, your child’s temperament, and your child's current age. I typically recommend starting off small (i.e. 5-10 minutes) to set your child up for success. This creates a positive experience around the quiet time from the start, which leads to fewer power struggles. As your child learns to be successful in staying in their room and playing quietly, the time can be lengthened. Most families choose a length of time somewhere between 45 minutes and 2 hours. 

What toys should I include?

Picking toys has been my favourite part of starting quiet time with my children….  I would HIGHLY recommend taking your child to the dollar store (Dollar Tree is the cheapest I’ve found!). Let them have fun picking out 5-7 age-appropriate items that will be reserved specifically for their quiet time. Make sure to store these items inside a bin and out of reach. You will bring this bin out each day when it’s time to begin their quiet time.

When choosing toys, remember to choose ones that are safe and appropriate for your child’s age. My husband gave crayons to my son (3 years old), and I’ll let you guess how that turned out. Some of my favourite toys for younger children are cars, trains, board books, stuffed animals, Magnetic tiles, tea sets, Duplo, The Go Water Wow, play animals, and dolls. As your child ages, you may choose to incorporate new toys such as colouring, Lego, and stickers.

What’s important to remember is to reserve the “quiet time bin” strictly for quiet time. Doing so creates a sense of novelty and helps provide a sense of excitement in your child as they enter their room.

What happens if my child comes out of their room?

It’s important to remember that this is a new skill for your child, and they will NEED to practice it, just like any other skill! I know when my children learned to eat (which is also a skill!), food didn’t always make it into their mouths. With time and practice, they each became better and more efficient. Each time your child comes out of their room, use a silent return and keep doing this until the timer (we use this timer!) is up. At the end of the timer, give them a hug and high five, EVEN IF the quiet time was a total bust. Remember, practice is essential here!

If your child is old enough to comprehend incentives, you may consider using a television show as an incentive for a successful quiet time. This is an incentive we use in our household, and it works extremely well for my older children. Have your child recite to you what happens if they come out of their room, and make sure to follow through with your designated rules around that activity.

Preparation is KEY

As you consider implementing quiet time for your child, I highly recommend answering these questions FIRST. They will set you and your child up for a successful experience!

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is my child’s room safe? (i.e. do they have age-appropriate toys, and is their furniture bolted to the wall, if needed).

  2. Have I allowed my child to choose 5-7 special toys from the dollar store and label them in a bin?

  3. How often will quiet time be offered? (i.e. daily, every other day, or just on weekends?)

  4. Have I had a family meeting with my child? (i.e. to discuss and prepare them for the change).

  5. What time will quiet time take place? (i.e. during a younger sibling's nap or shortly after lunch? )

  6. How many minutes will I begin with? (I.e. what is my child’s temperament? Can they currently play independently? Remember to start small and gradually increase by 1-2 minutes per day or as you see success).

  7. Have I created rules around bathroom use? (i.e. will they need my help? Can they go on their own? Will a potty be left in the room?)

  8. How will I react if/when my child comes out of their room? (i.e., use the silent return while staying neutral or use a door monkey).

  9. How will my child know their quiet time is finished? (i.e. consider adding in a visual timer, a toddler clock, or a wall clock, depending on their age and ability to read time).

  10. Have I chosen an incentive for my child? (i.e. a television show or special activity if they stay in their room the entire duration of quiet time).

I wish you all the best as you transition away from napping and into quiet time! I promise that once you get into a consistent routine, all the work will be worth it! If you need support as you navigate quiet time for your child, please reach out! 


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